Pakistan issues arrest warrant for Pervez Musharraf

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A Pakistani anti-terrorism court has issued an arrest warrant for former military ruler Pervez Musharraf over the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto in 2007.

Prosecutors say he was aware of Taliban plans to target her but did not act to prevent her murder in Rawalpindi.

They accuse him of failing to provide adequate security for the former PM.

Mr Musharraf - who lives in self-imposed exile in London - denies the allegations.

His spokesman, Fawad Chaudhry, said Mr Musharraf had no intention of returning to Pakistan for the hearing.

"There is no basis for the case. This is a politically motivated court ruling and the [former] president has no intention of complying."

Ms Bhutto was killed while in a gun and suicide attack while travelling in an election motorcade in the city of Rawalpindi in December 2007.

She was twice prime minister of Pakistan, from 1988 to 1990, and from 1993 to 1996.

Questionnaire sent

Image caption,
Benazir Bhutto's assassination sent shockwaves across Pakistan

On Saturday, prosecutors at the anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi said that any further progress in investigating Ms Bhutto's assassination was not possible without Mr Musharraf's presence.

They said they had tried repeatedly to contact Mr Musharraf over the case but he had refused to co-operate.

They added that he would be declared a wanted fugitive if he did not appear for the next hearing on 19 February.

A questionnaire was also sent to Mr Musharraf's London address, but had never been returned, the court said.

Last year, the Pakistani authorities arrested two senior police officers suspected of not giving adequate protection to Ms Bhutto at the time of her murder.

According to prosecutors, the two officials told investigators that on the orders of Mr Musharraf they removed a security detail for Ms Bhutto just before she departed the venue where she was speaking in Rawalpindi.

She was killed shortly afterwards.

Mr Musharraf denies all the allegations, describing them as politically-motivated.

He has not publicly commented on the issuing of the arrest warrant.

Mr Musharraf seized power in 1999 when, as chief of Pakistan's army, he ousted elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a coup. He resigned as president in 2008.