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Experts wary about authenticity of Taliban book

Book, supposedly written by Pakistani Taliban’s senior leader, claims responsibility for murder of ex-PM Benazir Bhutto

Ekip   | 17.01.2018
Experts wary about authenticity of Taliban book

Pakistan

By Aamir Latif

KARACHI, Pakistan 

Local experts appear to be wary about the authenticity of a recently published book claimed to be written by a purported senior member of Pakistani Taliban Abu Mansoor Asim Mufti Noor Wali.

The book, titled Inqilab Mehsud South Waziristan - From British Raj to American Imperialism, claimed responsibility for the assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto apart from depicting the militant network’s so-called “struggle” against the United States and its allies, including Pakistan.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has not so far confirmed or denied whether the book was actually written by its leader.

The book, which allegedly published from Afghanistan, read two suicide bombers, had targeted the two-time premier minutes after she addressed a public rally in garrison city of Rawalpindi in December 2007.

One of the bombers Bilal, the book further read, first fired at Bhutto and then blew himself up near her vehicle, whereas another would-be suicide bomber, Ikram managed to escape and is still alive.

“The book lacks authenticity. I seriously doubt it”, Hamid Mir, an Islamabad-based senior journalist told Anadolu Agency.

An anti-terrorism court late last year had acquitted five suspected Taliban members charged with Bhutto’s murder after prosecution failed to provide cogent proofs against them.

However, the court sentenced two senior police officers to 17-year each jail term for their failure to provide required security to the former premier. The sentences were later suspended by a high court. 

‘Claim benefits Musharraf’

“To me, the claim regarding assassination of Benazir Bhutto is just an attempt to mislead the courts and investigations,” Mir, who is the last journalist to reportedly interview the slain al-Qaeda chief Osama bin laden in Afghanistan in 2001, said.

He contended that the Taliban’s so-called claim directly benefits the former military ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who is currently facing trial for his alleged involvement in Bhutto’s assassination.

“You can judge the authenticity of the book and the claim from the fact that the TTP founder Baitullah Mehsud had time and again denied his or his group’s involvement in Benazir’s murder. Now, what propels them to claim the responsibility of the murder after a decade, this is a big question,” Mir went on to say.

“Benazir Bhutto had contacted Baitullah Mehsud through Saleh Shah (a former senator from South Waziristan) before her return from self-exile to confirm the reports if he (Mehsud) wanted to have her killed. I was a witness to that, and Senator Saleh had personally confirmed me that he had contacted Baitullah Mehsud on Benazir’s request “, he added.

According to Mir, Senator Shah was told by Mehsud that TTP had no plans whatsoever to attack Bhutto as “we do not target women”.

Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) said it sticks to its view that Musharraf was involved in the assassination of the former prime minister.

“I don’t know what Taliban have claimed. Even if it benefits Musharraf, the PPP will not absolve him from the case”, Saeed Ghani, a senior PPP leader and a parliamentarian told Anadolu Agency.

Several events, he added, suggested Musharraf’s alleged involvement in the assassination. 

‘Political case’

“At first, he had threatened BB (Benazir Bhutto) not to return to the country. Secondly, he did not provide her the required security and then the crime scene was immediately washed off. These are the reasons to believe that Musharraf was very much involved in the assassination”, Ghani maintained.

Brigadier Mahmood Shah, an Islamabad-based security analyst, had a different view.

“The book corroborates many things, which were and are on ground, including Pakistan’s stance and fight against militancy,” Shah, who also served as administrative head of the country’s northwestern tribal region along Afghanistan border from 2003 to 2005, told Anadolu Agency.

He, however, admitted the Taliban’s reported claim regarding Bhutto’s assassination would ultimately benefit Musharraf, who is currently in self-exile in a bid to avoid cases against him.

“But we have to understand that the nature of cases, including Benazir murder case, against Gen. Musharraf is a political rather than criminal,” he opined.

Shah thought that Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) did not take death threats to the former premier “serious”. “Still, they are handling it politically rather than legally.”

Moreover, he went on to say, the Taliban’s claim that their organization’s structure in the country’s commercial capital Karachi had been badly damaged by a security operation in 2013, also supported the situation on ground.

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