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Naheed Khan wants inclusion as witness in Benazir murder case

RAWALPINDI: Naheed Khan, former political secretary of slain PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto, on Monday filed a request with a Rawalpindi Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) to be included as a prosecution witness in the Benazir murder case.
Khan also filed a request to obtain court records of case proceedings and a written statement of Javed Rehman, a witness in the case, who maintained that the estranged PPP activist had asked the slain former prime minister to wave to the crowd at the Liaquat Bagh rally on Dec 27, 2007.
Last week, Javed Rehman, a driver of Zardari House, testifying in front of the ATC claimed that Naheed Khan had asked Benazir’s servant Razzaq Mirani to open the escape hatch of the vehicle and encouraged her to wave hands to PPP workers and supporters.
The driver, who is currently serving at Zardari House in Islamabad, claimed that Khan herself tried to open the escape hatch but failed and then asked Mirani to do it.
Judge Rai Ayub Marth was overseeing today’s court proceedings, and had earlier adjourned the case proceedings to Sept 14.
Speaking to the press outside the ATC, Naheed Khan said a record of court proceedings so far had been requested, and that “all matters will be discussed in court”.
“Whatever has been attributed to me, it is my legal right to argue my defence and my legal team will advise me on this and then I will decide how to proceed,” Khan said, referring to the petition filed in court today.
Referring to the request for documents regarding court proceedings in the case, Khan’s legal counsel said that any citizen can obtain a public document according to law by “applying with a simple copy”.
“The judge has issued notices to the complainant and special prosecutor and summoned the entire record to be handed over on Sept 14.”
“For reasons best known to the learned court, they asked us to submit a petition for this, so we did. The case has been adjourned for arguments till Sept 14,” he said.
Naheed Khan’s statement was recorded by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in 2009, but the FIA did not disclose the information received during investigations. A total of 140 witnesses had their statements recorded by the agency.
Although a large number of the witnesses were produced in court and had their statements recorded, Naheed Khan’s statement was not recorded. The former political secretary’s name with regards to the case was taken in court for the first time last week.
Reacting to Javed Rehman’s statement, Naheed Khan said last week that she could not understand why such things were being presented before the court after about eight years of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.
Khan said she had neither advised Benazir to wave hands nor asked anyone to open the escape hatch.
“The revelations have been made by a witness who is still a personal servant of Mr Asif Ali Zardari. I will surely respond after examining his statement,” she said.
Expressing doubt over the investigation and prosecution, Ms Khan said it was an exceptional case because the prosecution did not record statements of those who were sitting in the vehicle with Benazir Bhutto.
She said besides her, Makhdoom Amin Fahim and her spouse Safdar Abbasi were also travelling in the vehicle, but investigators never approached them to record their statements.
Earlier this year, Naheed Khan and her spouse had formed a new party ─ the Pakistan Peoples Party Workers (PPP-W) ─ in a bid to “save the legacy of PPP founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and its former chairperson Benazir Bhutto”.
Khan’s spouse and PPP-W President Safdar Abbasi while addressing a press conference earlier this year said “We believe that PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari is solely responsible for the party’s worst defeat in the 2013 general elections and the prevailing ‘disintegration’ in the party,” adding, “We want accountability of those who are responsible for the downfall of PPP.”
The PPP in 2009 and 2010 suspended the party membership of Safdar Abbasi and Naheed Khan respectively after they criticised party leadership.

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