Al Qaeda connections may provide impunity for murder in Pakistan

religion | Jul 02, 2011 | By Aftab Alexander Mughal

The March 2 murder of Shahbaz Bhatti, the Catholic politician who served as Pakistan’s Minister for Minority Affairs,  in Islamabad, could go unpunished. Investigators are divided over the case with some in the Islamabad police pointing the fingers at the Taliban and al-Qaeda. In recent weeks, an attempt was made to shift the blame to “internal squabbles” among Christians, Asia News observed on June 30.

Joint Investigation Team Chief Tahir Alam said that the file should be closed for “lack of evidence”. After interrogating 519 suspects, including Mumtaz Qadri, who killed Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, Alam said that he had nothing to go on to find the culprits, the news agency reported.

Likewise, Muhammad Hafiz Nazar was released by a judge. He had been recently arrested under suspicious circumstances—some observers suggesting that his detention was an attempt to divert attention from the case by hinting that Bhatti’s murder was somehow connected to “internal squabbles” in the Christian community.
 Backed by the Interior Ministry, Islamabad Inspector General Police Bin Yameen insists that Bhatti’s murder leads to the Taliban and al-Qaeda. For him, Ilyas Kashmiri and his 3131 Brigade are to blame.

 “We have reasons to believe that the group carried out the operation” that led to the death of the Catholic minister, Nazar said.

Shahbaz Bhatti’s brother Paul Bhatti also has the same view.  "The investigations into the murder of my brother Shabhaz Bhatti are finally on the right track: it is the work carried out by the Taliban and Islamic fanatics. Now we are waiting for the capture of the perpetrators of the crime, who are in Dubai. The Minister of Interior, Rehman Malik, has announced an international arrest warrant": is what Paul Bhatti, brother of the late Bhatti, and currently Special Advisor to the Prime minister for religious minorities told to Fides on June 30, 2011.

 In an interview with Fides, Paul Bhatti commented on the results of the inquiry on behalf of the Pakistani government regarding the culprits of the murder.
 The Commission of Inquiry organized by the Interior Minister announced that, according to investigations carried out, the murder was organized by the "Brigade 313" of Al Qaeda, known as "ghost army" and led by the Pakistani Taliban leader Ilyas Kashmiri.  According to the report of the Commission, the group commissioned a commander of the Taliban in the province of Punjab, Asmatullah Mawaia, to eliminate the minister, the plan was then executed by elements of the extremist group "Tehrik-e-Islami", along with a faction of the group "Ghazi Force in Islamabad".

The "Brigade 313" is the military organization of Al Qaeda in Pakistan and is responsible for numerous attacks, which contains Taliban and Islamic jihadist groups with different backgrounds such as: "Laskhar-e-Jhangvi", "Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami", "Lashkar-e-Taiba", "Jaish-e-Mohammed" , "Jundallah" and others. According to some analysts, the brigade has infiltrated in the army and in the Pakistani intelligence services, Agenzia Fides reported.



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