Pakistan's former President Pervez Musharraf (L)
Pakistan's former President Pervez Musharraf (L) REUTERS/Mian Khursheed

A court in Pakistan that prosecutes acts of terrorism has issued an arrest warrant for former military chief Pervez Musharraf in connection with the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto in late 2007.

Prosecutors allege that Musharraf failed to provide Bhutto with sufficient security despite knowing that Taliban soldiers had targeted her for murder – thereby rendering him culpable for her death.

Bhutto was killed in Rawalpindi while travelling in an election campaign motorcade.

Now living in exile in England, Musharraf denies the charges.

There is no basis for the case. This is a politically motivated court ruling and the [former] president has no intention of complying, said Fawad Chaudhry, a spokesman for Musharraf.

While Musharraf has no intention of returning to Pakistan to face charges, the court there has warned that if he fails to attend the next hearing on February 19, he would be considered a wanted fugitive.

Musharraf, the chief of Pakistan’s military, took power in 1999, ousting elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a coup. He resigned the presidency in 2008.

Bhutto, the daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (who ruled Pakistan in the 1970s) was herself prime minister of the country in 1988-1990, and from 1993-1996.

Her widowed husband, Asif Ali Zardari, is now the country’s president.

The court has sought out Musharraf for questioning after two senior police officers -- former Rawalpindi police chief Saud Aziz and former police Superintendent Khurram Shahzad, who were arrested in the case last year -- told investigators that he had intentionally dismissed a security detail for Bhutto just prior to her fateful trip to Rawalpindi.