Scotland Yard's history of assisting Pakistan in times of national crisis

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The Independent Online

The dispatch of Scotland Yard investigators to Pakistan marks the third occasion that British policing expertise has been sought to investigate a high-profile assassination in the country.

The first such inquiry was conducted in the wake of the assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan, Pakistan's first prime minister, in 1951.

A second British team arrived in Karachi a decade ago to investigate the murder of the then prime minister Benazir Bhutto's estranged younger brother and political rival, Murtaza. Ms Bhutto's administration enlisted the services of former Scotland Yard detectives and Home Office forensic experts.

In September 1996, Murtaza Bhutto and seven others were gunned down by policemen outside the family mansion. The killing triggered riots in parts of Sindh province, and led to the imprisonment of Benazir's husband Asif Zardari now co-chairman of the Pakistan People's Party.

Within six weeks of the killing, Ms Bhutto's government was sacked amid allegations of corruption. The Scotland Yard team, led by Roy Herridge, were paid and ordered to leave the country with their investigation incomplete. Last night a member of that team spoke of their frustrations a decade ago. "We had a lot of difficulty in accessing material from the local police and other agencies... We did not, I think, establish any direct link which could be used in evidential form with the police in the killing. But we certainly managed to establish that there were discrepancies in the official version of what happened."

In the aftermath of Murtaza's death many Pakistanis came to believe that Ms Bhutto and Mr Zardari had been complicit in the murder, which one report concluded had been approved at "the highest level". They had always denied the allegation.

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