Pakistan asks Interpol to help arrest Musharraf over Bhutto assassination

The interior ministry has written to Interpol, the International Criminal Police Organisation, seeking a "red notice" alerting its 190 member countries to arrest a person before possible extradition to the requesting country, the interior minister, Rehman Malik, said.

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ISLAMABAD // Pakistan has asked Interpol to help arrest the country's former military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf, over the 2007 assassination of the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

The interior ministry has written to Interpol, the International Criminal Police Organisation, seeking a "red notice" alerting its 190 member countries to arrest a person before possible extradition to the requesting country, the interior minister, Rehman Malik, said.

Interpol, based in Lyon, France, does not automatically issue such notices upon request.

"I assure you 100 per cent that the request for the arrest warrant for General Musharraf has gone," Mr Malik told reporters in a televised press conference Sunday.

He has said he instructed the Federal Investigative Agency, a police unit that operates under his ministry, to send the letter.

The government led by Ms Bhutto's widower, President Asif Ali Zardari, is seeking Mr Musharraf's extradition following a Pakistani court's request that he be questioned over security protection he authorised for Bhutto when she returned from exile in 2007 to campaign in an election.

The Supreme Court yesterday ordered authorities to notify mr Musharraf he must appear before the justices in connection with the investigation into Ms Bhutto's death, Geo Television reported.

Mr Malik, a former aide to Ms Bhutto, has said Mr Musharraf, 68, neglected his duty to protect Ms Bhutto from threats by Islamic guerrilla groups who opposed her and her Pakistan People's Party, the country's most secular major political movement.

Pakistan blames the Taliban movement and allied militants for Ms Bhutto's assassination in Rawalpindi, a garrison town just outside Islamabad, in December 2007.

Mr Musharraf, an army commander who took power in a 1999 coup and ruled until 2008, has denied Mr Malik's accusations he intentionally left Ms Bhutto, a political rival, vulnerable to attack.

Since resigning the presidency in August 2008, Mr Musharraf has lived largely in Dubai and London. He has founded a political party, the All Pakistan Muslim League, that he says will contest the next election.

Interpol says on its website it rejects any request for the issuance of arrest notices that its finds would violate its charter, "which forbids the organisation from undertaking any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character".