14 years after her assassination, Benazir Bhutto's followers urge Taliban to extradite hit-squad member

The Pakistan People's Party (PPP) has now asked Sirajuddin to hand over Mehsud, who was part of a suicide member squad deployed to kill former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. "I appeal to the Haqqani Network and Afghanistan interior minister Sirajuddin Haqqani to arrest Ikramullah and hand him over to us, because we need him," said Rehman Malik, former Interior Minister and a close confidant of Bhutto.

It has been exactly 14 years, and yet, the government has not been able to catch Pakistans most wanted criminal Ikramullah Mehsud. Mehsud is in Afghanistan under the protection of its Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani, the head of Haqqani Network terror group.

The Pakistan People's Party (PPP) has now asked Sirajuddin to hand over Mehsud, who was part of a suicide member squad deployed to kill former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

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"I appeal to the Haqqani Network and Afghanistan interior minister Sirajuddin Haqqani to arrest Ikramullah and hand him over to us, because we need him," said Rehman Malik, former Interior Minister and a close confidant of Bhutto.

According to the Pakistani security agencies, Ikramullah was a back-up suicide bomber of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), who was meant to detonate his explosive vest if the first attacker did not succeed.

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But officials say he walked away after the other bomber blew himself up, killing Benazir Bhutto and at least 20 others at a rally in Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007.

Described as a senior leader of the TTP, Ikramullah is on a Pakistani list of most-wanted terror suspects, and has been named in court as the second suicide bomber.

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Also Read | After 14 years, Benazir Bhutto's assassination still remains a mystery

The Pakistan People's Party leaders have blamed the Taliban for sheltering the killer of their leader.

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"You want to sit on both sides � with the TTP and Pakistan. Pakistanis sacrificed their lives for them and helped their refugees, but they were supporting the enemies of Pakistan," said Rehman Malik adding that the whole operation to kill his leader was funded by the slain supremo of al-Qaeda - Osama Bin Laden, reports The News.

According to the PPP leader Rehman Malik, since the Taliban captured power in Afghanistan, his party has written four letters to the Interior Haqqani to deport Ikramullah, but neither Haqqani nor Pakistani spy agency Inter- Services Intelligence (ISI) and Imran Khan have shown any interest.

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Rehman says that after becoming the Interior Minister in 2008, he expedited the investigation and according to the probe report submitted in the court, the conspiracy of killing Benazir Bhutto was hatched at Room No 96 of "infamous" Darul Uloom Haqqania in Akora Khattak in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. Haqqanis are the patrons of this madrasa and most of the Taliban ministers and TTP leaders are closely linked with madrasa which is also known as the "factory of Jihad." According to Rehman the two suicide bombers were students of the same madrasa and were later trained by the Haqqani Network's suicide bomber wing.

Also Read | There is no freedom of speech, living, or even breathing in Pak: Bilawal Bhutto

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Interestingly, the present chief of the TTP Mufti Noor Wali has also confessed that it was the TTP who killed Bhutto. "Bilal, also known as Saeed, and Ikramullah were tasked to carry out the attack on Bhutto. Bomber Bilal first fired at Benazir Bhutto from his pistol and the bullet hit her neck. Then he detonated his explosive jacket and blew himself up among the participants of the procession," he wrote in his book "Inqilab Mehsood South Waziristan - From British Raj to American Imperialism".

And Imran Khan is trying to make a deal with the same TTP group. "While negotiating with the TTP, Imran Khan should not forget that terrorists have inflicted deep wounds on us and have killed our loved ones, including the innocent children of APS Peshawar and troops," Rehman warned. He asserted that if his party comes to power, it "will put pressure on Haqqani to deport the killer of Mohtarma Bhutto."

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Analysts say that Haqqani, the Taliban's interior minister is an UN-designated terrorist with a $10-million bounty, will never deport any member of his squad of suicide bombers. After becoming the minister, in his first public appearance he felicitated his suicide bombers and families of "martyred" bombers in October and called them "heroes of the country".

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