Experts say that the murder of the state prosecutor in the case of former Pakistani premier Benazir Bhutto's assassination could be a result of the fact that certain people do not want the case to be resolved.
Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali was shot dead in his car on Friday by several gunmen shortly after he left home in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad. His bodyguard was injured and a woman passer-by was also killed in the attack. Ali was on his way to the anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi which is hearing the Bhutto murder case.
Bhutto was killed in a suicide attack on December 27, 2007 during an election rally in Rawalpindi. After her death, her Pakistan People's Party (PPP) won the elections, and her widower, Asif Ali Zardari, eventually became president of Pakistan.
Zardari condemned Ali's killing on Friday and ordered an investigation to "expose the real culprits involved in the murder."
The Pakistani media and certain political analysts speculated on Friday that Ali's murder was probably linked to the Bhutto murder case, whereas others said it was too early to make any such claims.
Shrouded in mystery
The Bhutto murder remains shrouded in mystery and the PPP government was never able to bring the culprits to justice in its five years of rule.
Some of the party’s supporters are unhappy with this and some experts say the dissatisfaction could seriously affect the party’s performance in the upcoming May 11 parliamentary elections.
Veteran politician and PPP senator Taj Haider, however, rejects these accusations. "It was a very big controversy that resulted in Benazir's murder," he told DW. "In the first place we involved the United Nations so that the wider parameters of the conspiracy behind her murder would be determined."
A United Nations commission, set up to investigate Bhutto's murder at the request of the PPP government, revealed in its detailed 2010 report that the security arrangements for Bhutto were seriously inadequate, and that some agencies had tried to hinder the initial investigations.
Former President Pervez Musharraf - who is under house arrest since returning to Pakistan from a self-imposed exile - has also been implicated in the Bhutto murder case. He denies any involvement and has blamed the Taliban.
There was some speculation on Friday that Musharraf could be involved in the murder of Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali. Malik Qamar Afzal, a counsel for the former president told DW’s Islamabad correspondent Shakoor Rahim that this was "nonsensical."
"He was our colleague. We sympathize with him more than anybody else. I don't see any connection between Ali's murder and my client," he said, pointing out that Musharraf was facing a number of cases.
Some Pakistani activists said that there was a pattern involving the country’s powerful security agencies. Asma Jahangir, a human rights activist and former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan said it was not uncommon for journalists, activists and lawyers investigating "sensitive cases" to be killed by "unknown assailants."
"We will protest against Ali's murder and we will also investigate it on our own," she told DW.
"The civilian governments are completely powerless when it comes to the army and the ISI, as we have seen so many times before," agreed Kamran Shafi of Pakistan's daily Dawn. "There is a huge cover-up in Bhutto's case and there is a lot that doesn't meet the eye."
Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali, who was given additional security by the government last year after receiving death threats, was also the state prosecutor in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
He had indicted seven alleged conspirators in the attacks and political analysts say this made him an unpopular figure with the Pakistani right-wing and some officials of the Pakistani security agencies.
The Indian government claims that Pakistani militant groups planned and executed the attacks which killed 166 people in the Indian financial hub.