ZAB Shaheed – we lost a visionary leader

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By Senator Rehman Malik
4th April is a black day in the history of Pakistan; that witnessed the judicial murder of a great charismatic public leader Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1979 – a day that was actually the death of humanity and the voice of the masses. History will neither forgive nor forget the murder of a leader who wanted to make us progressive and peaceful, take us towards national integrity and prosperity by empowering the masses, and by making Pakistan the first Muslim nuclear power in the world. He had feared that Pakistan will be exposed to external danger by the neighboring India therefore announced “we (Pakistan) will eat grass, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own (Atom bomb), we have no other choice”.
Bhutto refused to succumb to the international pressure to roll back Pakistan’s nuclear programme. Gerald Feuerstein, who was a witness to the meeting between the then Prime Minister Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and then US secretary of State Henry Kissinger in Lahore in August 1976, had admitted in an interview that Bhutto rejected the warning to roll back or compromise over Pakistan’s nuclear programme. Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had pain in his heart for his people, country and Muslim ummah, and he made history by bringing the Muslim ummah on one platform during Islamic Summit Conference in Lahore in 1974. He was not only a distinguished national leader but also an unparalleled statesman who revived a broken nation after the disaster of the fall of Dhaka by bringing back 90,000 prisoners of war.
The public must know that the enemies of Pakistan decided his elimination after refused the rollback of the nuclear programme despite the numerous pressures and threats of making him a “horrible example.
The CIA hatched a plan to block communism, using Islam through General Zia ul Haq. He preached his own brand of Islam wherein he promoted extremists, terrorists and all kind of criminals under the name of Jehadis. These extremists and criminal elements were brought and nourished by USA in Pakistan for launching them in Afghanistan to operate. The then director CIA W. J Casey has disclosed the details of the meeting in his memoirs where, inter alia, CIA Director W. J Casey narrates as to how Gen. Zia was recruited while he was specially posted in Jordon for operation against Palestinians. Interestingly, it is same era when Air Commodore Khaqan Abbasi was also posted as the advisor of Royal Jordanian Air Force and both Zia ul Haq and Khaqan Abbasi remained under the command of Army Chief of Jordon and became good friends. Today’s Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, grew under the legacy and with the children of General Zia Ul Haq. The legacy continued where General Zia ul Haq raised his team consisting of anti-Bhutto politicians, which included Chaudhary Zahoor Elahi, Khawaja Safder, Ghulam Dastgir Khan, Raja Zafar ul Haq and Mian Nawaz Sharif. Once I got an invitation for an official function in the Army House, but it was the unfortunate black day in the history of Pakistan as on the same day the Chief Justice of Pakistan had upheld the death sentence and was smartly dressed with his grey hairs and was receiving congratulation for his judgment. General Zia ul Haq standing next to the Chief Justice was also receiving greetings from his own created politicians and his senior colleagues. Shamelessly they all had no feelings for remorse and were celebrating the death of a charismatic leader who had dreamed of Pakistan leading the world.

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto knew that good relations with India are in the largest interest for peaceful coexistence in Sub-continent hence he signed an agreement with India that called ‘Simla Agreement’ on 2 July 1972. ZAB and the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi are seen in the picture signing the accord. This agreement on Bilateral Relations between India and Pakistan was signed after the 1971 India-Pakistan War, in which Pakistan was defeated conclusively and which resulted in the creation of Bangladesh.

I had seen another shock episode in the said morning when Ch. Zahoor Elahi called Justice Anwar Ul Haq asking him to send the pen which was used for writing the death sentence to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. This call was made from Westridge House, where the old building of Supreme Court was situated. I saw that pen and the barefaced happiness in the Zahoor place on the announcement of that unfortunate judgment. Finally, I heard that the Army aviation has done a rehearsal to carry the body of Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. It was shocking and unbelievable that next morning when I heard Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was hanged and buried quietly. They killed and buried Bhutto mysteriously but hid bravest daughter, Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, the first woman prime minister of the Muslim world, marked the political rebirth of her father Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s legacy. She suffered the most in the hands of Zia ul Haq and his remnants but eventually she witnessed the crashing of C-130B Hercules aircraft where even remains of the body of Zia-ul-Haq could not be found. The wrath of Allah also fell on Justice Moulvi Mushtaq who had awarded death sentence to Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Honeybees attacked his funeral and the mourners had to flee from the graveyard leaving his coffin unattended. As Director FIA, I had taken upon myself to look into the old files of the judicial murder of Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, where I had found some tampered documents and would soon write a book detailing the conspiracy behind Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s ‘judicial murder’, which was carried out with a premeditated plan. General Ziaul Haq’s government changed the documents but the entire world declared it a ‘judicial murder’. I appreciate the honesty of the then Director Law of FIA who had clearly stated the shells of the bullets were replaced, witnesses were tampered, and Masood Mahmood was tutored under duress. General Zia ul Haq tried to eliminate Bhuttoism by killing Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto but he still rules the hearts of the people while Zia ul Haq was made a disgrace for the rest of the world. We know almost all those Muslim leaders who participated in the Second Islamic Summit Conference held from February 22-24, 1974 in Lahore died unnatural deaths. Undoubtedly, the killing of all these Muslim leaders cannot be a coincidence but an operation to punish them and to give a message to the Muslim world. I, in my humble capacity, will soon expose those facts, which are buried in files and from those who are mum. We, PPP workers and President Asif Ali Zardari, filed a reference to Supreme Court but the then Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary did not proceed on it. I, therefore, appeal to the present the Chief Justice to take up this case to vindicate position of Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was a distinguished leader in the history of Pakistan who gave a lesson of peace and humanity to the rest of the world and gave voice to the poor and oppressed people of Pakistan and empowered them to stand for their rights. I had the honor to work with three Bhuttos, first with Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, and thereafter Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto – my leader, mentor and sister, and followed by Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari – the only hope for Pakistan’s future. And, I feel proud to have personal and political association with the Bhutto and Zardari family. Like Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto who carried on the Bhutto’s legacy more powerfully and bravely, I find the same bravery, wisdom, vision and far-sightedness in Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
(The writer is a PPP Senator, former Interior Minister of Pakistan, and Chairman of think tank “Global Eye” and Senate Body on Interior and Narcotics. rmalik1212@gmail.com @senrehmanmalik)