By Senator Rehman Malik
I recollect the type of persecution of PPP and its sympathisers faced in Pakistan. Along with many I was also arrested when I declined to be an approver against Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto & Asif Ali Zardari.
I remember this ordeal of getting my judicial remand without producing me for a single time before any court to avoid my appearance before media. After spending one year and three months in Adiala jail I was released when the Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Sajjad Ali Shah granted me bail and ordered for release from the jail custody.
I met Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto after the bail in the presence of Gen. Babar in her House in F-8, Islamabad. We three reviewed the on-going situation including the arrest of Mr. Asif Ali Zardari, first by PML-N Ehtesab Bureau and then by Farooq Leghari. The government of Mian Nawaz Sharif was very aggressive against Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto & Asif Ali Zardari and the entire state machinery was after the couple and their associates. I had life attempt on me in front of my house a few days after my bail which was already in the notice of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.
Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto in due consideration of threats to me and my family advised me to leave the country as it was even more painful to see the ordeal. The Margalla Police refused to registered the FIR on my life attempt, and when I complained to my parent ministry against the police, strangely my request was dismissed considering it as a “petty matter”.
According to the advice of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, I planned and left via Afghanistan for Europe and it was dreadful journey through Taliban controlled areas and also the roadside criminals between Jalalabad & Kabul. I managed in two weeks to reach Austria and then to UK in very odd and difficult circumstances and the entire difficulties were documented by BBC documentary namely ‘From Pakistan To Park Land (Via Illford)’, which is available on Internet. A few weeks later after my arrival, Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto also arrived in London after obtaining a proper permission from the Court. She held her first informal meeting with few other PPP leaders at the residence of Mr Pasha, an associate of Asif Ali Zardari, who had even refused to return an old vehicle owned by Asif Ali Zardari.
Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto chalked out her political struggle plan and I felt the honour that I was also assigned certain duties. I started my job by first buying a second-hand car which was used also by Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. I used to drive her from one function to the second in this car, mostly in the accompany of Ambassador Wajid Shamas-ul-Hasan and Riaz Bashir who were already in exile there. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Assefa and Bakhtawar must surely remember this old car as mostly I used to take them for ice cream or sometimes drop them from one point to the other.
The political activities started from a rented house in Hounslow by my brother-in-law, Dr Zaheer Nasir, who was great source of strength though he also suffered in Pakistan and had to leave the country to seek exile in London when I was in jail, leaving his well-established and successful hospital at Saidpur Road, Rawalpindi.
I opened a due diligence company/consultancy and fetched good business enabling me to get a terraced house on mortgage on Edgware Road and thereafter rented in a shop of grocery with big basement not far from Sir Pervez Khan’s meat shop. I stopped the grocery store as it was with liquor licence which I surrendered immediately and managed a subway sandwich store within a year. Both sandwich store & due diligence company/consultancy flourished.
I converted the basement into PPP office which could cater nearly 500 people at a time. This became the favourite place of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto for meetings and most of the PPP leaders know about this place. This basement became very helpful for the party. Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, while returning from Dubai or USA used to stay in our house and my wife Dr Saeeda Rehman had already become good friend and her host.
The suit of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto in my house and her small fridge is still in one corner of her bedroom with her favourite chocolates. She used to like Pink ice cream, which was only available in Whitely store in Bayswater, not far from my residence.
My moderate business gave a good support to Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and the party. In the meantime, with the help of an Iraqi friend, I got into oil business and added into handsome additional income where Benazir Bhutto also became partner as per her desire. I also opened an office in Dubai and my sons also started helping me.
Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto decided to create a network of E- mail for the leadership in Pakistan. If the people recall, her politics was given the name of politics of e-mails but she successfully created a connection with her party leadership in Pakistan with HQ at my office basement and from my office in the Royal Park, which was looked after by Mr Tim an ex- film actor mostly in James Bond movies. I cannot forget to mention my former PSO Mr. Sajjad Haider who not only helped in running the business but was also a great help in all political matters, assigned to me by Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.
I, in fact, created a PPP family where I cannot forget Ch Riaz, former PPP President of Greater London. I also remember the visits of my great friend Salman Taseer who often used to visit me. I remember his young son Shehryar Taseer and three of us used to have our food in Chinese restaurant near Oxford street. Late Salman Taseer was made Governor on my recommendation to President Asif Ali Zardari and he met President Asif Zardari in my presence in Dubai.
A serious shock came for PPP when Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari were convicted in Cotecna, a so called corruption case. We heard the judgment while sitting in the drawing room of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and I noticed that she was very upset after hearing the said tutored verdict. I remember telling her while leaving her house that she will be out of this whole fabricated case very soon In Sha Allah because I had some indications through my intelligence sources that the judgement was a result of instructions of the then Prime Minister of Pakistan and the Chief justice of Punjab, Justice Rashid Aziz.
(To be continued in next edition)