Vision and courage: ZAB

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By Senator Rehman Malik

AS since 1979, we celebrated ZAB’s birthday on 5th January throughout the country. God gifted us this leader who emerged in the world as the leader of the masses. He was the best diplomat and a strategist. He became the darling of the Muslim Ummah and is still remembered with respect.

He became a victim of an international conspiracy and the world witnessed the judicial murder of a great charismatic public leader, Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1979.

The judicial murder of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on this day by a dictator was actually the death of humanity and the voice of the masses. He was eliminated physically but he is still alive in the hearts of the people.

History will neither forgive nor forget the murder of a leader who wanted to make us a leading, progressive, peaceful and prosperous country 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 dangers by neighbouring India and 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!”

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Shaheed was the leader who had the vision to foresee the disintegration of the Soviet Union and predicted a new world order in the making.

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto

He refused to succumb to international pressure to roll back Pakistan’s nuclear programme. Gerald Feuerstein, who was a witness to the meeting between the then Prime Minister Shaheed Zulfikar 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 Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had love in his heart for his people, country and the Muslim Ummah and he made history by bringing the Muslim Ummah on one platform during the Islamic Summit held in Lahore in 1974. He was not only a distinguished national leader but also an unparalleled statesman who reenergised the broken nation after the disaster of the fall of Dhaka.

Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had judged the Indian mindset well, which was to never allow the basic rights of Kashmiris of self-determination but he emphasised at all international forums that the settlement of the Kashmir dispute depends on the right of self-determination. He dealt with local and international issues logically and pragmatically with a result-oriented approach.

Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto laid down the foundations of a strong friendship with China, which always supported Pakistan against all odds. This relationship is getting stronger and stronger, which is reflected in the form of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

I had a chance as director FIA to look into old files of the judicial murder of Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto where I had found some tampered documents.

A file picture shows Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto addressing a public meeting

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 with, the accused were assured to go scot-free and Masood Mahmood was tortured under duress and in fact the first statement of Masood Mahmood was recorded by Magistrate Ghazanfar Zia under Section 164 of Cr. P.C., who never implicated Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The magistrate had recorded the statement by observing the legal procedure and I interacted with Mr Ghazanfar during a personal interaction. He is presently living in his village in Kharian.

Having failed with Ghazanfar Zia, Magistrate, to change the statement of Masood Mahmood, the file was transferred to Lahore and yet a second statement under Section 164 Cr. P.C. was recorded by another Magistrate Qureshi who converted a torture statement into a confessional statement of Masood Mahmood. This was the beginning of the foundation to kill Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The files in the FIA are testimony of the innocence of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto but files buried deep need to make to speak and justice Nasim Hasan Shah had also admitted about this judicial murder. The reference filed by then President Asif Ali Zardari is still pending in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Bhutto’s ideology was popular throughout the world and he laid down his life but didn’t let Pakistan’s nuclear programme be rolled back and didn’t compromise on his towering principles. He could have saved his life if had compromised with a dictator, which was an impossible act for a leader of the people—Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

(The writer is a PPP Senator, former Interior Minister of Pakistan, and Chairman of think tank “Global Eye” and Senate Standing Committee on Interior. He can be reached at: rmalik1212@gmail.com, Twitter @Senrehmanmalik)