Sherbaz Khan Mazari on Zulfikar Ali Bhutto: " The Journey to Disillusionment"

The Journey to Disillusionment


Sherbaz Khan Mazari


Excerpts from his book . . ..


Page 330 - Bhutto’s fixation with Hitler was manifested in a similarity of coincidences. The concentration camp at ‘Dalai’ and the FSF ‘storm troopers’ were clearly products of Bhutto’s Hitler fixated mind. Aping Hitler, Bhutto chose to use a policy of systemic terror to brutalize his opponents.


Page 331 - By 1974 four political activists were victims of political assassination. The fifth was a botched attempt at killing a man Bhutto had grown to hate: Dr Nazir Ahmed, Jamaat-i-Islami MNA – shot dead at his clinic at Dera Ghazi Khan on 8 June 1972; Khawaja Muhammad Rafiq, leader of Itehad Party – shot dead by a sniper during an anti-government demonstration in Lahore on 20 December 1972; Abdus Samad Achakzai, leader of NAP Pakhoonkhwa of Balochistan – killed in his house in Quetta by a grenade attack on 2 December 1973; Maulvi Shamsuddin, JUI MPA and Deputy Speaker of the Balochistan assembly – shot in his car on his way to Fort Suleman on 13 March 1974; Muhammad Ahmed Kasuri, father of Ahmed Raza – killed mistakenly, during a bungled attempt to assassinate his son, who was present in the car along with him, in Lahore on 10 November 1974.

(Bhutto was lucky he got hanged for only one of these murders).


Page 331 – Others were killed as well. On 28 September a serious attempt was made on Wali Khan’s life as he was driving to Swat. Both his driver and guard were killed but Wali Khan luckily emerged unscathed.


Page 331 - On 5 October Ali Buksh Junejo – a former Khalifa of Pir Pagaro, who had joined the PPP, was murdered in Sanghar in broad daylight. The next day Six supporters of Pir Pagaro, who were attending a court hearing against them, were taken by the police to a deserted location and murdered in cold blood.


Page 332 - Apart from the killings during this period, thousands of people were detained from all over the country. There were those like Kaswar Gardezi, secretary general of NAP, who was sadistically tortured by the police while in detention. In a voice breaking with emotion Gardezi later related his horrifying experience to me (details of the torture not included here).


Page 333 – In September 1972 Khawaja Mana Rahman, of the Dawn group, was shot at the Karachi Boat Club by hired assassins who made their escape. A few months later an attempt was made to shoot his daughter while she was driving her car.


Given the circumstances I was disappointed , but not surprised, when Mana Rahman called on me to tell me  that both he and his brother-in-law, Mahmood Haroon, has sought and received forgiveness from Bhutto. They had done so because they “lacked the courage to continue to oppose him”. The people who stood firm against Bhutto’s autocracy were getting smaller in number and in time would shrink further.


Page 334 – If any of his subordinates showed even a modicum of independence, he would be swiftly punished. In December 1973 he dismissed Mumtaz Bhutto as chief minister of Sindh. In March 1973 Khar was sacked as chief minister of Punjab.


Bhutto’s obsession with maintaining a aura of invincibility was so strong that he would spare no one, not even those who had done him valuable and devoted service over the years.

Page 335 – On the evening of 2 July 1974 J A Rahim was invited, along with the senior hierarchy of the PPP, to a dinner at the prime minister’s house. The invitation was for 8 pm but the host had failed to show up. By midnight the seventy-plus-year-old Rahim lost his patience and left uttering some harsh words.


In the early hours of the morning as Rahim lay sleeping he was informed by his servant that a posse of men were demanding to be let in. Rahim went to the front door to discover that it was Saied Ahmed Khan, the chief of prime minister’s security, who told him he had come to deliver a personal message from the prime minister. When he opened the door the security chief began by pummeling Rahim’s face and body with his fists until Rahim fell to the ground. Then one of his men hit Rahim with his rifle butt while he lay prostrate. Rahim’s son, Sikander who rushed to intervene, was soon beaten unconscious by the FSF troopers. Having delivered Bhutto’s message Rahim was dragged by his feet and flung into a jeep, along with his son, and taken to a police station. Rafi Raza arrived at the police station a couple of hours later and rescued him.


Even Bhuto’s close associates and cabinet ministers now lived in dread and fear of the unpredictability of their master’s temper. Bhutto would not brook any criticism. Rafi Raza revealed that Dr Mubashir Hasan told him that when he wished to speak to the prime minister he would do so only privately to avoid ugly consequences. Rafi Raza also mentioned that Bhutto forbade him to speak openly at cabinet meetings to prevent others from becoming ‘too independent and contrary.


(this policy was continued by Benazir Bhutto. No one could speak until spoken to. Not even Aitzaz Ahsan, Raza Rabbani, Khurshid Shah or even the benign Iqbal Haider, not to mention the small fry Sherry Rahman, Farzana Raja and Fauzia Wahhab. A US official told of a meeting with Benazir Bhutto -- she spoke 90 percent of the time).



Part II


Page 344 – Bhutto did not trust even the closest of his associates and kept them in check by pitting one against the other. In Sindh he had controlled his cousin Mumtaz through his rival Jatoi. Jatoi in turn, as chief minister, had no control over Jam Sadiq Ali, who reported directly to the prime minister. Jam Sadiq Ali, his hit man had total control of Sanghar, Pagaro’s vote bank. Larkana was made into a division and Khalid Kharral became its first commissioner, reporting directly to Bhutto. Rather than trying to bring his warring subordinates together, Bhutto encouraged them to squabble even further, all the while enjoying the complaints of one colleague about the other.


Page 345 – Creating rivalries between his subordinate gave Bhutto a sense of security. As his confidant Rafi Raza admitted: “By nature suspicious, he sought to have ’dirt’ available against his ministers and leading party members, and in early 1976, assigned to his intelligence chiefs the task  of preparing secret dossiers about them, to be used against them in case of need”.


Page 342 – NAP/JUI government in Balochistan was dismissed illegally and unethically and inspite of sending Baloch leaders to jail, the federal government had not been able to form a majority government there. People were shot like dogs, the army had blockaded sizeable populations, air force had been used to strafe people, Iranian ammunition was being used against the locals and thousands of political workers had been jailed.


Page 350 – On 25 June while I was at Karachi I read in the evening papers that over nine hundred people had been slain by the armed forces in the Mari tribal area. The newspapers mentioned the use of the Pakistan air force in aerial bombing of the hapless civilians.


Page 352 – A ‘mohtabar’ informed us: "On a recent visit to Harnai I met with an army Subedar at a local ‘chaikhana’ who told me that he was a paratrooper who had participated in the action against the Marris. The Subedar said many members of his section had been dropped by parachute at night near identified Marri settlements. At dawn they surrounded the settlements and attacked them killing all those who resisted, After burning down their homes, they arrested all the able bodied men and took away all their livestock. When I asked the Subedar about the Marri women, he told me that they took with them only the pretty ones for obvious reasons and left the others to fend for themselves. The ‘mohtabar’ then confirmed that in his presence alone he saw the army auctioning off over 15,000 heed of captured cattle".


Page 353 – On our return to Islamabad a number of us in the opposition including Wali Khan, Pir Pagaro and I sent separate similarly worded telegrams to Chaudry Fazal Elahi, the president:


"The action committee of UDF hereby bring to your notice that the actions taken by the federal government in Balochistan are unconstitutional and unlawful. In compliance with such orders the Pakistan army and air force are indiscriminately shelling, strafing and killing innocent inhabitants, including women and children. Their properties are being destroyed and their livestock looted. Concentration camps have been established where innocent and patriotic people of Balochistan are being kept and maltreated. Their women are dishonoured and innocent children tortured. Implementation of such orders of the federal government by the Pakistan army and air force is damaging the unity of the country and may lead to further disintegration, thus a reign of terror is prevailing in the whole province for the simple reason that the people of Balochistan did not vote for the People’s Party in the last general elections".


Page 354 – only two days later I received a report from Mukhtar Hasan, a newspaper correspondent who had just returned from Balochistan. He told me that while he was there two Marri women were raped near Balpat station by soldiers. The culprits were later caught and given only extra drill as punishment. In another incident, one Lal Han Marri’s wife was abducted in Kohlu and raped by several soldiers. Rape in any society is a most reprehensible crime, but when a country’s army, whose sworn and only duty is to defend the borders of a country, indulges in criminal raping of its own hapless citizens, it is nothing less than an act of treason. What disgusted me most was the fact that only token punishment was being awarded by the army for the perpetrators of this most monstrous of crimes. The Pakistan army was behaving as if it had occupied a foreign country, and an iniquitous occupation at that. It reminded me of the atrocities committed by the army in East Pakistan.


Page 356 – in late August I was asked by Bhutto to meet with him in Karachi. I took the opportunity of remonstrating with him about the continuing military action against the tribesmen, especially the use of aircraft against them. It was then, in my presence, that Bhutto finally, openly admitted that military aircraft had been used in Balochistan, but he insisted that no bombing had taken place, the aerial attacks, according to him, had been restricted to strafing and rockets.


Page 356/357 – within weeks of the dismissal of the NAP government in Balochistan in February 1973 a disparate group of Baloch guerillas had sprung up largely in the Marri and Mengel areas. These guerrilla groups, despite their meager numbers, constantly harassed army convoys. Adopting the classical guerrilla approach of avoiding any large scale encounters with the armed forces. Between the period of 1973 and 1975, there were 178 major recorded army encounters with the guerrillas. Despite the army’s enormous 80,000 man force it would find itself increasingly frustrated with its inability to deal with small groups who attacked at unexpected moments and then swiftly melted away into the mountainside. The army’s heavy handed approach of avenging itself on the innocent, ordinary tribal folk only worsened the situation.


Page 361 – the army now decided to take advantage of the presence of a large concentration of Marri families in one particular locality and launched Operation Chamalang on 3 September 1974. By attacking the tent villages of their families the army hoped to lure the fighting tribesmen down from the hills. The strategy worked and thousands of armed Marris poured down from the hills to defend their wives and children. It is said they fought for three consecutive days and nights before running out of ammunition and being forced to retreat to the hills.


Page 364 – News of the Chamalang Operation reached me late. I had spent a week in Sonmiani and found myself – as was the case in those days without telephones, newspapers or even electricity – completely cut off from all but urgent telegrams, which would take a couple of days to reach. It was only when I reached Karachi on 18 September that I was informed by Ahmed Raza Kasuri that the army had occupied Chamalang. He told me that about 800 Marris and over 200 soldiers had been killed in the fighting. I was shattered by the enormity of the event.



Part III


Page 371 – on 8 February my eldest son Sherazam informed me that he had just heard on the radio that Hayat Muhammad Sherpao, the PPP senior minister of NWFP had been killed in a bomb explosion at Peshawar university.


There are many theories about who arranged his assassination. One theory that cannot easily be dismissed was that it had been carried out on the direct orders of Sherpao’s own leader – Bhutto himself. It is a known fact that before his death Sherpao had become very disenchanted with the leader he had once hero-worshipped. Bhutto had noticed Sherpao’s growing popularity and had come to resent it and had begun politically sidelining him at every available opportunity. Even one of their close PPP colleague commented:


 “ A few months before his death, Sherpao seriously considered leaving the Party altogether. He only changed his mind on the persuasion of myself and other friends from the Frontier ----- . Of all those around Bhutto, sherpao’s personal devotion had been the greatest, and his subsequent disillusionment was consequently the most profound”.


Page 372 – The death of Sherpao provided Bhutto with an excuse to clamp down on Wali Khan and his NAP. It was eerily reminiscent of the dismissal of the Balochistan government on trumped up charges of being responsible for the arms found in the Iraq Embassy in February 1973, two years previously. The day following Sherpao’s assassination, Wali khan and all the national and provincial leaders of NAP were either under detention or being urgently sought out by the authorities. The next day it was announced that NAP had been banned and all its assets confiscated. The First Amendment to the 1973 Constitution allowed the Federal Government to ban political parties formed or those ‘operating in a manner prejudicial to the sovereignty of Pakistan’.


On the evening of 10 February I got a call from Jennifer Musa from Balochistan, who had been a NAP MNA, from Islamabd. She told me that over 800 of the NAP party members had been arrested. She also informed me that an ordinance had been passed in the Assembly which allowed for the arrest of MNAs while the Assembly was in session. It had become obvious that the government had begun an intensified assault to destroy all vestige of NAP. A brutal campaign had begun to pin Sherpao’s death on NAP party members. A number of them including, Asfandyar were very brutally tortured in an attempt to extract ‘confessions’. A few days later NWP Governor Aslam Khattak and the Gandapur Government was also sacked and the federal Government imposed its direct rule in the province.


Page 372/373 - On 18 February at 1 a.m. I was woken up by a telephone call from a very distraught Mrs Azizullah Shaikh. Her home was being stoned by hooligans. Her husband had gone into hiding to evade arrest, and she was alone at home with her three young daughters. I took my son Sherazam and a couple of our servants and rushed over to her house. We saw a dozen or so thugs fleeing into the surrounding darkness when they saw our car approaching. Inside we discovered Mrs shaikh and her three daughters cowering in the corner o a room. The idea that a government could stoop so low as to threaten a defenseless woman and her young daughters sickened me. My son and I kept an all night vigil and left only after sunrise.


Page 375/377 – the banning of nap found UDF Opposition alliance in a weakened position. Having banned NAP the government was required under law to refer it's dissolution of the Party to the Supreme Court. Exercising a leap in convoluted logic, CJ Hamoodur Rahman chose to construe NAP’s long held demand for greater provincial autonomy to be nothing more than a claim for a provincial ‘right of self-determination with the right to accede’. The Supreme Court had fallen prey to playing its historical role – since the days of Justice Munir – of acceding deferentially, yet again, to the wishes of the government of the day. The sum of the supreme court’s long judgment ----- was to endorse the Prime Minister’s contempt for political opposition.


Page 391 – in the meantime yet another government-opposition crisis had taken place. On 14 November the Opposition created an uproar in the Assembly over the Government’s introduction of the proposed Fourth Amendment to the 1973 Constitution, to further curtail the writ jurisdiction of the High Courts in cases of preventive detention. It thwarted the Court’s ability to prohibit such detentions or even grant bail to people so detained. It was clearly directed towards disabling the Courts from intervening in cases of blatant political victimization.


In the ensuing parliamentary commotion the serjeant-at-arms was ordered to evict the Opposition MNAs from the Chamber. Failing to do so, FSF troopers were called in. These government hired ruffians bodily lifted eight struggling MNAs and dumped them unceremoniously in the National Assembly car park. Among the victims was the acting leader of the Opposition, Mufti Mahmood. It was a scandalous display of unwarranted aggression and only helped in furthering the growing bitter divide between members of the Opposition and Bhutto.


Page 393 – After having been forcibly ejected from parliament Mufti Mahmood refused Bhutto’s offer of a dialogue to sort matters out. This offer of Bhutto was a typical Bhutto gesture. He would now hold himself out as a man of reason offering to settle the dispute in a calm and sensible manner – completely ignoring the fact that it was he who had shoved the aggressive Fourth Amendment down the throats of the Opposition, as well as had them manhandled and ejected from the Assembly Chamber. When his ‘judicious’ offer would meet with rejection, he would get the theatrical opportunity of twisting his hands in dismay and then announce  that he was faced with such an ‘obstructive’ and hostile opposition, that he had little choice but to ‘crush them’ for the sake of good governance.



Part IV


 Page 394/395 – 19 December 1975 had been nominated a ‘Black Flag Day’ and a rally had to be held at Karachi’s Katrak Hall, near the Empress Market. On the way to the hall we were forced to disembark from our vehicles as FSF and armed police had taken charge of all routes leading to the Hall. Asghar khan, Maulana Noorani and I forced our way through the blockade on foot helped by a crowd of several thousand already assembled there. When we walked through a narrow alley and entered the gate a large body of police made their sudden appearance and a DSP took the three of us into police custody. The police contingent charged the crowd with their steel tipped ‘lathis’. The narrowness of the alley made their task much easier as they had only to contend with those in the front. Later I was told they brutally cleared the alley all the way to the main road.  Besides the police, only my three sons, Mir Ali Buksh Talpur and my driver remained in the alley refusing to budge until they discovered what had happened to me. But they too were charged, Talpur’s wrist was broken and my sons injured. We were taken to the Soldier Bazaar police station and detained there. After a while an angry crowd swelled outside and the police decided to release us before the situation got out of hand.


All over Pakistan similar rallies had been disrupted by the local police and FSF. Having muzzled the press and despite having achieved near complete control of all media, Bhutto’s government was determined not to allow the Opposition any opportunity of communicating with the public in any form whatsoever. The government’s open and adversely hostile attitude towards the Opposition was now impelling even the less belligerent Opposition parties into adopting a firmer stance.


Page 397/398 – On 6 February 1976 tragedy struck. Asadullah, the twenty year old son of Attaullah Mengal was gunned down outside my brother Mir Balakh Sher’s house at Karachi, along with his friend Ahmed Shah Kurd. I later learnt that Asadullah who was constantly being followed by local intelligence agencies, sought to evade them earlier that day, by swapping cars at a friend’s house. In the friend’s car he, accompanied by Ahmed Shah, arrived at my brother’s house in the Muhammad Ali Housing Society a few minutes before 8 p.m. He informed the servant that he was expecting to receive a phone call there. At about 8 p.m. as the telephone rang, the servant heard loud bursts of gunfire. Outside the gate he saw Saadullah’s car crashed against the wall and a number of armed people surrounding it. It was then that he noticed that both ends of the street had been blocked by black vehicles. He witnessed the men carrying two prone bodies from the crashed car to one of their vehicles before driving away.


My initial shock at this horrible event quickly changed to sorrow when my thoughts turned towards Attaullah Mengal. Almost a month after the incident ominous rumours began to circulate that after being critically wounded, instead of being taken to a hospital, Asadullah was taken to Malir where he was tortured to extract information about his dealings in Balochistan. He died during the torture and to this day, apart from the perpetrators themselves, no one knows the whereabouts of his remains.


Page 409 – My last meeting with Bhutto took place on 4 June 1976. Sardar Shaukat Hayat met me as I was leaving the Assembly building and insisted that I accompany him to the prime minister’s Chambers to meet Bhutto. We spoke for about fifteen minutes, once again receiving assurances from Bhutto that he was all in favour of settling his disputes with NAP leaders amicably. By now Bhutto’s declarations held little value and I wondered at the real meaning behind our meeting. Only a short while later it dawned on me that I had become party to yet another stunt. Bhutto was off very shortly to Afghanistan, probably also to tell Sirdar Daud that NDP and he were working closely to resolve the dispute between the government and the jailed leaders.


Page 412 – In the middle of the night I received a disturbing call from my family. Five masked men had invaded the ground of my residence and, after knocking a sleeping servant unconscious, they tried to smash entry into the house. Unable to gain entry they then attempted to seize my cars. They managed to push one about ten feet towards the gate before the servants became alerted and rang the alarm. Members of my family then opened fire upon the intruders. Unfortunately in the dark all five intruders managed to flee unhurt.

I would learn some years later from an unimpeachable senior PPP source that the attack had been arranged by Jam Sadiq Ali under specific instructions of Bhutto, who probably wished to remind me of the vulnerability of my family.


Page 416/420 – On January 1977 Bhutto, who had dithered over the issue, announced suddenly that the elections would be held, two months later, on 7 March.


The first sign of the government’s electoral intentions became publicly apparent when Maulana Jan Muhammad Abbasi, the PNA candidate contesting Bhutto’s Larkana seat, was abducted by the police to prevent him from filing his papers against the PPP leader. Taking cue from the leader, a host of other PPP leaders opted to follow a similar electoral route to victory. This illustrious company included Mumtaz Ali Bhutto, Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi, Liaquat Ali Jatoi, Mehran Khan Bijarani, Atta Muhammad Marri, Malik Sikander Khan, Sultan Ahmned Chandio, Yusuf Chandio and some others.


All four provincial Chief Ministers also ensured they would not be ‘disgraced’ by the presence of any rival candidate in their constituencies.


Rafi Raza stated : I met Bhutto on his return from Larkana ----- I said his unopposed election was astonishing, no one could accept that the PNA candidate had simply failed to show up. The error was further compounded by the publicity given to the ‘Undisputed leader’, as if it were a presidential election. Bhutto tetchily asked why, if I was surprised at his unopposed election, I did not enquire how my friend Mumtaz was similarly elected from Larkana.


Kausar Niazi stated : One of Mr Bhutto’s intense desire was well known to me, he had expressed that more than once in my presence. And that was - he wanted a victory with two thirds majority. Bhutto needed a two thirds majority in the National assembly to amend the Constitution to obtain his cherished goal of a presidential form of government. With him, of course, as the president.



Part V   Conclusion


Page 431 – the NWFP was a prime example of election misdeeds. Bhutto assigned Muhammad Hayat Taman, his political advisor, the task of making election preparations in NWFP. Gen Imtiaz, Bhutto’s military secretary was sent there for three weeks to assist Taman.


The deputy commissioner (and returning officer) of Kohistan district, who was earlier asked to keep the results of his constituency a secret, was then summoned by the troika. He was threatened with dire consequences if he did not accede to the chief secretary’s request to make up the deficiency in the PPP candidates votes and reverse the results. “On my hesitation the DIG took me aside and said my dismissal would not take days but hours, and many charges could be levelled against me”


US ambassador, Henry Byroade, who was with Bhutto as the election results came in, said, “the results we coming in at about 70%. He was losing Karachi. He was losing Peshawar. Then the Punjabi numbers started coming in and guys who were absolute thugs won by 99%. Bhutto became absolutely quiet and started drinking heavily, calling Lahore, he said, what are you people doing.


With our general consensus, Mufti Mahmood in a lengthy reply rejected Bhutto’s offer of talks:  “I regret to say you have again avoided to clarify your stand regarding countrywide pre-planned rigging of general elections. On 7th march, the country was subjected to a farce in the name of general elections. The admin- istration made every endeavour to subvert the national will and to ensure a new lease of life for a leader and a government which had been overwhelmingly rejected by the electorate –


Much publicity was given internationally to the joint resignations of Gen Gul Hasan and Air Marshal Rahim Khan as ambassadors to Greece and Spain respectively. They were soon to give an extremely hostile press conference in London against the Bhutto regime. They sent a letter to Gen Zia demanding that he decline from accepting illegal and undemocratic orders from a fascist Bhutto.


On the lighter side there was an amusing incident at Sihala jail. My son Sherazam, then a student at Karachi had flown to Rawalpindi, borrowed a car from Wali khan’s son and come to visit me. When he was preparing to leave the car would not start. It had to be push-started. While Sherazam sat in the driver’s seat the car was pushed by the whole PNA leadership consisting of Mufti Mahmood, Asghar Khan, Professor Ghafoor, Maulana Noorani and myself. With all the opposition heavyweights behind it the car had no option but to start immediately.


(the following is being included much against my grain, only to show the kind of man Bhutto was, and to what limits he could go):


On the sixth day of the hunger strike I experienced severe chest pains that almost rendered me unconscious. I sensed someone watching me from the other side of the bars. I was surprised to see the jail superintendent standing there all by himself. He seemed very perturbed for some reason. Then strangely he broke down, “as a jail superintendent I’ve done some awful things in my life but I have my limits. Bhutto Saheb personally rings me up almost daily to see if I have broken you yet. But today he gave me orders which, even though I am scared of him, I cannot obey. I have applied for leave and am taking off tomorrow. I’ll face the consequences of my decision but my mind is made up”. Then he warned me, “the deputy jail superintendent is a vicious man, I don’t know what will happen when I’m gone” ----------


I had known Bhutto for some 23 years. To him lying, double-dealing and deceit were normal means of attaining and keeping power. His evident acceptance of new elections was now belied by his unexpected trip abroad. It was a clear indication that mischief was afoot.


During one of the PNA meetings at Sihala Asghar khan revealed disturbing news, Bhutto had decided to deal with the PNA hardliners once and for all. Bhutto had now concocted an ingenious plan by which Kausar Niazi and Ghulam Mustafa Khar would become victims of an assassination plan. In retaliation an enraged PPP mob would then proceed to murder Asghar Khan, Shah Ahmed Noorani and myself. This may seem a bit farfetched to some, but even Kausar Niazi, one of the plot’s two sacrificial victims, believed in its authenticity.

Gen Arif writes about a very revealing episode:  “Gen Zia expressed his apprehension to Bhutto that, if the agitation did not end, it could erode army’s discipline and cause division in the ranks. This would be a disaster for the army and for the country. Mr Bhutto sensed the mood and laid on the charm, “you are my brother and I trust you”. He asked Gen Zia not to get unduly worried as the government did not plan to employ the army in a hurry again. He went on to confide that he had taken ‘other measures’ to deal with the PNA situation. That statement rang an alarm in Gen Zia’s mind”.

The rest is history.

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Here are some excerpts from Salman Taseer's book "Bhutto: A Political Biography", as quoted by Dawn columnist Ardeshir Cowasjee:

"After the conflict was over, Bhutto commissioned a report on the entire Bangladesh episode from Mr Justice Hamoodur Rahman, Chief Justice of Pakistan, and himself a Bengali. Bhutto testified before the commission whose sessions were held in camera throughout, but he never published the final report, arguing some parts of it could embarrass Pakistan in its conduct of foreign that some parts of it could embarrass Pakistan in the conduct of foreign relations. His detractors preferred to suggest that Bhutto never dated issue the report because he was so heavily implicated in the political chicanery and blundering that preceded the country's break-up. That may be so. But it is equally likely that the Hamoodur Rahman commission report was by no means the final word on political responsibility for the catastrophe that overcame Pakistan. Considering the circumstances in which the commission worked, its final report may even have erred in Bhutto's favour.

"Blame can never be satisfactorily or finally apportioned to the major players in this grisly drama, but that Bhutto, Mujibur Rahman and Yahya Khan share responsibility there can be no doubt. Many, indeed, are inclined to the view that Bhutto, as the most sure-footed politician of the three and thus the best equipped to assess the consequences of his actions, must accept the lion's share of the blame. Argument on this point will remain one of the central themes of Pakistani politics, perhaps for decades."

Comments on Bhutto's political nature:

"After the election the situation changed drastically. Bhutto now saw that Mujibur Rahman with his majority of seats could form a government even without support from West Pakistan. And yet he was not the man to play second fiddle. With control of only two provincial governments out of five, he saw his position as far from assured." [As for playing second fiddle, I myself have heard him say: 'I'd rather be the top dog of half of Pakistan than an underdog of the whole of Pakistan.']

"Perhaps another politician with more moral scruple and with greater respect for democracy would have bowed before the will of the majority and quietly entered the Constituent Assembly to debate the future of Pakistan. Bhutto, however, possessed none of these gentle characteristics. He never had much faith in the parliamentary process."

"There was another danger in convening the Assembly. It was quite possible that a number of elected members from West Pakistan would give way to the Awami League's dominant position and compromise with them, enabling Mujibur Rahman to get the two-thirds majority needed to pass the constitution. Bhutto could not trust his own party, which consisted of a motley group of individuals, some of whom he barely knew and who had been swept into power on a wave of pro-Bhutto feeling."

On Bhutto's speech made on February 28, 1971, at public meeting at Lahore, where he offered Mujibur Rahman a carrot in the form of three alternatives - agreement on three of the Six Points, or postponement of the National Assembly meeting, or a waiving of the Legislative Framework Order.

"After the carrot, he them threatened the stick. The latter part of his speech was possibly the most belligerent he had ever made. He threatened a strike from the Khyber Pass to Karachi - 'not a single shop would be allowed to remain open.' He promised that the people of Pakistan would take full revenge from anybody who attended the Assembly session when they returned from Dacca, or, as he expressed himself, he 'would break their legs'. In spite of Bhutto's three alternative conditions, Sheikh mujibur Rahman refused to budge."


Mazari sahib has potrayed the real Bhutto. I know all of the above to be true as my father  was in NAP. The incredible thing is that a man who clearly had many murdered,tortured and humiliated,  yet many admire him. What can you say of that nation that admires leaders with the above mentioned traits.


I think Pakistanis are a very emotional people who have been swayed by sympathy for the Bhutto family for the hanging of ZAB by Zia, and BB's assassination.


My own assessment is that the PPP would not have emerged as the single largest party in parliament had BB not been assassinated a few weeks prior to the last general elections.

A 1979 Time magazine report said the following:

A message by Bhutto, smuggled out of prison before the Supreme Court ruling, warned that "my sons will not be my sons if they do not drink the blood of those who shed my blood."

Read more:,9171,912367,00.html#ixz...
I finally had a chance to see the documentary "Bhutto" by Jessica Hernandez and Johnny O'Hara last Thursday in Oakland, CA. The screening was sponsored by the PACC along with several other orgs.

It seems to me that the documentary is quintessentially a celebration of Benazir Bhutto and her mystique as the first female prime minister of an Islamic nation.

It advances a liberal western view of the Bhutto family through a narrative made up of sympathetic western and Pakistani commentators who see the Bhutto family as outsiders up against "the establishment"...a reference to Pakistani military and the ISI. It even lays the blame for Zardari's moniker as "Mr. Ten Percent" on ISI.

The movie does mention the 1977 poll rigging but it says it was done by "overzealous supporters" of the PPP, while conveniently ignoring the fact that the ISI political cell, created by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, actively rigged the vote on ZAB's behalf thus laying the foundation for as larger role for "the agencies" in Pakistan's political and electoral processes in 1970s, 80s, 90s, and the last decade.

Former President Musharraf made a reference to it in an interview in which he acknowledged that no new parties are created in Pakistan without "the agencies" influencing the process.

Here is an excerpt of a Dawn report on the Musharraf interview:

"Pervez Musharraf said he had no regrets over the military coup of Oct 12, 1999, and the unconstitutional steps taken on Nov 3, 2007. “It was my good luck that the coup happened.”

When reminded that the Constitution had been abrogated on both occasions, he said the country was more important than the
Constitution, which, according to him, was a piece of paper.

Pervez Musharraf said he had appointed Senator Mushahid Hussain as secretary general of the PML-Q after consulting Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain. He said the PML-Q had virtually fallen apart and most of its leaders would not contest the next
elections from its platform. Many of them had contacted him and some were considering contesting elections as independent candidates, he said.

The former president admitted that setting up a new party without the help of government and intelligence agencies was a difficult job.

He said he had written letters to the former nazims of all districts, inviting them to join his party and had received a good response."

Here's an interesting opinion of ZAB in Friday Times:

Bhutto apologists peddle every one of his striking list of hypocritical ‘follies’ as being the need of the hour; the only possible solution or the product of political ‘pressure’ that the man succumbed to with escalating frequency. This leeway is reserved for only two leaders in Pakistan’s history, Jinnah and Bhutto. Everyone else is answerable to our liberals, sometimes simply owing to the fact that they propagated an ideology that our liberals do not conform to.

Just because Bhutto signed the declaration of Ahmadis as non-Muslims reluctantly it should not purge him from allegations of bigotry
The Bhutto and Jinnah apologists are no different to the Taliban or Islamism apologists – they pick their favourite cherries. That Bhutto – or Jinnah – took leaves out of the aforementioned ideology to propagate themselves is paid no heed, since all one needs to do to become the proponent of secularism in Pakistan is not be a practicing Muslim, and everything else becomes justifiable thenceforth.

It was ‘secular’ Bhutto whose constitution made Pakistan an Islamic Republic – an A-grade oxymoron. It was ‘secular’ Bhutto who shut down bars and banned alcohol – which apparently is compatible with our liberals’ brand of Islam. It was ‘secular’ Bhutto who vied to personify Iqbal’s pan-Islamic ‘Mard-e-Momin’, by uniting the Islamic world and formulating the Islamic bomb to counter the threat of the imaginary Jewish, Christian and Hindu bombs. And of course it was ‘secular’ Bhutto under whose leadership Ahmadis were excommunicated in 1974, politicising the process of takfir and in turn creating a beast of bigotry that has its claws around the Shia community as things stand.

The justification provided for all of the above manifestations of ‘secularism’ is solely: reluctance. Just because Bhutto reluctantly signed the paper declaring Ahmadis to be non-Muslims it should suffice in purging the man from allegations of bigotry, but Zia’s Ordinance XX that debarred Ahmadis from using any Islamic titles is a brazen depiction of bigotry, since it was in synchrony with his own ideology.

I attended unveiling of a book titled "Bar e Shanasai" by Pakistan's retired career diplomat Karamaratullah Khan Ghori. Ali H Cemendtaur read some excerpts from the book at this event. In one such excepts, Ghori reports what he saw of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto when he was in office. Ghori recalls seeing a senior PPP member and a member of Pakistani parliament at the time rushing in to see Bhutto and sitting on the floor at his feet while the late PPP founder went about his business paying little attention to the man. Bhutto made no attempt to offer the man a chair and sit next to him with dignity as a human being.

Perhaps, the most precise assessment of ZAB has been summed up by Sir Morrice James, Britain’s High Commissioner in Islamabad during 1960’s, in his Pakistan Chronicle:

*“Bhutto certainly had the right qualities for reaching the heights – drive, charm, imagination, a quick and penetrating mind, zest for life, eloquence, energy, a strong constitution, a sense of humour and a thick skin.*

Such a blend is rare anywhere, and Bhutto deserved his swift rise to power. From the end of 1962 onwards, I worked closely with him and it was a pleasure to deal with someone so quick-witted and articulate. We got on remarkably well…  *“But there was — how shall I put it? — the rank odour of hellfire about him. It was a case of corruptio optimi pessima. He was a Lucifer, a fallen angel. I believe that at heart he lacked a sense of the dignity and value of other people; his own self was what counted. I sensed in him a ruthlessness and a capacity for ill-doing which went far beyond what is natural. Except at university abroad, he was mostly surrounded by mediocrities, and all his life, for want of competition, his triumphs came to him too easily for his own good. Lacking humility, he thus came to believe himself infallible, even when yawning gaps in his own experience (e.g. of military matters) laid him — as over the 1965 war — wide open to disastrous error.*

“Despite his gifts, I judged that one day Bhutto would destroy himself — when and how I could not tell. In 1965, I so reported in one my last dispatches from Pakistan as British high commissioner. 

*"I wrote by way of clinching that point that Bhutto was born to be hanged. I did not intend this comment as a precise prophecy of what was going to happen to him, but 14 years later that was what it turned out to be.”*

Resignation of Ambassador General Gul Hasan sent to Premier Bhutto.

Most Immediate
14 April 1977
Prime Minister House

From Ambassador for Prime Minister

The sooner you realise that you have miserably failed people of Pakistan the better. You have precipitated calamitous conditions in country resulting in wanton killings, destruction of property and violation of human rights only to perpetuate yourself in office. Agitation against you is growing rather than subsiding as you had probably envisaged because of forces of terror you have let loose in country in which you allegedly claim to have ushered in democracy on assuming office on 20th December 71. Indeed you have exploited nation to build up your own image and for self-aggrandisement. Soon after assuming office in 71 it transpired that you were chief architect in dismemberment of country and I pray to God that your intentions which seem similar to those you harboured in 71 do not materialise as it would leave 70 million of our people with no homeland - which was achieved after endless sacrifices whilst you were still in Bombay still desperately trying to secure Indian citizenship.

Opposition leaders and people have demanded your resignation and holding of fresh elections under Army's supervision which is only way to rid country of the crisis for which you are solely responsible. Whereas you desire a dialogue with opposition leaders, let me tell you in no uncertain terms that fact is that you have no credibility left in what you say and do. So unless you meet the opposition demands loss of life and property will continue. You appear to be under erroneous impression that Army will come to your rescue. Recent events in country should convince you that our Armed Forces did not support the regimes of Ayub Khan and later Yahya Khan both of whom belonged to its ranks. As far as your relations with Army are concerned they are superficial because you have missed no opportunity to make every effort covert and overt to malign Army ever since you took reigns of power in December 71 and because of which I had to resign as Commander in Chief of Army. Armed Forces have always acted in best interests of country and not to prop up an unpopular and unwanted authoritarian dictator like of which has never been inflicted on our nation.

In view of this I find it incompatible with my conscience to serve a government headed by you any longer. Do not misread this as an opportunistic political venture on my part as I have only taken this step in hope that this gesture of mine will add some weight to those of millions of our nationals who have just about had enough of your government which can be rightly termed as of Bhutto, by Bhutto and for Bhutto and which in your terminology is "Democracy."

Gul Hassan 

The other Mrs. Bhutto
By Nadeem F. Paracha
The famous former PM of Pakistan, Z A. Bhutto, is largely known to have had married twice. Both of his wives are well-known: the quiet and obedient Shirin Amir Begum, and the glitzy Nusrat Bhutto who also became Pakistan’s first lady. But there was another. A third ‘hidden’ wife. ZAB never acknowledged her publically, but she became a powerful figure in his regime.
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) was one of the most colourful politicians produced by Pakistan. Flamboyant, articulate, charming, highly educated, extremely intelligent and entirely unpredictable. My late father who was close to him, once described ZAB as ‘a disorientating combination of a sophisticated intellectual, a firebrand politician, an amoral pragmatist and an unabashed romantic.’ He said that ‘ZAB was a Marx, Stalin, de Gaulle and Don Juan all rolled into one …’ Born into an influential family of landowners in Larkana and to a father who was a member of Jinnah’s All India Muslim League (AIML), Bhutto was married off to a cousin of his at a young age. But he hardly spent any time with his wife because he was soon off to the US and then the UK to bag degrees in political science and law. He briefly returned to Pakistan in 1950, and, according to an interview that his first wife, Shirin Amir Begum, gave to a ZAB-related website (, ZAB politely told her that he planned to marry another woman. That other woman was the sophisticated Kurdish-Iranian lady, Nusrat Ispahani.

Nusrat’s family had moved to Karachi from Mumbai after the creation of Pakistan in 1947. ZAB and Nusrat tied the knot in 1951. The couple would go on to have four children, two boys and two girls. ZAB never divorced his first wife, though. She stayed in Larkana and was supported by ZAB’s family. In 1958, aged 32, ZAB became one of the youngest members of President Iskandar Mirza’s cabinet. He was retained as a minister after Mirza and military chief Ayub Khan imposed the country’s first martial law. ZAB’s youthful intelligence, charisma and work ethic impressed Ayub and he decided to keep ZAB in his cabinet after he (Ayub) ousted Mirza just 17 days after the military coup. Stanley Wolpert in his authoritative biography of ZAB wrote that Bhutto became ‘Ayub’s blue-eyed boy’. Ayub encouraged ZAB’s assertive style of politics. Wolpert wrote that Ayub often used ZAB to counter any pushback his policies received from the much older ministers in the cabinet. Wolpert also added that by 1961 Ayub had become much more than just a boss to Bhutto. He became a mentor and then a father figure. ZAB was often heard addressing Ayub endearingly as ‘daddy.’
Almost everyone who came across ZAB and wrote about him has described him to be an admixture of an unabashed extrovert and an introvert. He was known for talking endlessly about everything under the sun – politics, history, cricket, music, poetry – and thriving in boisterous gatherings. Yet, even when he became President and then Prime Minister of Pakistan in the 1970s, he would regularly retreat alone into his personal library with his glass of whisky and his cigar and read there for hours, not meeting anyone. In 1961 the then 34-year-old young minister and Ayub’s ‘blue-eyed-boy’ bumped into a young woman at a party in Dhaka (in former East Pakistan). The woman’s name was Husna Sheikh. Husna at the time was in her late twenties and married to a successful Bengali lawyer, Abdul Ahad. The couple had two young daughters. Fluent in Urdu, English and Bengali, Husna had a mixed Bengali-Pashtun ancestry. ZAB was immediately smitten by Husna’s good looks, wit and sharp mind. The December 31, 1977 edition of India Today (in a belated story on Husna’s relations with ZAB) reported that Husna was not getting along with her lawyer husband at the time. Even though ZAB pursued her with all his lady-killing charms, Husna remained out of his reach. This frustrated ZAB to no end, until in 1965, when she finally decided to leave her husband and move to Karachi with her two daughters. She lodged herself into an apartment at Karachi’s then very ‘posh’ locality, the Bath Island, which is just a 10-minute-drive from ZAB’s home in the city’s Clifton area (70 Clifton). Maliha Lone in her 2016 article on the affair wrote (in The Friday Times) that Mustafa Khar facilitated ZAB’s affair with Husna once she settled in Karachi. Only Khar, then a close confidant of ZAB’s, knew about the affair. He would quietly drive ZAB to Husna’s flat in Bath Island. However, the year the affair finally took off (in 1965) was also the year when ZAB eventually had a falling out with his mentor, Ayub. In 1966 he was quietly eased out by Ayub. In 1967 ZAB rebounded to form his own party, the populist and left-leaning, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). Husna was a confident, well-read and headstrong woman. Lone quotes Tehmina Durrani as writing (in her book My Feudal Lord) that by the late 1960s the affair had become highly charged and stormy and Husna would often slam the door on ZAB’s face! In 1967 Husna managed to win a lucrative contract to decorate the place of Sheikhia Fatima of Abu Dhabi and was able to buy two properties in Karachi. This was her way of asserting her independence. She also told ZAB that she would not meet him unless she married her.

In 1968 when ZAB and his PPP were at the forefront of a tumultuous student and labour movement against the Ayub regime, Husna managed to convince him to marry her. However, in 1969, just when ZAB had decided to tie the knot with Husna, he was arrested and thrown in jail for ‘instigating violence against the state.’ ZAB requested Husna to lay low, promising to marry her once Ayub was toppled. She obliged. Lone wrote that ZAB met Husna after Ayub resigned in March 1969. She told him, ‘how can you do this to me? You are my destiny.’ Lone adds that hearing this ZAB broke down and ‘cried like a child.’ Wolpert wrote that the year ZAB’s PPP won the most seats in the western wing of the country (during the 1970 election) he was once again being secretly driven by Khar to Husna’s Bath Island apartment. However, one day, ZAB and Husna had a huge fight (because he was again backtracking on her promise of marriage). In desperation, ZAB again promised to marry her and wrote his promise on the inside cover of a copy of the Quran. But, Wolpert writes, soon ZAB got cold feet and when Husna was elsewhere in the house, ZAB hid the copy of the holy book in his pocket and beat a hasty retreat. The problem was it wasn’t time for him to be picked up by Khar. So ZAB had to walk all the way back to his 70 Clifton home which is about a 30-minute-walk from Bath Island. Since by then he had become a well-known figure whose party had swept an election (In Punjab and Sindh) ZAB tried to take as many quiet streets and routes he could during his walk back. ZAB often gifted Husna various books on politics and history which she used to devour and then discuss with him during their clandestine ‘dates.’ One day in mid-1971 he gifted her a beautiful copy of the Quran (not the one he had earlier nicked). On the wrapping paper he wrote, ‘To my wife, Husna.’ Just days after he became president of Pakistan (20 December, 1971), he quietly married her. The nikkah was performed by the progressive Islamic scholar and PPP member, Kausar Niazi, and witnessed by Mustafa Khar. Wolpert wrote that even though he remained married to Husna, he got the Quran removed from Husna’s home when he became prime minister in 1973. It was never found, not even by the police when – after ZAB was toppled in a reactionary military coup in 1977 – the cops were sent to raid Husna’s apartment.
ZAB’s second wife, the elegant Nusrat, too was a headstrong woman. The mother of ZAB’s four children, someone told her about her husband’s secret marriage to Husna. No one really knows exactly how she came to know about it, but there is every likelihood that she was somewhat aware of her husband’s affair with an outspoken Bengali woman. Lone writes that Nusrat tried to end her own life by swallowing over a dozen sleeping pills. She survived and was shifted to a hospital in Rawalpindi. The distraught president begged her for forgiveness and told her that he could never abandon the mother of his children. Nusrat recovered and became the official first lady of Pakistan. Even though till Nusrat’s suicide attempt Husna had wanted ZAB to acknowledge their marriage publicly, she finally settled at being ZAB’s ‘hidden wife.’ But by all accounts she was a powerful influence. In 1990 she told the editor of The Friday Times, Jugnu Mohsin, that ZAB continued to visit her. Her home was continuously frequented by ministers and powerful men trying to get an audience with ZAB or wanting to get their message to the very busy prime minister. Mohsin wrote that she ran a ‘kitchen cabinet’ from her apartment, influencing many of the ZAB regime’s economic and social policies.
She told Mohsin, one day when she asked ZAB why was he always in such a hurry, he told her that he knew ‘they’ would eventually kill him. She didn’t explain exactly who ‘they’ were. He might have been hinting at the military or the right-wing opposition groups who had grown stronger from the mid-1970s onward. Husna also told Mohsin that when the results of the 1977 election began to pour in and the PPP was enjoying landslide victories even in constituencies in which the party was not strong, ZAB complained, ‘will someone tell my CM’s not to ruin my 20 years of hard work!’ The opposition parties cried foul and began a violent protest movement which became the basis of the July 1977 martial law and subsequent fall of the ZAB regime. Observers have maintained that the PPP would have easily won another 5-year-term, but various senior PPP ministers indulged in unabashed rigging in some ‘sensitive constituencies’ in the Punjab. Husna was in London when ZAB’s government fell. She told Mohsin that ZAB’s eldest daughter (and future prime minister) Benazir ‘deeply resented her,’ but ZAB’s son, Murtaza, was kind to her and kept her informed about his father’s fate. When ZAB was being tried in a murder case in an entirely sham manner, Husna hired the services of a famous UK lawyer, John Mathews. But the Zia dictatorship refused to grant him permission to contest the case in a Pakistani court.
It was Murtaza who informed Husna (Sheikh) about ZAB’s execution in April 1979. Husna fell into depression and contemplated committing suicide. By then she had given birth to the only child ZAB and she had had (Shameem) so she had no choice but to pull herself out of her depression. She continued to live in London. ZAB was hanged in 1979. Shirin Amir Begun died in 2003. Nusrat passed away in 2011. Husna is still alive and in her eighties. She lives in London.


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