This catharsis must happen
By Kamran Shafi
You are here Bhutto Trial

It was delightful seeing Mustafa Khar take the rumoured future federal minister of the Islamic Republic, Ijazul (Baby Zia) Haq (as in Baby Doc son of the quite horrid and unlamented Papa Doc Duvalier of Haiti) apart on one of these new TV channels. The subject of the discussion was the trial and hanging of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. .....

..... Mustafa Khar was absolutely right when he said that the thing for Ijazul Haq to do was to say what had happened had happened, that he had no part in any of his father's actions, that we must forgive and forget and move on. But do you think the Punjab-led Establishment's children are willing to give even an inch when it comes to a Sindhi who made himself the most popular leader in the country? While Khar, by far the older of the two was unfailingly polite and courteous, Haq was rude and insolent from the very start, his impudence increasing by the minute, until Khar too took off the gloves and said loudly and for the whole world to hear what many millions of Pakistanis have known for all these years that have passed since the judicial murder of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a murder that till today, a quarter century later, rouses such passions among the majority of the people of the country.

Yes, the catharsis such as the one that has started to happen must happen. The young people of today must be told of the shoddiness and illegality and downright cruelty in which an elected leader was hanged by a military dictator in a well-thought out operation: to have him convicted by judges of a High Court who were openly inimical to him, specially the Chief Justice Maulvi Mushtaq; to then contrive to bring about changes in the Supreme Court through the most blatant chicanery so that the majority of the bench would consist of Punjabis; and then to murder him even though the verdict of the Supreme Court was four for hanging and three for outright acquittal. It is important for our children to know that the four judges who condemned Bhutto were Punjabis and the three who acquitted him were non-Punjabis. It is important for them to know that never has a death sentence been carried out where there was a split verdict, let alone one with the narrowest possible majority such as in this case. This is most critical, so that our succeeding generations (if what remains of Pakistan survives this latest onslaught by self-same Establishment, mark) are aware that deep provincial divides can occur when the majority province becomes a handmaiden to the completely venal Establishment of the Land of the Pure.

Anyway, let me recount the important parts of the TV confrontation. The first was when Ijaz said that Papa Zia had warned Bhutto a month or so before the coup to "clean up his act" or else. Khar immediately said that Zia was a coward of the first water and could never have told Bhutto off, and as an illustration told of the time about a month before Zia's coup when a dinner was hosted by the Prime Minister for the cabinet and certain other senior officials, Army Chief Ziaul Haq included, who attended in uniform. They were all waiting for the Prime Minister when the ADC announced Bhutto's arrival. According to Khar (and he swore that what he was saying was nothing but the truth), as Bhutto approached Zia to greet him he noticed that Zia who was a chain smoker at the time, had put his lighted cigarette into his uniform jacket's pocket to hide it from Bhutto. Bhutto is reported by Khar to have said: "General take that cigarette out — it will burn your jacket"!

The second (and most poignant) was when the compere asked what Khar thought of the way in which Zia met his Maker. Quite rightly, and in most gentlemanly fashion he said he was not going to speak against the dead, but that it was divine retribution that Zia, who did not let Bhutto's wife and daughter attend his funeral and pay their last respects to their loved one — what in the sub-continent is called ‘seeing the face' was himself blown to smithereens so that no one could see his face either.

The third and most entertaining was when Ijaz said Khar was used to eating ‘haram' ie, that he was corrupt. The long and the short of that exchange was that Khar said his father left his family 1400 squares of land while Zia's father was a Maulvi who didn't own one inch, yet that Ijaz was one of Pakistan's richest men today. The interesting part was that while Ijaz kept insisting that his family owned no property even today (!) his solid gold Rolex glinted away on his wrist! What, pray, did I say about the IQ of the Establishment's children just heretofore! ....

 

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