Chapter II: The murder of Bhutto, Zia's blasphemy & his protege
Chapter III: Lost causes, murder, spooks & the storming of the courts (1990-2000)
Chapter IV: Karachi, a lovers quarrel and the more things change.
I begin with this acknowledgement, I learnt much by reading DAWNs columns by Ardeshir Cowasjee. The 85 year old columnist, activist, businessman and charity worker was an important introduction for me to the 'other' narrative of Pakistan's history. He would talk about historical figures as human beings with odd eccentricities and human strengths and failings. He would be brutal in his criticism, lavish in his praise and did not give out the latter often. He also had his biases, he was urban centric and saw the world from a Karachi-centric view, the city that had gone through an unprecdented boom till the 1970 election. It defied the national trend by voting in the religo-political party's and against the Pakistan Peoples Party.
So while I did not always agree with Karachi's him as I read his works, I more often then not learnt from them. This is the history of Pakistan that I learnt through the words of the grand old man of Karachi.
I begins with something central to Cowasjee, that is his emphatic belief in Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan's founder and 'Great Leader'. Here he links in Jinnah with the story of his family:
He needed a shipping company, so his trusted lieutenant Yusuf Haroon was asked to request the premier shipowner of Karachi, Rustom Cowasjee, to come to Bombay to meet him. Jinnah told Rustom what he wanted, and that was the start of Muhammadi Steamship Company. Rustom delivered, and within one month of Pakistan's birth Muhammadi's flag was flying on Muhammadi's ships.
This in turn highlights two core themes that run through his articles, his belief that Pakistan was conceived by it's founder as a secular state, defined by the rule of law. He invokes two famous speeches by Pakistan's barrister founder.
"You are free, free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed - that has nothing to do with the business of the State." Now, this particular passage has always been the main bugbear of the insecure, the feeble of faith, and the cowards who live by self-deception. The very next day it was found to be too irksome, it inspired fear. In his speech, Jinnah also proclaimed that "the first duty of a government is to maintain law and order, so that life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the State." Amongst the evils which he vowed would not be tolerated were bribery, corruption, blackmarketing, and "this great evil - the evil of nepotism and jobbery."
Despite his love for Jinnah, Cowasjee is in fact influenced far more by one man whom modern day Pakistan owes far more too and yet whose legacy is now so little.
Cowasjee on Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto
Ilahi Bakhsh and I have known each other since 1943 when we both read science at the Dayaram Jethmal Sind College, Karachi. Later he moved to the Nadirshaw Eduljee Dinshaw Engineering College to do his BE, and then went off to America to do his M.Sc from Columbia Polytechnic. In 1951, it was Illoo who helped arrange for our mutual friend Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to be married to his second wife Nusrat, much against the will and wishes of father Shahnawaz and his family. Illoo produced a Maulvi and the two were wedded very privately, with only Karamdad Junejo and Ilahi Bakhsh standing by on Zulfikar's side and father Sabunchi with Nusrat.
We first met in 1951, introduced by our family lawyer Dingomal Narayansingh Ramchandani. 'Meet our latest entrant,' said Dingo, 'Shahnawaz's son.' My father and I shook hands with a young affable man. We talked of generalities; my father wrote him off; I was impressed. When I next met him (Dingo having put him on one of our cases) he seriously declared his ambition to be foreign minister of Pakistan.
my imperishable and devoted loyalty,' 'you are not merely an individual, but an institution,' 'your services are indispensable for the greater good of the country,' 'you embody the national interest,' all roll glibly off many servile tongues, and are transferred with the greatest of ease from each transient master to the next. The supreme example of adulation : 'When the history of this country is written by objective historians, your name will be placed even before that of Mr Jinnah,' written to Iskander Mirza by loyal Zulfikar Ali Bhutto,
Bhutto, Mujib & Yahya Khan
Defying the stereotype of Yahya Khan, the destroyer of united Pakistan, Cowasjee in fact tells us the story of
Yahya Khan through the eyes of his son. Unsurprisingly Cowasjee would agree with Yahya
who was to lay the blame on the feet of Bhutto and Sheikh Mujib.
Basit has now compiled a book The Breaking of Pakistan, containing papers written by Yahya in which he describes the interaction between him, Bhutto and Mujib that led to the disintegration of the country. Most of these papers were those submitted by Yahya to the Hamoodur Rahman Commission, plus other sworn statements and affidavits. In his introduction, he explains: Yahya thinks that it was the Mujib-Bhutto interaction which broke Pakistan. Indeed, he puts the major share of the blame on Z. A. Bhutto, the minority leader, who insisted to be treated as equal to the majority leader. Between these covers the reader will find Yahya's perception on the subject. He is obsessed with the theme that 'a congruence of objectives' had emerged between Bhutto and Mujeeb pursuant to which East Pakistan garrison was made to surrender to seal the fate of united Pakistan. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was a power-hungry person who exploited the social climbers techniques of projecting special relationship with the Army Brass. He was a narcissist with a tendency to megalomania as well as intrigue. He had no commitment to any doctrine or to Pakistan. He manufactured his own charisma without any ethical scruples. Sheikh Mujib was a greedy and immature person who never outgrew the role of an agitator student leader. Indians had bribed him to launch an anti- Pakistan movement in East Pakistan to which extent the allegations in the Agartala Conspiracy case were true. They had also implanted a phobia in his mind that even if he were to win a general election and become the prime minister real power will not be transferred by the Pakistan Army.
Bhutto & the 1973 Republic
Despite Cowasjees early closeness to ZA Bhutto, this relationship was to change
dramatically after ZAB was to assume power in 1971.
As the increasingly authoritarian ruler started to to turn on
his former friends and best man.
This constitution, the constitution of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, father of Benazir, was drafted and redrafted during 1972-73 and finally promulgated on Aug 14, 1973.
During the promulgation ceremony, the maker of the constitution, already declared prime minister of Pakistan, had in his pocket a presidential order. Four hours after the constitution was promulgated and came into force, he produced the order, put in front of the already declared tame and acquiescing president, Fazal Elahi Chaudhary, and asked him to sign it, which of course he did without demur and probably without bothering to read and digest it. (Cowasjee November 2007)
Halaku I have known since 1972, then a dreaded policeman who was sent to Karachi by Bhutto to question me. Bhutto was desperately trying to find some evidence against Altaf Gauhar who had been arrested on a trumped-up charge and jailed. Halaku, quite happy to call a machine gun a gun machine, ordered his sidekick to pick up Cowasjee Ardeshir, also bearded, also a Parsi. This unfortunate man, totally ignorant of what was going on, was taken to the police station and questioned late into the night, until at last Halaku realising he had the wrong man, arrested me, the machine gun, and released him, the gun machine.
He then writes movingly about another era of darkness in Balochistan and Pakistan when another generation of unaccountable 'agencies' mercilessly hounded the people of Pakistan.
hand in hand with the nebulous 'agencies', let us take Sherbaz's story of the elimination in 1976 of young Asadullah Mengal, son of that most upright Baloch Sardar and gentleman, Ataullah. Asadullah and his friend Ahmad Shah Kurd were ambushed outside the house of Balakh Sher Mazari. Asadullah was killed, and his body dragged along the road and dumped in the back of a car. Ahmad Shah was taken alive, put in the car, driven away and then killed.
One night in December 1973, a hand grenade was thrown down the ventilator of the Quetta house of NAP Pakhtoonkhwa leader Abdus Samad Achakzai. The grenade exploded, killing Achakzai. No one was ever charged or apprehended. Sherbaz spoke also of 'Johnny' Dass, son of the highly respected Air Commodore Balwant Dass, one of the most senior officers of the PAF who served his country with distinction. Dulip Dass, known to his family and friends as Johnny (and Later known to the Baloch as 'Dilu') at the age of 25 returned to Pakistan from England in 1972, where he was doing his chartered accountancy - 'to do something for his country', as he put it. He and a few other idealistic young men went to Balochistan. Johnny was accused of being a sympathizer of the Baloch insurgency and was put on the 'wanted' list. On his way out of the province, betrayed by an informer, he was ambushed at Jhatpat, taken away by the 'agencies', kept in custody (in Quetta jail for a while, it is said)... In March 1974, Maulvi Sahmsuddin, Deputy Speaker of the Balochistan Assembly of the opposition party Jamiat-i-Ulema Islam, left Quetta for Fort Sandeman in his official vehicle. Malik Haji Gul Mandokhel left Quetta by car later the same day and found Shamsuddin shot dead in his car near Qila Shagal. Dr Nazir Ahmed, MNA of the JI, was an outspoken critic of Mr. Bhutto's politics and style of government. One evening in June 1972 a man entered his clinic in Dera Ghazi Khan and shot him dead. The case was ostensibly investigated by the police. Two men were sent up for trial and both were discharged by the court, the judgment saying: "The investigation seems to be intentionally dishonest." Then there were the six Hurs - Mehrab Sinjhrani, Umaid Ali Sinjhrani, Jan Mohammed Sinjhrani, Hanzo Bahnejo, Syed Ali Sher, and Allah Dad Wadho. Pir Pagara posed a problem for Bhutto, so in 1973 a plan was prepared to diminish, if not demolish, his influence by subduing his followers. Chief security officer Saeed Ahmed Khan and provincial minister Jam Sadiq Ali were ordered to undertake the anti-Hur operations.
(to be continued)