Wednesday, 28 December 2011

The Grand Old man of Karachi: Chapter III

  Chapter III: Lost causes, murder, spooks & the storming of the courts (1990-2000)

Also see 
  Chapter 1: Jinnah & Bhutto: Secularism & the rule of law
 Chapter II: The murder of Bhutto, Zia's blasphemy & his protege
 Chapter IV: Karachi, a lovers quarrel and the more things change.

Cowasjees covers the 1990's era of musical chairs and dysfunctional democracy with one further theme. When he did not wax lyrical about the follies of the past, he championed causes which few others would write about. In this pre internet era it is easy to forget how limited awareness was of what was really going on in Pakistan. With the exception of a few intrepid investigative English reporters with a limited audience, writing openly about the governments actions of omission and commission was often a silent cry and one that landed writers in dangerous territory.

Here is Cowasjee championing the cause of those targetted during 'Operation Clean up'. The military operation launched against the Muttahida Qaumi Movement:

Across the accountability board today are the glaring cases of 28 men who
have not been heard of or seen since they were arrested in Karachi. Of
these 28, the families of 15, despite threats, have been brave enough to
risk coming forward to file affidavits and to state they are prepared to
give further evidence. Information so far available on the 15 lost ones:

Here he is championing the plight of the unfortunate victims in Punjab of the blasphemy law.

In Punjab alone, 41 criminal cases have been filed involving 112 persons who have said or written Bismillahir Rahmanir
Rahim or Asalaam Alaikum and are now either in jail or on bail and eight
cases filed against persons who had stickers on their cars. Again, by law,
in terms of the brutal Ordinance No. 20 of 26/4/1984, 698 cases have been
filed involving 2,587 persons who are either in jail or on bail on various
charges unsustainable under any civilized law.
Here he writes about extensive wire tapping done by Benazir Bhuttos second government, likely 
organised by the head of the Intelligence Bureau (newly dyed in insaf Masood Sharif Khattak)
Mian Nawaz Sharif (also bugged with code name Guest), the one and only Mushahid Hussain (commonly known as 
Mushahid Sahib) was allotted the code name Smooth Operator'. Who can 
deny that this appellation fits him perfectly?

Also tapped and taped was the telephone of Maulana Fazlur Rahman, Benazirs 
chosen chairman of the National Assemblys Foreign Affairs Committee who 
was sent by her around the world to represent our nation and who later was 
the worthy opponent in this last round of 'free and fair' elections of 
Mussarat Shaheen. What on earth did she hope to learn from him? He was 
accorded the code name 'Wolf', 

'Wiseman' was the code for the Chairman of the Senate, the man who showed 
some economy with the truth, covering his tracks in the Supreme Court 
during the 1988 Junejo assembly dissolution case, Wasim Sajjad, wise? 
 His Information Adviser, Khwaja Ejaz Sarwar, was known to the IB tappers and tapers as Movie-I and his 
secretary, Shamsher Ali Khan, as Movie-2. Loyal uncle Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi 
was cryptically known as JT-1 and JT-2, a double honour. Senator Nasreen 
Jalil of the MQM bore the designation Sea Weed, and the delectable Ms. 
Saba, also of the MQM, whatever be the justification was endowed with the 
title Hot Bed. Her late lamented friend Mir Afzal Khan was also found 
worthy of scrutiny and named Evening Star (strangely apt, as his evening 
soon faded into night). Gallant army hero, Raja Nadir Parvez of the PML was 
coded as Panther. And happy-with-life, good old Chandi whose sonorous 
conversations lull one into a totally false sense of security, was known to 
Benazirs IB boys as Slim Jim.

Looking back Benazir, feared her friends more then the man who would ultimately betray her, her and picked President Farooq Leghari.

More then the above, two causes which Cowasjee would campaign for and still does, the first is the 1997 storming of the Pakistan Supreme Court by Nawaz Sharifs men. He would describe this tragic event vividly and endlessly write about it till Pervaiz Musharrafs government took over and the perpetrators were finally punished (many of them subsequently joined Musharrafs new party after serving their time).

Instigated, supported and aided by the leaders of the 
Pakistan Muslim League (N) party then in power, legislators, party 
members and street activists of the party stormed the Supreme Court 
on November 28, 1997, committing the gravest contempt in the face 
of the court in judicial history. The president of the ruling 
party, Nawaz Sharif, and his dastardly aides committed the crime 
with impunity, safe in their knowledge that no court in the country 
would convict them.

Th other cause was supporting Asghar Khans petition to the Supreme Court demanding action against the ISI's rigging of elections. The list of politicians involved in this is literally a who's who of Pakistan's politicians:

[Younus Habib ] TT Peshawar A/C Sherpao For Election 5,00,000 ; Anwar Saifullah for MBL deposit 15,00,000 ; Farooq Leghari PO Issued 1,50,00,000. Another 1,50,00,000 paid through bank. There are a host of other political figures who received funds like Liaquat Jatoi, Imtiaz Sheikh.”

Retired Lt General Naseerullah Babar also filed in court a copy of a bank account sheet headed “G/L Account. Activity Report. Account 12110101 G. Baig (sic.)” The column heads read “Transaction, Date, Particulars, Debit, Credit.” The numbered transactions took place between October 23 1991 and December 12 1993. The first transaction listed was “Cash-P.O. Karachi Bar Association A/C Gen. Baig (sic.), debit, 5,05,680” (advocate Mirza Adil Beg, Aslam Beg’s nephew, the then president of the KBA, confirms that the KBA received the money). . .”. This list is too long to be reproduced here.

The “host of other political figures who received funds” from an ISI account were revealed in the Supreme Court when Air Marshal Asghar Khan’s petition was heard. Among others, Nawaz Sharif received (in rupees) 3.5 million, Lt General Rafaqat [GIK’s election cell] 5.6 million, Mir Afzal 10 million, Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi five million, Jam Sadiq Ali five million, Mohammed Khan Junejo 2.5 million, Pir Pagaro two million, Abdul Hafeez Pirzada Rs.three million, Muzaffar Hussain Shah 0.3 million, Abida Hussain one million, Humayun Marri 5.4 million. During the hearing of the case, Aslam Beg, under oath, revealed the existence of a political cell within the ISI which had been formed in 1975 under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, while clarifying that though he was aware of the distribution of funds, he was never personally involved.

Details of other payments : During the Mehrangate investigations of 1993 which led up to a Supreme Court case, Younas Habib of Habib and Mehran Banks, as per his statement filed in court, disclosed that the following political and other pay-offs were made between 1991 and 1994 : “General Mirza Aslam Beg Rs.140 million ; Jam Sadiq Ali (the then chief minister of Sindh), Rs.70 million ; Altaf Hussain (MQM) Rs.20 million, Advocate Yousaf Memon ( for disbursement to Javed Hashmi, MNA and others) Rs.50 million ; 1992 - Jam Sadiq Ali, Rs.150 million ; 1993 - Liaquat Jatoi Rs .01 million ; 1993 - chief minister of Sindh, through Imtiaz Sheikh Rs.12 million; Afaq of the MQM Rs.0.5 million ; 1993 chief minister of Sindh, through Imtiaz Sheikh, Rs. 01. million ; 1993 - Ajmal Khan, a former federal minister, Rs.1.4 million ; 1993 - Nawaz Sharif, former prime minister, Rs.3.5 million ; 27/9/93 Nawaz Sharif, former prime minister, Rs.2.5 million ; 26/9/93 Jam Mashooq Rs. five million ; 26/9/93 Dost Mohammad Faizi Rs. one million ; Jam Haider Rs. two million ; Jam Mashooq Rs. three million ; Adnan, son of Sartaz Aziz, Rs. one million ; Nawaz Sharif and Ittefaq Group of Companies Rs.200 million (photocopies of cheques and deposit slips etc already attached with affidavit at page nos. 42 to 73) ; Sardar Farooq Leghari 12/12/93 (payment set/off) Rs.30 million - 6/1/94 Rs.2.0856 million - 19/3/94 Rs.1.92 million.”

 To say Cowasjee was disliked by intelligence agencies and politicians with equal measure would be to put it nicely.

As a sign of the pressure he faced for calling out these acts, in 1990 he was allegedly put under pressure bythe first PPP government

"Ahmad Fahim Mughal, Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, Bilawal House, 
Karachi." I had filed a suit 
against this illegal construction and the Sindh High Court had 
granted a stay. He very directly asked me to withdraw the suit and 
have the stay vacated at the next hearing of the case in three days 
time. If I did not do so, showing me his fist, he told me I would 
have to face the consequences.
And then in 1998 byanother born again democrat Khawaja Asif of the Pakistan Muslim League.

It was this era in which an increasingly embittered Cowasjee would argue for accountability over democracy. He appreciated and supported Pervaiz Musharrafs coup and would place great if misplaced hope in the Generals regime

(to be continued)


  1.  Cowasjee (14 June 1997 ) Our Mango Republic
  2. Cowasjee (13 February 1997 ) Villany
  3.  Cowasjee: We Never learn from history 3 August 17 2002)
  4. Cowasjee (13 July 1999 ) Sound Advice

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