Thursday, December 27, 2018
Barrister Mian Aamir Hassan
Resistance and reconciliation are two concepts, though rooted in history, still prevalent in present day politics. As a matter of fact, resistance is an act to defy the oppression in any form in a state or a society while reconciliation is a composite step to proceed further despite all types of ills in a society. History is prolific of examples relating to resistance of reconciliation. In ancient past, we find Socrates resisting traditional approach even at the cost of his life. He was offered to escape his fate but he preferred reconciliation to the prevalent law and let his life be taken. In recent past; Nelson Mandella was the man who was the paragon of resistance in his earlier part of life who opted for reconciliation in his later life just to fend off blood-spattered clash in his country. Mohatarma Benazir Bhutto terrestrial life (1953-2007) is a beautiful blend of resistance and reconciliation: resistance to gun holders while reconciliation with the aspirants of peace.
Her father taught her politics of resistance keeping in view the multicultural society of Pakistan. However, resistance was at the back of his mind while teaching politics of reconciliation to his gifted political heiress who had been the eye witness of the last era of Ayubian period where her father touched the summit of excellence when he resisted against the dictatorial regime. The later part of Zulifqar Ali Bhutto’s life is the shining example of political reconciliation and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto was cheek by jowls to his learned father. His father was practically instructing her daughter how to strike reconciliation with the state institutions at home and how to reconcile with India in extraordinary times. Benazir Bhutto accompanied her father during Shimla Agreement, the best case reconciliation between the two countries.
Her resistance started with the arrest of her father, the one who founded the nuclear bomb, got 90000 prisoners of war released from India, hosted OIC summit at Lahore, got approved Constitution 1973 from National Assembly during his premiership and even sacrificed his life for the nation. At that time, her father Zulifiqar Ali Bhutto entrusted the leadership of this nation to Benazir Bhutto who fulfilled her responsibility even at the cost of her life. She was well aware about the designs of her enemies after Karsaz blast, but like a true leader she refused to back out the promise she made to her father for the safety and security of the nation. Like father like daughter.
After her father’s fateful shahadat, she started her resistance against three groups such as the then military junta, monopolists and capitalists. At the same time, she liked to tread on the path of reconciliation with political forces. She helped form and joined Movement for Restoration of Democracy(MRD) which had been a historically populist political alliance, formed to oppose and end the military government of President General Zia-ul-Haq. MRD included Abdul Wali Khan, Molana Mufti Mehmood and Nawab Nusrallah Khan who had been the political rivals of her father but Benazir Bhutto liked to join them in political struggle against the dictatorial regime of Zial ul Haq. This is the best example of reconciliation in the start of her political career. In 1988, her party formed government in center despite all type of leg-pulling and hypocrisy. After coming into power, the lady Prime Minister started resistance against the India’s illegitimate rule and state terrorism in Kashmir. After a long, long time, the Kashmir issue was highlighted and started pricking the world conscious once again. She also supported resistance against Israeli oppression and invited Palestinian leader Yasser Irfat in Pakistan. It was she who got international recognition to All Parties Hurriat Conference (APHC) which is an alliance of 26 political, social and religious organisations formed on March 9, 1993, as a united political front to raise the cause of Kashmiri freedom. She tried her level best to establish reconciliation with rivals in establishment too. For instance, she awarded Tamgha Jamhooriat to Gen. Aslam Beg who did not impose martial law after plane crash of dictator Zia ul Haq. Benazir Bhutto, forgetting the past, did not hesitate to have a handshake with the rivals for the cause of state, and, thus changed the direction of her resistance against the oppression on world’s stage. Within state, she offered resistance too but only at dialogue level.
At that time, Nawaz Sharif was the establishment’s blue eyed boy. She demonstrated her resistance against him but never closed the door of reconciliation. Her resistance was against his dictatorial attitude but doors for parliamentary discussion remained open. She also made a wonderful balance between resistance and reconciliation while dealing with MQM’s militant and political wings. The launched operation against the former while held talks with the later. In the same way, she started her resistance against General Musharraf when he took over. On the other hand, she supported dialogue with the world to avoid clash of civilizations. She opposed and condemned Taliban while trying to prevent the USA from embarking on war which was destructive for the region.
Later on, she opted for talks with General Musharraf- not to get benefits or premiership but for the removal of his uniform. By getting Musharraf to agree on removing the uniform, she really did a great job which all the religious and political leaders couldn’t make it happen despite their best efforts. For this purpose, she held a meeting with Musharraf and convinced him to do so. The propagandists try to give other meanings to reconciliation but the history itself has sorted out the truth from the falsehood. With NRO, Benazir paved the way for democracy in the country. The political rivals fail to understand this simple thing.
History has proved the efficacy of Benazir Bhutto’s policy as she opposed the Afghan war, efforts for access to warm waters and making this world as unipolar. She also opposed military intervention and ‘chamak’ in judiciary. Some judges gave verdicts against Benazir Bhutto on phone calls from power corridors. However, her opposition always remained limited to persons and never sputtered anger against the state institutions. It would not be wrong to say that her resistance and reconciliation was for state repeated state only.
Now the gun holders of all kinds are still united against Pakistan Peoples Party and its leadership since they are afraid of Benazir Bhutto’s legacy, her son, her husband, her ideas, her philosophy, her party and her party workers. We need to learn that pathway to progress will be clear if we are logical in deciding as to whom is to resist or reconcile with. Obviously, the state has to resist the gun holders while striking deal with the political forces. This is the only way to go ahead, for the state and the stakeholders.
By Ramsha Vistro
Late politician Benazir Bhutto was loved by everyone for various reasons. Known for her poise and sophistication, her fashion choices didn’t go unnoticed either. On her 11th death anniversary, here’s a roundup of some of Bhutto’s most stylish pieces.
The sun will rise every morning of 27th December and life will continue but Bilawal, Bakhtawar, Aseefa, former president Zardari and we workers will never be able to see our leader ever. It was early morning of 17th October when Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was giving goodbye kisses to Bakhtawar and Aseefa in the outer lounge of her house in Dubai. She stood up and again hugged the kids and walked her usual elegant style and sat in car and I was seated on her left back seat. She opened her car window and kept on waving till moved on the left side of the road.
It was July 2007, when a Central Executive Committee meeting of PPP was held at my house in London where Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto had decided to return back to Pakistan against all odds and that she would announce date for her return in September. Though everyone including the PPP leadership had warned her about the life threats and security issues, she remained firm about her decision without any fear.
Despite having a clear understanding of the serious risks she was going to face, she believed that General Musharraf was using the security issue as a ploy to threaten her in order to keep her out of Pakistan, as he feared that it would diminish his power raising the chances of her victory in elections.
Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto made announcement of her return on 14th September and it ultimately disturbed General Musharraf and his political colleagues who kept emphasising the life threats against her by extremist groups during election campaigns. They also made several offers to her in order to finalise a power-sharing agreement but she never agreed to any of these offers. Mr. Iqbal Z Ahmed along with a close trusted General came to her and offered her to be the chairperson of Senate, which she declined in my presence and few others.
It was followed by several discrete meetings in 2005 and 2006 in Dubai between Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, General Musharraf and his close associates but they never produced a concrete agreement leading to restoration of democracy in the country. Finally two one-on-one meetings between Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and General Musharraf were held on 24 January 2007 and 27 July 2007 in Abu Dhabi. These meetings were arranged by me and a few other advisers of Gen Pervez Musharraf we had direct contacts with General Musharraf’s team. They met again in August and September 2007 when Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto expressed about her major pressing concerns, which included free and fair elections and lifting of 3rd time ban on premiership.Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto frustrated all efforts of General Musharraf to block her return to Pakistan and against all threats and security concerns landed at Karachi on 18th Oct 2007 from Dubai while her children stayed behind. She was moved to see the enormous crowd of people waiting at the airport to welcome her, which made her more stoppable. The crowd was so big that it even slowed the progress of her cavalcade to her destination at the mausoleum of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. It was where she had intended to address the public.
The party in a meeting held in Dubai had decided for proper security of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and had also announced a committee consisting of MNA Shahban Mirani, Dr Zulfiqar Mirza and a few other retired major generals to head the physical security of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. The government proposed the name of AD Khawaja, the then SSP, to be approved by Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto but one of the highly influential PPP leader got the name changed from AD Khawaja to Major (R) Imtiaz Hussain, the then SSP, who had earlier served with Mohtarma as her physical security officer.
According to notification of Cabinet division, the total responsibility of security of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto as former PM was of the government and the physical security was entrusted to SSP Major (R) Imtiaz Hussain. So the physical security, roadside security, close protection in all functions was the sole responsibly of the government not of any PPP leader including me.The party organised the 18th Oct cavalcade where some additional security was provided by police besides the ‘Janisars’ of the party. Despite having extensive security measures, an explosion went off near Karsaz, Karachi close to the armoured truck in which she was riding followed by another much more powerful explosion. Prior to that an attempt was made where someone from the crowd tried to pass on a baby child rapped in heavy explosives to Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto but fortunately the baby child could not reach the hands of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. The explosions killed 149 people while 402 were injured. It was a miracle that Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto remained safe in this massive attack. I along with Raja Pervez Ashraf, Aitzaz Ahsan, Christina Lamb and many others were also present on the top of the truck fully exposed during the attack. My hairs were scorched and fire burned Raja Pervez Ashraf’s clothes. Though we were not hurt but we lost many workers who acted as human shields for their beloved leader Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.
The police even refused to register the case after Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto attempted to lodge the complaint. The evidence was hosed away within one hour without securing the vital evidence and against the local and international laws. The case never advanced as the evidence was already destroyed through hosing off the crime scene. Surprisingly, the suspected mastermind of October 18 assassination attempt namely Qari Saifullah Akhtar, along with his two sons, and other suspects was arrested but released after few days claiming lack of evidence against them. He along with his sons subsequently fled to Afghanistan, where he had been running a training camp for al-Qaeda.
Under the PPP government, the dormant investigation of the case was activated but DSP Nawaz Ranjha of Karachi police who was entrusted to investigate the case was mysteriously killed when he was close to the arrest of the attackers.
However, being undeterred of previous attempt on her life and continuously pouring in security threats, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto decided to keep on leading the election campaign. On 26th December 2017 we along with Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto reached at airport on way to Peshawar for addressing an election rally where she addressed huge crowd of people. She was quite happy to have such a successful public gathering at Peshawar. Unfortunately, we faced an unsuccessful and foiled murder attempt.
She was fond of chapel kebab and she asked me to arrange on way from Peshawar to Islamabad. I remember Ms Naheed Khan sitting her right while I was sitting on left. SMBB made bread role with chapel kebab herself and she gave me the first one and the other to Naheed Khan and took the last one. We could never think that she would be no more next evening.On the dark evening of 27th December 2007, our nation was bereaved of the great loss of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto at the hands of those who never wanted Pakistan to progress by a devoted leader like her.On 27th December 2007, numbers of warnings concerning possible terrorist attack on the campaign event of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto at Liaquat Bagh were issued by the Interior Ministry. The government was demanded of to take foolproof security measures against the threats yet it did not take any proper measures or issue specific instructions to the provincial authorities to ensure her protection. The federal government failed to execute the responsibility to protect her by not detailing full and comprehensive security as per the Blue Book.
Due to lack of security of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, the terrorists finally managed to reach the close proximity of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and assassinated her through a suicide bomber while she was leaving from Liaquat Bagh after having addressed the public meeting. There is absolutely no doubt about who killed her, who conspired and executed the conspiracy and who facilitated their conspiracy. The police under the instructions of the government hosed off the scene after one hour and 20 minutes, which action helped destruction of vital evidence. After her martyrdom, a golden chapter of Pakistani politics was closed forever; however, none can put her legacy to death.
Following the assassination, the then Punjab government constituted a JIT comprised of police officers to probe the case of murder of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. Although the JIT arrested five accused persons for being in knowledge of the conspiracy and for facilitating the execution of the conspiracy besides declaring number of other accused persons as proclaimed offenders yet it left so many questions unanswered. The JIT even did not fix any responsibility for non-provision of or lax of security to Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto on any government official including Gen. Pervez Musharraf.
Just after 24 hours of the assassination, the then Director General of National Crisis Management Cell, under the orders of the federal government held a press conference to play out an alleged intercepted telephonic talk between Baitullah Mehsud and one Maulvi Sahib (later identified as Azizullah – a former student of Madrassa Haqqania -- exchanging congratulating comments and also to explaining the cause of death. This press conference was clearly aimed at influencing the on-going investigation by a JIT constituted by the then Punjab government.
The then federal government had invited a team of Scotland Yard police of UK with very limited scope of investigation. They were only tasked to find out the cause of death. Although, the team concluded that Mohtarma was not hit by any bullet, which caused her death but this conclusion was not in absolute term.Ironically, the then Punjab government also constituted an Inquiry Committee, with limited mandate and pre-determined terms of reference, to probe into hosing off the crime scene. The Committee in its findings gave clean chit to the local administration including police officers responsible for washing away the crime scene.At the request of the PPP government, UNO constituted a Commission of Inquiry to probe into Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s assassination and it concluded, inter alia, that the first JIT "lacked direction, was ineffective and endured lack of commitment to identify and bring all of the culprits to justice. This delay further hampered the gathering of evidence. Despite indications that there are links between the Karachi and Rawalpindi attacks, there has essentially been no communication between the investigators on those two cases”.
Consequent to the findings of the UN Commission of Inquiry, the PPP government constituted another JIT comprising of officers from police, security agencies and FIA led by Khalid Qureshi of FIA for further investigation. During investigations, it was confirmed that the former JIT had not investigated those who were nominated by Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto in a “declaration/email”, she wrote to Mark Siegel in 2007 before her assassination that included number of names, which is matter of record. The second JIT fixed the responsibility on accused General Musharraf for not providing adequate security to Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, DIG Police Saud Aziz and SSP Khurram Shahzad on account of washing the crime scene to destroy evidence and for not allowing the doctors to conduct post mortem of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. The JIT also established that the attack was planned, monitored and executed by former students of Madrassa Darul Uloom Haqqania in Akora Khattak. The second JIT also provided a complete report on the assassination and called it a "broad-based conspiracy" carried out by terrorists based in Waziristan, which was facilitated by Gen. Pervez Musharraf through non-provision of adequate and proper security protection to her.
The salient features of the said investigations are summarised as under:
1. The crime scene was washed away by the then administration within 1 hour and 20 minutes of the incident under the orders of CCPO Saud Aziz through SP Khurram Shahzad, which had negative effect on the collection of forensic evidence of the incident. The washing away of the crime scene of any such incident was nothing but to hamper with the investigation of the case. This act of the then administration was, therefore, clearly against the law. Both the police officers were, therefore, cited as accused persons and were challaned.
2. The security provided by the then government/administration was inadequate and was not according to the Blue Book and SOP. The government did not provide the security to her as notified for two former prime minister namely Ch. Shujaat Hussain and Shaukat Aziz.
3. The security escort responsible for the safe journey of the motorcade of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto from residence to Liaquat Bagh and back was removed and shifted to another place before Mohtarma had finished her public address. It was established that the then CCPO Rawalpindi was responsible for removing the security escort to another place of duty, which was even not within the jurisdiction of Rawalpindi police.
4. The contingent plan in case of an emergency was not followed and the damaged vehicle of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was diverted to a hospital farther away from the incident scene rather than to nearby hospital. Even the ambulance and paramedical staff were not detailed in the security plan.
5. The then CCPO of Rawalpindi police did not allow the doctors to carry out the post-mortem of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and gave false statements in this connection.
6. The confessions of the accused persons were substantiated with independent forensic evidence to prove their criminal act in the court of law including the DNA of the joggers used by the terrorist/suicide bomber, recovered from the house of one of the accused persons.
7. Conspiracy was hatched at Room No. 96 of Madrassa Haqqania, Akora Khattak by the former students of the said Madrassa. One Nadir @ Qari Ismail, a former student of Madrassa Haqqania had brought suicide bomber to the Madrassa from then TTP chief Baitullah Mehsud and stayed in Room No. 96 of the hostel of the Madrassa overnight.
8. The JIT collected the original admission record with photographs, addresses & parentage from Madrassa of those students who conspired and then executed the conspiracy. These accused and their associates were based in Madrassa and residing in hostel in 2007. Their meeting and operation point remained Room No. 96 of the Madrassa hostel.
9. Accused Nasrullah had brought suicide bombers in Rawalpindi on 26th December 2007 on the instructions of Ibad-ur-Rehman, the planner and ex-students of the Madrassa Haqqania. Unfortunately both were, later on, found to have been killed in separate operations by the LEAs after JIT/FIA started chasing them.
10. Accused Hasnain Gul and Rafaqat Hussain, close relatives, had collected accused Nasrullah along with suicide bomber from Pir Wadahi bus stand and lodged them at the house of accused Rafaqat Hussain overnight. Both of them were also involved in taking Nasrullah and the suicide bomber to Liaquat Bagh on 27 December 2017. The subsequent DNA analysis on the joggers of the suicide bomber recovered from the house of Rafaqat Hussain confirmed the presence of the suicide bomber at his house.
11. Maulvi Sahib (Azizullah) to whom Baitullah Mehsud called (intercepted call) was also the former student of this Madrassa.
12. The JIT had also been able to trace seven absconders that included Baitullah Mehsud, Ibad-ur-Rehman @Usman @ Chattan, Abdullah @ Saddam (who along with Nadir @ Qari Ismail had brought suicide bomber from Baitullah Mehsud), Faiz Muhammad @ Kiskat, Nadir @ Qari Ismail, Ikramullah (2nd suicide bomber) and Nasrullah.
Unfortunately, when JIT/FIA started chasing these absconders, they were killed one by one mysteriously. There was only one and single drone attack in Khyber Agency which killed Ibad-ur-Rehman, who was tasked to coordinate and supervise the assassination plan.
Interestingly, a leader of TTP recently authored and published a book from Afghanistan in which he mentioned the name of Ikramullah as second suicide bomber who has currently risen to hierarchy of TTP and is residing in Afghanistan. I had made a written request to the federal government to take up his extradition to Pakistan with the Afghan government, for interrogation and to unearth further facts.
The JIT/FIA also fixed responsibility on the then President General (R) Pervez Musharraf for deliberately failing to provide adequate security to Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto despite repeated reminders. He even threatened her of consequences if she did come to Pakistan before general elections. Mark Siegel, one of the witnesses, in his statement deposed that Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto had once received a threatening call from Gen. Pervez Musharraf from Pakistan while she was in his office. She disclosed to him that Gen. Pervez Musharraf had warned her that “her security depends on her cooperation with him”. He is also facing trial of the case.
Interestingly, the Taliban during their meetings with Afghan government in Qatar and in Murree through the courtesy of government of Pakistan, had demanded the release and deportation of accused Hasnain Gul and Rafaqat Hussain as one of their demands. It, therefore, clearly demonstrates their close association with the Taliban/al-Qaeda.After investigation, FIA/JIT submitted first report in the court on 25.05.2010 for trial of the accused persons. The accused persons besides threatening the prosecutors and the witnesses resorted to delaying tactics. During trial Special Public Prosecutor Ch Zulfiqar Ali was killed while on his way to the court. The investigation carried out in his murder case revealed that the assassin had close contacts with Khalid Sheikh, the mastermind of first terrorist attack on World Trade Centre in 1993, who also happens to be maternal uncle of Yousaf Ramzi. Apart from the delaying tactics, five judges of the Anti-Terrorism Court were posted and transferred, further causing delay in dispensation of justice for which the heir of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto – President Asif Ali Zardari, Bilawal, Bakhtawar and Aseefa - had been waiting for years.
The Anti Terrorism Court finally announced its judgement on 31.08.2017 – after over seven years – whereby the court acquitted all the terrorists by ignoring and discarding the whole irrefutable forensic evidence against them. It, however, convicted and sentenced both the police officers. This judgement was, in fact, grave injustice to the justice and the heirs of our great leader. The murder was a deep and well-thought plan against Pakistan. ‘The Daughter of East” returned to her homeland with the hope to make it prosperous and peaceful but the enemies killed the hopes of Pakistanis by eliminating her. Bilawal, Bakhtawar and Aseefa had been waiting for justice against the injustice to them for years but despite confessions of the accused duly substantiated through forensic evidence, the learned judge of the court acquitted the terrorists.
People repeatedly ask questions as to why the murderers have not been arrested without appreciating that all the culprits involved had not only been identified but also arrested. They were put to trial but unfortunately, the court chose to acquit all the terrorists who were directly involved in the assassination of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto by ignoring the whole evidence against them. The court, however, convicted and sentenced two police officers who are again on bail consequent to their appeal in the High Court. The trial against former president Gen. Pervez Musharraf is still pending in the court. Where is the justice for the beloved children of SMBB and instead of justice to her beloved son he has been served notice based on historic issues related to the period when he was two year old. It is for all times a big question, which will continue to haunt the judicial system that has miserably failed to provide justice against the injustice to Bhutto family. I wish that Supreme Court had taken notice of the failure of the judicial system to provide justice to Bilawal and his sisters for the murder of his mother and grandfather. He is facing the injustices and political challenges with courage but one can see tears in his eyes whenever he has to mention the memories of his mother. My sister, my leader and leader of masses Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto - we all miss you. Your mission is being well carried forward by BBZ and honestly we see your wisdom in his action and he has already emerged as top leader and speeches has shaken the corridors of powers and inimical political groups. PPP Zindabad & Pakistan Paendabad.