We’ve Learnt Nothing from History’

by Air Marshall Asghar Khan

I am going to show Zulfikar Ali Bhutto through the eyes of three of his contemporaries i.e. Air Marshall Asghar Khan, Sherbaz Khan Mazari and Dr Mobashar Hasan. Today let us see what the Air Marshal has to say on how responsible Bhutto was for the break up of the country. If we stubbornly refuse to pay any attention to what these people have to say, then we are confirming what the Air Marshal has said about ‘our not wanting to learn from history’.

Page 22 – Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was the only political leader to publicly welcome the imposition of Yahya Khan’s martial law. For Bhutto, the end justified the means. The end being the capture of power. He had maintained good relations with Ayub Khan’s number two man Yahya khan and other important generals during his tenure as a minister. Throughout the almost three years rule of Yahya khan he maintained the closest links with him.

Page 35 – After the elections, and after having visited Dhaka to meet Mujib, Bhutto invited Yahya khan and his close advisors, Generals Hamid and Peerzada to Larkana as his guests. They stayed there for a few days and were entertained lavishly. If a holiday and relaxation had been the only purpose, perhaps the results would not have been as disastrous for Pakistan as they turned out to be. Unfortunately, fateful decisions were taken and it was agreed in principle that force would be used in East Pakistan.

Asghar Khan says Mujib saw this visit as a conspiracy against him and hardened his position.

It is well known that Bhutto had stopped his MNAs from attending the National Assembly session in Dhaka, “Better buy one way tickets, because I will break you legs if you come back”. Ahmed Raza Kasuri and Hakim Zaradari were the only two who attended. Some years later Hakim Zardari gave an interview to the press strongly condemning Bhutto for his high handedness, he even said Bhutto got the 1973 Constitution signed on gun point.

Bhutto had also asked Yahya Khan to swear him in as prime minister in West Pakistan and Mujib in East pakistan, “The principle of majority rule does not apply in the special circumstances prevailing in Pakistan”.

Page 35/36 – In one of my conversations with Yahya khan in the middle of 1970, he told me that in a meeting a few days earlier, Bhutto had suggested to him that he should forget about the elections. Yahya khan said that Bhutto had told him that Yahya khan, the soldier, and Bhutto, the politician, would make a very good team, and this team could run the country together. Yahya khan further told me that he had replied to Bhutto that this made some sense and asked him as to what was it he proposed to do about East Pakistan. Bhutto had replied, “East Pakistan is no problem. We will have to kill some 20,000 people there and all will be well.

Page 41 – Yahya khan, after attending to the details of what was to follow, left for karachi late in the evening of 25 March. Bhutto was still in Dhaka’s Intercontinental hotel.

Page 42 – Bhutto heard the rattle of gun fire from machine guns in his hotel apartment on the sixth floor, shortly after midnight on 25/26 March. On his arrival in West Pakistan a few days later, he was to Say, “Thank God Pakistan has, at last, been saved”.

Page 43 – The tenuous air link between East and West Pakistan, which could be operated only as long as India allowed it to be used, was severed in February 1971, when an Indian aircraft, ‘Ganga’, was hijacked from Jammu and landed in Lahore. As if the difficulties we faced were not enough, Bhutto visited Lahore airfield and whispered something in the hijacker’s ear, following which the aircraft was blown up. This gave India an excuse to forbid flights of our aircraft over its territory.

Page 52 – Poland, with Soviet support, had introduced a resolution in the Security Council on 10 December, which would have prevented the surrender of the Pakistan army six days later. However, whilst the Security Council awaited the appearance of Pakistan’s foreign minister, the world was told that Bhutto was indisposed with a cold in a New York hotel, and it was only when the Indian army had entered Dhaka and capitulation appeared imminent, that he was well enough to attend the meeting of the Security Council on 15 December. By then, valuable time had been lost, but even at that late hour an outright capitulation might have been prevented. Bhutto, however made an oration more befitting an election speech in Mochi Gate than a speech in the Security Council for the survival of his country. He rejected the idea of a ceasefire declaring that Pakistan would fight for ‘a thousand years’, and strode out of the Security Council. It is a commentary on our poor political sense that this performance was applauded by a large section of our people. So completely had the nation been misled over the years and so poor was our sense of understanding that the behavior of Pakistan’s foreign minister was thought to be the need of the hour.

Page 60 – Bhutto told me that he was sure that if I joined him, and we both set off from Karachi, he to Dadu and Larkana, and I to Hyderabad and Nawabshah, meeting at Sukkur, and then again forking out in different directions and meeting in Multan, then to Lahore and so on, by the time we reached Rawalpindi Yahya khan would be at the railway station to receive us. We can then rule together, he had said. I had asked what his program would be after he had been installed in power. He had laughed at this enquiry and replied,”The program is to rule. The people are stupid and I know how to fool them. I will have the ‘danda’ in my hand and no one will be able to remove us for twenty years”.

Bhutto was so sure no one could remove him for twenty years that he became careless in dealing with his political opponents. He wrote ‘fix him’ on Ahmed Raza Kasuri’s file put up to him by DG FSF. The latter had committed the unpardonable sin of accusing Bhutto to his face of breaking up the country, on the floor of the National Assembly (and now the Supreme Court is being asked to apologise!). He Carelessly sent an emissary to say sorry to actor Mohammad Ali after having his car fired upon for criticizing him to his face for having ‘Waderas’ in his cabinet etc.

Asghar Khan exposes Bhutto’s feudal vengeful nature. Page 220 – Justice Feroze Nana, a highly respected judge of the Sindh high court, was known to me and, on his sudden resignation in 1971, he told me the reason that led to his resignation. A few days after Bhutto had become president of Pakistan, he had sent for Nana. Bhutto said to him , I have sent for you to remind you that your father was my father’s enemy. Nana was taken aback and replied, they may not been on very good terms but they were not enemies. Oh no, Bhutto said, “they were enemies and if I do not take revenge from you, my children will take revenge from your children. Do you understand, that is all. You can go”.

(Those who may not want to believe every thing Air Marshal Asghar Khan has written, should wait to read what Dr Mobashar Hasan has written about his leader. He was at lunch at my house the other day and when some friends asked him about the Bhutto period when he was the finance minister, said “The less said about the Bhutto period the better).

The End


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