When Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was nominated in the Nawab Ahmad Khan murder case, he told his aides, “I am not afraid of being hanged. Bhuttos always die young.” They all laughed at Mr Bhutto’s audaciousness, but they had no idea how prophetic his remark would turn out to be. A power-hungry general and a revengeful judge joined hands to make a mockery of the judicial system and commit what the whole world calls a judicial murder. But the hurt and anger associated with the murder of Pakistan’s most charismatic leader may be released by the revisiting of the case, and the presently independent judiciary may be able to cleanse its tarnished face.
I have always wondered why a powerful and popular leader like Mr Bhutto would order the elimination of a petty political opponent. And why would he go about it in such a clumsy and inept manner, as reflected in the judgment?
The chief justice’s initial remarks have given hope that the case will be given the due importance and attention it deserves. One hopes that the lordships will take into account new evidence, as well as that which was ignored or suppressed by Ziaul Haq’s judicial collaborators. I have recently come to know of two new ‘clues’. A friend told me that a Federal Security Force (FSF) Inspector confided in him about the ‘real’ motive of Nawab Ahmad Khan’s murder. This man was in charge of the ammunition store at the FSF camp in Icchra. A few days before the murder, Sub-Inspector Arshad Iqbal’s brother was murdered as a result of a personal feud. Arshad decided to settle the score with the help of his colleagues. The person in charge of ammunitions issued the weapons to Arshad and others who left in an FSF vehicle.
One party located the car of the killers and informed the other party to intercept and attack. But there was some mix up and Ahmad Raza Kasuri’s car of the same colour appeared and was shot at, resulting in his father’s death.
Another possible new witness is an ex-official of the National Assembly whose office phone was used by Ahmad Raza. He says Ahmad Raza talked to some people a couple of weeks after the incident, and they were apparently pressurising him to implicate Bhutto. He later called Lahore to dictate the writing of the FIR accusing Mr Bhutto of the murder. The relatives of the accused have always maintained that they were given assurances that if they cooperate, they will be pardoned after Mr Bhutto was executed, but they were suddenly and secretly executed. There may be many other witnesses holding missing pieces of the jigsaw.
Yes your lordships, this is a case of great historical and political importance. It might heal a long festering wound and open possibilities of real reconciliation. Bhuttos don’t have keep on dying young!
Published in The Express Tribune, April 20th, 2011.