HYDERABAD: Sindh’s former home secretary, Muhammad Khan Junejo, breathed his last on Thursday night. He was laid to rest in Badin on Friday. He was 82.
Junejo was one of the few bureaucrats trusted by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and to have endured the wrath of military regime of General Ziaul Haq by spending five years in jail.
He was born in Badin and acquired his early education in Tando Bago and then came to Karachi. He took admission in S M Law College and secured the top position in LLB examination.
From 1955 to 1958 he worked with Advocate Dharamdas, who was a renowned lawyer of Hyderabad. He joined the civil services in 1958. Junejo’s son, Ziauddin, told The Express Tribune that his first assignment was as a first-class magistrate in Multan. In 1962, he was transferred to Karachi as a sub-divisional magistrate where he spent the rest of his life. Junejo took charge as home secretary in 1973 and remained there till 1977, when Ziaul Haq toppled the government of Bhutto. Soon after he was sacked and put under house arrest. He was later sent to military jail in Malir and then to Landhi jail where he was detained for over four years.
“He was doubtlessly the only senior bureaucrat in the country’s history to have been incarcerated for such a long time,” said Mazharul Haq Siddiqui, who was Sindh’s finance secretary with Junejo. Though Junejo was sacked but Siddiqui continued to work for another two years before he was sent to National Defence College by the governor of Sindh. “He was a reliable friend,” recalled Siddiqui. “He was a person who would help everyone without distinction.”
The provincial general-secretary of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Taj Haider remembers Junejo because he put Mairaj Muhammad Khan in prison. “He [Mairaj Khan] had broken up with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto,” said Haider. “Junejo was a trusted man of Buttho.” At that time, Haider himself was leading a group of PPP leaders and some other founding members who had dissented from the party.
“There wasn’t ever a corruption charge against my father,” said Junejo’s elder son, Barrister Ziauddin, who defended his father when he was in jail. “All of the accusations were political.” He said the military government then published advertisements in the newspaper asking the public to file complaints against his father if they were aggrieved by him.
The major charges against Junejo, according to Ziauddin, included the kidnapping of Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi, detaining Jamaat-e-Islami leaders and developing false cases against Bhutto’s political adversaries.
Junejo’s last assignment was as Pakistani ambassador to Bahrain when Benazir Bhutto became the prime minister in 1988.
He is survived by six sons and three daughters. Firdous Junejo, the eldest daughter, was among the first group of women to become the members of Sindh Assembly in 1973. One of his sons, Ali Ahmed, is a police officer in Karachi. The others live in the United States, United Kingdom and Sweden.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 9th, 2012.