May issue 2011
Interview: Sardar Mumtaz Ali Bhutto, Chairman, Sindh National Front
“Babar Awan’s appointment as counsel is
an affront to Shaheed Bhutto”
– Sardar Mumtaz Ali Bhutto,
Chairman, Sindh National Front
Q: Do you believe Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s execution was judicial murder?
A: Yes. The whole world recognises Shaheed Bhutto’s hanging as judicial murder. Even one of the judges who sent him to the gallows, Naseem Hassan Shah, has admitted this in his book.
Q: So should the case be reopened?
A: Yes. But this is not entirely without risk of opening up a Pandora’s Box which was best left closed. In fact, the nastiness has already started, and even fools like Ahmed Raza Kasuri have taken the opportunity to label not only Shaheed Bhutto, but even his ancestors as murderers. Anyhow, the right persons to go to court, much earlier, were his wife and children, who did not. Perhaps this was wise. Zardari, who is hiding behind his wife’s name, has taken this step only for political benefits and does not care about the adverse consequences.
Q: What do you think the government’s motivation is in reopening the case at this juncture?
A: The government’s motivation is very clear, and that is to continue to fool the people. The acceptability that Zardari acquired under camouflage of the Bhutto name has been shattered by his corruption and inherent lack of calibre. That would have been the case even if he occupied a much less significant public office than the one he has crept into. He thinks he can divert attention from, and therefore avoid the consequences of his misdeeds by raising another Bhutto issue.
Q: Even if one endorses the claim that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s death was completely unconstitutional, should a sitting government take it upon itself to re-examine the case at taxpayers’ expense, or should this be taken up by the party he founded and remained at the helm of until his death?
A: The family not having done so, the party is the more appropriate litigant in this case. The party, however, does not mean the current fake PPP, nor even that formed by Shaheed Benazir. It means the real thing of whom only a few, like Dr Mubashir Hassan, Sardar Aslam of Rawalpindi, Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, Mairaj Mohammad Khan, myself, and a few others remain.
Q: Even if conclusively proven that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was murdered, he was neither the first nor the last head of state/high ranking official/politician to be publicly assassinated (Liaquat Ali Khan, Zia-ul-Haq, Benazir Bhutto, Chaudhary Zahoor Elahi, Murtaza Bhutto, etc.). By the same yardstick as the one being applied to the ZAB case then, should all these cases not be revisited too?
A: The question is of judicial murder and the confirmation of the fact that Shaheed Bhutto was hanged by a court order which was not only blatantly wrong, but made under the duress of a military dictator. All the others named in the question were murdered in different circumstances which may be reinvestigated accordingly. As far as Shaheed Benazir’s killing is concerned, no proper complaint, leave alone reopening the case, has been filed in three years.
Q: How do you feel about Babar Awan (given his political history and credentials) being tasked with the defence in this case?
A: After what Ijaz-ul-Haq has disclosed in a TV interview about Babar Awan and his relentless efforts to win favour with General Zia, together with the fact that he distributed sweets at Shaheed Bhutto’s hanging, his being the petitioner’s counsel is, at the very least, an affront to Shaheed Bhutto, his family and loyalists. This is even more so since the petitioner himself is the son of a man who also celebrated Shaheed Bhutto’s hanging.