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Al-Zulfikar: The unsaid history

Al-Zulfikar: The unsaid history

Pakistan is infamous for having a history cramped with assorted Islamist and sectarian organisations that have been unleashing havoc on its people and the state for over a decade.

But long before violent terror groups like Sipah-e-Shaba, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and the Tehrik-e-Taliban-Pakistan started using unprecedented violence and coercion to turn their idea of a mythical Sunni Islamic utopia into reality, there was Al-Zulfikar, – a leftwing terror group formed by the sons of former Pakistani prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and the brothers of late Benazir Bhutto.

The son rises

Al-Zulfikar Organisation, or AZO, came into being some months after the execution of Z.A. Bhutto (April 4, 1979). The execution was sectioned by the Ziaul Haq dictatorship through a sham trial .

Although AZO lasted for over a decade, its history has remained shrouded in mystery.

The most complete document available on the subject is in the shape of an invigorating book by former Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) member and (later) AZO operative, Raja Anwar.

The book was first published in 1997. Called the ‘The Terrorist Prince’, it is an insightful look at the nature of the organisation as well as of its originator, Mir Murtaza Bhutto.

Raja Anwar, one of AZO’s earliest members, after escaping Zia’s tyranny travelled to Soviet-held Afghanistan to join AZO operations in Kabul.

Other sources I have used for this article are newspaper interviews of some of AZO’s leading operatives (many of whom are now dead), and private interviews with the family and cousins of AZO’s most notorious henchman, Salamullah Tipu (who died in 1984).

Recently, Murtaza Bhutto’s daughter, Fatima Bhutto, too has discussed the AZO in her book, ‘Songs of Blood and Sword.’ Unfortunately, Fatima betrays her obvious talents as a writer by sounding cringingly naïve on the matter. In fact, she allows emotionalism and her extreme dislike of anyone even slightly critical of Murtaza to override any worthy hint of objectivity.

Consequently, Fatima completely ignores the telling evidence and information available on the AZO in shape of books such as ‘The Terrorist Prince,’ and ‘The Politics of Terrorism’ (Michael Stohl), and interviews given by Murtaza to the BBC and the Indian media between 1981 and 1986.

Also, Fatima (unlike Raja Anwar), did not find it important to talk to the families of the young, idealistic AZO operatives who were jailed, hanged, or killed between 1980 and 1989.

AZO was formed by Murtaza Bhutto (who was 25 years old at the time) and his younger brother, Shahnawaz Bhutto, in late 1979 after their diplomatic efforts (in London) failed to stop Zia from executing their father who was also the country’s first-ever popularly elected prime minister.

Frustrated and angry, Murtaza got in touch with sympathetic Muslim leaders such as Libya’s Colonel Qaddafi, Syria’s Hafizul Asad, and the PLO’s Yasser Arafat and told them about his plans to overthrow the Zia regime through an armed struggle. After bagging some funds (from Libya and Syria) and a huge arms cache (from the PLO), Murtaza arrived in Kabul, Afghanistan, which was under a pro-Soviet communist government at the time.

The AZO’s early recruits were a handful of fiery PPP members who had escaped Pakistan to avoid being arrested by Zia’s police. These men then helped Murtaza get a number of passionate activists from the PPP’s student-wing, the Peoples Students Federation (PSF), who crossed the Pak-Afghan border on foot to enter Kabul. However, almost all of them were either killed or arrested during AZO’s first few actions on Pakistani soil.

The AZO managed to survive the blow and began receiving its second batch of recruits in late 1980. This batch, though smaller in size, had some of the most militant elements from the PSF. One of them was the 25-year-old Salamullah Tipu, who already had blood on his hands, having previously shot dead a member of the Islami-Jamiat-Taleba (IJT), the violent student-wing of the pro-Zia Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), at the University of Karachi.

Murtaza put Tipu in charge of a plane hijacking plan he’d been contemplating. In early 1981, Tipu, along with a cousin and another PSF militant (Nasser Jamal) in Karachi, pulled off a dramatic hijacking, taking a Peshawar-bound PIA plane at gunpoint to Kabul and then to Damascus in Syria.

He shot dead a Pakistani official on board when Zia refused to accept Murtaza and Tipu’s demands for releasing over 50 activists from the PPP and PSF who had been languishing in Zia’s cramped jails. Zia finally relented, but only when Tipu threatened to kill the six American passengers who were also on the plane.

The successful hijacking not only saw many of the released men join AZO, but the organisation also welcomed a whole new batch of recruits who travelled across Pakistan’s tribal areas and entered Afghanistan, dodging bullets fired by the roaming bands of anti-Soviet jihad gangs that Zia had started to gather on the Pak-Afghan border.

AZO described itself as a socialist guerrilla outfit, but its main purpose was avenging Bhutto’s death. The organisation was mostly made up of young PSF militants, and members of small left-wing groups such as the Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party. Almost all of these men belonged to the lower-middle-class and working-class strata of society and had faced stiff jail sentences, torture, and lashes of Zia’s Islamist tyranny.

AZO was successful in making an “international impact” with the hijacking. Bolstered by fresh funds and support by the Afghan, Libyan, and Syrian governments, AZO soon made at least two serious assassination attempts against Zia. One was a missile attack at Zia’s special plane (Falcon) in Rawalpindi in 1982.

The Russian-made, heat-seeking missile whizzed pass the plane and just missed smashing into it, thanks to an astute last minute maneuver by the pilot who’d somehow seen the missile approaching. The attack was engineered and undertaken by two PSF brothers from Rawalpindi.

The rot sets in

Instead of further strengthening the urban guerrilla outfit, AZO’s sudden success and the fear that it sparked in the country’s brutal military regime, ironically left the organisation in the vicious grip of reckless infighting, mainly due to Murtaza Bhutto’s growing paranoia. He became convinced that the AZO had been infiltrated by Zia’s agents.

Murtaza began to jail and eliminate his own men (with the help of the Afghan intelligence agency, KHAD), accusing them of being traitors, or worse, men ‘planted by the Zia regime.’ A number of murders were committed on Murtaza’s suspicious whims, as he now pitched one group of AZO men against the other.

Murtaza’s increasingly paranoid disposition saw him moving some of his men to Libya while he left some behind in Kabul as he himself moved to Damascus.

In 1983, at the height of infighting within the AZO, Murtaza once again decided to use his main weapon, Tipu, this time to assassinate Zia during the dictator’s trip to India. The plan came to a naught, and Murtaza ordered Tipu to go back to Kabul and assassinate some ‘traitors’ that he blamed for the botched assassination attempt. But after Tipu eliminated the ‘traitor’, Murtaza now decided to get rid of Tipu as well. He asked KHAD to arrest him.

Conscious of Tipu’s worth and daring, KHAD hesitated, leaving enough room for Tipu to take over AZO’s Kabul operations. Murtaza, by now firmly in the clutches of mistrust and irrational suspicions, faced the first major challenge to his leadership in the AZO.

From Damascus he again asked KHAD to put Tipu on trial for a murder Murtaza himself had ordered. It was Tipu’s bad luck that though he was able to charm both KHAD and the Soviet KGB with his declaration of being a communist revolutionary who was ready to undertake another hijacking, Tipu’s hot-headed and violent nature soon got him into trouble with the Afghan government as well.

By late 1983, Tipu began to be seen as a security threat by the Afghan government, and this time KHAD obliged Murtaza by arresting Tipu. He was then executed by a firing squad in early 1984.

By 1985, AZO had crumbled. Most of its operatives had lost their lives. Many surviving AZO men escaped to Libya and Syria (never allowed back into Pakistan); some got asylum in European countries, while a huge number either rotted away in war-torn Kabul, or came back to Pakistan only to be arrested and given long jail sentences.

Benazir Bhutto, who had languished in Zia’s jails, was sent into exile in 1984, and she (while talking to BBC) at once denounced AZO and Murtaza’s tactics.

Murtaza and Shahanawaz (along with their Afghan wives) moved to Cannes in France, where Shahnawaz was allegedly poisoned to death by Zia’s agents.

The second coming and demise

The gulf between Murtaza and Benazir continued to grow. Benazir plunged back into the mainstream politics of the country when she returned to the country in 1986.

The same year, Murtaza began changing the ideological nature of AZO. He began turning it into an exclusively Sindhi nationalist organization.

The first version of the AZO (1979-84), had a number of ideologically-charged young Punjabi, Mohajir, Pushtun and Baloch men (along with Sindhis) in its fold.

The second version of the organization (that shifted its base from Kabul to India), however, was exclusively made up of Sindhi nationalist youth who (between 1986 and 1992), took part in various cases of sabotage and murder in Karachi and the interior of Sindh.

Murtaza’s return to Pakistan (in 1993) was made possible only when the first government of Nawaz Sharif agreed to implement a plan hatched by former PPP big-wig, Jam Sadiq Ali (earlier chucked out by Benazir from the party) and some ISI sleuths. They were to make way for Murtaza’s return because they saw him capable of wresting the control of the PPP from Benazir and factionalize the party.

Murtaza arrived back to Pakistan in 1993 (after 17 years). After failing to get a prominent position in the PPP, he formed his own faction, PPP (Shaheed Bhutto).

Nonetheless, his party faced heavy defeats in the 1993 elections (which Benazir’s PPP won).

Till the day he was tragically killed, Murtaza spent all his efforts in trying to undermine Banazir’s second government, but the truth was, his short stint as the agency’s trump card came to an end as soon as it was realized that the majority of the PPP voters had rejected his claim of being the party’s ‘true heir.’

He was finally killed in 1996 during a police ambush on his convoy near his house in Karachi. The ambush was unconvincingly described as an ‘encounter’ by the police.

Murtaza’s widow, Ghinwa Bhutto (his second wife) accused the Benazir government and Asif Ali Zardari for the murder, whereas Benazir blamed the agencies which she claimed used the episode to topple her elected government.

Along with Murtaza also died whatever was left of Al-Zulfikar, whose last known operative was killed (by unknown assailants) in 2000.

Of the two hundred or so young, hot-headed and passionate (albeit naïve) operatives of the organization (between 1979 and 1993), only a few have survived to tell the tale. Most of them died young (aged between 17 and 27), and were buried either in Kabul or Libya, mostly in unmarked graves.

nadeem_80x80 Nadeem F. Paracha is a cultural critic and senior columnist for Dawn Newspaper and

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.


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148 Responses to “Al-Zulfikar: The unsaid history”

  1. Mohammad Salman says:

    NFP certainly writes from the perspective of being a staunch PPP and ZAB supporter and this is not a criticism, but is not dissimmilar to how he describes Fatima Bhutto’s writing about her father, Murtaza.

    It is not uncommon for research to be restricted to the needs of the writer and the view being expressed.
    In this way, a specific view point is made, to assist any reader to make their own opinion, on the subject at hand.

    However, in the above article by NFP, he states that Tipu was executed by a firing squad in early 1984.

    In another article,

    NFP states that Tipu was hanged by the Afghan government (on Murtaza’s insistence) for a supposed murder of an Afghan citizen in 1984.

    It would be helpful if NFP could inform the readers which is the correct version of the events.
    Could it be that other statements of fact, made in the article need further verification and research?
    One has to wonder.

    Yet again there seems to be some confusion as to the manner of Shahnawaz’s death in Cannes, where the Bhutto’s had a flat, which, according to Jamsheed Marker, was owned by the then French Justice Minister and where after a fight with Murtaza over the division of money given by Gaddafi, Shahnawaz died of a drug overdose. This would suggest a self inflicted death.

    Omar Waraich, who reports in The Independent newspaper of April 10, 2010, on a new memoir of a dynasty torn apart by violence, gives his opinion that, in 1985, Shahnawaz was poisoned while on holiday in Cannes. This reflects murder.

    More confusion and something for the reader to ascertain through research, perhaps.

    Both, Nadeem F. Paracha and Fatima Bhutto have given their views and it would seem that there is still much that has been left unsaid or remains unknown.

    • Ganesh Bhosle says:

      Mohammad Salman ji,

      Good observation about TIPU’s execution.

      Mr NFP,

      This is not acceptable mistake(if it is mistake) in your part.

  2. RajRaj says:

    Dear Paracha sahb,
    Article is very interesting and informative, i recall lot of stuff was mentioned in the book by Anwar Raja in shi book ” The Terrorist Prince”. I remember Ardeshir Cowasjee aslo wrote about the book several years back. Fatima’s latest book offers nothing new than what PPP-SB has been issueing statements.

  3. Ali says:

    Insightful article but i don’t understand how everyone calls ZAB a democratically elected leader. If one takes a look at the history of Pakistan, Mujib-ur-Rahman should have been the prime minister. Even though it was inevitable, we lost one half of our country because of ZAB’s prejudice and lust for power. ZAB was an idealist, I agree with a lot of his political ideas but like any idealist he failed miserably in enforcing his ideas.
    Nothing personal but we have never really had a great leader in the last few decades. Only great orators.

    • ghazi says:

      I would suggest you study the Homud ur Rehman commission report before you blame Bhutto for the the Dhacca Debacle. The demand of PPP was that either you delay the assembly meeting for the two parties to work it out or remove the limit of 120 days to form a constitutional once the assembly met . PPP wanted Awami league to take out half of one of its six points. Either to have one central bank or same currency. Other than that PPP was willing to work with Awami league and also to sit in the opposition. Years of non representative rule had left Awami league and East Pakistanis with a feeling of being ruled and exploited by the west pakistan and thus they were not willing to budge an inch on the six points. And Mujib had openly said that ‘ my plan is to create Bangaladesh after i am in power i will rip apart the LFO. Who is going to stop me than’. There were only 10 majors and only one colonel and brigadier in the army. No general from east pakistan. While the army rule was the cause of the breakup and the sole people to blame, i am surprised why people tend to still believe the pathetic logic that polititians caused the breakup.
      Mujib knew what had happend to all the prime ministers from east pakistan who had been elected and were humiliated and sacked from the seat of power by the establishment in west pakistan. What guarrentees did he have such would not be his fate this time? Three prime ministers had been sent packing by the establishment .
      I would suggest you readup a bit of history and then write such silly comments.

      • Maria says:

        Thanks for your explanation Ghazi. For a long time I too thought that the politicians were as much to blame as the Generals for the 1971 debacle. You have shown again that the dictators and generals are the ones who repeatedly let the country down when they try to take over illegaly. We need to have the military stick to its professional task of gaurding the nation (which they are good at) and stay out of politics ( which they are not good at) . Look at how much has been accomplished after the last dictator was forced out. Despite 8 years of dictatorship even 2 years of democracy accomplishes more for the nation.

  4. Karim Javed says:

    Thanks Nadeem for Such a nice information.

  5. Malik says:

    Quite an informative article!!!!

    Whatever the case is, violence should not be treated with violence on to innocent people……..if you have an agenda to remove a person who has done something unforgivable, innocent and poor people should not be involved or hurt during the process!!!
    We are in a need of a good leader who can lead the people with some conscious and good heart. and make our peoplw understand whats right and whats wrong.

  6. RJ says:

    After being brought up on a regimen of lies that serves as the history of this country, NFP is telling us what really happened. I feel I have learned more about the real Pakistan from Nadeem’s articles than I have in my entire life. Thanks for your objective and truthful take on what actually happened. Keep it up.

  7. hussain says:

    I wonder what Pakistan politics would be if both brothers stayed at the political path.

  8. Mab Turan says:

    Bhutto’s have remarkable propensity for being establishments trumps. ZA reassembled the establishment. BB carried it forward when going got bad after Zia. Murtaza fell into similar trap and then BB again. Pakistan need slow democratic struggle like the one Mandella organised.

  9. Mab Turan says:

    Military dictatorships breed war lords. The lesson to be drawn from our history is to stick to democratic peaceful struggles. These are more effective. To obviate future dictatorships power should be diffused widely. That would make military grabs more difficult.

    Pakistani mind did get rattled by the events of 1970. This should have been foreseen. It was on the walls for years. We never recognized the classic issue of nationalities. I doubt if we do it now.

    After break away of Bengalis the rest of Pakistan should have settled for something like Swiss Confederation. Bhutto bravely rallied everyone to the same old establishment with new songs. It worked for a short while. But they threw him out as soon as establishment was restored. Even the petite bourgeois used him. They took refuge behind mullah thinking he will help getting rid of all taxes except zakat. Zia almost fell for that but you cannot run an aggressive establishment on zakat.

    Yahya should have restored the 1956 constitution. That would have accommodated both Mujib and Bhutto. One unit could be reorganised into a federation and more power transferred to units, even powers from the Centre.

  10. Zakir Akbar says:

    Another great article!.. One of the philosophy about life and politics I learned from BB was the violence is never a solution to any problem. I was a disgruntled teenager when Bhutto was murdered and that time AZO philosophy attracted me the most. Later, I realized that BB was on the right track and she proved it by showing peaceful struggle is the only way to make the most impact.

    Thanks god, Taliban are following AZO and their demise will not be much different. I believe, when we write obituary of AZO and Bhutto’s brothers, we see that their fate was no different to any other violence loving persons. It is good that Violence does not prevail, otherwise our life would have been hell.

  11. Amir says:

    Very interesting article indeed.

  12. che says:

    Once again great job….Hope some day you will shed some light on the role people like Mustafa Khar and Jame sadiq.. it would be very interesting.

  13. zaeem says:

    I am not a fan of the PPP, but this book by Fatima Bhutto is amazing and shows a different side of the Bhutto’s. In the book she has mentioned that both her father and grandfather were not perfect and made mistakes which proved costly to the country as well as their lives at the end. firstly Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto is responsible for 1971 debacle, his thrust for power was so much that it cost us half the nation but even during power he made some changes which benefited the country , ties with China and the Muslim countries but his domestic policies were poor and it proved costly which Fatima Bhutto in her book admitted. But the way he was deposed and hanged by Zia was out of order and would make anyone do something which he would regret later on. a famous phrase is “one man’s terrorist is one man’s freedom fighter” In her book she has mentioned her fathers time in Kabul and Middle Eastern countries and his role in the running of his ” terrorist” group or a group dedicated to remove Zia from power. this group cannot be compared to the groups like Islamic fundamentalist or the Taliban. I am sure in the process many civilians were killed and we are not sure who is responsible for the PIA plane in Kabul. Murtaza Bhutto was willing to come back to Pakistan and face trial but benazir was feeling insecure about her brothers presence in Pakistan and made him wait outside Pakistan. Both Benazir and Murtaza made allot of sacrifices during their time in exile and lived in constant fear. Murtaza Bhutto was trying to change the system in Pakistan first trying to kill zia and his crooks in which he failed and in the process got a terrorist tag to his name and then as a rival to her own sisters government and the constant corruption and abuse of power by her sister. He fought for his rights and won as an independent candidate in his own legislation. No attempt was taken by Benazir to find the killers who killed her brother outside his own home. Fatima Bhutto portrays her father very well and there is one hell of a difference between Benazir and Murtaza.

  14. ishaque says:

    I condemn violence irrespective of the motivation. AZO was a terrorist organization funded by dictators (Qaddafi, Asad and Arafat). Murtaza struggle was to achieve his personal endeavor.
    Its again shows doctorial nature of Bhutto family they don’t do mercy even for their comrades and sadly his sister chose the same fix for him.
    Writer mentioned Zia poisoned Shahnaz but saidly didn’t addressed why Murtaza divorced his wife Fauzia while Shahnaz widow was interrogated/suspected and in jail by French authorities? (Both brother were married to Fauzia and Rehana Fasihudin respectively).
    His life was a miserable sin which ended with a shameful death; I feel no mercy for him. That what you sow is what you reap

  15. Imran,Australia says:

    Nice Job done, in just few para you have covered decades…..very intresting…

  16. MNBK says:

    Nicely worded article but lacks authenticity.

    • George says:

      Lacks authenticity?
      How is that?
      It is well backed up by solid sources. Or maybe had it not been so against Murtaza, you would have called it authentic, perhaps?
      It’s a pointed piece and a look at a very important episode in your country’s disturbed history. I’d suggest you learn from it.

      • Umar Aftab says:

        George I am quoting a paragraph from the article that shows Nadeem’s expectation. Obviously we can not, and probably should not expect objectivity from a daughter who lost her father to violence.

        “Consequently, Fatima completely ignores the telling evidence and information available on the AZO in shape of books such as ‘The Terrorist Prince,’ and ‘The Politics of Terrorism’ (Michael Stohl), and interviews given by Murtaza to the BBC and the Indian media between 1981 and 1986.”

        The problem with our “Nation” is that we do not have enough people who are and would be willing to give up their life or freedom for democracy and the greater good of our Nation. While buffoons like Ayoob, Yahya, Zia and Musharraf continue to destroy our Nation our youth choose to stay silent.

        Approaches taken by the likes of Benazir, Nawaz Sharif and now the new leader Bilawal “Bhutto” (democracy is the best revenge) will only lead to one answer – status quo. Honest people who believe that the present system can provide any solutions are living in fool’s paradise.

        If someone believes that looting billions of dollars from the citizens of Pakistan is a lesser crime than terrorism or killing a hundred people, he is sadly mistaken. A billion dollars can save lives of a million people in a country of meager means like Pakistan. Politicians who have stolen billions from this country need to be treated worse than terrorists.

        When our governments are made up of robbers or power grabbers in khakis and civvies we should admire people who endanger their lives to fight for their nation.

        If we continue with the present leadership (Zardari, Nawaz, Chaudry’s et al) I am sure while they will manage to secure peace with India in less than 20 years (which is very important) Pakistan will be the biggest exporter of janitors and domestic help to India within the same time frame.

        • Bandaras says:

          “Politicians who have stolen billions from this country need to be treated worse than terrorists.”

          Now I have a problem with that Umar. According to the common norms of justice, a thief (no matter how big) is definately judged in a different manner than a murderer. And Umar, by saying what you said, aren’t you being equally extreme?

          I understand when you say that it is tough for a daughter to be objective about her father, especially if he is someone like Murtaza, but then she should have stayed clear of commenting on his dad’s politics. What’s worse, she tries to defend it at the expense of her aunt, BB. I think that bothers Paracha, and I think he is right to point this out loud and clear.

  17. sahar says:

    ” The attack was engineered and undertaken by two PSF brothers from Rawalpindi.”
    They were not brothers. One is dead by now. Other lives in Europe. Both were friends from their university days.

  18. Salman Latif says:

    It’s remarkable that you were able to dig it all from the pages of history for truly, the organization has mostly been shrouded in mystery to most thus far. It’s very surprising for me, youth of post-Zia days with its Islamic connotations and products, to visualize that there once existed such an extreme left group in Pakistan who committed feats as hijacking planes.

  19. Hasan says:

    Murtaza was, like his father, a fatally flawed human being. Both were very intelligent people who held great promise, but let their paranoid tendencies destroy them. Wolpert describes it very well in ZAB’s case. Despite his many flaws, though, I can understand how ZAB represented such a great hope for our parents’ generation, but like all other hopes this one was dashed as well.

  20. Zahid Ilyas says:

    Zia’s dictatorial rule is worst in history of Pakistan. He tried to strengthen his grip on power by allowing religious parties to implement their so called islam. He got into a trap where he knew he was taking pakistan in wrong direction but lacked courage to step down because he feared he would get killed by his enemies.
    We are still not able to recover from that culture and i think it will take a generatioin to get out of that.

  21. Umar Aftab says:

    The writer’s expectation from Murtaza’s own daughter to condemn her father is unjustified. There are a number of factors that must be considered. Zia committed high treason (the biggest crime in Pakistan) and was an illegitimate president. If an ordinary citizen or a law enforcement person had killed Zia it would have been justifiable in a court of law.

    While violence in any shape or form is wrong and condemnable. It will be interesting to get a legal opinion on activities of a person or organisation that tries to illiminate an illegal dictator. Position or all government officers specially senior officers is quite questionable as they themselves break the law.

    Nadeem – while a lot of circles talk about prosecuting Musharraf. What about Generals Mahmood and Aziz they seem to have faded in to oblivion? What about the Army major who broke in to Pakistan TV headquarters?

    In the greater context of things are the crimes of these elements any less than AZO or Zulfiqar Bhutto?

    • George says:

      “The writer’s expectation from Murtaza’s own daughter to condemn her father is unjustified.”

      May we know exactly where the writer has mentioned this? As I see it, this article actually defends Benazir at the expense of her brother.

      • Davison says:

        Read the article again. Mr. Paracha makes it very clear that he thinks Fatima Bhutto should have addressed her father’s subversive activities.

  22. Jawahar says:

    I do read NFP articles off and on but this one is really special in how it digs up one of the many buried life stories to expose the interplay between the Army, ISI, Government, student bodies, rogue elements and foreign support that have shaped our history.

    We are now reaping the rewards from the seeds sowed three decades ago… I hope it doesn’t take another three decades for us to put all of this behind us!

    Excellent piece!

  23. Munir Varraich says:

    Paracha has done a good job of at least recording AZO. Murtaza and all those young Pakistanis who joined him with a vengeance were left in the cold by the so called democrats, whether it was PPP or other progressive groups, (all hiding behind the their policy of “HIKMAT” and that of “democratic struggle”) and anti-dictatorship forces whether within Pakistan or abroad. And the Islamic parties, which played the most reactionary role by supporting a ruthless dictator in the name of Islam.

    Now we have the slogan of “Democracy is the best revenge” being imposed from the pulpits of power in Islamabad. Is it the peoples revenge OR the revenge of one group of elites against the other?

    Paracha should continue this investigation about AZO. There were the apparent reasons of why that hijacking at that point of time, and then there are those “batin” (hidden) reasons for that hijacking. Otherwise that would not have been recorded in Britannica Encyclopedia of 1981. Batin reasons are intertwined with the impetus given to the monster of Jihad, knowingly or unknowingly, by PPP high command in 1974 and later implemented by Zia in 1984.

    Murtaza was the only person amongst the Bhutto family who was very clear about the “batin reasons” of why PPP and why Zia and was clear about the original PPP Manifesto and wanted to implement it, to clean up Pakistan of this virus – mullahism – which has played havoc not only in Pakistan and this region but also in the world.

    As such let us salute those young revolutionaries of Pakistan who had sacrificed their lives for the common Pakistanis. It will be a great sin for Pakistanis to brand Murtaza as “The Terrorist Prince” which Raja Anwar has tried to do.


  24. Zaheer says:

    Nice article, thanks for thought provoking history piece

  25. Al says:

    Nice article. Very informative. However, NFP’s leftist bent is evident when he uses words like ‘passionate’ & ‘naïve’ for AZO which I bet he would never use for for ‘jihadis’ many of whom might be just as passionate & just as naive.

  26. Another new write-up with logical points, We have been a lurker right here for some time but desire to be a lot more engaged from now on.

  27. zaeem says:

    I think the claims by you are true but their struggle was against Zia and his government. Fatima Bhutto mentions Tipu the mastermind of the PIA plane in Kabul. But the way he was killed and humiliated by Benazir and Zardari shows that how much hunger Benazir has for power. Murtaza was alone but he did his best to get support. He tried to change the system, he found both ways through being an exile during Zia’s time and as a opposition politician against her own sister tough and at the end saw his death. Fatima Bhutto potrayed Murtaza what he is from her own insight and she also claims that her grandfathers and father both made mistakes but nothing more than Benazir who openly showed her power and massive corruption as its normal in Pakistan.

  28. Fahad Zafar says:

    I agree with Mr Paracha, AZO should not have ever existed…. but we also need to understand the situation… a popular leader… a PM was hanged on shady judgement… their sons had thousands of charged youngsters around… wanting revenge… and then foreign agencies/ enemy putting fuel in the fire…think.. things can go in such direction…but about Fatima Bhutto missing AZO in her book… i think a good writer should be able to write both negative and positive facts about its main character… she should have discussed AZO and Tipu… Anyways… we need to find ways of overcoming hard realities of life… I end with a thumbs up to Mr Paracha.

    Fahad Zafar

  29. Indusonian says:

    Elimination of fuedalism is the only pre-requisite for this nation to prosper. Bravo, Mr. Paracha.

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