New twist to Miss Jinnah controversy

Published Jul 23, 2003 12:00am

ISLAMABAD, July 22: Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada, senior adviser to the prime minister on Tuesday said Akbar Pirbhai, nephew of the Quaid-i-Azam, had told President Ayub Khan that Miss Fatima Jinnah was assassinated, and had demanded a judicial inquiry into the matter, which was turned down.

Mr Pirzada, who was quoted by a section of the press as saying on Monday that he himself had seen blood stains on the bed sheet and cuts on the neck of Miss Jinnah, said that he was grossly misquoted by the press.

“What has been attributed to me is not correct as I was not there,” Mr Pirzada said.

He said he was out of the country, and had come to know of Miss Jinnah’s death at the Paris Airport, got his flight changed and had returned to Pakistan. “From the airport, I had gone directly to the Quaid’s mazar and attended the burial of Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah.”

Mr Pirzada said that Mr Akbar Pirbhai, a leading Indian lawyer, had come to Pakistan and after a couple of days of inquiries on his own had asked him (Sharifuddin) to arrange a meeting with President Ayub Khan. This was done, and Mr Pirbhai had told the president that according to his assessment, Miss Jinnah was murdered. Mr Pirzada was present in the meeting.

Mr Pirzada said there was no question of his disclosing anything after 36 years. “Press correspondents had asked me a question referring to the assertions of Senator Hasan A. Sheikh that Mohtarma was assassinated, and I felt what Hasan Sheikh had said could be correct.”

He cited the example of Napoleon Bonaparte whose death was being probed now after a century to know if the French leader was poisoned.

Mr Pirbhai had also protested against Miss Fatima Jinnah being laid to rest without a postmortem and demanded that her body should be exhumed.

The demand was turned down by President Ayub Khan, and Mr Pirbhai was told that it would create problems in the country as the people had great emotional attachment with Miss Jinnah, Mr Pirzada said.

Mr Pirbhai had then demanded that a judicial inquiry be ordered to ascertain the causes of her death, and said he would like to cross-examine the doctor, who had certified that Miss Jinnah died of heart failure.

This demand was also rejected. Mr Pirzada said the president had offered to appoint the then home minister, Qazi Fazalullah, for conducting the inquiry. In the same meeting, the president had told Mr Pirzada that he had rejected the application for grant of Pakistani citizenship to Shireen Bai, sister of the Quaid-i-Azam, who was then an Indian national, but would now like to grant her Pakistani citizenship in view of the unusual circumstances faced by the family.

Mr Pirzada said Ayub Khan had inquired from him if he could legally reconsider his decision. Mr Pirzada said he had advised the president that he had all the authority to reconsider his decision to allow Ms Shireen Bai to become a citizen of Pakistan and inherit the property of Miss Fatima Jinnah. She was given Pakistani citizenship and she came to Pakistan and lived here.


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