Z.A. Bhutto was growing perturbed by the increasing incursions of the proponents of Pakhtunistan into Pakistani territory. As the month of November, 1974 began, Wali Khan launched a new tirade against Bhutto and his policies. The disenchanted MNA, Ahmad Raza Kasuri, once a Bhutto loyalist, backed his viewpoint. However, with an unfriendly atmosphere on the other side of the Durand Line, with Sardar Daud as Afghanistan’s president supporting Pakhtunistan to the full extent, Bhutto began a series of public meetings to send a note of warning to the Afghan leadership to eschew anti-Pakistan exercises and inform Pakistanis about the new Afghan leader’s plan for Pakistan. Bomb blasts in Bajaur Agency had become a recurring incident which was a source of great tension for Pakistan.

Bhutto spoke at a number of cities and towns; on November 9, 1974 he sent a very harsh message to the Afghan leadership telling them that they were inviting trouble by their continued interference in Pakistani affairs. The charges were denied by Sardar Daud’s government and the cross-arguments continued for some days as the rest of the country lived with all the inconsistencies that had become part of the political squabbles.

On November 11, 1974, Bhutto was awakened by a telephone call. Masood Mahmood, the director-general of Federal Security Force (FSF) was at the other end and told him that Nawab Mohammad Ahmad Kasuri had been killed as his son Ahmad Raza Kasuri drove him and the family after attending a wedding party in Shadman Colony, Lahore. It was past midnight when the car was ambushed from both sides.

Nawab Mohammad Ahmad Kasuri was sitting beside his son Ahmad Raza in the front. The young Kasuri drove the car straight to United Christian Hospital, where Nawab Kasuri was pronounced dead. Although the assailants were not visible, Ahmad Raza nominated Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as the man behind the murderous attack. The simple reason he mentioned was that he, Ahmad, was dead set against Bhutto’s policies and although elected on a PPP ticket, he had become a member of the opposition party led by Asghar Khan. He was so critical of Bhutto’s policies that he had not signed the 1973 Constitution.

While lodging the FIR at the Ichhra police station, Kasuri recorded every detail of the tragic event, and when asked about the possible culprits behind the attack, Kasuri mentioned the name of Bhutto, despite the police official’s opposition. Kasuri had a reason to suspect Bhutto. During his student life he was bold and outspoken and often argued with his teachers on one point or another. He was even rusticated for one year when he was studying law in 1964. He completed his law and joined law practice. When Bhutto quit the Ayub government, Kasuri was so impressed by his fiery speeches that he joined his party at its launch. Seeing his eagerness and the will to work Bhutto appointed him as a member of the central working committee.

However, Kasuri was an idealist and soon became disillusioned with Bhutto’s pragmatic policies. Despite Bhutto’s strong opposition to attending the National Assembly session summoned at Dhaka on March 3, 1971, Kasuri remained adamant. Ghulam Mustafa Khar was asked to keep Kasuri from drifting away but that did not work and Kasuri continued criticising Bhutto in the National Assembly. Finally Bhutto wrote to Khar and the chief minister Malik Mairaj Khalid asking why Kasuri had not been ostracised. However, Bhutto underestimated the trouble Kasuri would create. Being a lawyer, Bhutto should have known the consequences of such an FIR; there is no understanding how he took it so lightly and continued work as usual.

On the other hand Ahmad Raza Kasuri appeared at the National Assembly session on November 20, nine days after his father’s murder. He had brought a small bottle of fluid claiming that it was his father’s blood and a blood-stained shirt and announced that the government’s murderous attacks on the members of parliament would be exposed. He continued in this vein for quite some time and always spoke of bad governance and injustice.

Nobody knows how and why the police kept the FIR and did nothing to dispose of the case. After the military coup, Gen Zia initiated the task of scanning various papers to find some legal flaw that could lead to the elimination of prime minister Bhutto once and for all, and this was the FIR that gave Zia the weapon he needed. Whether this FIR played a role in taking Bhutto to the gallows is a legal issue. However, it was a very sad event. Years later, many believe that the FIR became instrumental in ending Bhutto’s life.

shaikhaziz38@gmail.com

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