Alert Sign Dear reader, online ads enable us to deliver the journalism you value. Please support us by taking a moment to turn off Adblock on

Alert Sign Dear reader, please upgrade to the latest version of IE to have a better reading experience


Catch 79

Published Jun 20, 2013 10:47am


Your Name:

Recipient Email:

1979 was the decisive year. If one is to pick a year from where Pakistan’s political and cultural slide towards a curious faith-based neurosis began, that year is bound to be 1979.

The lead up to this decisive year was 1977’s military coup against the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto government by his own handpicked General (Zia-ul-Haq).

In one of his initial addresses to the nation on PTV, General Zia-ul-Haq suddenly cut away from his written speech, looked up into the camera and claimed that he knew why most people had stopped watching Pakistan Television (PTV): “Mujhey pata hai log ab PTV kyon nahi daikhtay. Chirian jo urr gain” (I know why some people have stopped watching PTV. All the birds have flown [from the channel]) (1)

While announcing one of his many promises of holding fresh elections, (none of which he would ever fulfil), Zia had persuaded the Jamaat-i-Islami and some conservative anti-Bhutto politicians to join his martial law regime.

Ziaul Haq addressing the nation on PTV after taking power through a military coup in July 5 1977.
Ziaul Haq addressing the nation on PTV after taking power through a military coup in July 5 1977.

The Jamaat members were given a free run of the ministry of information, and one of the first acts of the ministry was to devise a brand new censor policy for PTV and the cinema.

A list was drawn banning a number of actors, actresses, producers and playwrights from appearing on PTV (because they were deemed pro-Bhutto). (2)

The same list also contained names of certain Pakistani films, songs and PTV plays that were not allowed a re-run because they were either labelled ‘obscene’ and ‘vulgar’ or ‘subversive.’

For example, songs like Naheed Akhtar’s ‘Tutaru Tara Tara’ and Alamgir’s ‘Daikha Na Tha’ were judged ‘obscene,’ while plays like Shaukat Siddiqui’s ‘Khuda Ki Basti’ – a 1973 play based on Siddiqui’s novel about poverty and crime in Karachi’s slums – were not allowed a re-run because the new Jamaat-led censor board thought the play glorified socialism, an ideology the Jamaat claimed was ‘atheistic’.

One of Pakistan’s first pop stars, Alamgir, in Karachi in 1973. His 1977 song, ‘Deikha Na Tha’ was banned (on PTV and Radio Pakistan) in August 1977 by the Zia regime for being ‘obscene.’
One of Pakistan’s first pop stars, Alamgir, in Karachi in 1973. His 1977 song, ‘Deikha Na Tha’ was banned (on PTV and Radio Pakistan) in August 1977 by the Zia regime for being ‘obscene.’

The new Ministry of Information also ordered the destruction of all recorded speeches of Z A. Bhutto from PTV’s archives and video library, and disallowed the usage of the words ‘Bhutto’, ‘Jamhooriat’ (democracy) and ‘socialism’ in plays, talk shows and news bulletins.

Zia gradually adopted the anti-Bhutto Pakistan National Alliance’s election slogan of ‘Nizam-e-Mustafa,’ explaining it as an expression of what Pakistanis wanted, using it to continue delaying fresh elections because he claimed his military regime had to ‘cleanse the society and politics from corrupt and un-Islamic elements’ before people were subjected to another bout of elections.

Even before Zia formally announced his Islamisation policies (in 1978), the Jamaat-run ministries had already set the tone for what was to come by banning a number of TV commercials, songs, and performers and re-cutting certain films that had been approved by the preceding censor board.

The idea was to prepare the ground for the full implementation of ‘Islamic laws and culture’ – an initial step in Jamaat leader and scholar, Abul Ala Maududi’s overall thesis on the formation of an ‘Islamic state.’

Maududdi was an important figure in the early shaping of Zia’s Islamisation process. Zia was known to have handed out books written by Maududdi to young officers. (3)

Abul Ala Maududi (centre) with a Saudi guest at a reception in Karachi, 1977.
Abul Ala Maududi (centre) with a Saudi guest at a reception in Karachi, 1977.

By 1979, the Jamaat-i-Islami was convinced that it had (through Zia), finally managed to make its way into the corridors of state power, and even though its leader Maududdi’s original thesis envisioned an Islamic revolution brought on by a society that had been systematically ‘Islamised,’ the Punjab leadership of the party attempted to hasten this process by encouraging Zia to quicken the dishing out and implementation of ‘Islamic laws.’

Then in 1979, Maududdi died.

As Zia started to introduce unprecedented Islamic laws, society stood still, as if in a limbo between what had passed and what was about to come.

This static, uncertain state of the society was reflected in the way it reacted to certain prominent events in 1979.

In July, America’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced that its Skylab satellite that had been orbiting the planet since 1973 had developed a fault and was expected to fall to Earth. (4)

NASA wasn’t sure exactly where it would crash, but experts believed that the burly satellite was likely to fall either over Australia or over the Indo-Pak subcontinent.

Though the same experts also stated that the satellite would start to burn after it entered the Earth’s atmosphere and most probably end up in sea, the story took a life of its own in Pakistan.

The damaged NASA Skylab about to plunge down to Earth, July 1977. It was 86.3 ft in length and weighed 169,950 Ib.
The damaged NASA Skylab about to plunge down to Earth, July 1977. It was 86.3 ft in length and weighed 169,950 Ib.

The state-owned PTV started to run regular bulletins on the latest whereabouts of the Skylab, usually read by Azhar Lodhi – a newscaster, who would go on to become a ubiquitous presence on PTV across the Zia years.

Lodhi maintained a sombre tone in the bulletins, and then started to punctuate them with equally sombre pleas for prayers.

Suddenly, most Pakistanis who till then had taken the affair lightly began using apocalyptic overtones while speaking (to PTV and newsmen) about the event.

Many even went to the extent of wondering whether the fall of the Skylab (on Pakistan) may announce the beginning of Allah’s Day of Judgment! (Qayamat).

A somewhat soft (but tense) strain of panic and fear cut across Pakistani society. But it was as if the military regime was purposefully using the occasion to instil fear into the people’s minds by allowing Lodhi to use an apocalyptic tone and pleas for prayers, perhaps alluding that in such a testing hour, Pakistan required a pious ruler.

Interestingly, in those days, more Pakistanis visited Sufi shrines than they did mosques, (5) with much of the middle-classes going to the mosques only on special occasions.

However, with Zia’s Islamic laws starting to come into force, and PTV doubling the number of Islamic programmes in its transmission, many young middle-class Pakistanis saw themselves being led towards the mosques as Lodhi continued to dramatically announce the closing in of the falling Skylab.

Lodhi would often appear during special bulletins with a swollen expression:
Nazreen, NASA reports kay mutabek, Skylab Asia mein Dakhil ho chuki hai. Aap sey guzarish hai, apni masjidoon mein ja kar Pakistan ki salamti ki dua kerien and Allah sey toba kerien. Aap ko hum Skylab kay mutabek aga rahkey gain …’ (Viewers, according to NASA reports, the Skylab has entered Asia. We implore and request that you go to the mosque and pray for Pakistan’s well being and ask God for forgiveness. We will keep you posted on the status of the falling Skylab).

Though for a couple of days PTV invited its science man, Laique Ahmed, who used to host a science show in the early 1970s for the state-owned channel, to explain why the Skylab was falling, but as interest in the falling space station grew, he was replaced by religious preachers who at once began alluding that it was warning sign by the Almighty to the Pakistanis.

Pakistani viewers had never seen or heard a cleric commenting on a non-religious event or issue. But it soon became a norm and carries on to this day when even the modern private-owned channels are not immune to inviting Islamic clerics to comment on events like earthquakes, tsunamis and floods.

The Skylab eventually fell (on July 12, 1979), over the ocean and the deserts of Western Australia, and once the feared Day of Judgment did not come, the episode was quickly forgotten about.

Front page of Australia’s Sydney Morning Tribune reporting that the Skylab had fallen into the sea and desert of Western Australia.
Front page of Australia’s Sydney Morning Tribune reporting that the Skylab had fallen into the sea and desert of Western Australia.

The event elapsed quickly from memory, but the apocalyptic outlook that it had triggered in the Pakistani society lingered, and it was this grim point of view (alluded through official propaganda as a kind of a warning sign from the Almighty) that worked well for the Zia dictatorship to intensify its ‘Islamic’ man oeuvres and appeal.

The state of social limbo too lingered, and it was this state that also resulted in the silent reception Bhutto’s execution through a controversial trial received from the people.

Bhutto was hanged on April 4, 1979 after what was described as a farcical trial conducted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

His death triggered only sporadic rallies and some incidents of violence. It seemed much of the Pakistani society was still suffering from the exhaustion it had felt after the 1977 anti-Bhutto movement led by the 9-party alliance of religious parties and anti-Bhutto outfits.

Bhutto being escorted back to prison from the Lahore High Court.
Bhutto being escorted back to prison from the Lahore High Court.

By 1979, with ‘real Islam’ being promised by a ‘pious’ military General, and the decade of extroverted populism coming to an end with the collapse of the PPP regime and the death of its leader, the Pakistani society – especially the urban middle-classes – also seemed to have started to collapse inwards, becoming stoic and introverted.

The society’s newly-acquired apocalyptic frame of mind got some more fodder to burn on when soon after the Skylab incident, Pakistanis woke up to the news that Islam’s holiest place, the Ka’aba in Makah was stormed and taken over by dozens of armed men.

On November 20 1979, members of a shady and ultra-rightist Islamist group entered the premises of the grand mosque in Makah. (6)

The besieging group was made up of about 10 dozen men, most of them Saudis.

All of them were followers of Abdul Aziz bin Baz who was Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti.

Baz had been incensed by the presence of western workers in Saudi Arabia, who had been hired by the Saudi monarchy to manage the large amounts of oil wealth the Kingdom had accumulated.

Abdul Aziz bin Baz in 1979.
Abdul Aziz bin Baz in 1979.

The mosque was taken while pilgrims were present. Some were allowed to leave, while a number of others were taken hostage.

Mayhem ensued. For days the militants fought bloody gun battles with Saudi forces.

Saudi troops trying to break into the Grand Mosque area. The walls and doors of the sacred mosque had been riddled with bullet holes from the intense exchange of gunfire between the troops and the militants.
Saudi troops trying to break into the Grand Mosque area. The walls and doors of the sacred mosque had been riddled with bullet holes from the intense exchange of gunfire between the troops and the militants.

PTV was telecasting a cricket Test match between Pakistan and India being played in the Indian city of Bangalore on the day of the siege, when the transmission was suddenly interrupted and Azhar Lodhi appeared on screen.

Again in his dead-pan sombre tone, he announced the attack without giving many details about the attackers, leaving the viewers guessing as to who these men could be.

Azhar Lodhi.
Azhar Lodhi.

PTV did not return to the Test match; instead it started to run naats – odes to Prophet Muhammad – and recitations from the Quran.

PTV had the details of the attack, but on the advice of the military regime, it did not announce that the attackers were all Muslim. (7)

Pakistanis tuned into BBC Radio’s Urdu service that quoted the official Iranian media – now under the control of an Islamic revolutionary government. The reported quote suggested that the attacks were the work of the “American-Zionist lobby.” (8)

The very next day, large rallies condemning the siege appeared in major Pakistani cities. The biggest rally took place in the country’s capital, Islamabad.

It was a spontaneous gathering held outside the American consulate building. It suddenly turned violent when some right-wing student leaders made fiery speeches blaming the United States for the attack on the Ka’aba.

The gathering soon turned into a rampaging mob and forced its way inside the consulate’s compound and offices.

The mob was acting upon what it had heard on BBC believing that the Iranian quote that the radio network had used to be news.

The Iranians were well aware of the reality behind the takeover of the mosque by Saudi fanatics. But they used the opportunity to embarrass both the Americans and the Saudis by claiming that it was a part of an Israeli/US plot to ‘occupy’ Makkah. (9)

Though Pakistan’s state-controlled media kept rather mum about the event and only asked the people to ‘mourn the takeover’; the Zia regime advised PTV and Radio Pakistan not to let out any details of the occupation.

The people knew nothing about the men who’d executed the diabolic undertaking. They switched to BBC for details. But since Saudi authorities had blocked any news coming out of Makkah, BBC began to quote speculative views from other sources, specifically Iranian.

One such report that merely quoted an unsubstantiated claim made by the Iranian state-controlled radio was picked up and treated as actual news by a few Urdu dailies in Pakistan.

The Zia regime, unimpressed by American criticism of its take-over (in 1977) and facing American sanctions, did absolutely nothing to reveal the details of the attack, in spite of the fact that Zia had offered military help to the Saudi monarchy to dislodge the fanatics from the mosque.

Suddenly, unchecked by the Zia regime, the bogus news broadcast by Iranian radio and reproduced by some Urdu newspapers in Pakistan was used as a plank by members of the student-wing of the pro-Zia Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) to organise a sit-in outside the US embassy in Islamabad.

Accusing the US of the attack on the mosque, the sit-in was then suddenly penetrated by some boisterous young men who instigated the gathered people to attack the embassy.

The mob surged forward towards the embassy, setting it on fire. The attack lasted for hours, but the police stayed put.

Pakistan army helicopters hovered over the burning building but only landed on the roof of the crumbling structure after the mob had already killed two American and two Pakistani employees of the embassy. Two protesters also lost their lives in the chaos.

A Pakistan Army helicopter hovers over the burning US embassy in Islamabad, 1979.
A Pakistan Army helicopter hovers over the burning US embassy in Islamabad, 1979.

The violence and the rallies stopped once the military regime decided to release the full details of the attack.

The attackers were all Muslim, mostly indigenous Saudis. The American government, however, accused the military regime of failing to stop the mob from attacking the US consulate in Islamabad.

In Makah, the first few days of the battle saw the militants gaining the upper hand – scores of Saudi soldiers were slaughtered.

Watching the situation spiralling out of control, the Saudi regime contemplated using outside help. Since no non-Muslim is allowed to enter the Grand Mosque, the Saudi regime pondered using Pakistani and Jordanian commandos.

But the Saudis eventually called in French commandos and asked them to supply training (just outside Mecca) and weapons to the bloodied Saudi forces. It took another three days for the Saudi forces to defeat the militants and clear the mosque. The battle cost over 900 lives.

Pakistanis were flabbergasted at what had transpired. So, what really happened?

Leader of the siege: Juheyman bin Muhammad.
Leader of the siege: Juheyman bin Muhammad.
On November 20, 1979, a group of armed Saudi fanatics entered the premises of the Grand Mosque in Mecca. The group was being led by a man called Juheyman bin Muhammad. With him as his second-in-command was one Muhammad Abdullah.

The group was made up of about a 100 men, most of them Saudis, but also comprising Egyptians, Yemenis, Syrians, Sudanese, Pakistanis, Libyans and at least two African-American converts.

All of them were followers of Abdul Azizi bin Baz who was Saudi Arabis’s Grand Mufti.

Baz had been highly critical of late King Faisal’s moderate reforms that had seen the setting up of the Kingdom’s first television station.

Faisal had also given conditional permission to the Kingdom’s women to work in offices.

In his fiery Friday sermons, Baz attacked the monarchy for moving away from the path set by the monarchy’s predecessors, especially King Al-Saud (d 1953) — even though it was under Saud that the discovery of the vast amounts of oil in Saudi Arabia was made with the help of British and American firms.

But Saud knew that to retain power he had to remain on the right side of the powerful clerics.

That’s why, though flushed with oil money, he was painfully slow to initiate reform. Instead, he kept the Kingdom running on the ultra-conservative principles of puritanical Islam. No wonder, to Juheyman and his men, they were doing exactly what they were taught at Saudi schools and universities: Purge ‘false Muslims’ and ‘infidels’ from Islam.

To counter the rise of secular Arab Nationalism and Arab Socialism in the 1960s initiated by regimes in Egypt, Algeria, Iraq, Syria (and later), Libya, King Saud’s successor, King Faisal, started implementing some soft social reforms.

The Kingdom’s clerics accused Faisal of turning Saudi Arabia into a ‘liberal’ country, though almost all of these clerics were on the payroll and perks of the monarchy.

In 1975, Faisal was assassinated by a member of his own family who too was a Baz admirer.

Baz’s blazing sermons eventually gave birth to a group of young fundamentalists quoting an ambiguous hadith to justify that Juheyman’s colleague, Muhammad Abdullah, was the Mehdi (The mythical saviour of Islam). The supposed hadith also mentioned that the clash between Mehdi’s followers and ‘infidels’ will take place in the Grand Mosque of Makah.

The mosque was taken while pilgrims were present. Mayhem ensued. For days the militants fought bloody gun battles with Saudi forces.

Explosions go off in and around the Grand Mosque in Makah.
Explosions go off in and around the Grand Mosque in Makah.

Misled by rumours that attributed the Mosque take-over to an ‘American-Zionist conspiracy’, mobs in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Libya attacked and burned down American embassies in their respective countries.

Finally after days of fighting, Saudi troops helped by French military experts managed to take control of the mosque. Nine hundred people died that included militants, pilgrims and members of the Saudi armed forces.

The militants who got captured. They included Saudis, Jordanians, Libyans, Eygyptians and Pakistanis. The non-Saudi militants were either based in Saudi Arabia as workers or were students at various Saudi universities. They were all beheaded.
The militants who got captured. They included Saudis, Jordanians, Libyans, Eygyptians and Pakistanis. The non-Saudi militants were either based in Saudi Arabia as workers or were students at various Saudi universities. They were all beheaded.

French military experts with a Saudi Army commander just outside Makah.
French military experts with a Saudi Army commander just outside Makah.

Then in late December of 1979, Soviet troops entered Afghanistan. In a complete about-turn, the American government decided to mend the deteriorating relations between itself and Pakistan.

American concerns over the military regime’s atrocious human rights record against its opponents and its decision to implement “barbaric laws” like flogging and amputation of limbs too vanished, as Zia now asked for an unconditional acceptance of his military regime if the United States wanted Pakistan to play any role in becoming the launching pad for America’s proxy war against the Soviets.

Soviet troops enter Afghanistan, December 1979.
Soviet troops enter Afghanistan, December 1979.

An early batch of ‘Afghan Mujahideen’ gather in the tribal areas of Pakistan, late December 1979.
An early batch of ‘Afghan Mujahideen’ gather in the tribal areas of Pakistan, late December 1979.

Then by early 1980, as American aid started to slowly trickle in, and for the first time in three years the Zia dictatorship began to feel a lot more sure about its standing, this was the moment that urban middle-class Pakistan took that fateful social, political and cultural turn.

The craving behind this turn was first for a just, progressive and democratic order; a longing that by the late 1970s had evolved into a desire for a modern Islamic system of economics and governance.

However, the middle-classes had suddenly gone into a static mode and into a limbo of sorts when the agitation for the latter demand had brought in a military dictator and laws that were somewhat alien to the sub-continental Muslim societies.

But by the dawn of 1980, the Pakistani urban middle-classes seemed to be coming out of its sudden static state, and appeared to be moving again.

But their movement now was into uncharted territory. The era of populist social and political extroversion had finally come to a close, giving way to a conservative introversion that really had very little to do with reflection, and more with a need to hide one’s political and social self in an era of open religious propagation and reactive legislation that was opposed to the 1970s’ populist bearings.

Within a year (1979) the country’s social and political ethos (and pathos) took a sharp rightwards turn. A turn it is yet to recover from.

(1) Tahir Wasti, The Application of Islamic Criminal Law in Pakistan (BRILL, 2009) p.101.

(2) Hamida Khuro, Anwar Mooraj, Karachi: Megacity of our time (Oxford University Press, 1997) p.270.

(3) Mubashir Hassan, The Mirage of Power, (Oxford University Press, 2000).

(4) ‘Skylab’s Fiery Fall’ (TIME, 15 July, 1979).

(5) Annemarie Schimmel, Islam in India & Pakistan (BRILL 1982) p.44.

(6) Yaroslav Trofimov, The Siege of Mecca, (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2008).

(7) Bhurranuddin Hassan, Uncensored (Royal Book Company, 2000).

(8) Yaroslav Trofimov, The Siege of Mecca, (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2008).

(9) Ibid.

Author Image

Nadeem F. Paracha is a cultural critic and senior columnist for Dawn Newspaper and He is also the author of two books on the social history of Pakistan, End of the Past and The Pakistan Anti-Hero.

He tweets @NadeemfParacha

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (115) Closed

BRR Jun 20, 2013 11:21am

A scholarly analysis / review of recent history, a well narrated historical lesson. Millions of Pakistanis will continue to believe in conspiracies rather than admit to these facts being true. Hope NFP's valiant efforts against obscurantism is not in vain. Why do people find it easy to believe in conspiracies?

Faiza Mir Jun 20, 2013 01:58pm

Brilliant piece! Thank you, NFP.

yawarahmed Jun 20, 2013 02:26pm


ahmed Jun 20, 2013 02:31pm

So it was in 1979 that it all came tumbling down. Shocking pics and story about the Mecca take-oever.

saqib ali khan Jun 20, 2013 02:29pm

NFP, you are over indulging in the topic of religious extremism in Pakistan. I have noticed that you have seldom written about other topics. If you are expert in this topic only?

saqib ali khan Jun 20, 2013 02:49pm

it is simply a chronological description of events. I don't see any analysis in this piece. NFP should more focus on analysis rather than just describing the already well known political history of Pakistan particular from Zia's era.

raw is war Jun 20, 2013 03:18pm

Excellent piece. Good that Pakistan did not elect Imran. Or else it would have been round-2.

Asif Mehmood Jun 20, 2013 03:22pm

Briiiant! Loved it. And the pics are rare and say so much.

Also, I agree with how you suggest that the fact that the urban middle-calsses "collapsed inwards" made them static and not do anything when Zia went on a rampage to destroy Pakistan's politics and society.

fazalpai Jun 20, 2013 03:26pm

Very sad to note that these pro zia elements ( khudai faujdars ) are flourishing with new style and labels.

Hina Farooqui Jun 20, 2013 03:39pm

@raw is war: Iran is not fanatic

Hina Farooqui Jun 20, 2013 03:40pm

Imran is not fanatic

Saleem A Jun 20, 2013 03:52pm

Well researched article but a few observations. You wrote that the killer of Shah Faisal to be a follower of Baz, whereas it is recorded and documented that he was a student, lived most of his life in America and came back and killed his uncle king for a jewish girl!

Bashir Cheema Jun 20, 2013 04:08pm

@BRR: Because it is the easiest thing to do, no need to get to get into an intellectual labor that is essential for a correct and practical analysis..

Faraz Husain Jun 20, 2013 04:10pm

Thank you NFP.

Farooq Ali Jun 20, 2013 04:27pm

It is a jigsaw puzzle, the pieces of jig saw are labelled as follows. Cold war, Fall of Communist world, palestinian war, Afghan war, gun running, mercenaries and drug barons etc. it is now we to solve this jig saw and find the right answer.

HADI SAKEY Jun 20, 2013 04:56pm

Congrats to Nadeem Paracha for such a write-up of historical events which destroyed Pakistan.

Ali Hayat Jun 20, 2013 06:00pm

Good piece. Minor historical inaccuracy though. The french commandos (GIGN) were the ones that carried out the final assault INSIDE Mecca. Our Saudi brothers decided to look the other way in this instance.

Rasheed Jun 20, 2013 06:19pm

One correction NFP, It was not Jamati alone, the left wing students were also there with hands in hands with Jamatis in that attack. I was there at that time, I am not Jamati but forced to go with them as they were calling murtad to those who were showing hesitation. Marines were shot by Jamatis I saw them. Army came too late as Zia was riding cycle to show public how simple he was, and the whole army was busy on his security on that day. King Faisal was killed by his nephew.

Tahir Jun 20, 2013 06:25pm

All well and good but the slide into Islamic chaos was started by Bhutto himself, who after the 1977 election tried to out-Islamize (is that even a word?) the opposition. That was the seed of the troubles that we see proliferating today.

Shahzad Latif Jun 20, 2013 06:32pm

Well put Mr. Paracha. The seed was sown by Mr. Bhutoo and it haunted him and the nation down the road.

Karachi Wala Jun 20, 2013 06:39pm


"Congrats to Nadeem Paracha for such a write-up of historical events which destroyed Pakistan."

I would like to add " historical events which CONTINUE to destroy Pakistan."

Karachi Wala Jun 20, 2013 06:52pm


You say " Why do people find it easy to believe in conspiracies?". To me, it is easy route to shift the blame. People believe what they want to believe.

kamljit Singh Jun 20, 2013 07:03pm

@Tahir: You are right Tahir. I would add that Bhutto tried to be more Arab than the Arabs after the 71 debacle , He created a scare that Islam is in danger and he collected all the Arabs to fool the Pakistanis . It was his mischief not to recognize Mujib's majority in the elections.

K.K. Fakhta Jun 20, 2013 07:12pm

Well done though 25 years too late! However, better late than never. I am an old man now and our generation has Pakisan.

But can the younger generation rise up and take the torch from our feeble hands and overthrow the extremists.

I plead to the young Pakistanis not to join a "Naya Pakistan" which calls for extremism, intolerance and injustice which have become our national hall marks. You cannot be just by just joining the justice party. you have to walk the walk not just talk the talk.

muhammad Jun 20, 2013 07:12pm

Zia ul Haq was the worst ever incident happened to Pakistan and to this scattered nation Hypocrisy was made trademark of ruling elite by Zia he shattered the foundations of this nation in order to extend his illegitimate rule

Sher Mohammad Jun 20, 2013 07:19pm

@K.K. Fakhta: The "Naya Pakistan" is a hoax! 2 of PTI's MNAs; one Dr Alvi and one Ali Khan have already started screaming for imposing shariah in Pakistan. PTI is not the solution! The only solution is one truly secular and liberal party with no ties to any religious parties or leaders!

peace Jun 20, 2013 08:04pm

@Sher Mohammad: PTI is not as sulution it is in fact a problem in itself with dangerous cunning JI on their side. PTIs are naive and JI will take full advantage of this. PTI has already demanding release of qatil qadri.

Tariq Jun 20, 2013 08:07pm

I agree with Nadeem Paracha. However instead of 1979, downfall started after 2nd ammendment in constitution in 1974. Sooner or later every one will accept it.

Ali S Jun 20, 2013 08:14pm

@Sher Mohammad:

The only truly secular party that has the ability to get anything substantial done is MQM, but thanks to their thuggish antics, right now they're rapidly falling out of favour even with most middle-class Mohajirs.

Ali S Jun 20, 2013 08:22pm

Being the youngest party in Pakistan, most people behind the "Naya Pakistan" movement are themselves upbringings of the era that NFP described in this article, so in broader context, the ridiculous statements recently made by some PTI MNA's do make sense.

Ismael Jun 20, 2013 08:43pm

@Ali Hayat: Where you getting that info. and saudis are not all our brothers.Look at treatments of pakistani s in Arab world.

Karachi Wala Jun 20, 2013 09:10pm

I remember those old times of "awara gardy" or loafing around. I remember there was a lady in our neighborhood to whom because of her resemblance and dressing, one of our friends had named Farida Khanum. I remember the Skylab was a hot topic in the newspapers but do not recall Azhar Lodhi's somber face as we did not care much for the news as it was considered waste of time. While playing cricket on the streets, we used to see the Frida Khanum almost everyday walking by, going for shopping or to see her other relatives in the neighborhood. All of a sudden Farida Khanum disappeared. We later found out due to the fear of Skylab she fell ill. She must have been following Azhar Lodhi

Dr.Emile Unjom Jun 20, 2013 09:34pm

It is sad that very similar characters such as Zia had used Islam to strengthen his grip on power and also to perpetuate his rule as did most of the Middle Eastern Rulers. Religion is supposed to blossom the best within us and be seen ouside of us in the form of love ,compassion, justice, tolerance, mercy, forgiveness and brotherhood. Leaders are supposed to bring people togather as we see in Quaid's 11th of Aug,1947 speech.Ignored and not heeded even to this day... Sadly enough the words of Bacha Khan prove true," YOU HAVE THROWN US TO THE WOLVES."

awan Jun 20, 2013 10:51pm

@Dr.Emile Unjom: Did you notice those who exploited islam always been religious fanatics? Never a less religious person ever exploit Islam for his own personal gains

RHS Jun 20, 2013 10:57pm

Great job as usual NFP. Pakistanis entered the dark ages around that time and are only now trying to get out. It is not going to be easy but extremism has to be confronted.

Jalaluddin S. Hussain Jun 20, 2013 11:02pm

How ironical! We now have Zia's protege, Nawaz "Sharif" as the elected Prime Prime Minister and the narrow-minded/intolerant fanatics much stronger than before. Pakistanis are in for a hellish treat!!

Kundan Jun 21, 2013 12:07am

@Karachi Wala: Zia came to power in Pakistan because, at that time, Pakistan needed him for good or worse. He was a tyrant but people were not innocents. If people did not need him, he would have been finished in a fraction of second. One man can't stand up against country but one country easily stand up against one man.

Guest63 Jun 21, 2013 12:15am

Agree sir But you made it too simple to target Zia only ,,, let me refresh your mind , Two Generals set the tone ( General Skander Mirza and General Auyb Khan ) to dig the foundations of the Pakistan , jinah gave us ..

One General (yahya Khan ) Completed the task and Got it eventually left half ....

Yet there was No extremism , no shia suni divide , no smuglers , no heroin addicts ,

Now comes 4th General (Zia ) , he cracked at the fundmental foundations , by introducing , religious divide , ethnic/language prejudice , mercenaryship (infiddled paid jehadi culture), not to forget Smugglars , heorin eddiction, kalashnakof culture , YET there was no sucide bombing , no extortionism , kidnapping /ransom/car jacking , People still could go around in considerable safety ......

Then came General nbr 5 (Mushy ) , we got the rest of the worst humane behaviour , planted and nurtured at the behest of islamic moderation . we have every evil running in the country with immunity ...

So Who was the worse ,,,,,,,,,,,,????????? YET we are asked to sing praises , give sacrifices (mentally, physically, financially , morally ) to nurture and upkeep them for the sake of national interests , state security and national honor ............

Simple Simon Jun 21, 2013 12:37am

As much as the Skylab episode is hilarious, I couldn't control myself falling off the chair laughing at similar sort of comments made by an eminent Pakistani Scientist last year that the cause of earthquakes and flooding in Pakistan is the mischievous doings of the USA who evidently have a remote control in their hands to decide when to generate such an event at will. The respected scientist is also a Fellow of the Royal Society (UK). How much more conspiracy riddled society can we get?

I strongly believe we need to implement a reversal process of de-Islamization sooner than later as survival of our nation and people cannot go on such hopeless teachings which inculcate suspicion and lack of trust of our parents, brothers, sisters and fellow citizens.

Nizamuddin Ahmad Jun 21, 2013 01:37am

Mr. Paracha and Dawn have done a great service to the people of Pakistan. Zia-ul-Haq was no pious man. it is hard to believe that a head of state will become so low as Zia. God help us. I will urge the young people of Pakistan to read the Text of Quran regarding "others rights " and respect of life. Pakistan will be a better place without the people like Zia, God wiling.

Usman Jun 21, 2013 02:03am

To the posters stating that Imran Khan and his party are the problem or the menace to avoid, GET A GRIP. If you can't tell an honest man from a corrupt crowd, then even God would turn his attention away from such helpless fools. Surely there are bad apples everywhere, but if the foundation is based on sincerity then it will eventually prevail. On the other hand if the foundations are based on dishonesty and mischief then you will get what you deserve, nothing but the Pakistan we have today.

Fahim Khan Jun 21, 2013 02:12am

@Ismael: Saudis prefer to be called friends of Americans only although they are servant of Americans.

Jupiter59 Jun 21, 2013 02:59am

Superb article as usual. No music, no movies no TV and keep women in "shuttlecork" burqas.........seems to be the future of Pakistan.......the next Saudi Arabia(without oil). So very unfortunate.

KHAWJA Jun 21, 2013 03:01am


bILL gATES Jun 21, 2013 03:13am

Zia was the one who wanted to Control Pakistani People and he was the one who started LASHING people as per Islamic Law (now whether people are Guilty or Not Guilty). Zia was trying to Control Afghanistan after USSR pull out of the Region. Zia was the one who recognized Taliban and Mullah Omar. Zia who supported the Talibans so he can get help to Terrorize India because of Kashmir. Zia's ISI was the one who trained all these Talibans in Pakistan to support the cause of Kashmir. Zia was playing with USA to gain as much he can to support Talibans. Zia was Control Freak, wanted to control Afghanistan from Pakistan. I still remember him Cycling towards his office one day to show Pakistani people that people can ride Cycle so Pakistan can save some energy, well that was the only day people saw him cycling. After that Zia was in his MB 550 touring Pakistan. Since he was appointed by ZAB, he was waiting a chance to take a seat (as most of the leaders do in Pakistan). Zia was the one who ran everything in Pakistan. Allah took everything from Zia. When his plane was crashed and what I have heard from sources that his body was so burned that only his dental record identify him. It's KARMA, Allah will take everything from you if you are not HONEST and you hurt someone or take someone life.

Mustafa Razavi Jun 21, 2013 03:40am

Providence extracted a horrible revenge from all the actors of 1971 drama. Not only Bhutto, Mujib and Indira were killed, even their children were not spared.

Ravi Jun 21, 2013 03:46am

@Hina Farooqui: Imran is fantic, he supports talibans. drones are killing some civilians but talibans are killing civilians in much more larger numbers and they have audacity to openly admit it, strangely nobody agitates or try to oppose their actions. Even Imran Khan never seriously criticize them, only he is opposing drone attacks. So it is obvious where he stands.

Truth Jun 21, 2013 03:49am

@Jalaluddin S. Hussain:

why Shia's are against Zia, now we understand

Kafir Jun 21, 2013 03:54am

Well, Zia just took the self serving actions taken by Bhutto to its extreme position to hold on to his power. But then Bhutto just extended the concept of Pakistan (a nation for Muslims) to its logical conclusion. So, the seeds were, in fact, sown by the founders who could not foresee what they had let loose. They were aristocratic folks who saw their positions threatened and pushed for a place where they could continue being the elite. Who cared for the death and displacement that was the price for that? To some extent the ruling elite of the nation still are living in that bubble. It is all about perpetuating their wealth and positions. What of the nation? Feed them the "opium of the masses" and keep them ignorant and poor. That is their ticket to holding on to power. To them Democracy is dangerous since people might get educated and insist on sharing power. Until the people wake up to this reality they will be easy fodder to religious perversion and the light at the end of the tunnel will continue to dim. Good luck.

Muhammad Farooq Jun 21, 2013 04:03am

i agree ziaul haq's policies were very regressive and they created a havoc in the country that we have not been able to control. This catch 79 is responsible of the death of countless innocent people.

Siddique Malik Jun 21, 2013 04:05am

@Jalaluddin S. Hussain: And how about the so-called "liberal, democratic and secular" predecessors of the current government? They are the ones who gave Pakistan a "hellish" treatment. And the "neurosis" really began when the so-called secular and liberal ZAB declared Ahmedis non-Muslims just to please thuggish and "hellish" mullahs. Zia was only completing what his one-time boss ZAB started. By the way, I am not a Nawaz-supporter. If Nawaz persists with the "neurosis" that ZAB started, Zia completed and latter the PPP maintained, he will be rendered irrelevant by the people of Pakistan, too. Give democracy a chance. Siddique Malik, Louisville, Kentucky, USA.

Mustafa Razavi Jun 21, 2013 04:18am


All crooks exploit what they can. Some exploit "democracy, some "human rights" , some exploit "women rights" and some exploit "secularism". A vast majority of "supporters" of any "cause" are actually looters using that cause. How many of our NGO's are really doing what their names suggest?

Mustafa Razavi Jun 21, 2013 04:25am


Have you looked at the treatment of Muslims in Gujarat? in Assam last October they murdered about 200 Muslims including infants, our Jhurloo "Media" did not report as much as even Indian Media. Look up Mayaben Kodnani on the internet.

Mustafa Razavi Jun 21, 2013 04:27am


Please use a spelling checker, it is really annoying.

Tahira Jun 21, 2013 04:37am

@Tariq: From the history of religions in Pakistan, I think it all really started in 1952.

AH Jun 21, 2013 05:41am

Zia ul Haq and his cronies destroyed Jinnah's Pakistan I doubt it will ever be able to recover.

Ajaya K Dutt Jun 21, 2013 06:44am

A factual, thorough and well thought out analysis.

Ajaya K Dutt Jun 21, 2013 06:45am

A factual, thorough and well thought out analysis.

Abdullah Hussain Jun 21, 2013 08:05am

It was because of Ziaul Haq that Pakistan did not get invaded by the then USSR, in fact the white bears could not succeed with their forward plan. Ziaul Haq was a man of character, a true Pakistan loving personality. I remember clearly how the peoples were dragged into political uncertainty by the then politicians. It was only when Ziaul Haq took over, the peoples were relived.

Abbastoronto Jun 21, 2013 08:09am

As they say, the most important factor in a divorce is marriage, the likes of Zia would never have a chance had the

Tariq Jun 21, 2013 08:42am

@Abdullah Hussain: USSR was never a threat to Pakisatn, it was a Jamati propaganda, and it is the biggest lie of 20th century that USSR invaded Afghanistan

Ashfaq Ali Jun 21, 2013 09:45am

Ameer-ul-munafqeen, who changed the whole nation into nation of munafqeen. He was the worst dictator in Pakistan's history, who divided the nation by hiring the common people to fulfill his own agenda.

aslam minhas Jun 21, 2013 10:25am

Bhutto was a genius no doubt. But he had this feudal streak in him and that got him in the end.
He was too clever by half as said by Lt-Gen. Gul Hassan once. Zia was a bigot and he corrupted the whole institution involving it in arms and drug smuggling. So much so that some generals had the temerity to seek PM Nawaz Sharif's permission (first stint) to allow drug trade in order to meet the fiscal needs of the institution. Yes this is the history! We still are reaping the harvest sowed by the villain. Yes about his elimination and some of his colleagues, it can be safely said: 'If you live by the dollar, you perish by the dollar.'

Brig (Retd.) Waheed Uz Zaman Tariq Jun 21, 2013 10:52am

when I recall those days, the country was recovering from trauma of 1971 war and loss of east Pakistan. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was a legend but ruled with iron hand. our rudimentary Media was tightly controlled, the country was still in the stae of emergency, the political activists were under surveillance and intimidated. Bhutto had to loose.

Zia ul Haq Jun 21, 2013 10:58am

Zia Ul Haq was and still remains the worst thing that ever happened to Pakistan and the region. He destroyed us once and for all.

Brig (Retd.) Waheed Uz Zaman Tariq Jun 21, 2013 11:03am

Zia ul Haq came by hijacking public sntiments and hijacked the slogan of Islamisation. He was behaving like an absolute monarch and was unchallenged/ Bhutto reached to gallows, due to many factors. Zia rejected appeal of mercy. Zia ul HAq took advantage of SOviet invastion of Afganistan. Afghans were motivated to fight in the name of Islam. Religious indoctrination was a universal phenomenon but the faith was tainted here to meet the needs of the dictator. A controlled democracy led by Junejo's governement was even difficult to be tolerated. The generals became all powerful. Money flew in for Afghan war and like Afghan transit trade was lost in the way. Zia was a complex personality; outwardly humble but from the action he was a tyrant. In the last days, he was confused and inthe state of anxiety. He was loosing trust on everybody. It is not the faith but the way the sentiments of public were exploied in its name, which complicted the situaation. Afghan war, indoctrination, motivation, arming of enthusisasts of Pakistani orgin to fight for Afghans and when they had a time to go elsewhere with the gun created a legacy, whic haunts the country. As the time passed, media became independent and people became enlightened and clear minded. Pakistani society became polarised; extremism and enlightenment were in fight. Law and order situation created a chaos, which was infalmmed by the agenda of Musharraf. Today was are falnked by economic giants like China and India as well as sanctions imposed to Iran and unrest in Afghanistan. We acnnot act as a buffer to all but a playground of the greater game.

Khan Jun 21, 2013 11:05am

Still waiting for an unbiased article from NFP.

Lol Jun 21, 2013 11:13am

And somehow the writer seems to know "the real" story of every case. Persnol opinion being presented as history.

Irfan Al Fatmi Jun 21, 2013 12:40pm

Dear NFP , just for the record there was not a single Pakistani involved in the Makkah siege. This is as per the Saudi Ministry of Interiors report. After the siege which lasted 2 weeks. At dawn on Jan. 9, 1980, in the public squares of eight Saudi cities, including Makkah, 63 militants were beheaded. Among the condemned, 41 were Saudi, 10 from Egypt, 7 from Yemen (6 of them from what was then South Yemen), 3 from Kuwait, 1 from Iraq and 1 from the Sudan. Saudi authorities report that 117 militants died during the fighting , out of which 87 were Saudis & rest from the above mentioned countries. 27 militants died in hospitals. 19 militants received death sentences that were later commuted to life in prison. Saudi security forces suffered 127 deaths and 451 wounded.

Dearborn Iffy Jun 21, 2013 12:52pm


A lovely down to earth comment Uncle.

But how could Madinah have been secular since Islam and Secularism are two diametrically opposing phenomenons? Not many learned scholars these days accept that view either.

Hina Farooqui Jun 21, 2013 01:02pm


Very ignorant. Saudia has TV cable, internet, nysuc, women are studying in universities and doings jobs.

Tahir Jun 21, 2013 01:24pm

Another thing that I've never understood: why does Pakistan have to be more Catholic than the pope when it comes to Islam? I can only think of two other countries that come close, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Is this the company we seek? Surely a better model would be Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia or any North African country.

Tahir Jun 21, 2013 01:21pm

Another thing that I've never understood: why does Pakistan have to be more Catholic than the pope when it comes to Islam? I can only think of two other countries that come close, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Is this the company we seek? Surely a better model would be Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia or any North African country.

Rai Jun 21, 2013 02:13pm

As always, another compelling must-read from NFP.

Hina Farooqui Jun 21, 2013 02:33pm

@Sher Mohammad: What is wrong with shariah. This is the best system in the world followed by many western countries except few capital punishments.

Abusuhaib Jun 21, 2013 03:01pm

Political parties should never support to Army to take over the power in future and Army should also remain away from political affairs. By this Pakistan will prosperous in forthcoming era.Inshaalah. Abu Suhaib

Abusuhaib Jun 21, 2013 03:02pm

Pakistan will prosperous under the umbrella of democracy and by providing justice to the people of Pakistan. Dictatorship is not the solution of problems in any way

Karachi Wala Jun 21, 2013 03:08pm

@Usman: "To the posters stating that Imran Khan and his party are the problem or the menace to avoid, ......"

Ever heard "man is known by the company he keeps "?. Who is Mr. Imran Khan's company these days....same company that gave intial lift to Zia's dark age. Yes I am referring to Jamat e Islami.

Mystic Jun 21, 2013 03:10pm

@Brig (Retd.) Waheed Uz Zaman Tariq: aap ko kitnay plot milay iss sab chakker mein? ;-)

Asad Ali Shah Jun 21, 2013 03:22pm

@Khan: I second you. I am also still waiting for NFP to get out of Zia era and talk about the 90's when PPP introduced corruption at a massive scale. Perhaps NFP should write about how Mr. Zardari and his beloved Benazir amassed huge sum of money in the 90's and in the last 5 years. Oh wait, sorry, NFP is still stuck in the past and is unable to see the huge damaged caused by his own party to Pakistan!

Muhammad Younus Butt Jun 21, 2013 03:29pm

What Gen.Zia did in Afghanistan, Now whole Pakistan is suffering countless hardships. His action in P.I.A for dispensation of services of several thousand of employees from P.I.A was undemocratic, barbaric and inhuman action and effected staff members protest and condemn his rubbish actions as due wrong decisions led his fatal end of his life owing to wrong action with innocent and helpless employees of P.I.A and they all say FEE NAAR-E-JAHANNAM.If any Ruler in Pakistan does the same action will find his life in that way.So they need to be sincere and honest in their actions as YOU SOW,SO SHALL YOU REAP.

A Subhan Jun 21, 2013 03:35pm

Enjoyed this. Very well written. Zia did many wrongs with this country, and one of them, as popularly believed, is the creation of MQM. Zia knew of the hate, that Urdu speaking population had for PPP and he fanned that fire, for his planned lengthy and ugly rule on Pakistan.

Muhammad Younus Butt Jun 21, 2013 03:38pm


Nasser Jun 21, 2013 04:21pm

@Irfan Alli Fatmi Read the book NFP is quoting from: 'The Siege of Meeca.' It too clearly states that the militant group included Pkistanis as well.

fazalpai Jun 21, 2013 04:41pm

Are you ABDULLAH hussain OR ejazul haq ?

Ghalib Jun 21, 2013 04:39pm

Correct me if I am wrong but wasn't Nawaz Sharif a discovery of Zia ul Haq, and isn't Jamaat Islami also the new best friends of Imran Khan's PTI and just recently was it not that a PTI MNA asked for the honourable release of a murderer.

Honey Jun 21, 2013 06:29pm

Dear NFP

Please kindly use technology to let us hear the voice of Azhar Lodhi as he himself reading the news updating Fall of Sky LAB|( it will delight us),

I hear all this stories from my elder brother regarding Zia Era. (as worst time of Pakistan when Pakistan were thrown backward and forward towards Islamic extremism and intolerance.

Thank you for the brief political history of Pakistan to understand the present situation also in Pakistan.

Raja Jun 21, 2013 07:02pm

We always need to blame somebody, when something goes terribly wrong, here in Pakistan's case, we've seen more bloodshed in last 20+ years than Zia's regime.

Faisal Jun 21, 2013 07:29pm

@Hina Farooqui: Which western countries follow Sharia ?

Bilal Jun 21, 2013 07:32pm

A good critique of the monstrous Zia. However, to say that was the only reason why Pakistan is still stuck in religious dogma is wrong. It has been a few decades to that story, the question is why is this country still stuck in religious extremism and growing intolerance. Look at our population that has reached 180 million, one of the highest in the world. The country is still one of the poorest, there is no education, healthcare system, Pakistan is the only country in the world (forget about Afghanistan because that is not even a country) that has failed to eradicate polio. Anyway, imagine these 180 million people growing up with religious extremist is the generation above us who should be blamed. Nawaz, Benazir, MQM, Musharraf , Q league...these guys were in power in between. They knew there was a vicuous cycle of maddrassa-ization in the country, but they didn't do anything about it. Now people are suffering as a result. SEPARATE THE MOSQUE FROM THE STATE IF YOU WANT A BETTER PAKISTAN (I am not saying abandon mosques or anything, but all I am asking for is a secular state that JINNAH ASPIRED !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saud Ahmed Jun 21, 2013 07:40pm

The article is excellent. I wish the history it charted could be the same. It is the history of my generation.It just reminded me the times we were through. I would request NFP to please write a book covering all the events covered. You owe it to Pakistan.

Wadood Chaudhary Jun 21, 2013 08:33pm

@Ali Hayat: The French organized it mostly and they were only a few of them. See the book: The Siege of Mecca: The Forgotten Uprising in Islam's Holiest Shrine and the Birth of al-Qaeda.
They were converted to Islam first (on paper of course) before they were allowed inside the Harem. Also, the Imam Mahdi and his brand were the elite religious students of an Ivy-League Madrassa.

Kdspirited Jun 21, 2013 08:57pm

@Karachi Wala : Have you seen PML-N's company. Jaishe-Mohammad, Sipha Sehaba, Lashkar-e-Jhangavi and Baluchistan liberation Army. The list is too long to even write here. Heck to the whole existance of Nawz Sharif and PML-N is thanks to Zia. We have very short term memories folks

Nizamuddin Ahmad Jun 21, 2013 08:58pm

I have known few people who knew Zia's friend in USA, they were his good friends and political enablers. By any standard they were immoral and cheap people. One lady ( if you want to call her a lady. ) was even made a consulate general of Pakstan in Houston. He was a manipulator at its best. One of my uncle was a Sandhurst Military School graduate and retired as Colonel was senior to zia in the army and Zia became a four star general much early in life. ". There is a famous prayer in Baptist faith, " God Almighty, please do not give us the leaders we deserve." This is very true true for Pakistanis today.. It is about time that we clean our acts as a nation and rebuild Pakistan, my father's Pakistan.

Kdspirited Jun 21, 2013 09:05pm

It has been nearly 25 years since Zia died. And what has the next generation of Pakistanis done to free themselves of the devastation Zia created. We have fallen deeper and deeper into this abyss. That is our answer to this article. We follow the miscreants that he created Pml-N, MQM and JI. These articles are great to reflect on the past but usless becuse we learn nothing as a nation.

pathanoo Jun 21, 2013 09:06pm

@Abbastoronto: Dear Abbastoronto, You will make a great Saudi. Have you ever thought of relocating to Saudi Arabia?

pathanoo Jun 21, 2013 09:33pm

An Excellent analysis by NFP as usual. That said, however, the seeds of destruction of Pakistan were sowed in it's birth. It was created based on exclusivity, hatred, fear and religious fanaticism. The actors like, Bhutto, Zia Ul Haq and the other Tin Horn Dictators were just playing out the script laid out in the formation of Pakistan. If the readers and, respectfully, Mr. Paracha really wants to know the cause of Paksitan's debasement and destruction; they MUST read the interview given by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad in 1946 (He was a great patriot, a freedom fighter, greatly loved and admired and the first Education Minister of Free India) in which he clearly and in absolute terms predicted the separation of BanglaDesh and marginalization and eventual break up of Pakistan. A MUST READ IF YOU WANT TO KNOW THE GENESIS OF DYSFUNCTIONALITY OF PAKISTAN.

Nauman Jun 21, 2013 09:56pm


I believe Mr Abbastoronto was there during the mid-80's but things didn't work out well for him. Plus Shias are a No No in Saudi.

Karach Wala Jun 22, 2013 01:26am


My reply was to Usman, who like many others seems to has drowned in the Tsunami campaign run by our beloved cricket hero Imran Khan. Imran comes across very passionate and devoted person for the cause of Pakistan and its people. But the alliances he has chosen, Jamate e Islami and Taliban, would be very worrisome for anyone who cares about Pakistan and Islam. Having said that, I totally agree with your views about PML-N and Mr. Shareef . I would still endorse Imran, if he cuts his ties openly and whole heartedly with Jamat e Islami and Taliban.

Saakshi Sehwag Jun 22, 2013 02:35am

Why Pakistan is so important to China?

Ismael Jun 22, 2013 02:56am

@Mustafa Razavi: Have you ever thought of treatment of muslims in pakistan by other muslims ? answer please.

Ismael Jun 22, 2013 02:58am

@Mustafa Razavi: Have you ever thought of treatment of muslims in pakistan by other muslims ? answer please.

Nizamuddin Ahmad Jun 22, 2013 06:50am

I WILL URGE DAWN NEWS TO CONTINUE THIS DISCUSSION FOR AT LEAST FOR A MONTH MORE AND ENCOURAGE READERS OF DAILY PAPER TO SHARE THE INFORMATION ABOUT THE DICTATOR. I want to share one information which is no more classified any more about Zia's dictatorship. He had granted a commission to a American born congressman in Pakistan army and elevated to the rank of Four Star General without him enlisting in Pakistan Army, which is against the Pakistani Law Charlie Wilson himself bragged about it and I have heard from Lakhdar Brihimi and Lawrence Korb on TV. I want to know why any one in the defense department did not take any action. Is there any army General who can comment on this issue or Dawn researchers can write an article. Please note the Wilson was not ceremonial General, but was a uniformed and pensioned general of Pakistan Army..

AH Jun 22, 2013 06:54am

Zia ul haq was worst dictator in Pakistan History. He not only destroyed Afghanistan but in the process destroyed Pakistan also in the name of Islam and Jihad.

AH Jun 22, 2013 06:55am

Zia ul haq was worst dictator in Pakistan History. He not only destroyed Afghanistan but in the process destroyed Pakistan also in the name of Islam and Jihad.

AL Jun 22, 2013 09:35am

@Zia ul Haq: There is no such thing as 'unbiassed". One brings point of view shaped by education, personaity, history, knowledge, etc. However, the point-of -view has to be backed by evidence. No one has shown where NFP's evidence is wrong or untrue. Don't just say NFP is using his "personal opinions" (who's would be using?) and somehow imply his facts are wrong and made up.

Capt C M Khan Jun 22, 2013 10:32am

I remember seeing all those SKYLAB transmissions. I also remember quite a few children were named SKYLAB born in those days. On a serious note to summarize NFP article...these are OUR DARK AGES with no hope of getting out for at least another 100 years. JI is the WINNER no matter who is the ruler in Pakistan. Sad but true.

Benazeer Abbas Jun 22, 2013 11:31am

Very beautiful article NFP. Aap ne dil jeet liya. You are a rare specie in Pakistan. Hats off for man. No doubt Pakistan hasn't recovered from the mess and it may take at least half a century if efforts are poured in today.

oHo Jun 22, 2013 12:14pm

@kamljit Singh: But NFP still portrays Bhutto as an angel - lol

Bong Jun 22, 2013 01:08pm

@Hina Farooqi: Saudi does not allow women to drive, does not allow women to out (of their house) alone (women need brother or father to accompany them), does not allow women to work (except in women only places) you need some more examples ?

Bong Jun 22, 2013 01:20pm

@Nauman & @Pathanoo ...(Abbas) Torontosahab has "sacrificed" living in Karachi. He now lives in Toronto which according to him has much more violence than in Karachi. Now after saying that Toronto sahab justifies by saying that he stays there because his earning power is much more there......a bit of an oxymoron there !!

S. A. M. Jun 22, 2013 04:03pm

What is apparent from the article is that change keeps on happening and now it is happening at a faster pace. so the present time woes (taleban and the likes incl the sharifs) may also vanish as if they had never existed and someone like NFP would be writing about it but hopefully I will be reading it in my lifetime.

confucius Jun 22, 2013 04:42pm

One of the best articles of recent times that has pinpointedly reflected our current situation.

noman Jun 22, 2013 04:58pm

The article is very well researched. However there is just a small factual mistake. The founding king of Saudi Arabia was King Abdul Aziz, under whose reign americans and british oil firms were allowed to explore oil. When he passed away in 1953, his son saud became the king. Saud was removed from kingship by his half-brother faisal, who became the king sometime in the 60's, if memory serves me right. It is true that faisal was a very liberal person, married to a Turkish woman, iffat. There's a theory that all this talk of faisal's assassination by the US is just an eye wash, he was actually killed by the religious (muttawa) lobby as he was deemed too liberal. Jun 22, 2013 06:46pm

NFP, I have read 20+ articles from you on You make sense, but for you to make sense to the masses in your part of the world, you got to be more realistic, yet truthful.

There is no need to bash the "truths as per the history". You can only chip away with facts, and in slow motion. ..Hope you are doing well. ..Wordster //Rgds