‘Zia: a counterview’

August 29, 2016

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I WAS taken aback by Mr Aslam Minhas letter with the above title (Aug 25). The writer has absolutely no idea about the Pakistan Army’s way of working. His criticism is devoid of facts and logic.

The writer states that, instead of competing for Staff College, Zia preferred a posting to Jordan. Nothing could be further from the truth. The general attended the Command and Staff College in 1955 as a major whereas he was sent to Jordan in1967 as a brigadier and served there till 1970.

The writer can visit the Command and Staff College, Quetta, and see for himself Zia’s name on the board along with the names of other students of staff course, 1955.

The staff course is a competitive course and one has to pass a tough competitive examination. Besides, no officer can be promoted to the rank of brigadier unless he has done the staff course. His comment about a brigade commander writing Zia’s ACR is the funniest of all.

Gen Zia always respected ladies. He allowed both Nusrat and Benazir Bhutto to proceed abroad on medical grounds. It was again he who allowed Benazir to return to the country with much fanfare in1986.

The story of the smuggling of narcotics to Paris by a serving general as alleged by the writer is poppycock. It amounts to casting aspersions on the institution of the army. The general was a simple man who lived within his means. His contribution to the Afghan War and Pakistan’s nuclear programme was outstanding.

Safir Siddiqui

South Dakota, USA

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IT’S true Zia did make mistakes. Even the woman politician from Sindh he mentions made a mistake in selecting her spouse. But to say that the specimens Zia chose for his shura were “the scum of the earth” is a bit harsh and simply not true. The late Abdul Sattar Edhi was one of them, and surely he was one of the greatest men who ever lived.

When the writer says, “The glass was just shattered. Even today we are trying to sweep the shards off the floor,” he forgets that the country was near economic collapse when Zia took over, and we are trying to sweep the shards of Bhutto’s nationalisation policies off the floor even today.

As for Zia having a very low IQ, it was certainly greater than that of Bhutto, who — despite his superior education — selected Zia to be the army chief over six officers ahead of him on the seniority list.

Shakir Lakhani

Karachi

Published in Dawn, August 29th, 2016