`Denouements galore`

Published September 4, 2009

KAMRAN Shafi in his article, 'Denouements galore' (Sept 1), has done well by quoting extensively from the book, 'Memoirs and Reflections', by Justice Nasim Hasan Shah, described as “a member of the hanging bench” in the trial of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

Mr Shafi has, by putting 143 of the author's own words in italics, so tellingly highlighted the true face of our servile judiciary during the time of Gen Zia (1977-88).

In so doing, he has made the judge look so manipulative, and that too without adding any comments of his own except where he very rightly mocks the author for insulting our intelligence “So, Justices Dorab Patel, M. Haleem and Safdar Shah, who acquitted Bhutto, were responsible for his premeditated murder?”

This former judge, who later became the Chief Justice, once sheepishly admitted on a popular TV channel that the 4-3 guilty verdict was a result of Zia's pressure exerted on him and other members of the Bench through Chief Justice Anwarul Haque.

By God, if any further proof was needed that Bhutto's trial was nothing but a sham to physically eliminate the most popular politician of our time, this book of Dr Nasim Hasan Shah is it.

Admitting that he met a fellow judge, Dorab Patel, to have the three acquittals changed to guilty as a quid pro quo, is a clear indictment Nasim Hasan Shah has written against himself with his own guilty hands dripping with Bhutto's blood.

His conclusion that Bhutto's friends and sympathisers were “the persons actually responsible for the sad outcome of this Greek tragedy” is as unconvincing and pathetic an argument as it is illogical and a non sequitur in legal parlance.

Besides, many of the present younger generation may not have any knowledge about a plethora of legal lacunae in the trial documented, acknowledged and questioned by many world legal luminaries — from former US attorney-general Ramsay Clark to a former Sri Lankan Chief Justice — including the hostile and downright insulting behaviour of the Lahore High Court's Chief Justice Maulvi Mushtaq towards the defendant throughout the hearing that forced Z.A. Bhutto to famously dub it as the Murder of the Trial.

And while the case was sub judice, Gen Zia, without any qualms of conscience, would go about pronouncing the guilty verdict every other day. Not to be left behind, the Supreme Court Chief Justice Anwarul Haque didn't think it improper to discuss the case in the media while on a visit abroad to Jakarta — all this is forever etched in one's memory and part of common knowledge to many like me who have lived through it all and later incarcerated after Bhutto's hanging.

Bhutto's judicial murder, unless honourably revoked, will forever remain the greatest slur on the face of the Supreme Court and in the annals of PLD. As popularly demanded by certain politicians, if Gen Musharraf may be tried only because he is alive and Zia is not, then Justice Nasim Hasan Shah may also be put in the dock forthwith as the only surviving judge of Bhutto's judicial murder and one who has provided new evidence not known or admitted at the time of the trial.

This may not solve every problem Pakistanis are facing today but it will certainly soothe the soul of Pakistan, haunted and divided since April 4, 1979.

SHOAIB MIR
Lahore

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