`1974 judicial probe had found ZAB innocent`
LAHORE: A judicial inquiry conducted by a Lahore High Court judge in 1974 had declared the then prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, innocent in murder of Nawab Muhammad Ahmad Khan, says Abdul Sattar Najam, a former assistant advocate general.
In a brief interview with Dawn, Mr Najam said, “I had defended Mr Bhutto before Justice Shafiur Rehman, the inquiry judge of the LHC.”
He said after registration of the murder FIR on Nov 11, 1974, the federal government had appointed Justice Shafiur Rehman to hold a judicial inquiry into the matter. Mr Najam claimed though Justice Rehman had ideological differences with Z.A. Bhutto and his party but even then he conducted a fair inquiry and declared him innocent. “Justice Rehman, who was later elevated to Supreme Court, was known for his impartiality,” he said.
He further claimed that Ahmad Raza Kasuri, the complainant, had also expressed his satisfaction over the judicial inquiry and the matter was settled down. He said all witnesses and evidences were recorded during the probe and its findings were never challenged.
The former law officer, now in his late 70s, said after Gen Ziaul Haq ousted the elected government of Z.A Bhutto on July 5, 1977 the murder case was reopened. And the trial was commenced on Sept 24, 1977.
Mr Najam said during Zia regime fake cases were registered against him and he was accused of forging case documents before the judicial inquiry.
“I had to flee Pakistan due to constant raids on my house and threats to my family from the military ruler. I came back to Pakistan after Benazir Bhutto returned in 1986 and I was made deputy attorney general,” he said. Later, he was made advocate general of Punjab.
He said the military ruler had managed to remove the record of the judicial inquiry from all concerned forums, including high court. He said the record was also stolen from his house when he was out of the country during Gen Zia’s rule.
Terming the ZAB trial by LHC illegal, Mr Najam said, “No person can be vexed twice in the same case and new evidences cannot be recorded.” He said Justice Maulvi Mushtaq Hussain during the trial used to humiliate Mr Bhutto. He said due to this attitude of Justice Mushtaq, his fellow judge Justice Gulbaz Khan had refused to sit on the bench but later he had to withdraw the decision.
Mr Najam said after the confessional statement of Justice Nasim Hasan Shah (retired), the order of the LHC and SC lost their effect.
Justice Shah was among a bench of SC that had upheld the sentence of Z.A Bhutto handed down by the LHC. He later had admitted that there was immense pressure on the judges from military dictator to uphold the LHC verdict in the case.