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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Of Moral Courage and Principles: Whodunnit? -Anjum Niaz

In the Dawn Magazine of October 28, I read with interest the latest article Whodunnit by Anjum Niaz on Naseerullah Babar, the former general and head of interior ministry under Bhutto, now in his 80s. This interview is revealing and illuminating. First read these comments:

As one whose loyalties are locked in with the Bhutto family, this old PPP guard has watched his revered leader Zulfikar Ali Bhutto hanged and his two sons murdered spawning 30 years of chilling intrigue and international espionage. He knows who killed them and the motive behind, but his lips are sealed.

“At my age it’s not appropriate to compromise with the military and seek a PPP ticket for the 2008 elections. But my loyalty to the PPP will remain grounded. It’s my national duty,” he tells me when I ask him whether he would like to serve BB again.

Why, then, has he not revealed the identity of Shahnawaz’s killers? “Because I was advised not to go beyond the drawn line,” he says. “The substance that killed Shahnawaz was used by very few countries.” The FBI and the French authorities investigated independently but kept their findings secret because of certain international sensitivities.”

(When Murtaza Bhutoo was gunned down)Naseerullah Babar was the interior minister. “I know the people who had him bumped off. They dismissed the sister two weeks later because they wanted to seize power and heap all the blame on her for his death.”

When General Asif Nawaz died, Nawaz Sharif got blamed for poisoning him to death. General Babar, who was in the government then, sent the hair samples of the deceased army chief to France and Russia. The final verdict: it was not poison but a heart attack that killed the handsome general. “I had the moral courage to tell the nation and absolve Nawaz Sharif of the crime,” says Babar.


General Nasirullah Babar is a man who served Pakistan, winning medals in '65 and '71. He had access to the highest echelons of power. He claims 'moral courage'. I will take him at his words.

Reading the excerpts and comments I highlighted above these thoughts come to the fore:

* It appears difficult to fathom that a person who can risk his life for the country, listens to a different inner voice and refrains from sharing what he knows with the nation (Zulfikar, Shahnawaz, Murteza).

* Why is his "national duty" confined to serving Pinky only?

* Why is his "moral courage" limited and confined to Benazir only?

* What overshadows whom for him? Pakistan over Ms. Bhutto or the other way down?

Anjum concludes: Whizzing past his 80th milestone, men like Babar are a vanishing breed. A compost of truth mixed with seasoned intelligence gathering that connects the dots. He takes a principled stand where the lily livered would capitulate. Such men need to be lionised.

Sorry Anjum, the way I see, his principles appear jaded and tarnished.

I wish him continued health. And I also wish men (and women)past their prime who had access to the corridors of power shed their moral ambiguity. Their knowledge of the past shenanigans will help the nation chart a better course. They have nothing to lose now, and the nation stands to gain much if they come clean.


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