Why did Bhutto Select Zia as Chief

Because Zia was a world champion at sucking up to him.

An interesting snippet from Major Agha Amin

FROM MY MARCH 2001 INTERVIEW WITH MAJ GEN NUK BABAR SJ AND BAR —-Why did Mr Bhutto select Zia as a coas?

There were a number of reasons and these were discussed with me personally by Mr Bhutto, while in detention at Murree. One was the pretended humility and this disarmed Mr Bhutto into the belief that he would pose no threat to the nascent democracy. Secondly, his performance when he invited Mr Bhutto to the centenary celebrations of 11 cavalry at Kharian. He took pains to ascertain Mr Bhutto’s tailor in Karachi (Hamid Khan) and had a Blue Patrols as Colonel-in-Chief of Armoured Corps. On entering the room, Mr Bhutto found a suitcase on his bed and on inquiry was told that it contained the Blue Patrol. The next day, Mr Bhutto was requested to climb a tank and engage a target. Quite obviously the target was hit. Then was his performance while on deputation in Jordan, where he killed a large number of Palestinians (Black September), Mr Bhutto was led to the belief that if he was so loyal to Jordan, he would be even more loyal to Pakistan. His prime performance came at Multan, where he invited Mr Bhutto as Colonel-in-Chief. After the function, when Mr Bhutto had barely returned to Mr Sadiq Qureshi’s house, when he was informed that General Zia requested to meet him. Mr Bhutto was surprised, having met him in the mess a little earlier. However, he called him into Mr Sadiq Qureshi’s study/library. Gen Zia on entrance went round the Almirah, looking for something and on inquiry he revealed that he was looking for a copy of the Holy Quran. On finding a copy he placed his hand on and addressing Mr Bhutto he said, “You are the saviour of Pakistan and we owe it to you to be totally loyal to you”. Then was the fact that there was little to pick and choose amongst the other aspirants. The only other suitable candidate was General Majeed Malik who was Mr Bhutto’s favourite as a sound professional. Unfortunately was involved in the International Hotel Scandal where he was caught with Mustafa Khar. He was sent as Ambassador to Libya. Finally, of course was the American angle. They had picked Zia as suitable material at Fort Leavenworth, followed his career progress and possibly lobbied in his favour. They made it known to friends months in advance that he would be appointed coas. Zia’s obsequeous behaviour made Mr Bhutto think that he was a non-political man. Pakistani democracy was at an infant stage and could not afford an Army Chief with political ambitions. Then there was not much choice. Gen Sharif was considered politically unreliable since he had been very close to Ayub Khan. Jillani had no command experience and was the head of isi. Akbar Khan had not performed well as a goc 12 Division in Kashmir in 1971 war. Gen Aftab and AB Awan had no command potential and were not suitable.


From @takhalus

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Omar Ali

I am a physician interested in obesity and insulin resistance, and in particular in the genetics and epigenetics of obesity As a blogger, I am more interested in history, Islam, India, the ideology of Pakistan, and whatever catches my fancy. My opinions can change.

20 thoughts on “Why did Bhutto Select Zia as Chief”

  1. You must admit the cleverness and judgement of Zia wrt Bhutto . If not Zia, another bloke would have done similar things. Using superior’s weakness for one’s own advancement is a time honoured practice. Where does Obsequiousness end and tact begins? If Bhutto is a sucker , one can’t blame Zia.
    Both were operating in a culture where dissent is a crime and bootlicking is rewarded.

  2. Bhutto refused accept Pakistan election results in 1970 which gave majority to bengalis and he goaded Yahya Khan into a crackdown on Bangladesh. Bhutto was never a democrat ; he was feudal to the core , like Imran Khan now, he used democracy whenever it suited him. He used Islamism whenever it suited him, started the atomic weapon program, revved up ISI to interfere in Afghanistan. Pakistan official narrative is that Americans used Pakistan for their war in Afghanistan after Soviet Invasion and then dumped them like used condoms. Nothing can be further than truth. It was Bhutto who started interfering in Afghanistan much before Soviet Invasion , and that gave Pakistan western support One can’t sympathize with his plight and fate. Karma came to bite him.

  3. Bhutto’s poisoned legacy to Pakistan

    Refuse democratic results
    Give the constitution a religious twist
    Interfere in Afghanistan
    Interfere in India
    Nuclear bomb.

    Subsequent military rulers found that this is a good formula to keep themselves in power and enrich themselves

      1. Abey o chutiya Pakthings, interfering in Afghanistan has began chain of events that has now lead to current state of events in your accursed country Pakistan bhosdike. I can only hope your brethren back in Pak enjoy the anarchic terror state they now live in, madarchod.

  4. When I met general Zia in a cold windy winter day in Jan 1982 I was not aware of many of these things. If I remember, he did say something as – I am glad to visit your nice country with excellent mathematicians where thousands of years ago your people came from through the steppes to our region and millions of their descendants now live happily in their new homelands which they named Xyzstan-s. Now, after so many years, I am not sure anymore if he was genuine or he was just sucking up (world champion?wow!).

  5. You can criticize ZAB as much as you like. He was certainly a flawed leader. However, he did not deserve a show trial and execution. No one deserves that, least of all a democratically elected prime minister.

    1. @Kabir I must say I’m glad you fight for democracy and civil rights on both sides of the border. Idk I haven’t been here for long but I always see you criticising India and Hinduism and Hindus that I thought you were a rather one sided hater. But it seems like you do hold on to your principles.

      1. I try to be consistent.
        I have no problem with Hinduism as such though I make no bones about the fact that I am against the Hindu Right. Similarly, I have no sympathies with islamism in Pakistan. Just as Islam is different from political islamism so Hinduism as a religion is different from the majoritarian ideology of hindutva.

  6. If Bhutto had got a wind of Zia’s coup plan, he would have had no compunction in executing him. If Zia had kept Bhutto alive, there would have been pressure to release him and the wily and popular Bhutto would have wormed his way to power and taken vendetta on Zia. It is a dog eat dog world, kill or be killed.

    1. There is never any justification for deposing a democratically elected leader–no matter how flawed he or she might be. Even those people who are not great fans of ZAB recognize that the Zia era was one of Pakistan’s darkest periods.

      1. Pity, ZAB did not think along these lines when Mujibur Rahman was the majority leader and he persuaded Yahya Khan to take over the country.
        Looked at anyway, ZAB was worse influence on Pakistan than Zia.

        1. The fact that someone would actually defend a military dictator against a legitimately elected politician is just bizarre to me.

          Pakistan’s tragedy is that democratic rule has so often been interrupted by martial laws.

  7. Myth peddled by Pakistani elite is that it was Gen Zia who was responsible for Islamization .
    Zia just continued Bhutto’s policies

    “Pakistan’s new prime minister, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto,
    introduced a new Constitution preserving almost
    every existing article concerning the state’s
    relationship with shari‘ah (even to the point of
    protecting Muslim personal law — and, thus, at least
    ostensibly, Ayub Khan’s controversial Muslim Family
    Laws Ordinance — from the burden of judicial
    review).13 In fact, with respect to the constitutional
    treatment of Islamic law, the dictatorship of Ayub
    and the democracy of Bhutto scarcely differed. The
    only important difference involved an amendment
    unanimously approved by the National Assembly
    excommunicating the Ahmadiyya.

    General Zia-ul-Haq is well known for his campaign of
    ‘Islamization’. But, in so many ways, his efforts
    involved only slight modifications to all that had
    come before”

  8. Bhutto, being a sindhi, trying to be more Punjabi than the Punjabi (a trait which is found in many other ethnicities of the subcontinent) , should have known better to put even a dumb sounding Punjabi as the army top man.

    On the day Bhutto was hanged, G.M.Syed ( the lapsed Pakistani) commented that the ‘the (Punjabi-dominated) establishment doesn’t realise that today, it hanged its most loyal servant.”

  9. VijayVan

    It was Bhutto who started interfering in Afghanistan much before Soviet Invasion , and that gave Pakistan western support One can’t sympathize with his plight and fate. Karma came to bite him.

    Is that not the same for Indira and Rajiv, Karma came to bite them.

    I feel bad for Rajiv, he was out of his league/pay scale and paid for his mother Indiras sins.

    I have absolutely no sympathy for Indira. At one private conversation she apparently referred to Sri Lankans as those little black people.

    India/Indira tried to impose their will and rule on a tiny little country and had to tuck their tails and return back home.

    With a ageing population in SL, it is possible India might succeed at it next attempt.

    1. “India tried to impose their will and rule on a tiny little country and had to tuck their tails and return back home.”

      LOL, even though i agree with much of what u said vis-v Rajiv, Indira, I doubt India (or Indians) thought they were conducting a war in Sri Lanka. Perhaps you would have seen much more army movement (similar to East Pakistan) had that been the case, and not just IPKF.

      Pretty sure India mostly does not see the events in the island as some sort of failure. Its more in the ballpark of we-tried-our-best-didnt’-work-out. That’s the reason when Rajiv was assassinated the generic Indian reaction that “What’s LTTE? And they are our enemies now?” . Coupled with the fact that most Indians are ignorant/dont care about happenings in the South/Tamil Nadu. Its a war which SL won while the other side was like “Whateva !”

    2. Hi Sereno
      The karma bit goes with the first part of what I wrote ie ZAB’s refusal to respect election results and asking army to subvert it.
      The denouement for Pakistan interference in Afghanistan will take few more years.

  10. @sbarrkum, I think India took away many lessons from its Sri Lankan imbroglio. Currently, India’s only objective in Sri Lanka is to not have it be (completely) colonized by China 😉

  11. I wish there was an Indian Omar Ali to analyze how Indira Gandhi’s policies have moulded today’s India.

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