111 510 510 libonline@riphah.edu.pk Contact

Zafar’s story

Today I would like to discuss the book “Senator SM Zafar ki kahani unki apni zubani” (Zafar’s story in his own words) published by Sager Publishers and available from Ziaul Quran Publications, Urdu Bazaar, Lahore, (Tel. 042-37247350). The book covers the main events that took place between March 2003 and March 2012 while Mr S M Zafar was a senator.

Mr Zafar, a close, respected friend, is one of Pakistan’s foremost legal experts. He was born in Rangoon, Burma on December 6, 1930 where his father, Syed Muhammad Ashraf Kashfi Shah Nizami, a respected religious scholar, was in the construction business.

When the Japanese started bombing Rangoon in 1944, the family moved back to their ancestral home near Shakargarh. He completed high school there after which he moved to Lahore, graduated from Government College Lahore and earned a law degree. He was soon recognised as a noted lawyer and, at the age of 35, became the law and parliamentary affairs minister in the cabinet of Ayub Khan. He has held important positions ever since and earned the reputation of being a competent, honest lawyer.

When I came to Pakistan in 1976, he was president of the Supreme Court Bar Association. He has been decorated with the country’s highest civil award, Nishan-e-Pakistan, for his meritorious national services.

Talking about his book, even though Mr Zafar says it covers the period when he was a senator, it invariably covers earlier events as well. It is beautifully written in easy-to-understand Urdu and comments have been made without fear or favour.

My relationship with S M Zafar goes back to 1983 when a false case of espionage was registered against me in Amsterdam and I was sentenced to four years in jail in absentia. When I came to know of this, I immediately appealed through two noted Dutch lawyers, Dr Den Drijver and Dr W Russell, with Prof Dr Ruter as adviser.

I then requested Mr Zafar to be my lead lawyer, which the then law minister, the law secretary, the attorney general and Gen Zia’s coterie tried their best to sabotage. It was only after I threatened to go to Holland to defend my case myself if Mr Zafar were not appointed, that they agreed. He defended me brilliantly and the verdict was declared null and void and I was honourably acquitted. I later travelled to Holland to visit my in-laws and didn’t face any problems. I always had faith in the Dutch legal system and I was not disappointed.

In Chapter 24 of his book, Mr Zafar has described in detail his role in the government’s dealings with me. In December 2003-January 2004 I had experienced how Musharraf, who used to click his heels, salute me and open my car door, suddenly changed and become arrogant and intolerably rude. This was the reward I received for my work. He and his cronies did everything within their power to ruin my reputation.

Every day the FO and army spokespersons would level unproven, mischievous accusations against me. I was also well aware that all the debriefings were being recorded and my telephone conversations listened to. I later learnt that edited cassettes of these were handed over to the US embassy.

Pakistan had not signed the NPT or the NSG and was under no obligation to share any information about its nuclear programme. As mentioned by Mr Zafar, Musharraf could easily have closed the chapter by saying that a control and security system had been put in place since he took over and that no mishaps could occur; he would ensure that.

Mr Zafar and Ch Shujaat Hussain tried to quickly diffuse the matter. They both advised me to cooperate with the authorities. However, Mr Zafar was adamant that I should not sign any so-called ‘confession’. We met regularly and were supposed to do so again on the morning of February 4, 2004. However, only Ch Shujaat came as Mr Zafar was stopped from doing so. Chaudhry Sahib, in good faith, advised me to cooperate, thereby closing the chapter.

Later that day I was taken to Musharraf’s camp office where we had a brief meeting in which he told me I was a national hero, had saved Pakistan and, after a few days, would be fully rehabilitated. I came out of his office to face an unexpected army of TV reporters whom I informed about the meeting.

After that I was taken into another room where my good friend, Attorney General Makhdoom Ali Khan, was waiting with a laptop. Under directions of the SPD-ISI he had prepared a statement by which I took sole blame and which I was supposed to read out on PTV. I told them I would agree only if a sentence be added to the effect that my colleagues and I had acted in good faith. The AG told me that this statement had no legal value and that nobody would believe it.

That same day Ch Shujaat issued a detailed statement in Business Recorder in which he categorically stated that I had saved Pakistan again by taking sole blame and that I had never been involved in any misappropriation of even a single rupee. Later he, Mr Zafar, Gen Beg, Gen Qayyum, and many others gave TV interviews confirming that I had not done anything wrong.

On February 1, I had already been placed under house arrest, gates padlocked, telephones disconnected, mobiles confiscated and friends stopped from visiting. A few months later, during a ‘house search’, the whole house was ransacked and listening devices and spy cameras placed. All family members were now also stopped from visiting, even our daughters. This ban lasted until my surgery in Karachi in 2006.

Relief was only obtained through an Islamabad High Court decision in 2010. So much for Musharraf’s promise of immediate rehabilitation! Later I heard that he had asked PM Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali to obtain cabinet approval to hand me over to the Americans. Their plane was already waiting at Islamabad airport. Jamali Sb, being a proud Baloch and Pakistani, flatly refused, for which he was later sent home. He confirmed these facts in a TV interview with Mr Mazhar Abbas.

In September, 2007 Mr Zafar was once requested to see Musharraf. He found the latter stretched out on a sofa with a cigar in his mouth. Musharraf did not bother to get up to receive his guest, merely pointed to a chair and asked: “SM, do you mind if I smoke a cigar?” Now what kind of behaviour is that?

This book is a must red for all who want to know what happened behind the scenes. It is both informative and enjoyable to read.

Email: dr.a.quadeer.khan@gmail.com

Dr. A. Q. Khan, "Zafar’s story," The News. 2013-03-25.