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Benazir Bhutto: List of Sikhs, Pakistan’s Nuclear Program and Asghar Khan Case

By Dr Shahid Qureshi : –

Benazir Bhutto asked me in a London restaurant during dinner: “Shall we make ‘Nelson Mandela’ prime minister of Pakistan”. I replied to her: well he is South African and we both laughed. She was suggesting Asif Zardari. She called Wajidshmas Hassan and told him: “Wajid keep in touch with Dr Shahid Qureshi he is investigative journalist and a friend”. My next face to face meeting with her was at IISS in London in July 2007. The day chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was restored. After her speech, I gave her my article published in The Frontier Post – The Nation is Traumatized Mr President (Musharraf). I said to her: “It is not safe for you to travel to Pakistan”. She said: it is too late to change the plan.

After her lecture at IISS senior journalist M Ziauddin former Editor Express Tribune said to me lets have coffee. I could not say no my senior. Wajdshamul Hassan later Pakistani High Commissioner to UK joined in and moaned about Rehman Malik as how he has almost taken over the party. Obviously, Benazir Bhutto was visiting him at his spy agency office ‘Shafaf Limited’ and Javeed Pasha as both had offices on the same floor in Hanger Lane. She gave Rehman Malik one of Asif Zardari’s cars taken over by Javeed Pasha. She was so angry with Javeed Pasha as almost going to slap him said a source close to BB.

I found her articulate, sharp, intelligent but over ambitious and that is what got her killed. Her psychiatrist in London may confirm that she wanted a ‘spectacular ending’. She was seeing her psychiatrist on regular basis. I had the same assessment about her. On the day of Karsaz bombing I was sitting on Al-Jazeera for over two hours. The presenter asked me why Benazir Bhutto said: ‘bomb was in baby buggy’. I said: may she is trying to get the attention and sympathy at the same time. She ignored the security threat and alternative plan to move her by helicopter which resulted in hundreds injured and killed. She survived on the bomb proof truck with her friend Christina Lamb and others but many lost their lives.

I am just trying to build up a picture for the better understanding as what Pakistan was really dealing with in the shape of Benazir Bhutto when it comes to the security matters of Pakistan.

In 2002, I interviewed Dr Jagjit Singh Chauhan President of exiled Government of Khalistan in his flat close to New Scotland Yard in London. Dr Chauhan said: I graduated from King Edward Medical College Lahore and shared his memories. He categorically stated that: “Benazir Bhutto government was behind the killings of Sikh freedom fighters of Khalistan in Indian Punjab”. He said: ‘the systematic killing could only be possible if someone leak the information’.

In February 1994, Benazir herself confessed in a BBC interview that: I helped Rajive Gandhi on the Khalistan (Indian Punjab) problem but he did not stick to his own commitment with me. Indian Punjab would have become Khalistan. Can you imagine India without land access to occupied Kashmir? Indira Gandhi destroyed the Golden Temple with tanks and bombs. That was her character ambitious and gullible?

Washington Post reported on, June 1, 2008; “Former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto, on a state visit to North Korea in 1993, smuggled in critical data on uranium enrichment — a route to making a nuclear weapon — to help facilitate a missile deal with Pyongyang, according to a new book by a journalist who knew the slain politician well.

The assertion is based on conversations that the author, Shyam Bhatia, had with Bhutto in 2003, in which she said she would tell him a secret “so significant that I had to promise never to reveal it, at least not during her lifetime,” Bhatia writes in “Goodbye, Shahzadi,” which was published in India last month.”

Dr Shahid Qureshi presented Ravian's Medal to Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan at The Government College Lahore 1990
Dr Shahid Qureshi presented Ravian’s Medal to Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan at The Government College Lahore 1990

Soon after the publication of the book I received a phone call from a senior Japanese Journalist equivalent to CNN of Japan asking to have dinner with him as soon as possible. We had a dinner and I listened to his concerns regarding Pakistan and North Korea co-operation. To calm him down after this spin I said to him: “North Korea has a long border with China a nuclear state with daily train service. If anything, to happen it will happen from that side. Pakistan is too small for this. Just take it as an attention seeking spin from the over ambitious accidental politician Benazir Bhutto. That was the very reason President Ishaq Khan kept her away from the nuclear program about which she complained to the Americans. It was this behaviour which kept her away from the Pakistan’s nuclear program. Her links with the Indian establishment and Nehrus goes back hundred years.”

Benazir was not a security risk, she was a security threat to Pakistan and that was the root cause of an operation called ‘IJI’ which President Ishaq Khan ordered. He called in his army chief General Aslam Beg confided with him the latest intelligence report about her relations with Rajive Ghandi and other activities. Rajiv Gandhi brought his own security team to Islamabad which swept the Prime Minister House. The great trick was that the Pakistani agencies were still managed to record all the evidence of her dealings with Rajiv Gandhi and presented to President Ghulam Ishaq Khan.

It was decided by the President that Benazir Bhutto should be removed politically without making too much noise. As a starting point politicians were invited to join the alliance and some money was offered by the ISI which was tasked by the President.

L to R Brigadier Hamid Saeed Akthar (Former D G Military Intelligence Sind), Dr Shahid Qureshi, Political Analyst, Agha Murtaza Poya (former Director Defence and Strategic Institute- Islamabad) at LISA Seminar on Terrorism 2012 in London
L to R Brigadier Hamid Saeed Akthar (Former Director General Military Intelligence Sindh), Dr Shahid Qureshi, Political Analyst, Agha Murtaza Poya (former Director Defence and Strategic Institute – Islamabad, & Editor The Muslim) at LISA Seminar on Terrorism 2012 in London

The case is in the Supreme Court for very long time. The officer who gave the money to the politicians on the instructions of the president was Brigadier Hamid Saeed Akthar former Director General Military Intelligence Sind has submitted his affidavit in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Former Army Chief Gen. Aslam Beg and DG ISI Gen. Asad Durani to be appeared before the court.  None of the Governments PPPP from 2008 to PML-N to date have asked the Attorney General to peruse the case. The short answer is that ISI acted as per law on the instructions of the President Guhulam Ishaq Khan against the corrupt and compromised politician Benazir Bhutto.

(Dr Shahid Qureshi is senior analyst with BBC and chief editor of The London Post. He writes on security, terrorism and foreign policy. He also appears as analyst on Al-Jazeera, Press TV, MBC, Kazak TV (Kazakhstan), LBC Radio London. He was also international election observer for Kazakhstan 2015 and 2016 and Pakistan 2002. He has written a famous book “War on Terror and Siege of Pakistan” published in 2009. He is PhD in ‘Political Psychology’ also studied Law at a British University)

Views expressed are not of The London Post

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