Bhutto, Sheikh Mujib and Hamid Mir – II

Apr 29th, 2011 | By | Category: Conspiracy Theories, Jang

The News (Jang Group)As we explained a few days ago, Hamid Mir claims that America “masterminded” assassination of Sheikh Mujib even though the source he presented suggests the opposite. Today we will examine the other part of Hamid Mir’s conspiracy theory which is that America also “masterminded” the death of ZAB.

Hamid Mir’s claim appears to rest on the claims that American Secretary of State Henry Kissinger threatened to “make a horrible example out of” Bhutto. This is a well told story. It even appeared in Ameer Bhutto’s column yesterday where he said that ZAB “confronted foreign hegemonic powers even though he had to ultimately face the gallows”. But after examining the evidence behind Hamid Mir’s claims about American involvement in the death of Sheikh Mujib and finding that his sources undermine his claims, I decided to do a little background research into this story of Kissinger’s threat against Bhutto also.

Hamid MirHamid Mir notes that during a telephone call, American diplomat Howard B. Schaefer did not give clarification on Henry Kissinger’s threat. But why would Howard B. Schaefer be requested to give clarification on this? Was he present during this supposed conversation? More to the point, though, Henry Kissinger is still alive. Hamid Mir can have tea with Osama bin Laden but he can’t ask Henry Kissinger a question?

Actually, Hamid points to the source of the claim as coming from Brig Syed A.I. Tirmazi’s 1995 book, “Profiles of Intelligence”. Here is the way the story is told in Brig Tirmazi’s book:

On August 9, 1976, American Secretary of State, Dr. Henry Kissinger had a talk with ZAB, in Lahore, to dissuade him from acquiring Nuclear Reprocessing Plant from France for which the deal had already been finalized after Pakistan had agreed to all the safeguard requirements laid down by both France and the International Atomic Energy Agency. In their talks, Dr. Kissinger found ZAB inflexible and determined to go ahead with the acquisition of the Reprocessing Plant and make Pakistan a nuclear power. Incensed, he warned ZAB, “We will make a horrible example of you,” adding menacingly, “When the railroad is coming, you get out of the way.” But ZAB stood his ground. The US virtually mowed down ZAB. The political and economic crisis situation that started to develop during 1976-77 was fully exploited by the power broker USA.

It should be noted that Brig Tirmazi is something of a curious figure. Till date we have been unable to discover any background information about this person other than that his name appears on a few books: “Profiles of Intelligence” about his time with intelligence agencies, “Ali the Manifesting Imam” which appears in Shia bookshops, and “Doctrine of Hate” which tells that America is involved in a global war against Muslims. Other than his books, though, nobody seems to know who this man is.

Some people claim Brig Tirmazi is a former DG ISI, or Director Counter Intelligence ISI or maybe DG IB. Some say he was awarded Sitara-i-Imtiaz (M). Some say he was Defence and Army Attache to the Pakistan Embassy in Tehran from 1981-1985 and that he mysteriously retired as a 52-year-old Brigadier in 1985. Nobody has a photo of the man, and most people only know his name from his books and what they have been told by “sources”.

So we decided to look for other sources that could tell more about Kissinger’s threat. We were directed to Tariq Ali’s book, “The Duel” which was published in 2008. Here is the way Tariq Ali tells the story:

In his death-cell memoir, If I Am Assassinated, he alleged that Henry Kissinger had warned him, during one of his visits to Pakistan in August 1976. that unless he desisted on the nuclear question, “We will make a horrible example out of you.” Both Kissinger and Bhutto could be economical with the truth, but the remark has recently been confirmed. A journalist in the Pakistan financial paper Business Recorder cites a senior Pakistani foreign official (on condition of anonymity) present on the occasion:

…Kissinger waited for a while, and said in a cultured tone, “Basically I have come not to advise, but to warn you. USA has numerous reservations about Pakistan’s atomic programme; therefore you have no way out, except agreeing to what I say.” Bhutto smiled and asked, “Suppose I refuse, then waht?” Henry Kissinger became dead serious.

He locked his eyes on Bhutto’s and spewed out deliberately, “The we will make a horrible example of you!” Bhutto’s face flushed. He stood up, extended his hand towards Kissinger and said, “Pakistan can likve with the US President. Now your people will have to find some other ally in this region.” Bhutto then turned and went out.*

* Business Recorder January 29, 2008

In Tariq Ali’s version, Kissinger is still threatening ZAB over the nuclear processing plans, but in a much more dramatic way. At least Tariq Ali, however, provided further clues.

The article referred to by Tariq Ali was actually not originally published in Business Recorder but rather in Urdu newspaper Daily Express by Javed Chaudhry on 15 January 2008. Javed Chaudhry says his source was a senior official in the foreign ministry of Musharraf, that he worked for ZAB and was present at this exchange between Kissinger and Bhutto and also worked for Gen. Zia and became one of his closest advisors. If anyone wants to do a little additional research, it should be fairly easy to narrow down who was a senior foreign ministry official for ZAB, Zia and Musharraf also. There certainly can’t be too many who would fit such a description.

The version that Tariq Ali refers to is a translation of Javed Chaudhry’s original article by Rais Ahmad Khan which appeared in Business Recorder on 29 January 2008. The translated piece was introduced with the following disclaimer:

The following is an unconfirmed and unverified account of a person who wishes to remain anonymous. The account is the narration of experiences of a senior foreign ministry official who, according to the writer, was privy to ZA Bhutto-Henry Kissinger talk and later witness to General Ziaul Haq’s outburst of anger against US in front of its ambassador.

The question of veracity of this write-up remains unanswered and the identity and whereabouts of the official and the author of this story are yet to be ascertained, it makes for interesting reading, nevertheless:

With such a disclaimer, why did Tariq Ali quote the article as if it were true and verified? Tariq Ali quoted another source, Bhutto’s book If I Am Assassinated. Strangely, I revisited this book and could find no mention of a threat from Henry Kissinger, though ZAB does make reference to a threat from Abdul Wali Khan (Constituent Assembly of Pakistan Debates Volume to 26.3.1948 page 283).

The entire story gets even more confusing if you consider it in the context of this history of the time. When this threat was allegedly made (August 1976), Henry Kissinger was the Secretary of State under American President Gerald Rudolph Ford. ZAB was arrested in July 1977. Gerald Ford was no longer the American President and Kissinger was no longer US Secretary of State. In July 1977, the American President was Jimmy Carter and the Secretary of State was Mr Cyrus Vance. How could Kissinger know what would happen after his party lost the elections and a new government was formed?

It also does not make sense that the Americans would mastermind a coup against ZAB due to the nuclear program and put into power Gen Zia who was COAS and the Americans knew was working on the nuclear program also. And as for the claim by “Brig Tirmazi” that “economic crisis situation that started to develop during 1976-77 was fully exploited by the power broker USA”, this does not make sense from a historical perspective either. In 1976, US gave $782.5 Million in economic aid (non-military). In 1977, US gave $296.7 Million in economic aid. According to Institute of Policy Studies, Islamabad, American sanctions due to the nuclear program were not imposed until April 1979 – when Gen. Zia was in power. When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, American President Jimmy Carter offered to increase aid to $400 Million, which Gen. Zia famously termed “peanuts”. None of this historical context supports the claim that the US made a horrible example out of anybody.

It should also be noted that the American President Jimmy Carter, rather than “mastermind” the death of ZAB, appealed to the Pakistan Supreme Court to commute the sentence along with British PM James Callaghan, and USSR President Leonid Brezhnev. This appeal was ignored by Gen. Zia and after ZAB was killed, the nuclear program continued along without pause to the knowledge of the Americans.

Was Bhutto threatened by Henry Kissinger? Nobody seems to have bothered asking the one person who would know – Kissinger himself. But even if Kissinger did make a threat, events that followed would show that it was a hollow threat. There is no evidence supporting the claims that appear in columns by Hamid Mir and others that America had anything to do with the death of ZAB.

Hamid Mir, Tariq Ali, Javed Chaudhry, Ameer Bhutto – all of these authors and more are playing fast and loose with history, conjuring up quotations that they never heard and each adding his own pinch of spice to make it more exciting. Each of these so-called journalists is merely gossiping, not reporting. That’s not journalism. It’s fiction. The irony, however, is that despite their different politics, the result of this gossip is that each of them is making excuses for what we have on record as the actions and statements of the man who was undoubtedly responsible for Bhutto’s death – Gen. Ziaul Haq.


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  4. Thank you very much for clarifying this issue. In his book, Bhutto has mentioned Kissinger’s visit in 1976 but not a word about the threat. I initially thought I had the wrong edition. All kinds of authors have then picked up this line and recycled it (Tariq Ali, Ian Talbot etc) for different reasons. Javed Chaudhry, of course, always has to add his fantasies to all historical events, always aided by some ‘anonymous’ friends and officers in the right places with their profound analyses. And yes, Javed Chaudhry’s despicable (but understandable) desire is precisely to gloss over Zia’s murder of Bhutto and instead turn him into a hero of the same stature as Bhutto, ‘martyred’ by the evil Americans. Please try and clarify this in Urdu as well. Thank you again.

  5. Hi. I thought you might like to know that this threat is detailed explicitly in official declassified US documents from Kissinger himself.

    Also, it’s worth noting that Kissinger retained influence in the CIA even after Carter won the presidency, and that Ramsey Clark (who some admittedly do not take seriously, for various reasons) believed that the coup had the earmarks of CIA involvement.

  6. the threat or tone was not only for Mr Bhutto rather it for the nation

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