When a dozen of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) lawmakers quit their parent party to form a splinter group, PPP (Patriots) in 2002 to help the Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid-e-Azam) or the ‘King’s party’, to establish a toothless government under Pervez Musharraf, seasoned politician Hafiz Hussain Ahmed had commented, “I don’t think they have responded to their zamir (conscience) but this may be their reply to the call of General Zamir”.
The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) leader’s brief comments left everybody in the assembly hall and the galleries laughing as everybody knew who was behind the split in the PPP.
Major General Ehtesham Zamir (Retd), who passed on Monday, later admitted that the 2002 elections were manipulated on the directives of Pervez Musharraf who wanted a friendly parliament.
“Obviously (it was done) on the directives of President Musharraf.
I was a serving officer and I did what I was told to do.
I never felt the need, during the service, to question anyone senior to me.
On the call of his zamir (conscience), General Zamir acknowledged that corruption cases were used as pressure tactics against lawmakers.
“Yes, this tool was used, and not only by the ISI.
The NAB was also involved in this exercise.
” The late General felt that the ‘blunders’ had pushed Pakistan backwards and he was “ashamed” of his role and conduct.
He had also called for the closure of the ISI’s political cell.
The General had been the man behind the 2002 referendum to ‘elect’ Musharraf for a five-year term as the President.
Soon Pervez Musharraf sidelined General Zamir, then the head of the political wing of the ISI, as the referendum was found to be too heavily rigged to digest.
Musharraf’s annoyance with General Zamir was not without reasons as the former military President was forced to apologise in public after ballot boxes were stuffed with yes votes and government employees were ordered to vote.
Official figures gave him 97% of the vote, with a huge turnout.
It was only after his retirement that the General admitted he was the one who negotiated, coerced and did all the dirty work.
In an interview, he said had the political management was not carried out by the ISI in 2002, the country would not have faced such regression.
The former number 2 of the ISI thought the political cell of the ISI was part of the problem due to its involvement in forging unnatural alliances, contrary to public wishes.
Some media reports said General Zamir had also tried to ‘seduce’ Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) in 2002 but later changed mind to concentrate on the PPP.
It is said one MMA cleric managed a peek into the pages of the files the general had on the table as he talked to them.
In them he saw the name of PPP (Patriot) whose members had been plucked from the mother party to make up the PML-Q majority.
The MMA leaders knew they did not stand a chance in the new setup and walked out.
The former powerful General later joined business tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain’s Bahria Town.
Some critics said he did the same job for Maik Riaz Hussain what he did for Musharraf.
General Zamir was known to “look well” after the interests of the Bahria Town owner.
Despite all his blunders, as he called them, General Zamir at least accepted his mistakes and in the end had shown his support for a fair and corruption free society.
Major General Ehtesham Zamir was determined to carry on the legacy of his father, famous poet Syed Zamir Jafri, to serve the nation.
He started operating a non-profit foundation, Syed Zamir Jafri Foundation, which provides many high profile required services to the nation.
Syed Zamir Jafri Foundation was formed soon after the legendary poet’s death to preserve and promote his literary work.
In the recent years the foundation, led by General Zamir, organized numerous literary workshops and references primarily on or close to his death anniversary days.
The foundation printed his unpublished diaries and his book “Karia Jan” containing serious poetry was reprinted.
All these books were gifted to leading libraries of the Sub-Continent.
Audio and video CDs containing his Ghazals, rendered by leading vocalists were also produced.
General Zamir created a web page “www.
com” to facilitate his research work.
So far six students have completed their MPhil and two are in the process of their PhD thesis on his literary pursuits.
Interestingly, PPP co-Chairman Asif Zardari, whose party suffered at the hands of General Zamir, was ‘shocked’ to know about his death.
May Allah rest your soul in peace General!
–The writer Shafqat Ali is an Islamabad-based freelance contributor of The Nation