This correspondent has seen a letter of appreciation written by Yaldeshiv, shown by Rasheed, when the Lal Masjid issued a religious edict in 2004 that any Pakistani soldier killed in the South Waziristan tribal area did not deserve Muslim funeral prayers or burial in a Muslim graveyard. The letter was later endorsed by more than 500 scholars and became one of the main reasons for defiance in the Pakistan Army during military operations in South Waziristan. Lal Masjid was also the main site for Pakistani militants to visit, which landed the brothers in serious trouble in 2004 when the government accused them of being partners in a conspiracy to carry out major terror operations in Islamabad. The connection was Rasheed's car, which was apparently used by one Usman, who had been arrested in connection with sabotage activities in the capital. The government wanted the brothers arrested, but then-federal minister for religious affairs and son of former president Zia Ejaz ul-Haq, who was very close to the brothers, intervened. He became guarantor on behalf of the state that if Rasheed surrendered for interrogations to an intelligence agency of the armed forces and if no evidence came out, he would be cleared of all charges. "Before going into custody I made it clear to Ejaz ul-Haq that I had met everybody, including Osama, [Taliban leader] Mullah Omar [and] Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri and that many wanted figures did come to Lal Masjid because it is a mosque and anybody can come to this place. So any evidence of terror should be other than that. Ejaz ul-Haq agreed, and then I was handed over to intelligence," Rasheed told Asia Times Online in a recent interview. REFERENCE: Pakistan: Trouble in the mosque By Syed Saleem Shahzad South Asia Apr 12, 2007 http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/ID12Df04.htmlDr. Babar Awan was in General Zia Foundation (Aaj kamran khan ke saath – 14th APR 2011)
Kamran Khan (GEO TV/Jang Group) Supported Lal Masjid Operation (ARY/GEO 2007)
ISLAMABAD: “Babar Awan was General Ziaul Haq’s energetic activist during his lifetime and even after his death. When PPP chief Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was in jail, Babar demanded hanging of Bhutto in public protests and distributed sweets in Rawalpindi courts on the day of his execution,” Ijazul Haq, the son of the third military ruler, confirmed to The News. Babar Awan, however, declined to comment on the issue. Ijazul Haq also released to the media four pictures of a rally in Rawalpindi on Gen Zia’s anniversary in which Ijazul Haq and Babar Awan both made speeches. Though different contemporaries of Awan used to narrate these stories and show extreme astonishment over Awan’s statements in praise of Bhutto, as during more than two and a half decades and till mid-90s, he always blasted ZAB and even abused him at times in different public rallies.
Ijaz Ul Haq and Khwaja Asif Get Personal
He also ran continuous protest campaigns demanding capital punishment for the revolutionary founding chairman of PPP when the latter was in jail in a murder case. But, now the relevant man, the son of Ziaul Haq and head of Zia-followers in Pakistan, has come on record and has confirmed Babar Awan’s heartiest affiliation with his father and enmity and hatred Awan always had in his heart for Bhutto. Ijazul Haq made many revelations during his exclusive interview with The News. Ijazul Haq disclosed that Awan remained attached with him during the entire rule of his father and remained an activist against Bhutto. He said that Awan demanded public hanging of Bhutto and when ZAB was hanged, Babar was very happy and went to Rawalpindi courts where he distributed sweets among the lawyers. He said that later he remained a sympathiser of his father. “Babar remained very active after my father’s death and used to conduct the proceedings of the anniversary of Shaheed Ziaul Haq as stage secretary,” said Ijazul Haq. He said that Babar Awan was given the honour to conduct the proceedings of the first death anniversary of his father as stage secretary on August 17, 1989.
Lal Masjid & Role of Ijazul Haq - 1 (GEO TV 2007)
Ijaz said that Awan’s love for his father further increased after his (Ziaul Haq) death as Babar became politically active. He said that Babar accompanied him to different processions and played ka ey role in success of Lal Kurti procession in the early 90s. Ijazul Haq disclosed that Babar Awan also invited him to his native village Matore (near Kahuta) to address a big public gathering to glorify the role of his father. Ijaz said that Awan often used to visit the grave of his father to offer Fateha. Senior political leaders say that Babar remains with those who are in power and when they lose power and glory, he would look for the next party.
Babar Awan was repeatedly contacted for his version but he did not come on line on his cell and residence numbers. But when media persons asked Awan outside the Supreme Court building on Wednesday about distributing sweets on Bhutto’s hanging, he did not deny and simply said: ‘No comments’. REFERENCE: Ijaz recalls Babar Awan’s love for his dad Ahmad Noorani Thursday, April 14, 2011 http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=41593&Cat=2&dt=4/14/2011
Lal Masjid & Role of Ijazul Haq - 2 (GEO TV 2007)
Lal Masjid & Role of Ijazul Haq - 3 (GEO TV 2007)
اوجھڑی کیمپ، بیس سال قبل کی وہ صبح
اُس قیامت خیز دن کی یاد میرے ذہن میں بالکل تازہ ہے۔
دس اپریل انیس سو اٹھاسی کو صبح دس بجے کے قریب میری آنکھ بھی اسی دھماکےسے کھلی تھی اور گہری نیند میں اس دھماکے کی آواز سے مجھے یوں محسوس ہوا تھا کہ کسی نے کوئی جستی صندوق دوسری یا تیسری منزل سے گلی میں پھینک دیا ہو۔
افغانستان پر سویت یونین کے حملے کے بعد سے پاکستان اور پاکستان کے گرد نواح میں پرتشدد اور خونی واقعات کا جو ایک نہ تھمنے والا سلسلہ شروع ہوا تھا اُن ہی واقعات میں دس اپریل انیس سواٹھاسی بھی ہے جو ملک کے حالیہ سیاسی مدوجزر میں ذہنوں سے شاید محو ہو گیا ہے۔
لیکن بیس سال پہلے راولپنڈی شہر کے بہت سے باسی جن کے پیارے اس ناگہانی آفت میں ان سے جدا ہو گئے تھے وہ شاید اس کو کبھی نہ بھلا پائیں۔ اس دن راولپنڈی شہر کے باسیوں پر افغانستان بھیجے جانے والی امریکی میزائیلوں کی بارش میں ایک غیر مصدقہ اندازے کے مطابق پانچ ہزار کے قریب معصوم لوگ لقمہ اجل بن گئے تھے۔ ان ہی لوگوں میں نئی کابینہ میں شامل شاہد خاقان عباسی بھی شامل ہیں جن کے والد اور اُس وقت کے وفاقی وزیر پیداوار خاقان عباسی میزائیل سر میں لگنے سے ہلاک ہو گئے تھے۔
بستر سے اٹھتے ہی میں ملت کالونی میں واقع اپنےگھر کے باہر پورچ میں آگیا جہاں میری مرحوم والدہ حیرت سے کھڑی آسمان کی طرف دیکھ رہی تھیں۔
فضا میں میزائیلوں کی آوازیں آ رہی تھیں اور اس دوران ہمارے گھر کی تیسری منزل پر ایک میزائیل آ کر لگا اور کچھ کنکر ہمارے سروں پر آ کر لگے تو ہم پورچ کی چھت تلے آگئے۔ چند لمحوں بعد ایک اور میزائیل چند گھر چھوڑ کر گرا اور پھر ایک اور میزائیل گرا۔ یہ میزائیل جن میں ڈیٹونیٹر لگے ہوئے نہیں تھے اس لیے پھٹےنہیں ورنہ شاید پورا شہر کھنڈر میں تبدیل ہو جاتا۔
پہلے تو مجھے خیال آیا کہ شاید بھارت نے کہوٹہ پر فضائی حملہ کر دیا ہو اور پاکستان افواج زمین سے جوابی کارروائی کر رہی ہوں۔
پھر سوچا گھر سے باہر جا کر معلوم کیا جائے آخر ہو کیا رہا ہے۔ موٹر سائیکل نکالی اور گلاس فیکٹری چوک کی طرف جانے لگا۔ تھوڑی دور پہنچ کر ایک عجیب منظر دیکھا کہ ساری خلقت مخالف سمت میں دوڑی چلی آ رہی ہے۔ ایک نوجوان جو شاید کسی میزائیل کے گرنے سے بال بال بچا تھا زارو قطار روتا ہوا میری موٹر سائیکل کے سامنے آگیا اور چلا چلا کر کہنے لگا’ باؤ جی مینوں بچالو‘۔ میں نے اسے دلاسا دیا اور موٹرسائیکل پر بیٹھا کر اس طرف ہو لیا جس طرف ساری خلقت دوڑی جا رہی تھی۔ تھوڑی دور جا کر اس نوجوان کو اتارا اور مری روڈ کی جانب ہو لیا۔
سکستھ روڈ پر پہنچ کر پتہ چلا کہ اوجڑی کیمپ میں دھماکہ ہو گیا ہے۔ ایک افراتفری کا عالم تھا کچھ لوگ سڑک کو بلاک کر کے لوگوں کو اس طرف جانے سے روک رہے تھے۔
میں روکاوٹوں کو عبور کرتا ہوا اوجھڑی کیمپ کی طرف بڑھ رہا تھا کہ ایک اور صحافی دوست سے ملاقات ہو گئی۔ اس کے ساتھ میں اوجھڑی کیمپ سے پہلے اس سے ملحقہ آبادی گلش دادن خان کی گلی میں داخل ہو گیا۔
گلی میں پہنچ کر سوچا کسی گھر میں جاکر فون استعمال کرنے کی درخواست کی جائے اور دفتر کو حالات سے آگاہ کیا جائے۔ میں اپنے دوست کے ہمراہ ایک گھر میں داخل ہوا۔ گھر کے دروازے کھلے پڑے تھے اور بہت سے دروازوں کے کواڑ ہی چوکھٹوں سے الگ پڑے تھے۔
گھر کے اندر داخل ہو کر معلوم ہوا کہ مکین بھرا گھر کھلا چھوڑ کر جان بچا کر بھاگ گئے ہیں۔ میں ایک عجیب سی وحشت میں دوست کا ہاتھ پکڑ کر گھر سے فوراً باہر آ گیا۔ پورا محلہ خالی پڑا تھا۔
اس آبادی میں سارے لوگ گھروں کو کھلا چھوڑ کر محفوظ مقامات پر منتقل ہو گئے تھے۔ بہت سے گھروں کی چھتیں گر گئی تھیں جو باقی تھے وہ کھلے پڑے تھے۔
اسی دھماکے کے بعد لوگوں کو علم ہوا کہ اوجھڑی کیمپ امریکہ سے افغانستان بھیجے جانے والے اسلحہ کا ایک بڑا ذخیرہ ہے۔
دو دن تک اسلحہ کے اس ڈھیر میں آگ لگی رہی اور دھماکے بھی ہوتے رہے۔
اس وقت کے وزیر اعظم محمد خان جونیجو نے لیفٹینٹ جنرل عمران اللہ کی سربراہی میں ایک کمیٹی تشکیل دی جس کی رپورٹ ایوان صدر میں پہنچ کر کہیں گم ہو گئی۔ رپورٹ تو آج تک منظر عام پر نہ آ سکی لیکن چند ماہ بعد ہی جونیجو حکومت برطرف کر دی گئی۔
یہ معلوم نہیں ہو سکا کہ یہ حادثہ تھا، تخریب کاری یا اسلحہ کی مبینہ چوری چھپانے کی کوشش۔
اس دھماکے سے چند دن پہلے یہ افواہیں بھی گردش کر رہی تھیں تھیں کہ امریکہ سے دفاعی ماہرین کی ایک ٹیم افغانستان کو بھیجے جانے والے اسلحہ کے بارے میں تحقیقات کے لیے اسلام آباد پہنچ رہی ہے۔
اوجھڑی سے افغانستان جانے والے اسلحہ میں سٹنگر میزائیل بھی شامل تھے جن کے ’غلط‘ ہاتھوں میں پہنچنے کی بھی خبریں تھیں۔ آئی ایس آئی کے سابق سربراہ حمیدگل کے مطابق اس کیمپ میں دو سو اڑتالیس سٹنگر تھے جو سب کے سب دھماکے میں تباہ ہو گئے تھے۔
نام نہاد ’افغان جہاد‘ میں ملک کو جھوکنے والے جرنیلوں کی نسلیں سنورگئیں۔ کسی کو یہ جرات نہ ہو سکی کہ پوچھ سکے کہ یہ کروڑوں ڈالر کی جائیدادیں اور بینک اکاؤنٹس کہاں سے آئے؟
ہر دس سال بعد پاکستان میں آئین کا ’پامال‘ کیا جانا ہو یا سقوط ڈھاکہ، کارگل کا ایڈونچر ہو یا اوجڑی کا حادثہ، کوئی جوابدہ نہیں۔
حمود الرحمان کمیشن کی طرح شاید ایک دن جنرل عمران اللہ کی رپورٹ بھی منظر عام پر آ جائے اور عوام کو حقیقت معلوم ہو سکے۔
ISLAMABAD, April 9: Nineteen years after the huge Ojhri Camp arsenal blew up this day in 1988 the cause of the tragedy remains undisclosed, though its leftovers continue to kill people. It claimed its latest victim on February 17 when a teenaged labourer was killed while digging earth in the Pindi Food Street and hit a buried projectile which exploded. Over 100 men, women and children were killed and many times more were wounded by the thousands of missiles and projectiles which exploded mysteriously and rained death and destruction on Rawalpindi and Islamabad on April 10, 1988. The then prime minister Mohammad Khan Junejo appointed two committees — one military and the other parliamentary — to probe the tragedy. But his action so infuriated President Gen Ziaul Haq that he dismissed Junejo on May 29, 1988 — the main charge being that he failed to implement Islam in the country.
Ijazul Haq Defends General Ziaul Haq - 1 (News Beat 14 APR 2011)
While the parliamentary committee, headed by old politician Aslam Khattak, went out with the Junejo government, the military committee under Gen Imranullah Khan submitted its report before the government’s dismissal. Governments of prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif which followed Gen Zia’s fiery death in a mysterious plane crash on August 17, 1988, failed to make public Gen Imranullah Khan’s findings. Junejo’s defence minister Rana Naeem Ahmed told Dawn on Saturday that he had received the report but claimed the ISI seized it in a raid on his office the day after the government was dismissed. “They returned all my belongings, except the briefcase that contained the report,” he said, recalling that the report had not held any one responsible for the incident. In fact, the report was inconclusive and focused on the causes of the blast which it declared to be an accident, he said.
But he rejected the rumours that the report had held Gen Akhtar Abdul Rehman, the then chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, directly responsible for the incident. Interestingly the Ojhri dump blew up on a day an American team was arriving to take account of the vast amount of military hardware that the US had supplied Pakistan to fuel the anti- Soviet jihad in Afghanistan. Experts say the missiles that continue to be unearthed to this day, have less chance of exploding if found dud. But they can cause human and property loss, if detonated somehow, as happened in several such incidents. A dud missile was found by some labourers near a shrine next to Faizabad flyover only a month ago, on March 10. It was a bright and sunny morning of April 10, 1988, when thousands of missiles and projectiles started raining down on Rawalpindi and Islamabad after huge and mysterious explosions at Ojhri Ammunition Depot, situated in the densely-populated Faizabad area.
Officially the death toll was 30, but independent estimates put the figure much higher. Prominent among those killed was a federal minister Khaqan Abbasi whose car was hit by a flying missile while he was on his way to hometown Murree. His son who had received head injuries and gone into a deep coma, died some two years ago, after remaining on artificial respiration for 17 years. Chaos and rumours that followed the incident created panic among fleeing people. Many people thought that India or Israel had attacked Pakistan. Some said India had targeted Kahuta nuclear plant. The Ojhri Camp was used as an ammunition depot to supply arms to Afghan Mujahideen fighting against Soviet forces in Afghanistan. There were reports that an American defence audit team was about to undertake a visit to Pakistan for auditing of the stocks of the weapons provided to Pakistan Army and allegedly the camp was blown up deliberately to cover up the fact that some Stinger missiles had been sold off to other countries.
Ijazul Haq Defends General Ziaul Haq - 2 (News Beat 14 APR 2011)
Some reports said the Ojhri Camp had about 30,000 rockets, millions of rounds of ammunition, vast number of mines, anti- aircraft Stinger missiles, anti-tank missiles, multiple-barrel rocket launchers and mortars worth $100 million in store at the time of blasts that destroyed all records and most of the weapons thus making it impossible for anyone to check the stocks. Political observers strongly believe that prime minister Junejo was sacked not because of his failure to enforce Islam, as claimed by Gen Zia, but due to a rift between the two over the Ojhri Camp investigations. Soon after the incident, Mr Junejo had ordered an inquiry and announced on the floor of the National Assembly that the report would be presented before the house and those responsible would be taken to task. Some of the opposition members of the present Senate called for making the Ojhri Camp report public, but the Musharraf government took the position that the contents of these inquiries could not be made public “in the larger national interest.”
Ijazul Haq Defends General Ziaul Haq - 3 (News Beat 14 APR 2011)
It is interesting that the opposition members, who called for making the report public, did not make any attempt to do it when their parties were ruling the country. A senior leader of the People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPP) admitted that the party did not make serious efforts to make the report public during its two stints in government. However, he claimed that during the second PPP government, an effort was made but it didn’t bear fruit as there was considerable resistance from the “concerned quarters.” Information secretary of the Pakistan Muslim League-N Ahsan Iqbal also admitted that they had failed to make the report of Ojhri Camp tragedy public. However, he noted that the PPP and the PML-N agreed in the Charter of Democracy to set up a truth commission to probe Kargil and other incidents and to inform the masses about the real causes behind these national tragedies. REFERENCE: Ojhri Camp tragedy lives on: Cause remains undisclosed By Amir Wasim April 10, 2007 Tuesday Rabi-ul-Awwal 21, 1428 http://archives.dawn.com/2007/04/10/nat16.htm
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, June 13— Actions by President Mohammad Zia ul-Haq since his dismissal of Pakistan's elected Government late last month are stirring widespread skepticism about his promises to hold immediate new elections. General Zia's dismissal of the Government headed by Prime Minister Mohammad Khan Junejo on May 29 stunned and surprised many Pakistanis, including Mr. Junejo himself, with whom the President had been nominally allied since 1985. Politicians said this week that they were aware of strains between the two leaders, but most thought the two men had learned to live with each other to insure the continuation of Pakistan's three-year experiment with limited self-government. U.S. Not Informed in Advance Among those most surprised and upset about General Zia's action were representatives of the United States, Pakistan's most powerful ally. Mr. Junejo visited Washington two years ago for meetings with President Reagan that were part of a broad American effort to assert that the Junejo Government was a sign of a Pakistani move toward democracy.
Ijaz Ul Haq Defends General Ziaul Haq 1
The United States Ambassador, Arnold Raphel, had met with President Zia two weeks ago on the afternoon of what many now call the ''constitutional coup,'' but the envoy was not informed of the imminent move. Until that evening, neither was Mr. Junejo. American officials said General Zia had since been told of the Reagan Administration's displeasure and concern that any steps looking as if Pakistan was about to return to martial law would damage ties with Washington. ''They have been informed that if elections are not held soon, the whole aid program is in jeopardy in Congress,'' an American official said, referring to the need for annual Congressional renewal of the six-year $4 billion Pakistani aid package. In ousting Mr. Junejo and dissolving the National Assembly, General Zia asserted that the Government was indecisive, corrupt and soft on crime and drugs. He said it also failed in its promise to make Pakistan conform with Islamic law. He promised that elections would be held in 90 days, but aides now say they need only be announced within that period and could be held later.
''The question is open to some doubt, owing to different interpretations of the constitutional requirements,'' a close associate of General Zia said, referring to the elections. ''That there will be elections is certain. But it has not been definitely decided when they will be.'' Diplomats and many Pakistani politicians recall that when General Zia, then army Chief of Staff, seized power in a coup in 1977, he also promised elections in 90 days. They were held eight years later. For most of its history since independence in 1947, Pakistan has been ruled by military dictatorships. General Zia, who retains the post of army Chief of Staff, has been in power longer than any predecessor. But in 1985 he permitted parliamentary elections under a set of tight restrictions, such as a prohibition on candidates fielded by organized political parties. Nevertheless, the Parliament that was elected showed increasing independence, as did Mr. Junejo, General Zia's handpicked Prime Minister. Diplomats said Mr. Junejo seemed to be running the Government's day-to-day functions, although the President retained the power to determine military and foreign policy.
Ijaz Ul Haq Defends General Ziaul Haq 2
People associated with both leaders said an accumulation of grievances led to their rift, but a top aide to Mr. Junejo asserted that General Zia acted because top generals and military intelligence officials were feeling increasingly threatened by the Prime Minister's actions. ''The army was afraid Junejo was assuming too much power,'' the aide said. Echoing what seems to be a consensus among politicians and diplomats, he added that the turning point came in April after the explosion of a huge ammunition depot for Afghan guerrillas. More than 100 people died in the blast. A Cabinet inquiry was about to demand the dismissal of two top generals close to General Zia, because they were said to be accountable for locating the depot close to civilian population centers, according to this official.
In addition, he said, Pakistan's military budget was about to be cut and the military was concerned about recent incidents in which senior army officers were involved in local brawls and beaten up by civilians. At Odds Over Afghan War Some diplomats also said that Mr. Junejo's Government seemed to be more eager in recent months than General Zia to end the Afghan war with a political settlement and concessions to the Communists, and that this also irritated the President. General Zia's action has shaken up Pakistani politics, with most opposition parties, who have been calling for new elections for years, saying publicly that they would take him at his word that voting would be announced soon.
Ijaz Ul Haq Defends General Ziaul Haq 3
Moving back into the spotlight after some setbacks last year, Benazir Bhutto, the principal opposition leader, said her organization was ready to take part in elections. ''As far as we're concerned, Zia is bound by the Constitution to hold elections before the end of August,'' she said in an interview. ''We do not think they will be fair and free, but we want to go along if they are held.'' Miss Bhutto, daughter of Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, whom General Zia ousted in 1977 and later had executed, has begun to reach out to other parties in the opposition to push for elections. In what many consider to be a significant step, she recently concluded an informal understanding with the most powerful of Pakistan's fundamentalist religious parties, the Islamic Party, which used to be more or less allied with General Zia.
Now the party has broken with the President, demanding elections and charging that his stated concerns about Islam are hypocritical. As for Mr. Junejo, he is continuing to try to lead his own party, the Pakistan Moslem League, but the bulk of its elected leaders appear to have broken with him and joined with General Zia. Miss Bhutto, whose return from voluntary exile in 1986 drew hundreds of thousands of supporters, last demonstrated her popularity at her wedding in December, when huge throngs turned out in the streets to cheer her. She joked then that the surest way of her prompting General Zia to call an election would be to become pregnant, since this presumably would prevent her from campaigning and posing a threat to him. At least by coincidence, her joke became true: Four days after Miss Bhutto's family announced that she was pregnant, General Zia dissolved the Government. ''It was an amazing coincidence,'' Miss Bhutto said with a laugh. ''But I can only guess that several factors were at work, and this was at most only one of them.'' REFERENCE: Doubts Grow That Zia Will Call an Election Soon By STEVEN R. WEISMAN, Special to the New York Times Published: June 14, 1988 http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=940DEFDF103DF937A25755C0A96E948260 http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=940DEFDF103DF937A25755C0A96E948260&pagewanted=2
Ijaz Ul Haq Defends General Ziaul Haq 4
WASHINGTON, April 16— One week after a major explosion at a Pakistani ammunition dump, Defense Department officials say that they believe that the explosion was the work of agents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. The United States still has no firm proof that this was an act of sabotage, according to Administration officials. And some experts at the Central Intelligence Agency are said to believe that it is possible that the explosion was an accident. One Government expert said the ''overwhelming majority'' of the equipment at the installation was intended for the Afghan guerrillas. He said the supplies that were destroyed included Stinger antiaircraft missiles, antitank missiles and long-range mortars. This expert said the Stinger missiles destroyed in the blast constituted about one-third of the total supply of antiaircraft missile systems for the Afghan guerrillas. A Defense Department official said the explosion fits a pattern of recent attacks against military and civilian installations in Pakistan by agents of the Kabul regime. Comments Are Contradictory
''Our opinion is that it was sabotage,'' said the Defense Department official, referring to the explosion last week. The explosion occurred last Sunday in an ammunition depot between the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. The explosion killed at least 93 people and wounded about 1,100 people. Pakistani leaders have made contradictory comments about the blast. At first, President Mohammed Zia ul-Haq called the explosion ''an extraordinary accident.'' But on Friday, President Zia said the blast was the result of sabotage. Over the last week, there have been differing intelligence reports about the possible cause of the explosion. One report said the blast was triggered when a truck bearing Afghan license plates and carrying an incendiary device entered the compound and exploded. Another report suggested the explosion might have been triggered when a Pakistani enlisted man dropped a white phosphorous shell. Circumstances Assessed
Defense Department officials say they believe that the blast was the result of sabotage because of the circumstances surrounding the explosion. One Defense Department official said the explosion appeared to be part of a pattern of attacks last weekend, including an attempted rocket attack on an oil storage installation in Peshawar that ''didn't work,'' a fire at an ordnance factory in Lahore and a bomb that was discovered and defused in Islamabad. A State Department official offered a more cautious assessment. ''It could have been an accident. But it could equally have been sabotage.'' Officials at the Defense Department and the State Department disagree about what action the United States should now take in light of the explosion, according to a Government official. Guerrillas' Needs Cited Defense Department officials are reported to have argued that the weapons destroyed are relatively long-range ones that are needed by the guerrillas to attack well-defended garrisons as well as Kabul, the fortified seat of the Soviet-supported regime.
Defense Department officials are reported to have argued that more weapons of this type should be sent to the Afghan rebels. They have reportedly asserted that Soviet forces have recently been trying to destroy caches of the guerrillas' arms in Afghanistan in an effort to prolong the life of the Kabul regime. But State Department officials insist the significance of the explosion is exaggerated.
One State Department official said that the Afghan rebels had a ''big cushion'' of weapons and said that the explosion would ''not have a big effect.'' This official added that he did not expect very intense fighting over the next couple of weeks, since the Russians appear to be intent on keeping casualties down while withdrawing their troops from Afghanistan. He asserted that the United States had been ''planning conservatively'' by sending significant quantities of weapons to insure that the Afghan guerrillas will have all the arms they need. A Defense Department official said that the United States did not believe that a bomb attack last weekend at a Saudi Arabian airlines office in Karachi was the work of the Kabul agents. He said that the United States believed that this bombing was the work of Iran, which is trying to strike back at Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has said that it would restrict the number of Iranian pilgrims to Mecca this year because of demonstrations by Iranian pilgrims in Mecca last summer. REFERENCE: U.S. Officials Link Pakistan Blast to Kabul Regime By MICHAEL R. GORDON, Special to the New York Times Published: April 17, 1988 http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=940DEEDA103CF934A25757C0A96E948260
20 years on, Ojhri Camp truth remains locked up
ISLAMABAD, April 9: Twenty years have passed but the images of destruction caused by the Ojhri Camp disaster are still fresh in the minds of many residents of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Over 100 men, women and children were killed and many times more were wounded by the missiles and projectiles which exploded mysteriously and rained death and destruction on the twin cities on this day in 1988.
Physical scars of the tragedy may have healed but the nation is unaware till this day what, and who, caused that disaster and why. An investigation was conducted into the disaster but, like in the case of all other probes into national tragedies, its report was not made public.
The then prime minister Mohammad Khan Junejo appointed two committees, one military and the other parliamentary, to probe the military disaster. His action so infuriated military dictator Gen Ziaul Haq that he dismissed his handpicked prime minister on May 29, 1988 - the main charge being that he failed to implement Islam in the country. While the parliamentary committee, headed by old politician Aslam Khattak, went out with the Junejo government, the military committee under Gen Imranullah Khan submitted its report before the government’s dismissal. Subsequent governments of prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif which followed Gen Zia’s fiery death in a mysterious plane crash on August 17, 1988, also kept Gen Imranullah Khan’s findings under covers. Some opposition members called for making it public during the last five years of Gen Pervez Musharraf’s military rule but the PML-Q government took the position that it would not be “in the larger national interest”.
Neither political observers expect the PPP and the PML-N doing so even when they have been swept into power again by the people and run a coalition government. Interestingly, when contacted, leaders of both the parties agreed that the Ojhri Camp inquiry report should be made public but refused to commit to do so. Junejo’s defence minister Rana Naeem Ahmed had told Dawn in an interview last year that he had received the report but said it did not fix responsibility on any one and declared the huge disaster an accident. Even then the ISI seized it in a raid on his office the day after the Junejo government was dismissed, he claimed. “They returned all my belongings, except the briefcase that contained the report,” he said, disclosing that the report was inconclusive and focused just on the causes of the blast.
It was a bright and sunny morning on April 10, 1988, when the citizens of Islamabad and Rawalpindi were startled by huge explosions and swishing sounds as if fireworks were going off. Thousands of missiles and projectiles soon started raining down on the two cities the Ojhri Ammunition Depot, situated in the densely-populated Faizabad area, blew up. Officially the death toll was 30, but independent estimates put the figure much higher. Prominent among those killed was a federal minister Khaqan Abbasi whose car was hit by a flying missile while he was on his way to Murree, his hometown.
His son accompanying him was hit in the head. He went into deep coma and died some two years ago after remaining on artificial respiration for 17 years. The Ojhri Camp was used as an ammunition depot to forward US-supplied arms to Afghan Mujahideen fighting against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan. There were reports that a Pentagon team was about to arrive to take audit of the stocks of the weapons and that allegedly the camp was blown up deliberately to cover up pilferage from the stocks. Some reports said that Ojhri Camp had about 30,000 rockets, millions of rounds of ammunition, vast number of mines, anti-aircraft Stinger missiles, anti-tank missiles, multiple-barrel rocket launchers and mortars worth $100 million in store at the time of blasts that destroyed all records and most of the weapons thus making it impossible for anyone to check the stocks. Prime minister Junejo had promised to the National Assembly that the inquiry report would be made public and the guilty would be punished but was sacked by Gen Zia. Senior members of the PPP and the PML-N admit that their governments in the past made no serious effort to make the report public. A PPP member however claimed that the second Benazir Bhutto government did attempt to do that but failed due to resistance from the “concerned quarters”. There are some elements in the Charter of Democracy, signed by the PPP and the PML-N, which could be pursued to make such reports public, he said. 20 years on, Ojhri Camp truth remains locked up By Amir Wasim April 11, 2008 Friday Rabi-us-Sani 4, 1429 http://archives.dawn.com/2008/04/11/nat26.htm
ISLAMABAD, April 13: A decade after the Ojhri camp disaster in Pakistan, a special report in The News, a leading English language daily here, reveals that the incident led to the fall of Pakistan's first democratic government after the martial law of General Zia Ul Haq. The government of prime minister Muhammad Khan Junejo, installed by General Zia, was dismissed shortly after the Ojhri camp blasts and the newspaper says that an inquiry report by Junejo's government was the reason for the dismissal. On April 10, 1988, over one million citizens of the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad stared death in the eye: A blast in the ammunition depot of Ojhri camp wreaked havoc as shells and rockets of various shapes and sizes started raining over a radius of ten miles. Red Cross officials say that the death toll after two days was over 1,000 with an equal number injured or maimed by the flying projectiles. The first reaction of many citizens was that India had attacked. This was during the height ofthe Afghan conflict, with Pakistan about to sign the Geneva accords four days later. Others argued that the Soviets had attacked Pakistan to teach the country a lesson.
What had actually happened was that an ammunition camp within the limits of Rawalpindi had been blown up. Due to the close proximity of Islamabad and the direction of the missiles, most of the heated rockets and shells were projected towards the federal capital. Most of the ammunition in this camp was for the Afghan war, reveals the newspaper report. Two committees were formed by the government to look into the affair. The first was the military committee headed by a serving General. This committee's findings and recommendations were ignored since it called for the removal of General Zia's right hand man, General Akhtar Abdul Rehman, along with other senior military officials. Its report, presented within one week of the incident, was rejected.pAnother more interesting committee was the one set up by prime minister Muhammad Khan Junejo.This was a political committee headed by a Cabinet minister and comprising four federal ministers. Controversy surrounded the findings of this committee. The members could not reach a consensus on who was responsible for the Ojhri tragedy. In his remarks, the head of the committee, Aslam Khattak concluded, ``No one was responsible. It was an act of Allah.''
However, the minister of state for defence, Rana Naeem Mehmood, a hawk in the Junejo cabinet and a die hard proponent of democracy, prepared a non paper which was signed by three of the five members of the political inquiry committee. The paper recommended the court martial of senior Generals and laid the blame on General Akhtar Abdul Rehman. ``Many believe that this paper cost Junejo his government,'' reports The News. The newspaper report also gives another interesting angle: an interview with General Hamid Gul, a senior member of the Army Command at the time. Gul says, ``Before the blast, the first draft of the accord said both the Sovietsand the Americans would stop arms supplies to Afghanistan. But after Ojhri, the Americans accepted negative symmetry, agreeing that both sides would continue with their supplies.'' Copyright © 1998 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd. REFERENCE: Ojhri disaster saw end of Junejo govt: Report Kamal Siddiqi Tuesday, April 14, 1998 http://www.indianexpress.com/res/web/pIe/ie/daily/19980414/10450344.html