A case of exploding mangoes and nerve gas that ‘brought down’ Zia’s plane

General Zia-ul-Haq  

In an exclusive interview with a foreign publication, former President and Army Chief General Zia-ul-Haq’s son Muhammad Ijaz-ul-Haq says the role of former Army Chief General Mirza Aslam Beg and former National Security Advisor General Mahmood Ali Durrani “draws suspicion” while “based on the evidence that he has collected Indian and Israeli spy agencies were also involved” in the his father’s plane crash in August 1988.

According to Mr. Haq’s interview, “the plane came down due to spraying of nerve gas in the cockpit that maimed pilots. He also confirmed the presence of explosives in the mango crates, besides claiming that a projectile had also hit the plane.”

Talking to The Hindu, Mr. Haq says he believes that Generals Beg and Durrani were somehow involved is because “some of the doctors who were working in CMH Multan informed us [Gen. Zia’s family] probably a month or two months after the incident that they received orders from higher-up not to do the autopsy of the body parts that were found after the crash. Later on some of them told us that they were transferred from Multan to farflung places, which was obviously done to to cover it up. When the autopsies were done on Brigadier General Herbert M. Wassom, who was the US military attache, then why not the Pakistanis? I asked Gen. Beg directly and indirectly but he never responded. The orders to transfer the doctors to farflung places didn’t come from their immediate bosses; only the GHQ could have done it.”

Mr. Haq says that Air Commodore Zaheer Zaidi carried out an investigation and those hundred pages of his personal inquiry are with him. He also talks about an air force officer Akram Awan “who was arrested by our intelligence agency for espionage and he was kept in safe custody of the agency of Pakistan without any access to the outside world. When he recorded his statement under oath to an Additional Session Judge [Magistrate] under section 164 of the Pakistan Criminal Procedure Code, it must have been authentic. He was being investigated for helping Israelis bomb Kahuta. He was being investigated by one brigadier, one major and one colonel. When they handed the report to the GHQ, it wasn’t released at the orders of Gen. Beg who said this could lead to uncertainty. Gen. Beg kept the original report with him and never released it. These three officers were then transferred out of the agency.”

Mr. Haq says that he has gathered all this information through different sources — some directly and some indirectly.

”These are the things that lead to suspicion. According to the joint US-Pak investigation said that it was a criminal act of sabotage. The US tried to cover it up but in the end, as their own nationals were killed in the crash, they had to give a conclusion. Also there is late Justice Shafi-ur-Rehman Commission report, which said that there was negligence on part of the government and the army both. The report recommended that there should be a criminal investigation into the plane crash incident. Unfortunately, Justice Shafi-ur-Rehman Commission Report was never released by the government.”

This is not the first time Mr. Ijazul Haq has said this. Mr. Haq wrote two articles, ‘A criminal conspiracy’ and ‘Punish the Bahawalpur conspirators’ published in Daily Times and The News on September 8 and 9, 2009.

Defence analyst General (retd) Amjad Shoaib says that Ijaz-ul-Haq has always blamed former Army Chief Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg and former National Security Advisor Gen. Mahmood Ali Durrani for his father’s plane crash but he doesn’t think they had any role in Gen. Zia’s plane crash.

“I think it was their decisions around that time, which led to this suspicion. Gen. Durrani, with permission from Gen. Zia, decided not to travel to the tank trial while Gen. Beg, instead of traveling with Gen. Zia, preferred to fly back in a separate plane after Gen. Zia's plane had taken off. It was also reported that Gen. Beg did see Gen. Zia's plane crashing but instead of supervising the evacuation of casualties, he decided to rush back to Rawalpindi. Even at that time Gen. Beg's action was criticised by many senior officers in the Army. In my opinion there is no reason to doubt Gen. Beg's action. It is said that Gen. Beg saw the burning plane and very rightly assumed the that the chances of having any survivors were almost negligible. Since a number of senior army officers who were accompanying the former Army Chief Gen. Zia, were assumed to be dead, he had decided to rush back to the capital to take charge of the affairs to prevent creation of chaos by the interested elements in the civil and military hierarchy. On his return to GHQ, Gen. Beg assumed the control and the next morning addressed the officers in GHQ and apprised them of the situation emerging as a result of the unfortunate air crash.”

Gen. Shoaib says that unfortunately no conclusive investigation was ever held to establish the causes of the air crash. “Consequently, of and on, we keep hearing various conspiracy theories. One of the stories which is widely believed, implicates a retired Air Marshal who was alleged having links with some Israeli elements assumed to be responsible for the planning and execution of this dastardly act. I have come across many officers within our intelligence set up who tend to believe this story.”

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Printable version | Sep 26, 2021 10:22:30 PM |

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