General Zia’s involvement in drug trafficking came to light only after his death when the Minister of State for Narcotics, Mian Muzaffar Shah revealed that Pakistani drug syndicates grew under the patronage of General Zia. Raza Qureshi, a Pakistan drug trafficker who was arrested by the Norwegian Police at Oslo’s Fornebu Airport in 1984, exposed Zia’s drug connection.
The Norwegian Police disclosed three names of Pakistani nationals-Tahir Butt, Munawar Hussain and Hamid Hussain patronised by General Zia. The Norwegian Police visited Islamabad to investigate the matter and indicted these three for drug crimes. But the Pakistan government did not arrest them because of their political connections. Finally, when the Norwegian government complained against inaction by the law enforcement agencies and threatened diplomatic action, these three were arrested.
One of the culprits, Hamid Hussain was not only the vice president of Government owned Habib Bank, but was
as close as a son to the wife of General Zia ul Haq. He handled Zia’s account and used banking channels to launder drug proceeds. The most startling revelation that confirmed Zia’s drug connection was the case of one of his ADCs, whose name was not disclosed. The ADC concealed heroin in 100 precious lamps to be gifted by General Zia to the delegates at a special session of the UN General Assembly. General Zia suddenly changed his programme to travel via Iran and Iraq. In the process of shifting his baggage one of the lamps broke spreading heroin at New York Airport. Apparently the customs official checked all the lamps which were filled with heroin and seized them. 10
The former Chief Minister and Governor of NWFP, Lt. General Fazle Haque is another important drug dealer who dominated Pakistani drug syndicates. Popularly known as the Noriega of Pakistan, Haque was responsible for promoting growth of the drug industry in the Swat Valley of NWFP. He successfully organised transshipment of heroin from Pakistan to the international market through business contacts. Obviously during Zia’s tenure drugs played an important role in decision-making. After his sudden death in a plane crash in August 1988, Gulam Ishaq Khan, a close associate of Zia, took over. An Ismaili Pathan from NWFP civil services he rose to prominence during Zia’s time. His involvement in narcotics started after he joined the provincial civil service of NWFP and became a close associate of General Zia. He and the Chief of Army Staff General Aslam Beg worked together for the growth of the drug industry at the Pak-Afghan border. His drug connection came to light during the investigation of the biggest bank fraud in the world namely, the BCCI. Aslam Beg and Ishaq Khan became very close and strongly advocated the idea of Pakistan’s decision to join the race for nuclear power. In the name of the Islamic Bomb they generated money from Arab countries and got away from the drug money laundered by BCCI. It is relevant to note that they founded an institute called Gulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Science and Technology, which was the main recipient of funds from BCCI. In the name of funds, for a nuclear bomb, the duo promoted growth of narcotic drugs in the Golden Crescent. 11
The governor of the province is Lieutenant General Fazle Haq, who author Alfred McCoy calls Pakistani President Muhammad Zia ul-Haq’s “closest confidant and the de facto overlord of the mujaheddin guerrillas.” Haq allows hundreds of heroin refineries to set up in his province. Beginning around 1982, Pakistani army trucks carrying CIA weapons from Karachi often pick up heroin in Haq’s province and return loaded with heroin. They are protected from police search by ISI papers. [MCCOY, 2003, PP. 477] By 1982, Haq is listed with Interpol as an international drug trafficker. But Haq also becomes known as a CIA asset. Despite his worsening reputation, visiting US politicians such as CIA Director William Casey and Vice President George H. W. Bush continue to meet with him when they visit Pakistan. Haq then moves his heroin money through the criminal Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI). A highly placed US official will later say that Haq “was our man… everybody knew that Haq was also running the drug trade” and that “BCCI was completely involved.” [SCOTT, 2007, PP. 73-75] Both European and Pakistani police complain that investigations of heroin trafficking in the province are “aborted at the highest level.” [MCCOY, 2003, PP. 477] In 1989, shortly after Benazir Bhutto takes over as the new ruler of Pakistan, Pakistani police arrest Haq and charge him with murder. He is considered a multi-billionaire by this time. But Haq will be gunned down and killed in 1991, apparently before he is tried. [MCCOY, 2003, PP. 483] Even President Zia is implied in the drug trade. In 1985, a Norwegian government investigation will lead to the arrest of a Pakistani drug dealer who also is President Zia’s personal finance manager. When arrested, his briefcase contains Zia’s personal banking records. The manager will be sentenced to a long prison term. [MCCOY, 2003, PP. 481-482]
When Pakistani police picked up Hamid Hasnain, V.P. of gvt’s Habib bank, they found in his briefcase the personal records of president Zia. Blatant official corruption continued until General Zia’s death in an air crash. Typical of misinformation that blocked any U.S. action against Pakistan’s heroin trade, the State Department’s semi-annual narcotics review in September called General Zia a strong supporter of anti-narcotics activities in Pakistan. McCoy, A.W. (1991). The Politics Of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Traffic 456.
26 November, 2007
Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups.