Islamabad, Pakistan — Seven military officers received sentences ranging from 10 years to life in prison for plotting with the government, the official news agency said.
The Associated Press of Pakistan said the five majors and two squadron leaders were convicted Sunday at the end of a five month trial at Fort Attock, about 86 miles northwest of the capital of Islamabad.
Twelve other defendants were acquitted because of a “lack of evidence,” APP said.
The trial received little mention in the Pakistani media and the identities of the defendants were not immediately available.
APP said the seven defendants received sentences ranging from 10 years at hard labor to life imprisonment.
But another news agency said only five officers were convicted.
The government had no immediate comment on either the verdict or the news reports.
APP said the convicted officers planned “assassination of prominent personalities, blowing up of important installations, destruction of public property, killing of important people and creating a general state of alarm, chaos, insecurity and despondency in the country.”
In January 1984, Pakistani security forces raided a house in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province, and uncovered an arms cache and other material ‘“clandestinely brought into Pakistan from a neighboring country,” APP said.
After a brief firefight, several suspects were taken into custody.
A subsequent investigation revealed the conspiracy against the government of Gen. Mohammad Ziaulhaq, Pakistan’s president.
APP said the suspects were acting “in collaboration with some political dissidents based in Europe, who had their links with a terrorist organization operating against the security of Pakistan.”
The terrorist group was apparently Al-Zulfikar, which was founded by Murtaza and Shahnawaz Bhutto, the sons of former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
Bhutto, who was also the chief of the Pakistan Peoples Party, was overthrown by Zia in a military coup in July 1977. Bhutto was hanged in 1979, allegedly for his involvement in an assassination.
APP said Bhutto’s sons “succeeded in subverting the loyalties of a few disgruntled junior officers of the armed forces.” They received “moral, material and financial assistance from the intelligence organization of a neighboring country, working in connivance with” Ghulam Mustafa Khar, former chief Punjab minister and a Bhutto supporter now in self-imposed exile in Europe.
The “neighboring country” was not identified. Punjab province borders India, which has clashed frequently with Pakistan.
Article extracted from this publication >> July 19, 1985