Many articles keep appearing in our newspapers etc on the death anniversary of ZAB. This honour is now being shared by his daughter who fell a martyr to the cause of democracy in the end of 2007. When one travels abroad, ZAB and Bibi Shaheed are the only leaders known and acknowledged for their contribution to Pakistan despite the relevant glitches. Recently during a tour of Malaysia/Thailand to attend an international seminar on Afghanistan/NATO, I experienced this very sentiment at work again, generally, among the hosts. The other outstanding observation relates to the Pakistanis in the area who are feeling greatly demoralised and dishonoured by the degradation of their country at home and abroad. Media focus, to a great extent, is always conditioned by the fact as to who is in power. However, most columnists etc emphasise ZAB' contribution to bringing in considerable social change despite resistance from the vested interests. It is very satisfying that, despite certain faux pas induced by the status quo, the 1973 constitution was promulgated with broad national agreement. As bad luck would have it, the same, however, could not give justice to him in a country addicted to live under the Law of Necessity. Till about a year back we were held hostage by yet another military regime which relented only after Bibi Shaheed got assassinated in pursuit of the elusive democracy for Pakistan. Her sacrifice, yet to be dealt with legally to bring the concerned criminals to book, was a historic one which helped her party to regain power. ZAB became the victim of a 'judicial murder'. The epithet has been in use since his hanging 30 years ago. It is a blot on our history of the 'administration of justice'. I recall attending the last appearance of ZAB before the full bench of the-then Supreme Court presided over by CJ Anwarul Haq in Rawalpindi. The court, generally, did not stoop as low as had been done by the appalling conduct of J Maulvi Mushtaq in Lahore High Court. Stanley Walport has described this travesty of justice in his book on ZAB. By then it was known that Zia would leave no stone unturned to hang the ex-prime minister with the complicity of certain judges. Of course there were certain honourable judges who stood by law. It is such a dark phase of our shoddy history that its mention is avoided in all legal references. Subsequently I found, at least, the guilt-consciousness inspired by Bhutto' ghost in CJ Anwarul Haq in the style of 'out damned spot' of Lady Macbeth of the great Shakespearean tragedy. I always pitied the man who, despite being honest, had been induced by Zia to end up as a doubtful 'Daniel' like so many among Pakistanis. Being in junior positions, I did not have direct interaction with ZAB although my brother was very close to him in his early days. However, despite all the unsavoury stories, I feel that he could take genuine advice seriously. It is another matter that flattery had more relevance, like it always does in our public life etc. Many rich and influential persons all over the country joined the PPP when it took over power from Yahya Khan. Most such people were given positions in the government, generally, besides also being made members of the Central Executive Committee. As nothing succeeds like success, things got along till the disaster struck. Zia' cruel tactics made the top cadres, generally, turn their backs on their leader. I have known it from General Baber, the former Interior Minister, that on ZAB' instructions, Begum Bhutto called a meeting of the CEC to convey the chairman's wish for the launch of a movement. Of the 32 members, only three reaffirmed their loyalty to the projected programme and got jailed subsequently. The rest (29) just kept mum and apparently adapted themselves to the change of the ground realities. Being personally honest, ZAB wanted the state machinery function effectively to be able to provide overdue relief to the downtrodden. Accordingly he would order enquiries against ministers when he received serious complaints. Serving in the FIA as director dealing with Punjab/NWFP/AJK/Northern Areas, I had the onerous duty to head such high-level investigations. I did candid reporting after trying to ensure that we had dug out facts which could create a court case as per the relevant law. During my tenure I held investigations against many of his ministers etc and put up objective reports. There could be a lot of bantering by some influential characters but ZAB could take a 'no' if it was backed up by law. A really interesting case was that of Chaudhry Zahoor Ilahi who was in the opposition. Reportedly the situation worsened, like in the case of Sharifs, when the government nationalised flour/rice-husking mills. It was being alleged that Zahoor Ilahi was conspiring to wage a putsch with the help of parties from Balochistan/NWFP etc. The Punjab police registered a case and promptly launched a successful prosecution against the Muslim League leader from Gujrat. Subsequently, it was suggested to the prime minister that as the case involved inter-provincial dimension, FIA should be assigned the job as per its charter. So I was entrusted with this onerous task. The time frame allowed was 10 weeks as the scope of the enquiry was nationwide. I was assisted by 65 officers and also helped by other departments all over the country. Finally I came up with an 85-page report which examined all the allegations in concert with the evidence marshalled by the FIA. Going by law, I found that the main charge of conspiracy/insurgency could not be proved while other allegations were of land grabbing etc at the time of the partition of India when Zahoor Ilahi was a junior police officer. Under normal circumstances, evidence was hard to come by for criminal prosecution though civil action could be initiated either by the state or the parties concerned. Some officers told me that ZAB was hoping to get an endorsement of the action taken by the Punjab police and any deviation there-from may land me in trouble. I disregarded such briefings since I was used to act in good faith as I had no axe to grind out of public service. So my report was duly submitted to the PM by the DG. It took three days wherein some Cassandra's here or there would try to demoralise me with awkward foreboding about myself. Thereafter the papers were returned to us whereby the PM has agreed with the findings. ZAB lives on because of his philosophy and calibre. He gave hope to the poor and made them conscious of their rights. The establishment suffered badly as did many of the rich people, particularly, those in industry/business. Such pro-people paradigm created cancerous hubris which welcomed Zia' coup and launched some of them into politics in complicity with the agencies. Despite serious handicaps, his illustrious daughter carried on the struggle for providing relief to, generally, the poor people in our feudal society which finds serious support, almost, all the time among those who manage to get power in this country. The writer is a former secretary interior E-mail: imnor@brain.net.pk