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'Rogue pilot killed Pak Prez Zia-ul-Haq'

world Updated: Aug 26, 2008 18:11 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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Twenty years after Pakistani President Zia-ul-Haq was killed in a plane crash, a new theory has been floated about how his C-130 aircraft was brought down.

A report in The Sunday Times of London has suggested that a rogue pilot might have been responsible for the death of Zia, the American Ambassador Arnold Raphel and other senior generals. The newspaper also draws a link between disgraced Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan’s smuggling ring and the death of Zia.

Wing Commander Mash’hood Hassan, the pilot who flew Zia’s C-130 on August 17, 1988, to Bahawalpur, had also been flying Khan’s centrifuge equipment to China.

“On one such trip he (Hassan) confided in a colleague of Khan that he hated Zia, holding him responsible for the murder of a local religious leader: ‘The day Zia flies with me, that will be his last flight.’ The aircraft plummeted to the ground soon after taking off, killing all on board,” Simon Henderson, who is described as A.Q. Khan’s confidant, wrote in the newspaper.

Khan’s activities give a new explanation for the crash of Zia’s C-130 plane in 1988, Henderson

The article revealed that for 30 years a sub-plot of the country’s nuclear programme was the antagonism between the Khan Research Laboratories and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission.

“I remember being told about China’s nuclear generosity by an outraged British official in the 1980s. I later asked what Beijing had received in return. It was an enrichment plant. The plant is at Hanzhong in central China. C-130 Hercules transports of the Pakistan air force made more than 100 flights to China carrying centrifuge equipment,” Henderson wrote. Guess who was flying those transports?

Wing Commander Mash’hood Hassan.