AL-ZULFIKAR Al-Zulfikar was formed by Murtaza Bhutto andShahnawaz Bhutto, in 1979 Named after their father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the organization’s main aim was to avenge their father’s execution by the government of President Zia ul-Haq Al-Zulfikar initially operated out of Kabul, Afghanistan, in the late 1970s and early 1980s It moved its operations to Damascus, Syria, after Afghanistan was invaded by the Soviet Union The organization’s most spectacular act was committed in 1981 when its members hijacked a Pakistan International Airlines plane on a flight from Karachi to Peshawar The plane was first taken to Kabul, where the hijackers killed one passenger and threw his body on the tarmac It was then flown to Damascus It was only after President Zia ul-Haq agreed to free more than 50 political prisoners that Al-Zulfikar released the plane and its passengers The plane remained under the control of Al-Zulfikar for 11 days Al-Zulfikar was also said to have been behind the campaign launched by the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) in 1983

A series of cases were filed by the Zia government against Murtaza Bhutto, which made it difficult for him to return to the country, even after his sister, Benazir Bhutto, became prime minister in 1988 He came back in 1995 and was promptly jailed where he stayed for several months President Zia ul-Haq’s death in 1988 and the return of democracy eliminated the need for the existence of Al-Zulfikar, and it disappeared from the political scene Most of its members joined the Murtaza Bhutto wing of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) after Bhutto was released from prison and formally entered politics Murtaza Bhutto’s death in September 1996 dealt another blow to Al-Zulfikar, in particular to its original membership See also MURTAZA BHUTTO

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