ISLAMABAD: A letter forged by an over-smart opposition leader against Benazir Bhutto 18 years ago, came back to haunt him on Wednesday when the ruling PML used it in an ad campaign against the PPP but in vain.
A PPP spokesperson said Benazir Bhutto and the PPP would take firm legal action against the advertisement. The letter, said to have been written by PPP leader Benazir Bhutto to her friend Peter Galbraith in late 1990, was then circulated by the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) to defame Benazir Bhutto before the 1990 elections. The letter was forged by then opposition activist Naveed Malik, who now is an opposition leader.
The letter was used on Wednesday by the Pakistan Muslim League (Q) in huge half-page ads in different newspapers. A senior marketing expert said at least Rs 5 million was spent on the ad.
The letter was first released by Naveed Malik, political adviser to the then Punjab chief minister, with the aim to demoralize PPP voters in the 1990 elections. The PPP lost by a big margin but later the polls were declared as massively rigged.
On Wednesday, Malik admitted that the letter had then been forged by the IJI but tried to wriggle out of the blame. He said as the advisor to the chief minister, he was misguided by certain elements working on a mission to damage Benazir's image and to help the IJI.
Naveed said in a letter e-mailed to The News that he was suspicious about the integrity of the letter at the time of releasing it to the media. “Later, while investigating the facts, I came to know that there were certain elements working on a project to defame Benazir in the public.”
He said that this letter was in the custody of Ghulam Haider Wyne, the then PML provincial chief, in the office record of the PML Lahore, which is now under the control of Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervez Elahi.
Munawar Anjum, a spokesman of Benazir Bhutto, told The News that Benazir never used letterheads titled "Mrs Benazir Bhutto" as stated on the said letter. He said that the name of Mr Peter Galbraith was deliberately misspelled as Gailbraith in the letter to evade legal action in case Mr Galbraith legally challenged it.
Galbraith was also the senior advisor to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1979-1993 and not in the NDI as stated in the forged letter, Munawar further revealed. Munawar also disclosed a very interesting point that the said forged letter was full of grotesque grammatical mistakes, which could not be committed by PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto, a former student of Oxford. Munawar told The News that the PPP will take strict legal action against the defamation campaign against Benazir by the PML.