By Syed Atiq ul Hassan
[Those who don’t learn from history become the part of history’. Today Pakistani politicians of the past defined by their followers in their own benefits. Who damaged country’s sovereignty, economy and ideology in the past are praised today as heroes unfortunately by writers, anchors and presenters for their own interest]
Today, it is loudly claimed that Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto death penalty was a judicial murder and he is honoured as a martyr (shaheed). How come a person who was hanged on the decision of a high-level bench of the court of Pakistan on the charges of a murder can be a martyr. The fact of the matter is that Bhutto’s murder case was politically dealt by the prosecution otherwise according to many law experts Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was not given a death penalty.
It is the historical fact that Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was the most controversial political figure in Pakistan’s history. He was the national hero for his followers but a scam politician for others. His supporters claim that he gave new political strategy to the Muslim world and Pakistan like Islamic bomb, global platform for Muslim World and atomic bomb to Pakistan. On the other hand, his political movements in Pakistan split the country, he introduced political favoritisms, discriminations, economic losses, media assaults, divisions, injustices and corruptions. He left behind a culture of political blackmailing and threat of disintegration of Pakistan.
Within the PPP Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto dealt the matters as a Vadera (Landlord) than a politician that is why he left behind a political family monarchy in his Party. PPP is the largest political party of Pakistan that never has fair and clean democratic election otherwise despite of many top brains and experienced politicians the leadership of party is controlled only by family members of Bhutto and Zardari.
Let’s revisit the history and see where Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto came from and what roles he played when came into power specially those stories which are untold to the people of Pakistan by the followers of Bhutto.
In 1958, Field Marshal General Ayub Khan established military rule in Pakistan through the first introduction of Marshall Law in the country. In his ten years of rule, Ayub Khan promoted landlords into the political and bureaucratic establishment. When he decided to shield his army rule by a customized democracy, he invented Conventional Muslim League from Pakistan Muslim League. Ayub Khan brought Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto as one of his frontline campaigners for his customized democracy.
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was the son of Shah Nawaz Bhutto who was a prominent loyalist of British Raj (Empire) in the Colonial British India and a top class Vadera (landlord) of Sindh. Some historians also claim that Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was the illegitimate child of Lakhi Bai and Shah Nawaz Bhutto. To provide western education to Shah Nawaz Bhutto, his father Ghulam Murtaza Bhutto sent Shah Nawaz Bhutto to United Kingdom (UK).
Shah Nawaz Bhutto graduated from UK and returned to British India. Nawab of Junagardh (State of India) appointed Shah Nawaz Bhutto as the Dewan (Prime Minister) for his State. In 1934 Shah Nawaz Bhutto and G. M. Syed (a prominent Sindhi nationalist politician who later, in Pakistan, created Jia Sindh Tehreek) founded Sind Peoples Party. Shah Nawaz Bhutto was very close to the English head of states in India. The British Empire appointed Shan Nawaz Bhutto as the ‘Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire’ and also as ‘an officer of the Order of the British Empire’. Rewarding to the services of Shah Nawaz Bhutto, the British Raj awarded Shah Nawaz Bhutto with the title of ‘Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto’. It is to be noted here that though Shah Nawaz Bhutto was actively involved in the politics at that time, but no evidence of any contribution of Shah Nawaz Bhutto in the movement of Pakistan with Pakistan Muslim League and Mohammed Ali Jinnah.
Following his father’s footsteps, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto also went to United Kingdom and United States for higher education and achieved degrees in political science and law. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s second wife was Begum Nusrat Bhutto who was an Iranian woman of Kurdish background and a western-minded grown-up in Karachi. Her father was a wealthy businessman in Karachi. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto met Nusrat Bhutto in Karachi and they married. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Nusrat Bhutto gave birth to four children, Benazir, Murtaza, Sanam and Shah Nawaz (Junior).
Zulfiqar Ali Bhuto started his political career from the Conventional Muslim League of Field Marshal General Ayub Khan. Ayub Khan appointed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto as the Secretary General of Conventional Muslim League. Bhutto flourished and enjoyed his early political life in Ayub Khan’s government. Bhutto admired Ayub Khan and treat him his role model, he used to call Ayub Khan as ‘Dad’. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto enjoyed Ayub Khan’s government, as a key minister particularly as a foreign minister in 1960’s.
During in office as a foreign minister, Bhutto developed international contacts particularly with the western capitals. He attracted common people with his charismatic speeches. Using his international influence and secretly developing support from the western capitals Bhutto quietly created a lobby against Ayub Khan within Conventional Muslim League. He made a group of key figures of Conventional Muslim League and formed Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in 1967. Under PPP banner, Bhutto introduced new political slogans in Pakistan like ‘Rooti Kapra Aur Makan (Bread, Cloth and Home)’, ‘Islam is our religion’, ‘Socialism is our economy’, ‘Political power belongs to people’. Bhutto harmed Ayub Khan and his Conventional Muslim League so badly that people of Pakistan came on streets against Ayub Khan. Bhutto’s campaign against Ayub Khan was fully backed by US and Western Capitals. Eventually, General Ayub Khan had to resign and handed over power to another army dictator, General Yahya Khan. On the foreign pressure and political agitation created by Bhutto, General Yahya Khan had to announce the general election in the country in 1970.
It is to be noted in 1970’s election the total national assembly seats were 300, where 162 in East Pakistan and 138 in West Pakistan. Awami Leaque of Sheikh Mujeeb ur Rehman contested on all seats of East Pakistan and few in West Pakistan whereas PPP of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto did not contest on any seat in East Pakistan but on most of the seats in West Pakistan. Awami League won 160 seats out of 162 seats in East Pakistan. PPP only won 81 seats out of 138 seats in West Pakistan.
Therefore, there is no way, one can claim that PPP swiped 1970’s election. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto refused to sit on opposition benches and let Awami League of Shaikh Mujeeb-ur-Rehman to form the government. Instead, he threatened all the other political and religious leaders if they support Awami League, travel to East Pakistan and sit in the national assembly meeting in Dhaka. Bhutto’s statement against Mujeeb-ur-Rehman and other political and religious leaders were the headlines in the newspapers. He warned the leaders of the West Pakistan that if they fly to East Pakistan then they should better buy one-way ticket as they wouldn’t be allowed to return to West Pakistan. He refused to accept Awami League’s six point autonomy demand that led to the brutal conflict with Shaikh Mujeeb-ur-Rehman and his Awami League.
Bhutto’s unrealistic, rigid and un-compromising approach convinced Mujeeb-ur-Rehman to demand for to separation from Pakistan. Again it is to be noted that Mujeeb ur Rehman started his political career when he joined the All India Muslim Students Federation in 1940. In 1943, Mujeeb joined the Bengal Muslim League. Mujeeb-ur-Rehaman was the young frontline campaigner of Pakistan movement with the founder of Pakistan Mohammed Ali Jinnah whereas there no such political credentials Bhutto had.
Bhutto feudalistic approach ensued break of Pakistan. East Pakistan became Bangladesh on 16th of December 1971. On 20th of December 1970 General Yahya resigned and handed over power to Bhutto. Hence on 20th of December 1970, Bhutto dream came true, he then became the first civilian commander-in-chief, first Civilian Marshall Law administrator and the President of Pakistan. In April 1972, Bhutto lifted martial law and convened the National Assembly. It to be noted that Bhutto campaigned in 1970 for the restoration of a parliamentary system but when he came into power as Civilian Martial law administrator, he referred a presidential system with himself as President until 1972. Later, due to extreme pressure from the other political parties like National Awami Party of Wali Khan, Jamat-e-Islami, Jamiat Ulma-e-Islam, Bhutto accepted a formal parliamentary system. He used PPP’s majority status in the parliament to sign 1973 new constitution of Pakistan by all the political parties. The 1973 constitution provided a federal structure in which residuary powers were reserved for the provinces. In 1973, Bhutto obtained the vote of confidence from the national assembly as being the Prime Minister of Pakistan.
In May 1972 only about one year to national and provincial general election in the country where first time in history National Awami Party (NAP) came in power Baluchistan, Bhutto did not swallow NAP government because his PPP could not form government in Balochistan, he overthrown NAP government on February 1973. He never forgave his political rivalries.
Bhutto on the name of reformation in Pakistan, brought his socialist thoughts in the country. He nationalized educational institutes. According to education experts, the Bhutto’s nationalization of primary and high school brought the disaster in the delivery of quality of education. The Bhutto’s economic agenda was based on socialist principles. He issued the Economic Reform Order on January 3, 1972, banking and insurance institutions under which he nationalized, all major industries, including iron and steel, heavy engineering, petrochemicals, cement and public utilities. Bhutto maneuvered to break the power of top elite families who had dominated the nation’s economy during the Ayub Khan period. Bhutto’s PPPP unionized industries, introduced PPP’s political elements in major industries. Economic experts claim that Bhutto’s nationalization of industries introduced political appointments on high positions and political briberies.
In 1974, The Sind Government of PPP created division among the people of Sind on the basis of Sindh Rural and Urban. PPP Government introduced Quota System in the education and government jobs for Sindh Rural and Sindh Urban which was basically a political division between Sindhi Speaking and Urdu Speaking citizens of Sindh.
People Party introduced Sindhi language bill in Sind parliament that initiated worst ethnic violence in Sindh in 1974.
Only about two years, almost all the political parties were fed up with Bhutto’s failed government on almost every front. He launched a policy of political victimization and tortures against his opponents. There were fake cases filed against top class political leaders like Wali Khan of then leader of National Awami Party. The favouritism, corruption and political victimization in the country were on the peak. Pakistan had never seen that type of nepotism before at that time. The people of Baluchistan were fuming due to the Bhutto’s military operation in Baluchistan and arrest of Bloch leaders. In Punjab, Bhutto’s buddies like Ghulam Mustafa Khar were active against opposition leaders. There were incidents of attack on political leaders including many attacks on Ahmed Raza Qasuri. Eventually, in one of the attacks when Ahmed Raza Qasuri was going with his father, Nawab Muhammed Ahmed Khan and others in a car, his father was killed. Mr. Qasuri filed an FIR where he made Bhutto as prime suspect of the murder.
In January 1977, Bhutto announced to hold national and provincial elections scheduled for March 1977. To fight against Bhutto, 9 major political and religious parties made Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) against Bhutto. The key players of Bhutto’s PPP made a record rigging in the 1977 and PPP were found the winner of national election gained majority seats. The PNA immediately challenged the election results as rigged and demanded a new election. On the refusal to PNA’s demands by Bhutto, PNA launched country-wide movement against Bhutto’s government. Bhutto announced section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure which restricted assembly for political reasons. PNA movement made historic strikes in the country. Airports, Seaports, Railway, industries, educational institutes shut down and the country was totally jammed yet Bhutto with his feudalistic attitude refused to leave the power. Eventually, on 5th of July 1977, army intervened, arrested all political leaders including Bhutto and declared Martial law in the country.
General Zia ul Haque opened Bhutto’s trial of ‘conspiracy to murder’ of Ahmed Raza Qasuri through formation of a full bench of High Court on 24th of October, 1977. During the proceedings it was found that Bhutto in one of the documents wrote addressing to Mr. Qasuri, ‘Eliminate him’. Certainly, it is common believed of the law experts that decision of death penalty to Bhutto was all set-up by the Zia government, yet, it is to remember that Bhutto created that tradition in his government when he framed many faked cases against politicians and got judgment against them. High Court sentenced Bhutto to hang till death. Chief Justice S. Anwarul Haq presided over the trial. Bhutto’s lawyers managed to secure Bhutto the right to conduct his own defence before the Supreme Court. The appeal was completed on 23 December 1978. On 6 February 1979, the Supreme Court issued a guilty verdict by a decision made by 4 to 3 majority of judges. Bhutto was given seven days to appeal in the Supreme Court. Bhutto did not peruse and others on his behalf appealed which was turned down by the Supreme Court on 24th of March 1979. Many head of states sent appeals for clemency but General Zia ul Haque refused all those appeals and upheld death punishment. Finally, Bhutto was hanged at Central jail, Rawalpindi, on 4th of April 1979.
At personal level, he used abuse with abusive words to his opponents in large public gathering. Many time them he used to request to journalist to omit those abusive words. The reason was he was heavy drinker which he admitted in public gatherings. The Political and personal character of a person cannot be martyr when he was hanged on the charges of murder through the court of law.
The biggest dilemma in Pakistan is that history of politicians is written with political eyes.
(The writer is a Sydney-based journalist and media analyst, his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org ).
Concluded in context of Bhutto’s 39th death anniversary.