Today I overheard a speech by Pakistan Peoples Party’s Chairman Bilawal Bhutto in which he was repeating PPP’s decades old mantra that “We stand with democracy and PPP’s founder Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto sacrificed his life for democracy”. That’s non-sense and not unexpected from Bilawal Bhutto who was merely reading a written speech written by PPP hawks who have been selling this manjan since long that ‘democracy and Pakistan Peoples Party are synonymous’.
Start of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s political career
Let’s see how Pakistan Peoples Party’s founder Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto entered politics. His father Shah Nawaz Bhutto was a politician who was a good friend of Iskander Mirza, the president of Pakistan from March 1956 to October 1958. President Iskander Mirza who was a regular guest for the annual hunt in Larkana and staying at the Bhutto family home Al-Murtaza.
On personal recommendation of President Iskander Mirza (due to his close relations with Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s father), Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was sent as head of a delegation to attend United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea in Switzerland in March 1958. He was very happy and excited at this opportunity and he wrote a letter to the president. The letter was full of flattery and he even ranked President Iskander Mirza higher than Quaid-e-Azam.
I would like to take this opportunity to reassure you of my imperishable and devoted loyalty to you. Exactly four months before the death of my late Father, he had advised me to remain steadfastly loyal to you as you were “not an individual but an institution”. For the greater good of my own Country, I feel that your services to Pakistan are indispensable. When the history of our Country is written by objective historians, your name will be placed even before that of Mr. Jinnah. Sir, I say this because I mean it and not because you are the President of my Country.Letter to President Iskander Mirza written by Zulqar Ali Bhutto from Switzerland (April 1958)
Many years later, after Iskander Mirza lost his power and was living in exile in London, Zulfiqar Bhutto confided the following to one of his close Indian friend Piloo Mody (who was Bhutto’s college friend in University of California)
Iskander Mirza is a gentleman who knew nothing about politics. He thought that by small gestures, pranks and tricks he could run the ship of State.Zulfi, My Friend (1973) by Piloo Mody
It’s the reality of PPP’s founding father, who is projected as principled and high-ethics person by his party.
A few weeks later, President Mirza “invited” Zulfiqar Bhutto to join the next cabinet as minister of commerce. He happily accepted this offer. It was a twelve-men cabinet and Zulfiqar Bhutto was the youngest minister. He was thirty that time.
Bhutto serving under Military dictator
In October 1958, Chief of Army Ayub Khan imposed martial law. It is tragically interesting how Ayub Khan seized the power.
Ayub Khan was previously offered to be Prime Minister by President Iskander Mirza but he rejected it and sent three of his closest generals Wajid Ali Khan Burki, Azam Khan and Khalid Sheikh to Iskander Mirza’s house with an offer: step down immediately but keep your pension and your life.
Iskander Mirza had no choice but to accept this offer. Ayub Khan took over as Pakistan’s new president and retained Iskander Mirza’s cabinet including Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (Commerce Minister). The so-called ‘democratic’ Bhutto was happy to continue serving under dictator Ayub Khan despite knowing how he forcefully nominated himself as president.
Zulfiqar Ali butto served for eight years under Ayub Khan’s leadership. I wish Pakistan Peoples Party leaders also mention it before singing their traditional mantra of “Pakistan Peoples Party has always resisted dictatorship”.
In 1960, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was promoted to Minister of Water and Power, Communications and Industry. In 1963, he was appointed as Minister of Foreign Affairs that is considered a very important post in any cabinet.
Formation of Pakistan Peoples Party
In 1965, Ayub Khan government started losing popularity and protests started. The war between Pakistan and India has just ended and it lead to economic crisis resulting in inflation. Moreover, many people were not in favour of Tashkent Declaration, an agreement signed between Pakistan and India to end the war.
Witnessing the downfall of Ayub Khan’s government, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto decided to ditch him and joined protests against Ayub Khan. He started criticized same policies of Ayub Khan in which he himself played key roles.
In August 1966, he was dismissed by General Ayub Khan for his anti-Ayub activities. One year later, Pakistan Peoples Party was founded. The new party projected its fundamental ideology as ‘pro-democracy’. After serving a military dictator for 8 years and enjoying all the power, it’s the time to become pro-democracy because that military dictator is not powerful enough now.
Elections of 1970
Following country-wide protests, General Ayub Khan resigned in March 1969 and asked Army Chief General Yahya to lead the country.
General Yahya government held general elections in 1970. Awami League, led by Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rahman got highest number of votes and Pakistan Peoples Party got second highest. It would have been simple if Awami League was offered to form government. Instead, the so-called ‘father of democracy in Pakistan‘ Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto rejected election results and started forcing Yahya Khan to handover the power to him.
In one of his public speeches, he publicly abused people of East Pakistan and said “Jahanum mein jayen sooar (swine) kay bachay“.
People of East Pakistan had already been feeling deprived since 1947 due to some unjust policies of Pakistan. Awami League was based in East Pakistan. Victory of Awami League in elections gave a hope to people there that they can now have a major role in country’s policies. However, when they saw Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s reluctance to accept Bengalis running government of Pakistan, they started calling for independence.
Armed conflicts started in East Pakistan. India also exploited this issue and started supplying weapons, logistics and military to rebels of East Pakistan. Pakistan Army tried to control the situation but it lead to a full-fledged unconventional war in which enemy was not distinguishable. Even worse, there was a very thin line between enemy and angry patriotic Pakistanis.
The country was suffering and a true democratic leader should have accepted defeat in elections and advocated transferring of power to Sheikh Mujeeb-ur-Rahman (head of Awami League) but since Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was only interested in power and chanting of democracy was only a tool to attract votes, he didn’t care. Under leadership of Yahya Khan, Pakistan Army was involved in various unjust war crimes that still haunts Pakistan but Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto remained silent until disgraced Yahya Khan was forced to leave the power.
After Pakistan lost its east wing, Yahya Khan resigned and transferred the power to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who nominated himself as president and the first and only civilian chief martial law administrator in history of Pakistan. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had got what he wanted – absolute power. East Pakistan and democracy can go to hell.
That is how Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto rose to power and founded Pakistan Peoples Party. You can see how undemocratic the beginning was. It doesn’t end here. Bhutto was involved in numerous undemocratic practices during his tenure. For example, an military force “Federal Security Force” was created and its strength was 15,000. The purpose of this force was protection of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Not only this, this force was involved in violence and eliminating political opponents of Bhutto including murders and kidnapping.