The Day Pakistan’s Democracy was Hanged

Despot General Zia Executes the Nation’s ‘In Office’ Prime Minister

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in his Twitter message had said, “Today is my grandfather Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s 40th martyrdom anniversary. Hanged by a dictator he still lives in history. He rules the people’s hearts. He is still an inspiration for all those who believe in democracy. His assassins relegated to the dustbin of history.”

Bilawal’s cousin, daughter of Murtaza Bhutto and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s granddaughter Fatima Bhutto also remembered her grandfather and mentioned Bhutto’s sacrifice in her tweet: “40 years after my grandfather was martyred, Pakistan is still grappling with just what it lost. QuaideAwam, his vision, his ideology, his beliefs, continue to live in our hearts. He continues to shed light on our path to a peaceful, progressive, prosperous Pakistan. Salaam Bhutto.”

On April 4, 1979, Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, was hanged in the dark of night.

Judicially Assassinated was the term coined for this circus of a trial.

Judiciary in Pakistan never recovered from the absolute clutches of the Military, it holds true, till date.

And nor did the society of Pakistan.

Bhutto: the Quaid-e-Awam(People’s Leader)

Bhutto’s popular electoral victory in 1977 general elections, when Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), won a startling victory, was a direct threat to the Pakistan National Alliance : an assortment put together by the Army.

He was bold and courageous enough to bring 90,000 Pakistani Prisoners of War back from India, despite being a critic of General Ayub Khan accusing him of ‘loosing diplomatically’ post Tashkent Agreement.

The stellar courage of a leader were first visible then, to the Pakistani public.

The next six years saw him getting all political stakeholders to agree to promulgate a new constitution for Pakistan, a one that was first time serious on governance. He believed in the governance form of the neighbour India and went on a path to alleviate the poor and downtrodden with the Socialist form of governance.

He built institutions of learning and culture, invested in a school network taking it to slums and small villages, created basic health facilities, distributed land among landless farmers, initiated housing and infrastructure schemes and mobilised foreign investment in industries.

Bhutto repaired ties with India, and business flourished, poverty was reducing,  after all what is more profitable, than to have a business partner not thousands of miles away, but next door.

Nationalization of Banks, industry, land ownership reforms and nationalized key industries and began to tax the land property of the richer families. This created sever issues with Pakistan Army, whose officers and Generals were mostly from wealthy land owners of Punjab Pakistan.

Wealthy landowners and corrupt politicians, readily aligned as Pakistan National Alliance: and took Army General Zia UlHaq into their scheme of things. The worst happened as Bhutto again gained majority in 1977 elections, and within weeks was taken in custody.

Charges?

Well do charges matter in the eyes of Pakistan Army, they can be manufactured anytime.

And they were. While rigging of elections could not be proves, brutally ingenious General Zia fabricated a case with the whole set of circus of newly discovered witnesses.

Charge of giving directions of beating up of a family, cost Bhutto his life.Might as well execute the Prime Minister of waking up on the wrong side of the bed. But that is Pakistan Army for you.

Bhutto was a Valid Answer to Misrule of Pakistan Army since Ayub Khan

The popular lie about the General Ayub Khan’s rule (1958 – 1969) is that of economic growth, prosperity, and the growing stature of Pakistan on the world stage.

Rarely one mentions , is that given the size of the country, economic growth, which many cite as his hallmark achievement, widened the income inequality in society,  resulting in the rise of 100 business and  influential families who organized the nation’s resources and amassed illegitimate wealth, leaving the citizens poor and much starved. They were the Ayub Cartel.

He rightly identified Political discourse and democracy as sole challenge to his powers and declared them squarely responsible for the “chaotic internal situation” and accused them of being willing to barter the country “for personal gains”.

He decided to don that role on to himself.

Since for him public was too illiterate and poor to be trusted with voting, he created an electorate of a few thousand, of course all of them elected him as their leader.

Foreign investment in lieu of kickbacks, masqueraded as aid and credit, and the aggressive public works programme pursued by General Ayub, to generate new jobs, unemployment persisted, and even worsened during the second five year plan from 5.5 million man-years in 1960-61 to 5.8 million man-years in 1964-65.

Seeing this, Bhutto resigned from his cabinet.

And hence Ayub Khan’s rule collapsed, all thanks to Bhutto. Thus credited with his resolve, he came into limelight, and was being recognized as someone who could criticize Ayub Khan’s as well as Pakistan Army’s corruption.

Viewpoint

After Yahaya Khan’s 1971 debacle, now Pakistan Army was frightened of this so called Shia upstart from Bombay.

Bhutto rescued Pakistan from clutches of Pakistan Army after the 1971 debacle. He negotiated sense-fully with Indira Gandhi for release of 90,000 Prisoners of war, and negotiated in the Shimla Agreement.

He started with socialist reforms and by 1976, brought Pakistan back on its feets, economically. People had jobs, inflation was at an all time low, and wealth inequality was diminishing.

Could the Landlord dominated Pakistan Army tolerate its feudal rule over Pakistani Masses.

Enters the cavalier Zia, hangs the socialist Bhutto by his neck, answers economic progress by ‘India Scare Rhetoric’, decides to let people be engulfed in the Sectarian hatred and extreme Radicalization, rather than demanding about wealth equality and food on their plate.

In September 1978, Bhutto wrote from his jail cell: “More than my life is at stake. Make no mistake about it. The future of Pakistan is at stake. If I am assassinated through the gallows…there will be turmoil and turbulence, conflict and conflagration.”

How much of an underestimation that has proved to be.

The usurper Zia from 1977-88 in eleven years of his dictatorial rule, successfully reverted Pakistan back to a 7th-century medieval barbaric utopia. There now,  governance ceased to be a force, against blind radical fury and irrelevant hatred, amongst own selves and towards the world, with equal impunity and barbarity.

While what had become of Pakistan Army is unfathomable.

The charge that every country has an army but the Pakistan Army has a country is based on facts. The military runs a multi-billion commercial empire that includes interests such as milk processing plants, bakeries, banks, cinemas, heavy industry and insurance. This corrupt empire is walled off from civilians. Defence analyst Ayesha Siddiqa, author of Military Inc: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy, says there is little accountability and widespread siphoning of funds. The Pakistani military operates a virtual apartheid where an increasingly poor civilian population faces discrimination at virtually every level of national life – from jobs to pensions.

The top brass therefore is totally unequipped or unwilling to fight. Unlike the lowly soldiers who are prepared to die for their country, the army brass has a lot to live for: corrupt money.

The usurper Zia converted an Army into business managers, society into a bloody battle ground for ethnic bloodshed and Radical Terror and the hard work as well as vision of prosperity and peace of the Quaid-e-Awam: Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, into a nightmare of a debacle, called as Pakistan.

04 Apr 21/ Sunday                                                                              Written by : Fayaz