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BHUTTO ZULFIKAR ALI (1928-1979)

BHUTTO, ZULFIKAR ALI (1928-1979) Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was born at Larkana, a medium-size town on the right bank of the Indus River, in the province of Sindh His father, Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto, was one of Sindh’s largest landlords, with extensive landholdings in the Larkana district Khurshid, Zulfikar Ali’s mother, was a Hindu woman of low social standing who had converted to Islam before becoming Sir Shahnawaz’s second wife Zulfikar Ali was Sir Shahnawaz’s only son, and upon his father’s death in 1949, he inherited most of the Larkana estate Zulfikar Ali was twice married, the first time to a cousin, and the second, in 1952, to Nusrat Isphani, a woman of Iranian origin He and Nusrat had four children; two of them, Benazir and Mir Murtaza, played active roles in Pakistan’s politics Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was sent to Bombay for schooling and then to the University of California, Berkeley, and Christ Church, Oxford, for education in law He returned to Karachi in 1953 and started legal practice at the Sindh High Court In 1958, General Muhammad Ayub Khan brought him into his cabinet as the minister of fuel, power, and natural resources Bhutto’s big opportunity came in 1963 with the sudden death of Foreign Minister Muhammad Ali Bogra



Bhutto persuaded Muhammad Ayub Khan to reassign him to the foreign ministry Against the openly expressed unhappiness of Washington, Bhutto developed close ties with the People’s Republic of China Under Bhutto’s leadership, Pakistan and China negotiated a border agreement and established commercial airline operations In the summer of 1965, Bhutto persuaded Muhammad Ayub Khan to allow Pakistani military personnel dressed as mujahideen (Islamic freedom fighters) to infiltrate Indian-held Kashmir from the Pakistani side of the border There was an expectation in Pakistan that the mujahideen would succeed in provoking an uprising by the Kashmiri population against India’s occupation of their state That did not happen; instead, on 6 September 1965, India declared war on Pakistan On 23 September, barely 17 days after the war began, Muhammad Ayub Khan announced a cease-fire agreement with India, negotiated with the help of the United Nations Four months later, he, accompanied by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri of India went to the Soviet city of Tashkent and negotiated what Ayub Khan believed would be a more durable agreement of peace between the two neighboring countries However, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto appears not to have endorsed the substance of the agreement A few months after their return to Pakistan, Ayub and Bhutto parted company, with the latter using his opposition to the Tashkent Declaration as a political launching pad Bhutto joined with a number of politicians from East and West Pakistan to launch a massive campaign against the government of President Muhammad Ayub Khan

The president sought to negotiate his way out of his political problems, but the opposition proved more stubborn than he had expected On 25 March 1969, the army stepped in and forced Muhammad Ayub Khan to resign Bhutto had prepared himself well for the time when political power would pass from the army to the politicians In 1967, a year after leaving the government of Ayub Khan and after weighing the offers from several opposition parties, Bhutto decided to form his own political organization, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) The PPP emerged as the single largest party from West Pakistan in the National Assembly elected in December 1970 This was the first general election to be held in the country While Bhutto’s PPP won 81 seats, in a house of 300 representatives, Mujibur Rahman’s Awami League won a clear majority Bhutto, however, was not prepared to share power with Rahman, or to allow the Bengali leader to become Pakistan’s first elected prime minister Instead, he persuaded President Yahya Khan to postpone the convening of the assembly, which in turn provoked Mujibur Rahman to declare independence After a sharp and bloody civil war, Pakistani forces were defeated by a combined force of the Indian military and Mukti Bahir, Bengal’s freedom fighters Bhutto took office as president in December 1971, following the defeat of the Pakistani army in East Pakistan

Insofar as the conduct of domestic economic policies is concerned, the Bhutto era (December 1971 to July 1977) divided itself neatly into two periods: 1971 to 1974 and 1974 to 1977 During the first period, the Bhutto government pursued a socialist program, capturing for the government all of the commanding heights of the economy In the second, starting with the departure of socialist ministers, such as Mubashir Hasan and J A Rahim, Bhutto took control of the economy The result was a total loss of orientation and whimsical decision-making that together caused major economic disruption, reduced the rate of growth of the gross domestic product, increased the incidence of poverty, and did away with the fiscal and monetary discipline that had been the hallmark of the economic management during the period of President Ayub Khan Bhutto’s economic legacy was to affect the pace and nature of Pakistan’s economic development for a long time after his departure from the political sceneIn foreign affairs, Bhutto proved to be a much more imaginative and flexible manager He negotiated the Simla Accord with Indira Gandhi in 1972; hosted the second summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) at Lahore in 1974; recognized Bangladesh as an independent state in 1974; and made some tangible advances in healing Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan In keeping with the approach he had advocated during the Ayub period, he realigned Pakistan’s foreign relations away from a close dependence on the United States In 1973, with his political skills once again on full display, Bhutto persuaded and cajoled the opposition into accepting a new constitutional arrangement for Pakistan

The constitution was passed by the National Assembly and came into force on 14 August 1973, Pakistan’s 26th anniversary Bhutto stepped down from the presidency and became prime minister In January 1977, when Bhutto suddenly called national elections-the first to be held under the new constitution-he expected to catch the opposition unprepared The opposition surprised him by preparing itself quickly: the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) was born, and a disparate set of parties agreed to compete with the PPP under a single political umbrella The army took advantage of Bhutto’s inability to settle his differences with the opposition He was deposed by the military on 5 July 1977, sentenced to death by the Lahore High Court in 1978, and executed in Rawalpindi on 4 April 1979. He was buried in Larkana, his hometown, before the news of his execution was made public. Bhutto’s most important legacy was a program aimed at equipping Pakistan with a nuclear arsenal. He assembled a group of scientists and engineers, including Abdul Qadir Khan, and gave them money and encouragement to develop a nuclear bomb for Pakistan. His dream was realized 24 years after his death when Pakistan tested five nuclear devices on 28 May 1998.

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