History, rulers and the Pakistani Way

August 10, 2009

Pakistan’s political history is littered with blood and shameful departures of rulers. Our rulers thrive on violence; orchestrate political farces to hoodwink the masses and are sent back home in the same manner. The recent cries for Musharraf’s persecution are a classical example this curse which has continually haunted Pakistani rulers since the creation of Pakistan.

Pakistan first premier Liaqut Ali Khan was gunned down in a Rawalpindi public meeting and his alleged killer also met the same end. The police officer investigating the case also perished in an air crash and with him also the traces that could point that who was the behind the assassination.

After Liaquat assassination, a crippled bureaucrat, Ghulam Mohammad assumed powers and is responsible for the many cancerous traditions in politics. The first dissolution of the Constituent Assembly and notorious “doctrine of necessity” are the parts of his shameful legacy. He was sent abroad during a serious illness but his legacy is still haunting us and will continue to do so in the years to come.

Another bureaucrat Skindar Mirza followed Ghulam Mohammad and brings the army in politics by admitting the Commander in Chief Mohammad Auyb Khan in his cabinet as defence minister. Later, Auyb deposed him and sent him to Britain, where the former president and his wife, when pressed by the circumstances started clerical jobs in a hotel and died and buried in that country.

Field Martial Mohammad Auyb Khan imposed the first martial law in country and abrogated the 1956 constitution in a fit of frenzy. He framed another constitution and changed the form of government to presidential and became president after a sham election. He fooled the masses for eleven years with slogans like ‘Operation Gibraltar’, ‘Basic Democracies’, ‘Green Revolution’ and the ‘Decade of Development.’ He had to step down after students’ protests in the country and to hand over power to Yahya Khan.

Gen. Yahya Khan, “drowned the two-nation theory,” and the East Pakistan in the Bay of Bengal in the Dakkha debacle of 1971 and spent rest of his days under house arrest.

Yahya handed over the reins of the country to the charismatic Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) after the fall of Dakkha and he became the first civil martial law administrator of the history. He introduced the slogans of ‘Islamic Socialism,’ ‘Roti, Kapra aur Makan,’ ‘1,000 years war’ and nationalization of the industries. He was put behind the bars after a coup and his dead body came out of the prison after a sham trial and was buried in the Ghari Khuda Bux cemetery under the shadow of bayonets in the darkness of night.

Ziaul Haq hanged ZAB and ruled the country for nearly 11 years on the name of Islam and flogging. His Islamisation and Afghan jihad backfired and resulted into the sectarianism, heroin and kalashinkove culture in the country. He perished along with his coterie in a mysterious plane crash on August 17, 1988.

Benazir Bhutto followed Zia and was sworn in as the first female head of the state of an Islamic country. Her first government was discharged on the charges of corruption. Her husband earned notoriety for corruption and was branded as the Mr. Ten Percent and her only brother Mir was gunned down in an encounter with police and later her government was dissolved for second time. She spent nearly seven years in exile and came back to the country in October 2007 and also survived a deadly suicide attack aimed at her during his homecoming rally. She was assassinated in a suicide and gun attack on December 27, 2007.

Nawaz Sharif was a product of Zia tyranny and a general arranged his entry into politics. His first government was dissolved when differences arose between the president and him. The Supreme Court later reinstated his government but the army had to intervene to break the deadlock and both the president and the premier had to pack up. He clashed with the judiciary and sent anther president home after axing his powers. Later, an airborne general put him behind bars when he tried to remove him. He spent nearly 18 months in a prison and was exiled to Saudi Arabia he also tried to make a comeback but again sent on exile forcibly but now he is trying to establish himself as man for all season.

General Musharraf aka the ‘enlightened despot’ imposed two martial laws during his eight-year rule. He crushed a rebellion from judiciary and sent around 60 judges to homes. During his rule the militancy drove the country to the brink of chaos. He has to doff off his uniform which he used to say as second skin under intense pressure. However, he had to resign due to his growing unpopularity among public some months back to the elections. Now, the many of political adversaries are demanding his prosecution for the abrogation of constitution.

President Zardari needs to remember George Santayana’s often aphorism, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” while swimming against the currents of Pakistani politics.

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Zulifkar Ali Bhutto’s rise and fall

April 9, 2009

T.S Eliot’s line, “April is the cruelest month” has strong relevance in Pakistani politics, as the most charismatic Pakistani politician and founder of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Zulifkar Ali Bhutto was hanged in Rawalpindi Jail in April 1979. Bhutto’s dramatic rise to the echelons of power and PPP’s popularity with masses had proved time and again that he is the phoenix of Pakistani politics, and always rises from ashes.

Zulifkar Ali Bhutto (ZAB), a scion of Sindhi feudal origins, entered the Pakistani politics after joining Skindar Mirza’s cabinet as commerce minister in October 1958 after a military coup. Bhutto entry into politics entwined his fate with military and this love-hate relationship with army dominated rest of his life. His days as cabinet minister brought him into close circle of Ayub Khan and he become the Foreign Minister in 1962 and his stint is remarkable for Sino-Pakistan Boundary Agreement and 1965 war with India.

However, his parting of ways with Ayub Khan unpopular Tashkent agreement signed by Shastri and Ayub; Bhutto’s criticism of the agreement resulted into his resignation and formation of his own political party on November 30, 1967.

Pakistan Peoples Party

Following his resignation from Auyb Khan’s cabinet Bhutto started whirlwind tours of the country and in November 1967 formed Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) at Lahore and party’s slogan of rhetoric of ‘bread, clothing and shelter’ for the masse was something unheard then which brought the party to centre stage of Pakistani politics. This party set another benchmark in the elite dominated politics of the country and brought it to the doorstep of a common man and liberated it from the clutches of landlords and rich. Later, Ayub had to resign due to the growing opposition and Yahya Khan became president and held 1970s elections.

The exponential popularity and growth of this party was visible in 1970 elections when it emerged as dominant political force from West Pakistan while Awami League clean swept from East Pakistan. Unfortunately, these two political parties could not agree on power sharing and resultant discord and 1971 war with India resulted into dismemberment of Pakistan. Following the break up of the country Yahya resigned as president and handed over powers to the Bhutto.

Bhutto steered the country during tumultuous times following the Pakistan disintegration and also sowed the seeds of country’s nuclear program. In 1977, ZAB was overthrown and put behind the bars and later hanged on April 04, 1979 after a sham trial. His murder is remembered as ‘Judicial Murder’ in the annals of Pakistan judicial history.

Cursed family?

Bhutto family’s misfortunes did not end with ZAB’s hanging, rather have pursued the family in a succession and a Bhutto has been killed in every decade, all in mysterious circumstances, since his hanging on April 04, 1979. The family has a tinge of tragedy, curse and trouble like Kennedys family in America and Nehru-Gandhi in India.

In 1985 ZAB’s younger son Shahnawaz Bhutto, 27, was found dead in a Southern France apartment and his murder still remains a mystery. Benazir became heir to ZAB political legacy upon her return from an exile in 1984, while her brothers took up arms following the execution of their father. Benazir became first female premier of a Muslim country in 1988, following Zia and his coterie perished in an air crash. In her second stint as a prime minister in 1996, her only brother Murtaza Bhutto was shot dead in mysterious circumstances by police.

Benazir Bhutto went on a self-imposed exile in 1999 and remained abroad for around eight years and came back to the country in 2007. Her homecoming rally turned into a mourning procession on October 18, 2007, when a suicide bomber targeted her rally and killed around 180 people. She barely escaped the attack. She was again attacked on December 27 while coming out of a public meeting at Liaquat Bagh in Rawalpindi. She died when an unknown assassin fired shots on her and later a suicide bomber blew him up near her vehicle, while mystery is still shrouding her death.