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Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Real Leader of Pakistan

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Submitted by AAMIR AHSAN KHAN (Pakistan), Apr 19, 2008 at 05:53

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Real Leader of Pakistan

As president, Bhutto addressed the nation via radio and television, saying "My dear countrymen, my dear friends, my dear students, laborers, peasants… those who fought for Pakistan… We are facing the worst crisis in our country's life, a deadly crisis. We have to pick up the pieces, very small pieces, but we will make a new Pakistan, a prosperous and progressive Pakistan." He placed Yahya under house arrest, brokered a ceasefire and ordered the release of Sheikh Mujib, who was held prisoner by the army. To implement this, Bhutto reversed the verdict of Mujib's court trial that had taken place earlier, in which the presiding Brigadier Rahimuddin Khan (later General) had sentenced Mujib to death. Appointing a new cabinet, Bhutto appointed Gen. Gul Hasan as Chief of Army Staff On January 2, 1972 Bhutto announced the nationalization of all major industries, including iron and steel, heavy engineering, heavy electrical, petrochemicals, cement and public utilities.

A new labor policy was announced increasing workers rights and the power of trade unions. Although he came from a feudal background himself, Bhutto announced reforms limiting land ownership and a government take-over of over a million acres (4,000 kmĀ²) to distribute to landless peasants. More than 2,000 civil servants were dismissed on charges of corruption. Bhutto also dismissed the military chiefs on March 3after they refused orders to suppress a major police strike in Punjab. He appointed Gen. Tikka Khan as the new Chief of the Army Staff in March 1972 as he felt the General would not interfere in political matters and would concentrate on rehabilitating the Pakistan Army. Bhutto convened the National Assembly on April 14, rescinded martial law on April 21 and charged the legislators with writing a new constitution.

Bhutto visited India to meet Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and negotiated a formal peace agreement and the release of 93,000 Pakistani prisoners of war. The two leaders signed the ‘Shimla "Agreement" , which committed both nations to establish a Line of Control in Kashmir and obligated them to resolve disputes peacefully through bilateral talks. Bhutto also promised to hold a future summit for the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute and pledged to recognize Bangladesh. Although he secured the release of Pakistani soldiers held by India, many in Pakistani criticized Bhutto for allegedly making too many concessions to India. It is theorized that Bhutto feared his downfall if he could not secure the release of Pakistani soldiers, the return of territory occupied by Indian forces. Bhutto established an atomic power development programmed and inaugurated the first Pakistani atomic reactor, built in collaboration with Canada in Karachi on November 28.

In January 1973, Bhutto ordered the army to suppress a rising insurgency in the province of Baluchistan and dismissed the governments in Baluchistan and the Northwest Frontier Province. On March 30, 59 military officers were arrested by army troops for allegedly plotting a coup against Bhutto, who appointed then-Brigadier Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq to head a military tribunal to investigate and try the suspects. The National Assembly approved the new constitution, which Bhutto signed into effect on April 12. The constitution proclaimed an "Islamic Republic" in Pakistan with a parliamentary form of government. On August 10, Bhutto turned over the post of president to Fazal Ilahi Chaudhry, assuming the office of prime minister instead.

Bhutto officially recognized Bangladesh in July. Making an official visit to Bangladesh, Bhutto was criticized in Pakistan for laying flowers at a memorial for Bangladeshi "freedom fighters." Bhutto continued to develop closer relations with China as well as Saudi Arabia and other Muslim nations. Bhutto hosted the Second Islamic Summit of Muslim nations in Lahore between February 22 and February 24 in 1974.

However, Bhutto faced considerable pressure from Islamic religious leaders to declare the Ahmadiya communities as non-Muslims. Failing to restrain sectarian violence and rioting, Bhutto and the National Assembly amended the constitution to that effect. Bhutto intensified his nationalization program, extending government control over agricultural processing and consumer industries. Bhutto also, with advice from Admiral S.M. Ahsan, inaugurated Port Qasim, designed to expand harbor facilities near Karachi. However, the performance of the Pakistani economy declined amidst increasing bureaucracy and a decline in private sector confidence. In a surprise move in 1976, Bhutto appointed Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq to replace Gen. Tikka Khan, surpassing five generals senior to Zia. Some say that Zia did not deserve this pinnacle but Bhutto appointed him so as the two of them were Arai. He erred in judging a man not on his merit by dint of effort but merit by birth. As we see later he suffered for the undue support he showed to his Biratheri (Clan).

Nuclear program:

Bhutto was the founder of Pakistan's nuclear program. In January 1972 and, in its initial years, was implemented by General Tikka Khan. Bhutto inaugurated the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant during his role as President of Pakistan at the end of 1972. Long before, as Minister for Fuel, Power and National Resources, he has played a key role in setting up of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission. The Bhutto Administration also established the Kahuta facility.

In his book "If I am Assassinated", written from his prison cell, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto revealed how Henry Kissinger had said to him in 1976: "we can destabilize your government and make a horrible example out of you". Kissinger had warned Zulfikar Ali Bhutto that if Pakistan continued with its nuclear program the Prime Minister would have to pay a heavy price, a statement many take to indicate an American hand in Mr. Bhutto's trial and execution.

Popular unrest and military coup:

Bhutto began facing considerable criticism and increasing unpopularity as his term progressed. Initially targeting leader of the opposition Abdul Wali Khan and his opposition National Awami Party (NAP). Despite the ideological similarity of the two parties the clash of egos both inside and outside the National Assembly became increasingly fierce and started with the Federal governments decision to oust the NAP provincial government in Baluchistan for alleged secessionist activities and culminating in the banning of the party and arrest of much of its leadership after the death of Hayat Khan Sherpao a close lieutenant of Bhutto, in a bomb blast in the frontier town of Peshawar.

Dissidence also increased within the PPP and the murder of dissident leader Ahmed Raza Kasuri s father led to public outrage and intra-party hostility as Bhutto was accused of masterminding the crime. Powerful PPP leaders such as Ghulam Mustafa Khar openly condemned Bhutto and called for protests against his regime. The political crisis in the NWFP and Baluchistan intensified as civil liberties remained suspended and an estimated 100,000 troops deployed there were accused of human rights abuses and killing large numbers of civilians.

On January 8, 1977many opposition political parties grouped to form the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA). Bhutto called fresh elections and the PNA participated in those elections with full force and managed to contest the elections jointly even though they had grave differences in their opinions and views. The PNA faced defeat but did not accept the results, accusing their opponents of rigging the election. They first claimed rigging on 14 seats and finally on 40 seats in the national assembly and boycotted provisional elections turn out in national elections was of highest degree. Provincial elections were held amidst low voter turnout and an opposition boycott, violent PNA declare the newly elected Bhutto government as illegitimate. Leaders such as Maulana Maududi called for the overthrow of Bhutto's regime. Intensifying political and civil disorder prompted Bhutto to hold talks with PNA leaders, which culminated in an agreement for the dissolution of the assemblies and fresh elections under a form of government of national unity. However on July 5 1977 Bhutto and members of his cabinet were arrested by troops under the order of General Zia.

General Zia announced that martial law had been imposed, the constitution suspended and all assemblies dissolved. Zia also ordered the arrest of senior PPP and PNA leaders but promised elections in October. Bhutto was released on July 29 and was received by a large crowd of supporters in his hometown of Larkana. He immediately began touring across Pakistan, delivering speeches to large crowds and planning his political comeback. Bhutto was arrested again on September 3 before being released on bail on September 13. Fearing yet another arrest, Bhutto named his wife, Nusrat, president of the Pakistan People's Party. Bhutto was imprisoned on September 17 and a large number of PPP leaders and activists arrested and disqualified from contesting in elections.

Popular unrest and military coup:

Bhutto began facing considerable criticism and increasing unpopularity as his term progressed. Initially targeting leader of the opposition Abdul Wali Khan and his opposition National Awami Party (NAP). Despite the ideological similarity of the two parties the clash of egos both inside and outside the National Assembly became increasingly fierce and started with the Federal governments decision to oust the NAP provincial government in Balochistan for alleged secessionist activities and culminating in the banning of the party and arrest of much of its leadership after the death of Hayat Khan Sherpao, a close lieutenant of Bhutto, in a bomb blast in the frontier town of Peshawar.

Dissidence also increased within the PPP and the murder of dissident leader Ahmed Raza Kasuri's father led to public outrage and intra-party hostility as Bhutto was accused of masterminding the crime. Powerful PPP leaders such as Ghulam Mustafa Khar openly condemned Bhutto and called for protests against his regime. The political crisis in the NWFP and Balochistan intensified as civil liberties remained suspended and an estimated 100,000 troops deployed there were accused of human rights abuses and killing large numbers of civilians.

On January 8, 1977 many opposition political parties grouped to form the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA). Bhutto called fresh elections and the PNA participated in those elections with full force and managed to contest the elections jointly even though they had grave differences in their opinions and views. The PNA faced defeat but did not accept the results, accusing their opponents of rigging the election. They first claimed rigging on 14 seats and finally on 40 seats in the national assembly and boycotted provisional elections turn out in national elections was of highest degree. Provincial elections were held amidst low voter turnout and an opposition boycott, violent PNA declare the newly-elected Bhutto government as illegitimate. Muslim leaders such as Maulana Maududi called for the overthrow of Bhutto's regime. Intensifying political and civil disorder prompted Bhutto to hold talks with PNA leaders, which culminated in an agreement for the dissolution of the assemblies and fresh elections under a form of government of national unity. However on July 5, 1977 Bhutto and members of his cabinet were arrested by troops under the order of General Zia.

General Zia announced that martial law had been imposed, the constitution suspended and all assemblies dissolved. Zia also ordered the arrest of senior PPP and PNA leaders but promised elections in October. Bhutto was released on July 29 and was received by a large crowd of supporters in his hometown of Larkana. He immediately began touring across Pakistan, delivering speeches to large crowds and planning his political comeback. Bhutto was arrested again on September 3 before being released on bail on September 13. Fearing yet another arrest, Bhutto named his wife, Nusrat, president of the Pakistan People's Party. Bhutto was imprisoned on September 17 and a large number of PPP leaders and activists arrested and disqualified from contesting in elections.

Trial of the Prime Minister

Nusrat Bhutto became the PPP's leader after her husband's arrest and execution.

Bhutto's trial began on October 24 on charges of "conspiracy to murder" Ahmed Raza Kasuri. On July 5,1977 the military, led by General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, staged a coup. Zia relieved prime minister Bhutto of power, holding him in detention for a month. Zia pledged that new elections would be held in 90 days. He kept postponing the elections and publicly retorted during successive press conferences that if the elections were held in the presence of Bhutto his party would not return to power again.

Upon his release, Bhutto traveled the country amid adulatory crowds of PPP supporters. He used to take the train traveling from the south to the north and on the way, would address public meetings at different stations. Several of these trains were late, some by days, in reaching their respective destinations and as a result Bhutto was banned from traveling by train. The last visit he made to the city of Multan in the province of Punjab was marked the turning point in Bhutto's political career and ultimately, his life. In spite of the administration's efforts to block the gathering, the crowd was so large that it became disorderly, providing an opportunity for the administration to declare that Bhutto had been taken into custody because the people were against him and it had become necessary to protect him from the masses for his own safety.

Re-arrest and fabrication of evidence

On September 3 the Army arrested Bhutto again on charges of authorizing the murder of a political opponent in March 1974. A 35-year-old politician Ahmed Raza Kasuri tried to run as a PPP candidate in elections, despite having previously left the party. The Pakistan Peoples Party rebuffed him. Three years earlier, Kasuri and his family had been ambushed, leaving Kasuri's father, Nawab Mohammad Ahmad Khan, dead. Kasuri claimed that he was the actual target, accusing Bhutto of being the mastermind. Kasuri later claimed that he had been the victim of 15 assassination attempts.

Bhutto was released 10 days after his arrest after a judge, Justice KM Samdani found the evidence "contradictory and incomplete." Justice Samadani had to pay for this; he was immediately removed from the court and placed at the disposal of law ministry. Three days later Zia arrested Bhutto again on the same charges, this time under "martial law." When the PPP organized demonstrations among Bhutto's supporters, Zia canceled the upcoming elections.

Bhutto was arraigned before the High Court of Lahore instead of in a lower court, thus automatically depriving him of one level of appeal. The judge who had granted him bail was removed. Five new judges were appointed, headed by Chief Justice of Lahore High Court Maulvi Mushtaq Ali, who denied bail. The trial would last five months, and Bhutto appeared in court on a dock specially built for the trial.

Proceedings began on October 24,1977. Masood Mahmood, the director general of the Federal Security Force (since renamed the Federal Investigation Agency), testified against Bhutto. Mahmood had been arrested immediately after Zia's coup and had been imprisoned for two months prior to taking the stand. In his testimony, he claimed Bhutto had ordered Kasuri's assassination and that four members of the Federal Security Force had organized the ambush on Bhutto's orders.

The 4 alleged assassins were arrested and later confessed. They were brought into court as "co-accused" but one of them recanted his testimony, declaring that it had been extracted from him under torture. The following day, the witness was not present in court; the prosecution claimed that he had suddenly "fallen ill."

Bhutto's defense challenged the prosecution with proof from an army logbook the prosecution had submitted. It showed that the jeep allegedly driven during the attack on Kasuri was not even in Lahore at the time. The prosecution had the logbook disregarded as "incorrect." During the defense's cross-examination of witnesses, the bench often interrupted questioning. The 706-page official transcript contained none of the objections or inconsistencies in the evidence pointed out by the defense. Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who attended the trial, wrote:

"The prosecution's case was based entirely on several witnesses who were detained until they confessed, who changed and expanded their confessions and testimony with each reiteration, who contradicted themselves and each other, who, except for Masood Mahmood... were relating what others said, whose testimony led to four different theories of what happened, absolutely uncorroborated by an eyewitness, direct evidence, or physical evidence."

When Bhutto began his testimony on January 25, 1978, Chief Justice Maulvi Mustaq closed the courtroom to all observers. Bhutto responded by refusing to say any more. Bhutto demanded a retrial, accusing the Chief Justice of bias, after Mustaq allegedly insulted Bhutto's home province. The court refused his demand.

Death sentence and appeal

On March 18, 1978, Bhutto was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. Bhutto did not seek an appeal. While he was transferred to a cell in Rawalpindi central jail, his family appealed on his behalf, and a hearing before the Supreme Court commenced in May. Bhutto was given one week to prepare. Bhutto issued a thorough rejoinder to the charges, although Zia blocked its publication. Chief Justice S. Anwarul Haq adjourned the court until the end of July 1978, supposedly because five of the nine appeals court judges were willing to overrule the Lahore verdict. One of the pro-Bhutto judges was due to retire in July.

Chief Justice S. Anwarul Haq presided over the trial, despite being close to Zia, even serving as Acting President when Zia was out of the country. Bhutto's lawyers managed to secure Bhutto the right to conduct his own defense before the Supreme Court. On December 18, 1978, Bhutto made his appearance in public before a packed courtroom in Rawalpindi. By this time he had been on death row for 9 months and had gone without fresh water for the previous 25 days. He addressed the court for four days, speaking without notes.

The appeal was completed on December 23,1978. On February 6, 1979, the Supreme Court issued its verdict, "Guilty", a decision reached by a bare 4-to-3 majority. The Bhutto family had seven days in which to appeal. The court granted a stay of execution while it studied the petition. By February 24, 1979 when the next court hearing began, appeals for clemency arrived from many heads of state. Zia said that the appeals amounted to "trade union activity" among politicians.

On March 24, 1979 the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal. Zia upheld the death sentence. Bhutto was hanged at Adiyala Jail,Rawalpindi.On 4 April 1979 at 2.04am PST.

Criticism and legacy

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto remains a controversial figure in Pakistan. While he was hailed for being a nationalist, Bhutto was roundly criticised for opportunism and intimidating his political opponents. He gave Pakistan its third constitution, oversaw Pakistan's nuclear programme, held peace talks with neighbour India and was more of an Internationalist with a secular image. His socialist policies are blamed for slowing down Pakistan's economic progress owing to poor productivity and high costs. Bhutto is also criticised for human rights abuses perpetrated by the army in Balochistan. Many in Pakistan's military, notably the current president Gen. Pervez Musharaf and former martial law administrator of Balochistan General Rahimuddin Khan condemn Bhutto for having caused the crisis that led to the Bangladesh Liberation War. In spite of all the criticism—and subsequent media trials—Bhutto still remains the most popular leader of the country. Bhutto's action against the insurgency in Balochistan is blamed for causing widespread civil dissent and calls for secession. Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology is named for him; his daughter was chairman of its board of trustees. His family remained active in politics, with first his wife and then his daughter becoming leader of the PPP political party. His daughter, Benazir Bhutto, was twice prime minister of Pakistan, and was assassinated on December 27, 2007.

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