Thursday, April 22, 2010

Who is Responsible for Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s Death?

April 5, 2010
Who is Responsible for Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s Death?
By Saeed Qureshi
Evidently, there were four accomplices in the judicial murder of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the first ever legendary prime minister and a charismatic political leader who phenomenally transformed the socio-economic and political landscape of Pakistan. One can see a clear demarcation between the previous dispensations both autocratic and democratic from that of Mr. Bhutto who pioneered and spearheaded a new era of liberalization and social emancipation in Pakistan. Mr. Bhutto, a true visionary as he was, utilized his God given genius to unite the Islamic fraternity on one platform.
He is the architect of the nuclear program that virtually has saved Pakistan from a military imbalance with India. He fortified armed forces and build heavy ordnance and military hardware industries to make Pakistan a veritably strong bulwark for territorial defense of Pakistan. He introduced a constitution in 1973 that was essentially democratic, and a mix of secularism and Islam.
Back to the question who was responsible for the judicial murder of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.? These were four accomplices: the Pakistan army under the command of General Ziaul Haq, the United States of America, the biased judiciary and the rancorous politicians of Pakistan. In my assessment more than other three parties, I hold the political forces opposed to Mr. Bhutto as the main culprit and catalyst for eventual physical elimination of an icon via a decidedly devious, sham, fraudulent and farcical judicial process.
In order to substantiate this claim with evidence let us go back to the calamitous situation created by the rival political parties in Pakistan following the March 1977 elections. But more than the elections which the parties claimed were rigged or manipulated, the level of anti Bhutto agitation was raised by such catchy yet fictitious slogans as establishing Nizam-e- Mustafa. It is an historical fact that more than any ultra right theocrat or religious bigot in power, it was Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who took momentous decisions to Islamize Pakistan. The constitution was amended to accommodate the Islamic injunctions. Never before and after any ruler, even Ziaul Haq, who arrogated to himself the role of a caliph and kind a religious fanatic like Mughal emperor Aurgnzeb, could take giant steps in favor of an Islamic order as a patently secular Bhutto did.
Still, though he did so to appease the hostile and apprehensive ideological schools in the country for which the Islamic zealots should have been beholden to him. But when their demands were met, they opened another front against him at the behest of certain foreign powers and in collusion with the army. The COAS Gen Zia was waiting in wings with deceptive demeanor to stage a coup and seize power as the upheaval whipped up by rowdy politicians rapidly aggravated.
There is an enormous amount of bias on the part of several anti-Bhutto writers and historians while analyzing his personality, policies and tenure of government. These critics would dwell more pointedly on his imposition of martial law in response to the PNA’s sponsored countrywide civil disobedience movement after the March 1977 elections. With an unrest fueled and led by the hate-filled ultra right opposition parties as Jamat-I Islami in tandem with others, what was the way-out to restore law and order in the country? But despite a breakdown of law and order in Pakistan, Bhutto should have desisted from imposing martial law. By doing so he accepted the martial law as the viable option for maintenance of peace or curbing the burgeoning and proliferating lawlessness and anarchy in the country.
Although finally he succumbed to the call of the PNA to hold fresh elections and almost settled terms and ironed out contentious issues with the opposition, but it was too late and the martial law was clamped over Pakistan on July 5, 1977, by Gen Ziaul Haq who was handpicked by Bhutto by superceding other senior generals. General Zia was covertly aligned more intimately with Jamat-i-Islami and implicitly with other religious and political parties, having common malice against Bhutto. Still Bhutto could have escaped death but the unrelenting campaigning by Jamat Islami joined by NAP, JUP and JUI and Tehrik-i-e-Istiqlal chief Air marshal Asghar Khan, an inveterate adversary of Bhutto, gave enough confidence to military regime to hang Mr. Bhutto.
But despite his extraordinary genius, immense sharpness of vision and exceptional political acumen, Mr. Bhutto couldn’t perceive the direction of the political wind blowing against him. He remained under the illusion that he could turn the tables against the army and revive his waned popularity. From the time of his release after Zia’s martial law on July 29, to the first arrest on September 3, bail on September13, to the final arrest on September17, 1977 against a fabricated murder case, he toured the country and delivered fiery speeches that indeed started generating public sympathy and support in his favor. But a visible popular tilt in favor was no match to the brutal and oppressive apparatus of the army and the seething contempt that the political opposition had for him.
Simultaneously, he overlooked the fact that among his enemies, the United States was also pulling her strings to keep the public discontent boiling against him via supporting the anti Bhutto political and religious forces. Bhutto was confronted with formidable opponents on several fronts which could not be beaten or overpowered simply by hard hitting public speeches or charisma of his personality. The result was that his supporters who staged rallies and resorted to sloganeering in his favor were brutally crushed by the army.
The animus of the opposition parties towards Bhutto did not recede even after his arrest and trial through an ostensibly spurious judicial process and by the custodians of law who were his committed enemies. There are very few examples in the history when the dignity of courts and sanctity of justice has been so blatantly and insolently violated as in the case of Bhutto. The army, the judges, the opposition parties and foreign powers collectively ensured that Bhutto was not only deposed through the military coup but was humiliated, tortured and finally sent to the gallows. The oppression of history is always dominant and determines its own course. Perhaps it was agreed upon between the domestic and foreign powers to replace Bhutto with a governmental set up that could launch a crusade against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. The industrial, mercantile and feudal classes in Pakistan had also to settle their score with Bhutto for nationalizing their factories and lands.
It would be putting the history in proper and correct perspective if the historians, the analysts, the commentators should mention both Bhutto’s weaknesses and his sterling accomplishments. There is no harm in acknowledging that Bhutto super-humanly managed the gubernatorial crisis that engulfed Pakistan following the dismemberment of Pakistan in 1971. With the total collapse of the defense system, the complete societal anarchy, battered economy, a demoralized nation; a most humiliating surrender by Pakistan army, the Indian armed forces knocking at West Pakistan; the reconstruction of Pakistan by Bhutto is a unique and stupendous achievement that alone entitles him to the highest esteem and adulation of Pakistani nation. Now in the hindsight, under a scant and much belated display of remorse, parties like Jamat-Islami not only acknowledge the brilliant achievements of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto towards Islam and the country but berate the judicial process crafted against him for his physical elimination.
After his death, Mr. Bhutto has emerged as a more revered and exalted icon, because his achievements outweigh his weaknesses. After all he was a human being and human beings are prone to err. But we must honestly acknowledge that Mr. Bhutto picked up the pieces and saved the remaining Pakistan. The dismemberment of Pakistan was the result of the military action in former East Pakistan and refusal by the army to hand over power to Awami League, the winner of elections of December 1970.
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