ZULFIQAR ALI BHUTTO AND A NEW CONSTITUTIONAL SYSTEM
On assuming power on December 20, 1971, Bhutto promised to make
a new Pakistan out of the West Wing and to restore national confidence.
He conveniently laid the entire blame for the 1971 war and Pakistan's
defeat on Yahya Khan and his junta. Asserting the principle of
civilian leadership, Bhutto introduced a new constitution with
a modified parliamentary and federal system. He attempted to control
and reform the civil service and took steps to revitalize a stagnant
economy and ameliorate conditions for the poor under the banner
of Islamic socialism. Bhutto's most visible success, however,
was in the international arena, where he employed his diplomatic
skills. He negotiated a satisfactory peace settlement with India
in 1972, built new links between Pakistan and the oil-exporting
Islamic countries to the west, and generally was effective in
repairing Pakistan's image in the aftermath of the war.
Bhutto's program appeared to be laudable but fell short in performance.
His near-monopoly of decision-making power prevented democratic
institutions from taking root, and his overreaching ambitions
managed in time to antagonize all but his closest friends.
The PPP manifesto was couched in socialist terms. When Bhutto
issued the Economic Reform Order on January 3, 1972, banking and
insurance institutions were nationalized, and seventy other industrial
enterprises were taken over by the government. The Ministry of
Production, which incorporated the Board of Industrial Management,
was established to oversee industry. Investment in the public
sector increased substantially, and Bhutto maneuvered to break
the power of the approximately twenty elite families who had dominated
the nation's economy during the Ayub Khan period. Trade unions
were strengthened, and welfare measures for labor were announced.
Although Bhutto's initial zeal diminished as he came face-to-face
with economic realities and the shortage of capital, he tried
to refurbish his populist image with another spate of nationalizations
Bhutto purged the military ranks of about 1,400 officers. He
also created a paramilitary force called the Federal Security
Force (which functioned almost as his personal bodyguard), a watchdog
on the armed forces, and an internal security force. A white paper
on defense issued in 1976 firmly subordinated the armed forces
to civilian control and gave Bhutto, then also prime minister,
the decisive voice in all matters relating to national security.
In that role, Bhutto took credit for bringing home more than 90,000
prisoners of war without allowing any of them to come to trial
in Bangladesh for war crimes. In 1976 Bhutto replaced Tikka Khan,
whose term had expired, with General Mohammad Zia ul-Haq as chief
of staff of the army. Like Ayub Khan, Zia was appointed over several
more senior generals. Also like Ayub Khan, Zia came from a community
not heavily represented in the armed forces (the Arains from Punjab)
and was thought to be without political ambition.
In April 1972, Bhutto lifted martial law and convened the National
Assembly, which consisted of members elected from the West Wing
in December 1970 (plus two from the East Wing who decided their
loyalties were with a united Pakistan). The standing controversies
about the role of Islam, provincial autonomy, and the form of
government--presidential or parliamentary--remained on the agenda.
There was much jostling for position among the three major political
groups: the PPP, most powerful in Punjab and Sindh; the National
Awami Party (NAP) and the Jamiat-ul-Ulama-i-Islam (JUI), both
based in the North- West Frontier Province and Balochistan. The
provincial assemblies were constituted from those elected in December
1970. There was much tension during the process of drafting a
new constitution, especially from members from the North-West
Frontier Province and Balochistan. Bhutto reached some accommodation
with opposition leaders from those two provinces on the matter
of gubernatorial appointment and constitutional principle.
Pakistan's third constitution was formally submitted on December
31, 1972, approved on April 10, 1973, and promulgated on independence
day, August 14, 1973. Although Bhutto campaigned in 1970 for the
restoration of a parliamentary system, by 1972 he preferred a
presidential system with himself as president. However, in deference
to the wishes of the opposition and some in his own cabinet, Bhutto
accepted a formal parliamentary system in which the executive
was responsible to the legislature. Supposedly, in the interests
of government stability, provisions were also included that made
it almost impossible for the National Assembly to remove the prime
minister. The 1973 constitution provided for a federal structure
in which residuary powers were reserved for the provinces. However,
Bhutto dismissed the coalition NAP-JUI ministries in Balochistan
and the North- West Frontier Province, revealing his preference
for a powerful center without opposition in the provinces.
Bhutto's power derived less from the 1973 constitution than from
his charismatic appeal to the people and from the vigor of the
PPP. Its socialist program and Bhutto's oratory had done much
to radicalize the urban sectors in the late 1960s and were responsible
for the popular optimism accompanying the restoration of democracy.
The ideological appeal of the PPP to the masses sat uneasily with
the compromises Bhutto reached with the holders of economic and
political influence--the landlords and commercial elites. Factionalism
and patrimonialism became rife in the PPP, especially in Punjab.
The internal cohesion of the PPP and its standing in public esteem
were affected adversely by the ubiquitous political and bureaucratic
corruption that accompanied state intervention in the economy
and, equally, by the rising incidence of political violence, which
included beating, arresting, and even murdering opponents. The
PPP had started as a movement mobilizing people to overthrow a
military regime, but in Bhutto's lifetime it failed to change
into a political party organized for peaceful functioning in an
Bhutto's predilection for a strong center and for provincial
governments in the hands of the PPP inevitably aroused opposition
in provinces where regional and ethnic identity was strong. Feelings
of Sindhi solidarity were maintained by Bhutto's personal connections
with the feudal leaders (wadera) of Sindh and his ability
to manipulate offices and officeholders. He did not enjoy the
same leverage in the North-West Frontier Province or Balochistan.
A long-dormant crisis erupted in Balochistan in 1973 into an
insurgency that lasted four years and became increasingly bitter.
The insurgency was put down by the Pakistan Army, which employed
brutal methods and equipment, including Huey-Cobra helicopter
gunships, provided by Iran and flown by Iranian pilots. The deep-seated
Baloch nationalism based on tribal identity had international
as well as domestic aspects. Divided in the nineteenth century
among Iran, Afghanistan, and British India, the Baloch found their
aspirations and traditional nomadic life frustrated by the presence
of national boundaries and the extension of central administration
over their lands. Moreover, many of the most militant Baloch nationalists
were also vaguely Marxist-Leninist and willing to risk Soviet
protection for an autonomous Balochistan. As the insurgency wore
on, the influence of a relatively small but disciplined liberation
front seemed to increase.
Bhutto was able to mobilize domestic support for his drive against
the Baloch. Punjab's support was most tangibly represented in
the use of the army to put down the insurgency. One of the main
Baloch grievances was the influx of Punjabi settlers, miners,
and traders into their resource-rich but sparsely populated lands.
Bhutto could also invoke the idea of national integration with
effect in the aftermath of Bengali secession. External assistance
to Bhutto was generously given by the shah of Iran, who feared
a spread of the insurrection among the Iranian Baloch. Some foreign
governments feared that an independent or autonomous Balochistan
might allow the Soviet Union to develop and use the port at Gwadar,
and no outside power was willing to assist the Baloch openly or
to sponsor the cause of Baloch autonomy. During the mid-1970s,
Afghanistan was preoccupied with its own internal problems and
seemingly anxious to normalize relations with Pakistan. India
was fearful of further balkanization of the subcontinent after
Bangladesh, and the Soviet Union did not wish to jeopardize the
leverage it was gaining with Pakistan. However, during the Bhutto
regime hostilities in Balochistan were protracted. The succeeding
Zia ul-Haq government took a more moderate approach, relying more
on economic development to placate the Baloch.
Bhutto proceeded cautiously in the field of land reform and did
not fulfill earlier promises of distributing land to the landless
on the scale he had promised, as he was forced to recognize and
to cultivate the sociopolitical influence of landowners. However,
he did not impede the process of consolidation of tenancy rights
and acquisition of mid-sized holdings by servicemen. Punjab was
the vital agricultural region of Pakistan; it remained a bastion
of support for the government.
Bhutto specifically targeted the powerful and privileged Civil
Service of Pakistan (CSP) and introduced measures of administrative
reform with the declared purpose of limiting the paternalistic
power of the bureaucracy. The CSP, however, had played the role
of guardian alongside the army since independence. Many of its
members reacted badly to Bhutto's politicizing appointments, for
which patronage seemed a more important criterion than merit or
Relations with India were, at best, uneven during the Bhutto
period. He accomplished the return of the prisoners of war through
the Simla Agreement of 1972, but no settlement of the key problem
of Kashmir was possible beyond an agreement that any settlement
should be peaceful. Bhutto reacted strongly to the detonation
of a nuclear device by India in 1974 and pledged that Pakistan
would match that development even if Pakistanis had to "eat grass"
to cover the cost.
Bhutto claimed success for his economic policies. The gross national
product (GNP--see Glossary) and the rate of economic growth climbed.
Inflation fell from 25 percent in fiscal year (FY--see Glossary)
1972 to 6 percent in FY 1976, although other economic measures
he introduced did not perform as well.
Bhutto pointed out that his foreign policy had brought Pakistan
prestige in the Islamic world, peace if not friendship with India,
and self-respect in dealings with the great powers. He felt assured
of victory in any election. Therefore, with commitment to a constitutional
order at stake, in January 1977 he announced he would hold national
and provincial assembly elections in March.
The response of the opposition to this news was vigorous. Nine
political parties ranging across the ideological spectrum formed
a united front--the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA). Fundamentalist
Muslims were satisfied by the adoption of Nizam-i-Mustafa (see
Glossary), meaning "Rule of the Prophet," as the front's slogan.
Modern secular elements, however, respected the association of
Air Marshal Asghar Khan. The PNA ran candidates for almost all
national and provincial seats. As curbs on the press and political
activity were relaxed for the election campaign, an apparently
strong wave of support for the PNA swept Pakistan's cities. This
prompted a whirlwind tour of the country by Bhutto, with all his
winning charm in the forefront. In the background lurked indirect
curbs on free expression as well as political gangsterism.
National Assembly election results were announced on March 7,
proclaiming the PPP the winner with 155 seats versus thirty-six
seats for the PNA. Expecting trouble, Bhutto invoked Section 144
of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which restricted assembly for
political reasons. The PNA immediately challenged the election
results as rigged and demanded a new election--not a recount.
Bhutto refused, and a mass protest movement was launched against
him. Religious symbols were used by both sides to mobilize agitation;
for example, Bhutto imposed prohibitions on the consumption of
alcoholic beverages and on gambling. Despite talks between Bhutto
and opposition leaders, the disorders persisted as a multitude
of frustrations were vented. The army intervened on July 5, took
all political leaders including Bhutto into custody, and proclaimed
Data as of April 1994