On July 5, 1977, the military regime of General Ziaul Haq had overthrown the democratically-elected government led by Pakistan People’s Party founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The PPP had won the 1977 parliamentary elections but a conservative alliance alleged widespread rigging, and violence escalated across the country.
On July 5, 1977, then army chief Ziaul Haq deposed Bhutto in a coup.
The late PPP leader was then tried by the Supreme Court for authorising the murder of a political opponent. He was controversially convicted and executed in 1979.
In April 2011, Asif Ali Zardari, then president, approached the Supreme Court through a presidential reference under Article 186 of the constitution seeking opinion on revisiting Bhutto’s murder trial but the reference remains undecided.
Bhutto played an integral role in initiating the country’s nuclear programme.
His economic programme was based on nationalisation.
In a message on the 40th anniversary of the 1977 military takeover, Asif Ali Zardari said it was on this day four decades ago when the nation was hijacked by “bonaparts”.
“It was on this day that the military dictator began decimating state institutions, privatising jihad [holy war] and enacting black laws against women and non-Muslims in the name of religion. It was on this day that the nation began its collective descent into anarchy and mayhem - a descent that still continues in the name of religion,” he said.
The former president added: “Unfortunately the disastrous policy of privatised jihad and exploitation of religion for political ends continues to haunt the nation. The need to clearly understand the disastrous consequences of these policies has never been as great as it is today.”
He said that the nation should pledge to reverse these policies, fight the mindset of religious extremism and end the privatisation of jihad and sectarianism that the dictator’s polices spawned.
“On this day we reiterate our resolve that Pakistan will have to be a democratic, pluralistic and a moderate country in which there is no place for religious extremism, militancy and sectarianism,” the former president said.
The PPP leader said on this day “let us also resolve that dictators and usurpers of people’s rights and freedoms must be punished,” he said, adding “they will be.”
Zardari paid homage to the martyrs of democracy. “On this day my thoughts also go to those martyrs of democracy who suffered and sacrificed during that black period of our national history,” he said.
He added: “Our thoughts also go to those who have laid down their lives and suffered otherwise in fighting the extremist mindset and militant ideology.”
Meanwhile, yesterday PPP leader Nargis Nargis Faiz Malik said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was running away from accountability.
In a statement, she said sky will not fall if PM Sharif’s daughter Maryamn Nawaz attended the Joint Investigation Team’s proceedings in the Panama leaks scandal.
“Nawaz Sharif used to speak of accountability. Why is he scared now? He should recall how the PPP leadership appeared before the Swiss magistrates,” she said.
Malik said incumbent Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif used to call the judges to get favourable verdicts. “They should not run away from accountability. There should not be selective accountability,” she added.