Tuesday, April 3, 2018
By Lal Khan
Bhutto was not a Marxist revolutionary, but he put forward a socialist programme that penetrated mass consciousness. Paradoxically, the movement radicalised Bhutto even more.
One of the most popular mass leaders in Pakistan’s history was hanged through the gallows in the late hours of April 4th at the altar of Rawalpindi’s central jail. Bhutto had spent his last birthday — his 51st — in the death cell and was physically frail when taken to the gallows. There was a feeling of helplessness and desperation, anguish and frustration amongst the vast stratum of the populace. There was no leadership to put forward a strategy and plan to galvanise the seething revolt in the society.
In its April 5th issue, The Guardian wrote, ‘Millions of Pakistanis mourn the fate of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Widely revered by the mass of ordinary people…He was a politician who broke away from the gentlemanly cabals of wealthy landowners and bureaucrats who had previously ruled Pakistan between military dictatorships. Bhutto brought power to the people… He promised food, clothing and shelter. He exchanged his Savile Row suits and silk handkerchiefs for baggy trousers and long Pakistani shirts, and he went electioneering in the bazaars and in remote areas previously shunned by his rivals…Bhutto was a complex and contradictory figure. He was intellectually sharp and came from an illustrious family: the combination often jelled into arrogance…If Bhutto was a bully, he was no coward. His bearing and his demeanour in the last appalling months were noble. He would not be beaten by adverse circumstances, would not beg, or plead.’
This historical tragedy became a landmark set back in the country’s class struggle of the toiling masses. Earlier in July 1977 Pakistan Army’s chief General Ziaul Haq had overthrown Bhutto’s government elected on the basis of adult franchise. Bhutto launched a vigorous campaign against the despotic regime’s coup and roused the masses in a radical movement. Pakistan’s elite and western imperialists felt their stranglehold endangered. Alarm bells started ringing in the echelons of power from London to Washington.
Bhutto’s accession to power was designed to pacify the potential workers revolt in the wake of a humiliating defeat in East Bengal. Bhutto and the PPP leaders strived to alleviate the plight of the oppressed through radical reforms. But Pakistan’s rotten capitalism had no room for reforms even then
The imperialists, Pakistan’s reactionary bourgeois, its military, the right wing politicians, Islamic fundamentalists and the supreme judiciary congregated in their craved vengeance to eliminate Bhutto. Their existential fright was from a revived populist leader becoming the focal point of another revolutionary insurrection. The Supreme Court of Pakistan had bowed to the whims of the tyrant Zia, insanely obsessed with Bhutto’s assassination.
Bhutto’s transformation from being the general secretary of General Ayub Khan’s conservative ‘Conventional Muslim League’ and the dictator’s foreign minister into a populist mass leader championing revolutionary socialism was the outcome of the mass revolt of 1968-69. The Pakistan Peoples Party that he had founded in November 1967, with the guidance and support of some of the Pakistan’s most radical left wing activists and intellectuals, had gained mass support for its socialist programme almost overnight.
The students and Pakistan’s virgin proletariat supported by the landless peasantry had dared to rise and challenge the dictatorship and the system in the revolution of 1968-69. PPP’s founding Documents and its 1970 election manifesto were the most radical in post partition South Asia. But Bhutto was no Lenin and PPP was not a Bolshevik party. The revolution was derailed through the resignation of Ayub Khan, elections of 1970 and the war in East Bengal to distract and deviate the class struggle.
Bhutto’s accession to power was designed to pacify the potential workers revolt in the wake of a humiliating defeat in East Bengal. Bhutto and the PPP leaders strived to alleviate the plight of the oppressed through radical reforms. But Pakistan’s rotten capitalism had no room for reforms even then.
As despair and malaise began to set in society, the state came back to reassert itself. By 1973 Bhutto had tacitly become a ‘captive’ of the very state he salvaged after the catastrophic defeat in the 1971 war. Bhutto developed the misconception that he could manage the affairs and overcome irreconcilable class interests and reactionary nature of the state. Despite his Bonapartist acts and strivings to grasp authority, it was the convalescing state again calling the shots. The state pushed Bhutto to adhere to its policies. The consequences were a brutal military operation in Balochistan, the acceleration of a nuclear programme, Islamic Summit and other deleterious acts such as the killing of the advanced workers in Karachi’s industrial hubs.
But Bhutto was still overwhelming. The Americans were annoyed at his dissentious stances. The CIA financed and nudged the deep state to cobble an unholy alliance of the liberal, secular, nationalist and Islamicist parties in a reactionary crusade to overthrow Bhutto’s. On the pretext of the ‘national sovereignty’ the military struck and Bhutto was deposed in a ‘blood-less’ coup. Crucial lessons can be learnt from Bhutto’s repentance and the conclusions drawn during his incarceration. In his last work, ‘If I am assassinated’ Bhutto wrote, ‘I am suffering this ordeal because I sought an honourable and equitable via media of conflicting interests…the lesson of this coup d’état is that a via media, a modus vivendi, a compromise is a utopian dream. The coup d’état demonstrates the class struggle is irreconcilable and it must result in the victory of one class over the other. Obviously, whatever the temporary setbacks, the struggle can lead only to the victory of one class.’ This book was destined to become his final testament.
The party that proclaims Bhutto’s inheritance has morphed into a subservient apologist of the state and US imperialism — the very forces complicit in his judicial murder. Since the 1980’s PPP’s leadership systematically abandoned lessons in Bhutto’s last testament that class struggle and revolutionary socialism as the only way forward.
Bhutto was not a Marxist revolutionist but he put forward a socialist programme that penetrated mass consciousness at the ripe moment. Paradoxically the movement radicalised Bhutto even more. This chemistry between the masses and populist leaders has prevailed in modern history. Bhutto’s political sojourn proves that people change by impacts of objective conditions and leaders are radicalised by the heat of class struggle. As Bhutto points out in his last writing, class conciliation is always disastrous. Only through an irreconcilable class struggle the working classes can achieve a socialist victory with the instrument of a Leninist party.
By Syed I Husain
Whenever I read or listen to Bhutto’s legendary speech, no matter how hard I resist, it leaves me in tears...
So what if the whole of East Pakistan falls?
So what if the whole of East Pakistan falls?
We will build a new Pakistan. We will build a better Pakistan.
Mr President you referred to the distinguished, Foreign Minister of India. How is he distinguished when his hands are full of blood, when his heart is full of venom? I extended a hand of friendship to him. I am talking as the authentic leader of the people of West Pakistan.
But he did not take cognizance of it. I say what Cato said to the Romans, Carthage must be destroyed. If India thinks that it is going to subjugate Pakistan, Eastern Pakistan as well as Western Pakistan, because we are one people, we are one state, then we shall say, Carthage must be destroyed.
We will fight for thousand years. India is intoxicated today with its military success. You want us to lick the dust. We are not going to lick the dust. I am not a rat. I have never ratted in my life. I have faced assassination attempts. I have faces imprisonments, I have always confronted crises. Today I am not ratting, but I am leaving your Security Council.
I find it disgraceful to my person and my country to remain here a moment longer, legalise aggression.
I will not be a party to it.
We will go back and fight.
My country beckons me…
Eighteen years old Benazir Bhutto was sitting just behind him.
You can take your Security Council.
Here you are. I am going. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto walked out of the Chamber vigorously.
This was the speech of Mr Bhutto in Security Council on December 15, 1971. On December 16 General Niazi surrendered. We surrendered because otherwise we’d have had to destroy the city between our two armies, said General Niazi.
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto wrote to General Ziaul Haq from his death cell: Politics is not the illegal seizure of the state machinery. You take so much pride in being a soldier of Islam, an expression you stole from my speech at the Islamic Summit. Are you true to anyone and what have you learnt from the sacred principles of Islam? Does Islam teach you to break your oath? Islam teaches you the virtues of justice
Whenever I read or listen to this speech of Mr Bhutto, no matter how much I try, it leaves me in tears.
I was in high school when after almost five and a half years on July 5, 1977, General Muhammad Ziaul Haq suspended the constitution and imposed martial law and addressed the nation in the following words:
You must have learnt by now that the Government of Mr Zulfikar Ali Bhutto has ceased to exist. I am grateful to the Almighty that the process has been accomplished smoothly and peacefully. I genuinely feel that the survival of this country lies in democracy and democracy alone.
My dear countrymen, I have expressed my real feelings and intensions, without the slightest ambiguity. I seek guidance from Almighty God and help and cooperation from my countrymen to achieve this noble mission. I also hope that the judiciary will extend wholehearted cooperation to me, CMLA General Zia concluded.
On July 14, 1977 in his first press conference he vowed that, my intention has all along been to lay a tradition that the Army will not meddle in politics, let the politicians decide things by themselves. I am there only for 90 days. I am very humble man. I say Islam has to be the cornerstone of this Islamic Republic of Pakistan. I am a Muslim by faith, by birth and by actions.
I declare once again that elections shall, InshaAllah be held in October, General Zia assured the nation on July 27, 1977.
Three days before he was forced to retire, CJ Yaqub Ali Khan had permitted Begum Nusrat Bhutto to file a petition in Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of her husband’s detention. However in the unanimous view of nine members Supreme Court, her petition to release her husband and his colleagues from prison was dismissed as not maintainable. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s trial for conspiring to murder Ahmed Raza Kasuri carried on.
During the trial Mr Bhutto said: An independent judiciary is the antithesis of Martial Law. An independent judiciary can only function under the umbrella of the Constitution and not under the shadow of the gun of a brown Duke of Wellington. An independent judiciary exists side by side with an executive chosen by the people and a legislature elected by them. But the people’s Executive is in jail, the assemblies have become as silent as the graveyards.
Can one flower flourish in a garden turned into a desert?
Benazir Bhutto attended her father’s trial religiously, she was relieved to learn that none of the shells picked up by the investigating police around the site of Kasuri’s ambush fit any of the FSF weapons that were supposed to have been used in the attempted murder. When she told this news to her father, he replied to his excited daughter gently. They are going to kill me. It doesn’t matter what evidence you come up with. They are going to murder me for a murder I did not commit.
In March, 1978, Maulvi Mushtaq and his whole bench found Zulfikar Ali Bhutto guilty of murder and sentenced him to death.
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto wrote to General Ziaul Haq from his death cell: Politics is not the illegal seizure of the state machinery. You take so much pride in being a soldier of Islam, an expression you stole from my speech at the Islamic Summit. Are you true to anyone and what have you learnt from the sacred principles of Islam? Does Islam teach you to break your oath. Islam teaches you the virtues of justice.
What justice can I expect from you? My persecution, which is without parallel in the contemporary history of the sub-continent, is a matter of public knowledge. The day of accounting awaits every individual. I have no doubt that you will be taken to the doors of Lal Shahbaz Qalander for the blood you spilt. I would be a dishonest coward if I did not tell you how determined are my people to see the dawn of that day.
The sun had died down and the final appeal had been denied. At 2:00 am on April 4, 1979 Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was brought from his death cell to the gallows and hanged by the neck until pronounced dead. It appears that we have not learned anything from the history and it feels sometimes that we are still living in the 1970s and 1980s struggling to win democratic Supremacy, we are fighting hard for an independent judiciary. I recollect the words of Ms Asma Jahangir; for a flawed democracy we need more democracy. We must not impart up the struggle for a prosperous and democratic Pakistan.
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto lives on and he always will!
By Sherry Rehman
Among the many controversies that clouded the most famous trial in Pakistan’s history, the martial law regime’s brutal vitiation of the political atmosphere is often better remembered than the inner workings of the actual trial that led to the judicial execution of Pakistan’s first elected Prime Minister (PM). By transforming the country into a dark gulag of oppression amidst the severe political victimization of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Pakistan’s democratic forces were put through unprecedented repression. As Chief Martial Law Administrator, General Zia was determined to be rid of PM Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, hence his actions after the imposition of martial law were designed to create the illusion of a civilian trial. At every step, independent observers — both international and local — were stunned at how the decks were systematically stacked against Bhutto.
History cannot wash away the fact that blatant changes were made in the composition of the benches, nor has it been able to erase the way the case was investigated, and the lack of evidence presented over a span of two years. The prejudicial remarks made by General Zia even before the trial began, that ZA Bhutto was a murderer and would not escape punishment, were in themselves an open provocation to bias. Anywhere else in the world, the trial court would have taken notice of such a statement and investigated the premise motivating the trial that booked Mr Bhutto in a conspiracy for murder.
The Court had already been enquiring into the matter, after a private complaint by Ahmad Reza Kasuri on the alleged conspiracy in the murder of his father by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
The case was reopened on October 1, 1975, after the imposition of martial law. It is a matter of record, that while the fig-leaf of a civilian trial was duly maintained, all the investigations into Ahmad Kasuri’s father’s murder were carried out by Zia’s martial law investigators, and not by the police. On September 11, 1977, an incomplete challan was presented by the prosecution before a magistrate in Lahore against Bhutto, charging him of murder in 1974. No evidence could be presented, and no record suggested any links, except that Kasuri and Bhutto were political opponents. On the same day that the magistrate sent the challan to a Sessions Court, in highly unusual haste, the state sent an application to transfer the case to the Lahore High Court under Acting Chief Justice (CJ) Maulvi Mushtaq. While the bench headed by Justice Samdani had granted bail to Bhutto on September 13, 1977, he was still detained four days later with 10 colleagues from 70 Clifton in Karachi. It was no small coincidence, which Bhutto noted in his remarks on the blatant bias against him, that the CJ was also the Chief Election Commissioner. He was confirmed as Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court during the hearing of the trial, leaving no room for questions about the executive’s undue influence on the court.
Procedural flaws bogged the trial from its inception. The withdrawal of the case from the lower court to a higher court, for instance, was moved without hearing the accused or his counsel. Despite the fact that Bhutto had been released on bail by another bench of the High Court, he was arrested under a martial law order and produced before a full bench without a rescinding of the order of the other court. Despite repeated pleas against the blatant bias of some members of the bench, the transfer of the case to another court was not allowed.
Once proceedings began, Bhutto was often disallowed from being present, while his right to record his statements when speaking in his own defence were denied. The judge would put his hand on the microphone to prevent the defendant’s remarks from being recorded. Later, a special microphone switch was installed which was turned on and off directly from the bench. Evidentiary documents against Bhutto were barely or rarely shared by the prosecution, and after he was barred from the trial proceedings and his applications to be heard were rejected, proceedings were ordered to be held in-camera in Lahore jail, on the premise that Bhutto had boycotted the trial.
The fact that Bhutto was never tried by the Sessions Court, which would have been legally bound to follow the case law developed up to the time of the trial, which was ignored by the High Court, was itself a huge blot on the whole exercise.
Although the judicial bias was evident in invoking Mr Bhutto’s personal character as well as other non-essential issues of no relevance to the case, the prosecution’s position pivoted on the false testimony given by Masood Mahmood, Director General of the Federal Security Force. He was held for two months ‘in custody’ to produce the relevant approver’s statement against Bhutto, while there were no eye-witnesses to the allegation that Mahmood had been ordered by the former PM to murder Kasuri. Later, in private conversations with the author and even in her book, ‘Daughter of the East,’ Benazir Bhutto would describe how the DC Larkana, Khalid Ahmad, for instance, had been tortured to attempt to extract a confession from him in the backdrop of graphically telecast floggings by PTV and arrests of PPP activists in the hundreds. Unlike many political prisoners who would come out of torture, dribbling and paralysed, but unbroken, Mahmood quickly made his choice in the face of state pressure. Independent observers noted that up to the time of the trial, there was absolutely no precedence of a conviction and sentence of capital punishment awarded on the testimony of an approver.
After the judgement dated March 18, 1978, all four men accused with Mr Bhutto were sentenced to death. This was highly unusual, generally any accused who were allegedly abettors to murder were not given death sentences in Pakistan’s courts. Bhutto then took the appeal against his conviction to the Supreme Court. This appeal was heard for months before a bench of nine judges presided over by Chief Justice Anwar-ul-Haq, against whom an application of bias was also moved. Questions about Maulvi Mushtaq’s role in the High Court and later the Supreme Court’s divided verdict and the removal of Justice Qaiser Khan, who could have continued as ad hoc judge, were only some of the questions that clouded the verdict given on February 6, 1979. One of three dissenting judges, Ghulam Safdar Shah was subsequently hounded until he left the country. Dorab Patel, the other dissenting judge, said there was no case against Bhutto, and went on to fight rights abuses under the Zia regime as the founding chair of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). All three, including Justice Halim expressed the view that the appeals of ZA Bhutto be allowed, that his sentence and conviction be set aside and that he be acquitted with his co-accused, Mian Mohammad Abbas and given his liberty.
In his ‘Constitutional and Political History of Pakistan,’ Hamid Ali Khan said that by the verdict in Bhutto’s case, where they got rid of Zia’s arch-enemy, “The two Chief Justices, Anwar-ul-Haq and Maulvi Mushtaq, thought they were the benefactors of the regime and could get anything done.” They certainly did. Mushtaq packed the courts with obscure and pliable judges, while Haq was obliged by being made acting President when Zia went abroad. They had already indemnified Zia’s martial law in the famous Nusrat Bhutto case.
Despite references to clemency by the Supreme Court in its judgement on the review petition, no mercy was shown by Zia. Every Muslim state, without exception, appealed for Bhutto’s life. Chinese and Soviet leaders telegraphed the same to Pakistan. From the Western world, Kurt Waldheim, Secretary General of the United Nations, President Jimmy Carter of the USA, Helmut Schmidt, Chancellor of West Germany, President Giscard d’Estaing of France, Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada, Prime Minister James Callaghan of the United Kingdom, all sent messages urging clemency.
Zia knew that despite the split decision of the Court, the bench had unanimously recommended to commute the death sentence to life. No verdict split along four-three judges had ever resulted in a death penalty in Pakistan. “No executive government in judicial history had refused to accept the unanimous recommendation of the highest court of the land to commute the death sentence”, said Benazir Bhutto repeatedly. She was right. No one in the history of South Asia, let alone Pakistan, had been put to death for conspiracy to murder. In an anomaly of law, capital punishment was awarded under Section 109 of the Pakistan Penal Code.
The decision rested solely with Zia. He didn’t want to let Bhutto survive as a thorn in his side. Yet he let it be known that he wanted to hear the former Prime Minister appeal. But Bhutto too gave no quarter. His famous remarks to his daughter, Benazir Bhutto, who later became twice-elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, were that he would rather die at the hands of a dictator and be remembered as a man who refused to plead for his life. “An innocent man does not appeal for mercy for a crime he did not commit” he said.
One of Bhutto’s lawyers, Hafiz Lakho, accompanied by Amina Piracha, had tried desperately to submit another review petition in Karachi. Neither the registrar nor the judge was willing to accept the petition. In Sihala Police Camp, where Benazir and her mother, Nusrat Bhutto had been detained from February 12, 1979, Benazir was served with another detention order, restricting her for another fifteen days. The grounds for the extension was that she would “resort to further agitation as a final bid to secure the release of her father, posing a serious threat to peace and tranquillity and to the efficient conduct of Martial Law”. Down the road from Sihala, Zia’s minions began their attempts to break the courage of the most famous prisoner of Rawalpindi jail. The man who proudly wore a silk shirt and tailored suit to his trial, even after days of illness and solitary confinement. He was left with nothing in his cell, not even a bed to sleep on, days before his execution. Yet he did not relent.
On April 4, 1979, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged at two in the morning at Rawalpindi Central Jail. The execution took place in the dead of night, against all jail manual rules. The regime wanted him buried before sunset, so that no political uprising could take place. Again, against all rules, no medical officer was present to certify the execution of the former PM, a point that was repeated in the reference. His body was flown from Chaklala airport at 4 AM, to be buried at Garhi Khuda Bux in Larkana, quickly and quietly in the presence of a few relatives and servants. Neither his wife, Nusrat Bhutto, nor his daughter, Benazir, were even informed in time to pay their last respects at the burial.
32 years later, in 2011, when the case was re-submitted as a presidential reference by President Asif Ali Zardari, under Article 186 (1 and 2) in 2011 before an 11-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, Justice Jawad H. Khawaja remarked that it was amazing that an FIR was registered in 1974 and an incomplete charge sheet was submitted in 1977. Among many questions, the reference asked was how, never before in the judicial history of Pakistan, was a murder trial of an accused conducted by a high court in its original jurisdiction thereby denying the accused the right of appeal to the High Court. It was also pointed out that former Supreme Court CJ, Anwar-ul-Haq had given the benefit of the doubt to the Lahore High Court. When Maulvi Mushtaq had submitted an application to the police that in the event of his death, Bhutto was to be held responsible, the die had been cast. How could Bhutto expect a fair trial from a judge like Mushtaq, who had already declared his animus as a complainant against the under-trial prisoner?
When the presidential reference was presented, the Attorney General of Pakistan, Maulvi Anwar-ul-Haq reminded the highest court that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged within 12 hours of the issuance of a black warrant against him. High Court rules say that no sentence can be implemented within seven days of the issuance of a black warrant.
Despite Chief Justice Chaudhry’s ordering of the examination of the police record, no FIR or notes by the Investigating Officer against Bhutto could be found by the IG Police, Punjab. Chief Justice Chaudhry remarked “This case is of no ordinary man, but of Bhutto,” so they would be respectful in dealing with the presidential reference.
The reference was invoked for answering key questions in the law, for the Bhutto family and the Pakistan People’s Party to bring to the highest judicial forum the criminal wrongs done to the first democratically elected PM of Pakistan. He lived and died to be remembered in history. Now it is up to history,to remind the world of the injustice done in his judicial murder.
Pakistani nation will feel the pain of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s loss for ages but those who took his life have fallen into the dustbin of history forever: Bilawal Bhutto
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said that Pakistani nation will feel the pain of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s loss for ages but those, who took the life of this great leader, have fallen into the dustbin of history forever.
Paying tribute to Founder Chairman of the Party Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on his 39th martyrdom anniversary, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto gave a vibrant, unanimous and strong structure of the state through 1973 Constitution.
Two years later, he united the Muslim world as a global force to reckon with and emerged as international visionary leader, added the PPP Chairman.
He said that Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto laid foundations of a true democracy with equal suffrage and launched both macro-economic and micro-economic projects to uplift the whole country and its citizens without any discrimination.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari further pointed out that Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was aware of maintaining the regional security balance and launched nuclear programme for an impregnable defence of the country a couple of years after he got freed 90,000 Pakistani troopers held as prisoners of war (POW) from Indian camps and recovered occupied Pakistani territory back through his diplomatic skills.
He said that the martyred PPP Founder inspired the whole nation and brought out politics from the drawing rooms to the streets among the people taking ayes from the whole nation for all the major decisions.
Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto initiated mega projects like Pakistan Steel, Mechanical and Aeronautical Complexes, Port Qasim and score of other industrial units of immense importance at the time, reminded Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
“He was friend of the poor, downtrodden and voiceless, “he said. “He enlightened peasants, industrial workers, women, students and common man about their importance and their right of franchise”.
They were legitimate fountainhead of the political power,” the PPP Chairman said.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto showed to the nation as how to live and die proudly and the courage he displayed during his life and death made him a tall icon in Pakistan as well as in the world.
The PPP Chairman has reiterated the commitment of the Party leadership and workers to the ideals and vision of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and has vowed to accomplish his unfinished mission and epic struggle.