Following notes on Pakistan Politics since 1971 have been taken from A Brief History of Pakistan by James Wynbrandt.
Zulfiqar Bhutto’s Regime:
1971 War Investigation:
The same week he was named president, Bhutto convened a commission to determine the causes of the military and political disaster Pakistan had suffered in Bengal, placing the chief justice of the Supreme Court, Hamoodur Rahman (served 1968–85), as head of the fact-finding body.
The report concluded the military defeat was the result of systemic failures of political as well as military processes.
In the immediate aftermath of the war, India held some 93,000Pakistani troops and civilians as prisoners of war.
To win their release, Bhutto met Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi (r. 1966–77, 1980–84) at Simla, in northern India, in late June 1972 and agreed to recognize Bangladesh.
India relinquished more than 5,000 square miles of Pakistani territory it held, and Pakistan relinquished about 70 square miles of Indian territory under its control.
Almost two years later, on February 22, 1974, Pakistan formally recognized Bangladesh, announced at the Islamic Conference in Lahore with the leaders of Islamic nations in attendance.
Though he had championed restoration of democracy, Bhutto initially retained martial law.
In March 1972 Bhutto gained effective control over the military by putting officers loyal to him in command of the army and air force.
He pushed through an interim constitution that gave him expanded powers.
He initially allowed formation of non-PPP-led governments in the areas of NWFP and Baluchistan, but within a few months dismissed these local governments, alleging foreign powers held undue influence over them.
He also banned the National Awami Party, the primary voice of the political opposition.
Bhutto set the nation on a more economically socialist and politically nonaligned course. In an attempt to break up the concentration of wealth symbolized in the expression “22 families” in early 1972 Bhutto nationalized 10 heavy industries, including steel, chemicals, and cement.
In March he unveiled large-scale land reforms. Since 1959 landholdings had been restricted to 500 acres for irrigated land and 1,000 acres for nonirrigated land. To further break up large estates and make more land available to peasants, the Bhutto government limited ownership of agricultural land to a maximum of 150 acres for irrigated and 300 acres for non-irrigated land. Rights of tenant farmers were also strengthened.
On the foreign-policy front Bhutto terminated Pakistan’s membership in the Commonwealth of Nations and SEATO and recognized the Communist nations of East Germany, North Korea, and North Vietnam.
Bhutto pursued a policy of bilateralism, maintaining good relations with all nations by eschewing alliances with any.
The policy’s purpose was to facilitate relations with the three competing major powers: China, the Soviet Union, and the United States.
Unrest in Baluchistan
Baluchistan, with its tradition of independence and aspirations for autonomy, was inspired by the birth of Bangladesh.
The Baluchi tribes, spread across Central Asia, had been separated by international borders in the 19th century when boundaries between Iran, Afghanistan, and British India were established, disrupting their nomadic life and culture.
A large portion of Pakistan’s mineral and energy resources were located in Baluchistan, but the local population, among the poorest in Pakistan, benefited little from the wealth of natural resources.
The Baluchi were unhappy with the growing number of miners, traders, and settlers, mostly from Punjab, migrating to Baluchistan to explore these resources.
Bhutto and others were concerned the Baluchi nationalists might receive support from the Afghan, Indian, or Soviet governments.
With the pledge of help from Iran, Bhutto used harsh methods to suppress the insurrection. The Pakistan army waged full-scale warfare against the insurgents,
The threat of loss of another major piece of the nation, so soon after the loss of the East Wing, also helped solidify public backing.
Western governments feared an independent Baluchistan allied with Moscow would give the Soviet Union its long-sought warm-water port, Baluchistan’s port of Gwadar.
The Soviet Union, which saw Bhutto as a friendly leader, did not want to alienate a potentially important client state.
Afghanistan seemed eager to normalize relations with Pakistan and so refrained from supporting the Baluchi cause.
And India did not want to see further fragmentation of the subcontinent and the instability that could accompany it.
Bhutto’s harsh methods ultimately quelled the opposition. Many involved in the movement sought sanctuary in Afghanistan and the Soviet Union as well as in the United Kingdom and France.
Bhutto oversaw the drafting of the nation’s third constitution, accomplished with the cooperation of opposition parties, and was able to reach consensus on the fractious issues of provincial autonomy, Islam’s place in government, and the nature of the federal government.
Unlike the previous constitution, which gave the president absolute power, this version made the prime minister the key power.
It placed the military under civilian authority in an effort to prevent coups, which had previously brought military rulers to the presidency.
The constitution of 1973 was also more Islamic in nature than the two previous constitutions had been.
It created an Islamic advisory council, the Council of Islamic Ideology, to ensure all laws were inkeeping with the tenets of Islam,as had the constitution of 1962.
These included making the teaching of the Qur’an compulsory in schools; making the government responsible for organizing the collection of zakat, or charitable donations, which Islam requires; and making the state responsible for preventing gambling and prostitution, which the religion forbids.
Bhutto’s Politics- Growing Repression
Pakistan appeared to be back on a democratic course. But Bhutto continued to use the powers of his office to undermine and battle the opposition on any disagreement.
Amendments to the constitution adopted during his rule reflected the changing tenor of the Bhutto regime.
The first recognized Bangladesh, following an accord on mutual recognition reached between the countries in early 1974;
A second amendment was passed to win favor from religious parties. That amendment was adopted when a battle over the Ahmadiyya movement resurfaced in the fall of 1974. Seeking to bolster his credentials with the religious establishment, Bhutto issued a resolution passed by the National Assembly proclaiming the Ahmadiyya to be a non-Muslim sect.
A third amendment adopted limited the rights of detainees,
And a fourth, in 1976, curtailed the rights of political opponents of the ruling party as Bhutto’s rule became increasingly autocratic.
Reluctant to use the military in his politics of repression, given the armed forces’ history of coups, Bhutto created the Federal Security Force (FSF), a paramilitary police corps.
At first deployed to maintain law and order in situations beyond the capabilities of the police, in time the security force was used for gathering political intelligence and allegedly disrupting the activities of political opposition groups.
As Bhutto’s rule continued, his authoritarian manner and efforts to suppress political opposition eroded public support.
Charges of corruption and mismanagement grew, fueled by the country’s imploding economy and rising level of inflation.
Rather than battle Bhutto and his party individually, nine opposition parties united under the banner of the Pakistan National Alliance(PNA).
In the elections for the National Assembly, held on March 7, Bhutto’s PPP took the majority of seats and the PNA won only 36, a surprisingly poor showing given the crowds the PNA had drawn during the campaign.
The PNA protested, claiming widespread election fraud and intimidation, and demanded new elections to be held under the supervision of the armed forces.
Bhutto rejected demands for new elections, and in response the PNA called for nationwide strikes and protests, which had the support of religious and business groups.
Bhutto met the opposition with defiance. PNA leaders were jailed and martial law was declared in Karachi, Lahore, and Hyderabad, while major cities throughout the country were put under curfew.
In May and June battles between PNA supporters and government security forces became particularly violent. Bhutto’s repressive tactics failed to end the standoff.
With the impasse threatening to incite anarchy across the country, on July 5, 1977, General Muhammad Zia ul-Haq (1924–88) arrested Bhutto and members of his cabinet and imposed martial law. The constitution was suspended and all legislative bodies dissolved. It was the country’s third military coup.
Relations with the United States improved during Zia’s rule as well. The Iranian Revolution had brought a virulently anti-U.S. Shi’i regime to power in Tehran, and the United States needed friends in the region. Pakistan, dominated by Sunnis, also saw a threat across the border in Iran. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979 was another catalyst for the suddenly strong relationship.
Pakistan became a major ally of the United States as money and matériel were routed through Pakistan to support the mujahideen,or holy warriors, who were organized to battle the infidel invaders.
Pakistan, for its support of U.S. efforts, received most-favored-nation trading status. At the same time some 4 million Afghan war refugees fled into Baluchistan and the NWFP.
Pakistan’s primary intelligenceagency, the Directorate for Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), served asliaison between the Pakistani and U.S. governments and the mujahideen.
Founded in 1948, the ISI’s role was expanded under Ayub Khan’s rule in the 1950s, when agents were employed in monitoring oppositionpoliticians and supporting the country’s martial-law rule.
The impact of the war continued to reverberate across Pakistan.Pakistan was beset by the drug trafficking and gunrunning that hadhelped fund the resistance to the Soviet occupation. Meanwhile, thefreedom fighters in Afghanistan turned on each other, transformingthe country into a lawless land. Ultimately the Taliban, Islamicfundamentalists, gained control of the country, making it a haven formilitant Islamists.
The influx of Afghan refugees across the border into Baluchistan and NWFP added another destabilizing element to an already volatileterritory.
The ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence agency, served as the conduit for the support to the mujahideen paid for by the CIA and Saudi Arabia, the two primary underwriters of the waragainst the Soviets.
The tide of Afghans fleeing over the border into Baluchistan led to charges by Baluchis that they werebecoming minorities in their own homeland.
Benazir Bhutto’s First Tenure, 1988-90
In order to form a government, Bhutto had to jettison the PPP’s nonaligned stance and forge a coalition with the Muhajir Qaumi Mahaz(MQM, or Muhajir National Movement).
In her first address to the nation as prime minister, Bhutto presented her vision of a Pakistan that was forward-thinking and democratic butguided by Islamic principles.
She announced the release of political prisoners, restoration of press freedoms, and the implementation of stalled educational and healthcare reforms. The ban on student unions and tradeunions was lifted.
She promised increased provincial autonomy, greater rights for women, and better relations with the United States, Russia, and China.
Improved relations with India were pursued in December 1988 at the fourth SAARC Summit Conference, where the path was cleared forthe acceptance of three peace agreements between Pakistan and India.
However, her stated policies were rarely translated into action. No legislation to improve welfare services for women was proposed. Campaign promises to repeal Hudood and Zina ordinances, which called for punishments such as amputations for theft and stoning for adultery, went unfulfilled. To be sure, Bhutto faced significant obstacles in advancing any legislative agenda.
Much of the decision making remained in the hands of the military and the intelligence agencies, where Zia had placed it. Bhutto was reluctant to challenge these powers, since the military had time and againdemonstrated readiness to take over the government when threatened.
Like her father, Benazir Bhutto was a secularist who, as an opposition leader, had denounced Zia’s move toward Islamization of Pakistan. As prime minister she altered this stance for political expediency but discovered that other groups and leaders werefarther ahead than she was in this approach.
Bhutto’s alliance with the MQM, while putting the PPP over the top in the national elections, proved an obstacle when it came to parliamentary action. Furthermore, her alliance with the rival political bloc weakened her credibility within the PPP (though it never threatened her leadership of the party), especially among theSindi nationalists who had been among her strongest supporters.
One of Bhutto’s notable shortcomings during this and her second administration as prime minister was her failure to follow through on her announced campaign initiatives to improve women’s health care and other socialissues concerning women.
However, her efforts were hampered by the ethnic violence that pervaded Sind and would ultimately cause the MQM to remove itself from the ruling coalition, paralyzing Pakistan’s Parliament and furtherdestabilizing Bhutto’s domestic program.
Nawaz Sharif’s First Regime, 1990-93
On November 1, 1990, Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharifbecame prime minister for the first time.
Identifying unemployment as the nation’s primary problem, Nawaz Sharif saw industrialization as the cure.
In May 1991 his government passed the Shariat Bill—the bill that Zia had tried but failed to push through the National Assembly in 1985—which made the Qur’an and the Sunna the law of the land provided that “the present political system . . . and the existing system of Government, shall not bechallenged” and provided that “the right of the non-Muslims guaranteed by or under the Constitution” shall not be infringed upon (Enforcementof Shari’ah Act, 1991, Act X of 1991, Section 3).
Sharif supported an economic policy focused on restoring to the private sector industriesthat had been nationalized by Zulfikar Bhutto.
Having no ties to the landowning aristocracy, Sharif also undertook targetedland reform efforts in Sind, where land was distributed to the poor.
Large development projects, such as the Ghazi Barotha Hydro Power Project on the Indus River in Punjab, the Gwadar Miniport in Baluchistan, and, in his second government, a superhighwayconnecting Lahore and Islamabad, were commissioned.
Perhaps Sharif’s most controversial economic program involved the distribution of “tens of thousands of taxis” to towns and villages. Technically, the government subsidized the purchase of the imported taxis by young men with the agreement that these “loans” would be repaid, but wellinto the Musharraf regime few of the loans had been paid off.
Sharif’s economic policies placed him in good standing with theWorld Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Pakistan’s national debt impeded Sharif’s economic policies, and this was compounded by the suspension of the United States’s military and economic assistance program (in response to Pakistan’snuclear-weapons program), and the end of the Soviet-Afghan War.
Exacerbating Pakistan’s dire economic situation during this time was adecline in worker remittances from the Persian Gulf.
In an effort to stem the chaos the Sharif government ordered citizens to turn in weapons, with little success. To deal quickly with those sowing the mayhem the legislature passed the Twelfth Amendment, which allowed for the quick establishment of trial courts to dispensesummary justice.
Relations between Nawaz Sharif and President Ishaq Khan were also souring. In 1993 the prime minister and president began trying to oust each otherthrough behind-the-scenes maneuvering.
As he had once before, on April 19, 1993, President Ishaq Khan invoked the Eighth Amendment, dismissed Nawaz Sharif and his governmentfor corruption, and dissolved the National Assembly.
General electionswere scheduled for July 1993.
However, in May the Supreme Courtoverturned the presidential order ousting the government, and NawazSharif was reinstated as prime minister.
Benazir Bhutto’s Second Regime, 1993-96
New national and provincial elections were held October 6–7, 1993.
PPP campaigned on the platform of an “Agenda for Change,” focusedon improvements of social services. The MQM boycotted the election.
Turnout was low, with only about 40 percent of those eligible voting.
ThePakistan Muslim League (PML) led by Nawaz Sharif won 72 seats.
The PPP won a plurality, with 86 seats in the National Assembly, but failedto win a majority.
Bhutto, through a coalition with minor parties and independents, achieved amajority.
In November, the national and provincial assemblies elected as president Farooq AhmedKhan Leghari (r. 1993–97)
In the fall of 1994 Nawaz Sharif embarked on a “trainmarch,” traveling by rail from Karachi to Peshawar to dramatize theiropposition to the Bhutto government.
In September a general strike was declared, and Nawaz Sharif called for another demonstration of resistance in October. Bhutto arrested several opposition leaders who took part in the protests, drawingwidespread condemnation.
Throughout the first half of the 1990s relations between Bhutto and Leghari deteriorated. Despite earlier pledges to revoke the EighthAmendment, Leghari instead invoked it. On November 5, 1996, Leghari dismissed the Benazir Bhutto government, alleging crimes including corruption,mismanagement, and murder.
In the February 1997 elections the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) won a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly andNawaz Sharif was reelected prime minister (r. 1997–99).
Nawaz’s Second Regime, 1996-99
During his second term in office Sharif made overturning the Eighth Amendment a priority, and in April 1997, with the support of all the political parties, the Thirteenth Amendment to the constitution was adopted by the National Assembly. It gave the prime minister authority to repeal Article 58 (2)(b), the Eighth Amendment article that allowedthe president to dismiss the prime minister and the National Assembly,
The Thirteenth Amendment also transferred the power to appoint the three chiefs of the armed forcesand provincial governors from the president to the prime minister.
Sharif arrested journalists who wrote critical articles about him, including respected figures Najam Sethi and Hussain Haqqani, and turned tax investigators on the editors who publishedtheir work.
When the Supreme Court presided over a corruption case in which Nawaz Sharif was a defendant in 1997, his supporters attackedthe court building, forcing proceedings to be suspended.
The chief justice of Pakistan, Syed Sajjad Ali Shah (served 1994–97), had become embroiled in judicial disagreements with the Sharif government,and Leghari threw his support behind Ali Shah.
Sharif had party enforcers storm the Supreme Court in November and remove Chief Justice Ali Shah from office. Unable to dislodge him by dissolving the government, as he had with Benazir Bhutto, President Leghari resigned on December 2, 1997.
On December 31, 1997, the PML candidate, Muhammad Rafi q Tarar, a senator and former Supreme Court judge, was elected to replace Leghari.
The nation’s ninth president,Tarar (r. 1998–2001) took office on January 1, 1998.
Although some of the restrictions against Pakistan were eased by the end of the year and in early 1999, Nawaz Sharif’s hold on power grew ever more precarious. The poor economic situation was but one factor.
Since the death of Zia, the military had been an ever-present threat to Pakistan’s feeble democracy. Furthermore, “Sharif had to look over his other shoulder . . . at the militant Islamists who were a powerful force in Pakistan” (Talbott 2004, 107). The latter were given support by the neighboring Taliban in Afghanistan, even as a cash-strapped Pakistanprovided financial aid to the Taliban government in 1998.
Sharif exacerbated Islamists’ fears (and conservative concerns) when he canceled the traditional Friday holidays. But the failure of his economic program during a period of worldwide economic growth and, especially, his attempt to exert control over the military would ultimately lead to hisundoing.
After the army chief of staff, Jehangir Karamat, suggested that the military leadership be given a role in the National Security Council ofPakistan, Sharif forced his resignation in early October.
Karamat had warned that Pakistan was facing grave problems, namely, an economy that was on the brink of collapse. He said Pakistan “could not afford the destabilizing effects of polarization, vendettas, and insecurity-expedientpolicies” (quoted in Abbas 2004, 166).
He was replaced by GeneralPervez Musharraf (b. 1943).
Bowing to international pressure, Sharif withdrew all Pakistani troops from Indian-held territory to the Line of Control. The guerrillas left the captured territory by August 1999. The withdrawal of Pakistaniforces further increased Sharif’s unpopularity at home.
The object of increasingly unflattering media coverage, Nawaz Sharif attempted to intimidate the press. In May 1999 Nawaz Sharif’s secret police invaded the home of a leading journalist and critic of the regime, Najam Sethi, and assaulted and kidnapped him. An international protest forced Sharif to release the journalist. Signs of public disenchantmentwith the entire political process grew.
In the four national elections held from 1988 to 1997, voter turnout had dropped progressively, from 43 percent in 1988 to 35 percent by 1997.
Karamat’s departure in late 1998 had provoked great resentment in the military, placing Nawaz Sharif in avulnerable position.
As mass opposition rallies were staged against his government, Sharif, worried about the potential for a coup, planned to replace Musharraf, a veteran of both the 1965 and 1971 wars withIndia, with a more compliant official.
On October 12, 1999, General Musharraf was on a commercial flight to Karachi, returning from a visit to Colombo, Sri Lanka, one of 198 passengers. According to apolice report fi led by a colonel in the army, Nawaz Sharif ordered the Civil Aviation Authority to deny the flight permission to land anywhere in Pakistan.
This became known as the “Plane Conspiracy” case. Simultaneously, Nawaz Sharif announced he was appointing the director of the ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence service, as the military’s newchief of staff.
The military refused to recognize the appointment and took over Karachi airport, allowing Musharraf’s flight to land with onlyminutes of fuel left onboard.
Once on the ground, General Musharraf ordered the military to take control of the government, claiming the turmoil and uncertainty gripping the nation necessitated the action.Musharraf proclaimed himself the chief executive of Pakistan.
Pakistanwas once more the linchpinin a global struggle.
Musharaf’s Rule, 1999-2007
On May 12, 2000, the Supreme Court ruled that Musharraf’s coup was valid. Though the court found the takeover represented a constitutional deviation, the judges found military intervention had been undertaken as a necessity, the only way to bring about economic reforms and halt corruption. The court directed Musharraf to hold general elections byOctober 2002.
Musharraf made economic development an early priority. He courted international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF. Loans were used to invest in communications, energy, water supply, andrailway infrastructure and highways and ports.
In his first major policy address, in October 1999, Pervez Musharraf issued a challenge to demagogues exploiting religion. “Islam teaches tolerance not hatred; universal brotherhood and not enmity; peace and not violence; progress and not bigotry. I have great respect for the Ulema and expect them to come forth and present Islam in its true light. I urge them to curb elements which are exploiting religion for vested interests and bring a bad name to our faith” (Musharraf 1999). But his efforts to curtail religious extremism hadlittle effect.
On June 20, 2001, Musharraf removed Rafi q Tarar as president and took the title of president for himself.
In August he introduced the Local Government System.The system restructured governance by transferring authority previously exercised by provincial administrators down tothe district and local level.
Since the October 2002 elections the dispute over the validity of the Legal Framework Order (LFO) of 2002 had remained unresolved, leadingto a legislative stalemate.
In December 2003 Musharraf was able to gain the support of the MMA, the alliance of religious parties, in part by tempering his support for secularization initiatives such as efforts to roll back Hudood laws that the MMA wanted to keep in place. And in the run-up to the general elections of 2002, Musharraf created arbitrary educational qualifications for holding public office to disqualify members of moderate parties, while recognizing degrees from madrasas, so fundamentalist candidates could run unimpeded.
With the MMA in Musharraf’s legislativecamp, he now had the two-thirds majority required to adopt the LFO.
That December, by legislative vote, the Legal Framework Order of 2002 became the SeventeenthAmendment of the constitution.
Musharraf promised to relinquish on January 1, 2004, some of the authority and powers he had exercised since the coup, and he agreed to give up his military position on December 31,2004.
The Seventeenth Amendment also indemnified Musharraf for any actionsundertaken since the coup of October 12, 1999.
With this new endorsement in hand Musharraf continued to crack down on militants. In June 2004 Pakistani troops attacked suspected al-Qaeda hideouts and a training facility in a tribal region near the town of Shakai in South Waziristan. Tension had grown in South Waziristan in the preceding month as authorities pressured tribesmen to evict hundreds of Central Asian, Arab, and Afghan militants, many of whom moved there from Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban regime inlate 2001.
Meanwhile, the international community accused Pakistan of continuing to harbor and finance Afghani Islamic militants.
In 2003 Pakistani officials arrested Javed Hashmi (b. 1948), a leader of the Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy and provisional head of the PML. Accused of urging army officers to rebel against General Musharraf.
In May Shahbaz Sharifwas deported upon his arrival in Pakistan following threeyears in exile.Hundreds of PML followers were reportedly arrested.
Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali resigned on June 26, 2004, without offering an explanation. Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain of the PMLQ was appointed caretaker prime minister (r. June–Aug. 2004) until Parliament chose Shaukat Aziz, the minister of fi nance who had supervisedthe recent economic recovery, as prime minister (r. 2004–07).
In November 2004 Asif Ali Zardari, the husband of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who had been in jail for eight years awaiting trial on murder and corruption charges, was released on bail. Zardari criticized Musharraf and called for free elections.He was rearrested inlate December while preparing to fly to Islamabad to address a politicalrally.
Nevertheless, their early pliability made it easier for subsequent civilian governments to break the law, and subsequent military governments to launchcoups—all in the name of the doctrine of necessity.
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