Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto : The Dictator

Below I have excerpted from two columns of Ardeshir Cowasjee appearing daily Dawn that shows how much (or little) a man of principle he was.

Bhutto gets a lot of praise for giving us the current constitution of 1973 and subsequent dictators get a lot of blame for introducing amendments in the constitution without any true representation. Bhutto’s track record wasn’t any better. From Dawn

Now, to educate the newborn or moribund constitutional experts who lay much stress on constitutional niceties, using as their bedrock the constitution of 1973. This Constitution promulgated on August 14, 1973, had a life of four, repeat four long hours. It was passed, not unanimously, but by consensus by the many members who believed that as it guaranteed fundamental rights it was better than no constitution at all – and certainly better than martial law. None dissented. The few who were not happy with it abstained.

Before the ink was dry, within four hours of its promulgation, the people of Pakistan were deprived of their constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights through a Gazette Notification issued by the maker of the Constitution, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Fundamental rights having been rendered non-justiciable, he then had all his political opponents arrested. They were held in various jails until released by Ziaul Haq four years later.

Not satisfied with the notification, Bhutto had his Constitution amended seven times between its promulgation on August 14, 1973, and July 5, 1977, the date of his fall from grace.

An amendment of a constitution is an extraordinary measure necessitating a great deal of deliberation on the part of the ruling party, consultation with the opposition, and a careful objective study of public opinion on the subject. Its passage through the legislature must be deliberately regulated to ensure full discussion, to provide ample opportunity for criticism.

According to the rules of procedure which govern parliamentary procedure under the 1973 Constitution, a bill, other than a finance bill, on its introduction in the house must be referred to the relevant standing committee, unless the requirements of the rules have been dispensed with by the House through a motion of the relevant member. The standing committee is asked to present its report within 30 days. When this is received, copies of the bill (and any changes recommended by the committee) are to be supplied to each member within seven days. Two clear days must then elapse before the bill can be sent down for consideration.

These rules were suspended by Bhutto for the passage of the Second, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Amendment Bills. The First Amendment Bill was introduced in the house on April 15, 1974. The standing committee presented its report the next day and within a week it was passed leaving no time for debate.

The Third Amendment Bill was introduced on February 11 1975, the required report was presented and the bill passed the next day.

On the killing of terrorist Murtaza Bhutto, Cowasjee wrote another columns on how Murtaza learned such tactics at the feet of his father Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. From DAWN

By the time he was seventeen, half his country was deliberately lost in order to enable his father, the first ever civilian chief martial law administrator, to become president of what was left. In the years that followed, he swiftly learnt all about betrayals and broken promises, how to use violence, how to subdue, how to eliminate, how to torture, how to cling to power. Sadist Masud Mahmood, chief of his father’s private army, the FSF, was a familiar figure in his life, as was Saeed Ahmed, both of whom were to turn and be the instruments of his father’s execution.

He was around when his father violated his own Constitution, when he then arrested and imprisoned the Baloch chieftains, Sardars and Tumandars, purely for political gain and self-perpetuation. He sat by while young 23-year-old Asad, son of Sardar Ataullah Mengal, was murdered in an ‘encounter’ outside the Karachi house of Tumandar Balakh Sher Mazari (his body was never found), and while the toenails of young Asfandyar, son of Wali Khan, were pulled out one by one (luckily Asfandyar survives to tell the tale), and while Jam Sadiq Ali and Imdadullah Unar did away with Khalifa Faqir Mohammed Amin and six Hurs, and while countless others were murdered in acts of vengeance.

Murtaza knew all about how the keys of the prisons that held Sardars Mengal and Marri, Bizenjo and Wali Khan were thrown away and lost.

This was the real face of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.


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