April 27, 2023
APRIL 4, 1979…a dark period in Pakistan’s history! Forty-four years ago, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who served as President and Prime Minister of Pakistan, was summarily executed by General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq’s military regime. The legacy he left behind for Pakistan was a mixed bag. But his animosity, hostility and extreme mistrust towards India knew no bounds.
Bhutto was the architect behind ‘Operation Gibraltar’ and ‘Operation Grand Slam’, provoking the 1965 War with India. He made a public announcement that his country would “wage a war for 1,000 years—a war of defence” against India.
Bhutto came to power after the country suffered a humiliating defeat in the 1971 War with India, which resulted in the secession of East Pakistan and the creation of Bangladesh. Bhutto promised to restore Pakistan’s image and strengthen its economy. To achieve this, he nationalized several key industries, including banking, insurance, and heavy industries. While this move was intended to reduce the influence of wealthy elites and distribute wealth more equitably, it led to several negative consequences.
NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES OF NATIONALIZATION BID
First, nationalization caused significant disruption in the economy. Many foreign investors and entrepreneurs left the country, as they were unsure about the safety of their investments. The nationalization of banks and financial institutions also led to a shortage of credit, making it difficult for businesses to borrow money. This led to a decline in investments and economic growth.
Second, Bhutto’s policies were seen as anti-business and anti-private enterprise. This led to a decline in entrepreneurial spirit, as people became more dependent on government jobs and handouts. The government also faced challenges in managing the nationalized industries, which led to inefficiencies and corruption.
Third, Bhutto’s policies led to an increase in government spending and borrowing, resulting in a significant increase in the country’s national debt. The government also printed more money to finance its spending, leading to inflation and a decline in currency value.
DIVISIVE POLICIES WHICH LED TO POLITICAL UNREST
Bhutto’s political policies were also divisive, which led to increased political instability in the country. He introduced amendments to the constitution that gave him immense powers and weakened the judiciary. He also suppressed political opponents and critics, leading to the imprisonment and torture of thousands of activists and journalists.
In 1977, Bhutto’s authoritarian rule and economic mismanagement led to widespread protests and demonstrations across the country. The military, led by General Zia-ul-Haq, took advantage of the situation and staged a coup. Bhutto was arrested and charged with conspiracy to murder, following the execution of a senior political opponent. Despite widespread condemnation and protests from human rights groups, Bhutto was executed in 1979.
Bhutto’s actions and policies led to the decline of Pakistan’s economy, political instability and, ultimately, his downfall. While he introduced several reforms that aimed at distributing wealth more equitably and improving the lives of Pakistanis, his measures were poorly implemented and led to inefficiencies and corruption. His legacy remains controversial and his downfall remains a cautionary tale about the dangers of political authoritarianism and economic mismanagement.
BHUTTO’S TUMULTUOUS RELATIONS WITH INDIA
Bhutto’s relationship with India was complex and tumultuous. Bhutto was foreign minister of Pakistan during the India-Pakistan War of 1965 and played a key role in negotiating the ‘Tashkent Declaration’ with Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri.
Bhutto’s tenure as prime minister saw several incidents that strained relations between India and Pakistan further. In 1971, Bhutto accused India of interfering in Pakistan’s internal affairs and of supporting the secessionist movement in East Pakistan. This led to the Bangladesh Liberation War and saw India intervene militarily, resulting in Pakistan’s crushing defeat and the creation of Bangladesh.
After his election as prime minister in 1973, Bhutto made attempts to improve Pakistan’s relations with India. In 1974, Bhutto and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi signed the Simla Agreement, which aimed at resolving the dispute over the state of Jammu and Kashmir. However, the agreement failed to resolve the underlying tensions between the two countries and the dispute over Kashmir continued.
Bhutto’s relationship with India was also complicated by Pakistan’s nuclear programme. Bhutto is credited with initiating the programme, which aimed at developing nuclear weapons as a deterrent against India. This led to heightened tensions between the two countries and several close calls, including the Kargil War later in 1999.
Despite the many challenges, Bhutto remained committed to finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict between India and Pakistan. He believed that the two countries should work towards resolving their disputes through dialogue and negotiation and called for greater regional cooperation in South Asia.
In conclusion, Bhutto’s relationship with India was complex and largely defined by the conflicts between the two countries. However, Bhutto believed in the importance of resolving the disputes between India and Pakistan and worked towards this goal throughout his career.