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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

BULLETIN: PPP and PML-N Coalition Poised to Defeat Musharraf.

So far, Pakistan's parliamentary election results suggest a coalition led by Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) in alliance with Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) . The coalition of religious parties supporting President Musharraf (PML-Q) - also known as 'The King's Party'- is going down to defeat.

THE PAKISTAN PEOPLE'S PARTY WAS FOUNDED BY
Zulfakir Ali Bhutto, (1928-1979) father of Benazir Bhutto and member of the powerful Rajput Bhutto dynasty that owned immense estates in Larkana, Sindh where Bhutto was born. He was educated at Berkeley and at Oxford before becoming a lawyer in Karachi in 1953. In 1958, he joined the cabinet of General Ayub Khan as Minister of Commerce. Khan appointed him Foreign Minister from 1963 to 1966 but Bhutto broke ranks by adopting a policy distancing Pakistan from the U.S. and India and moving closer to China and the USSR. He persuaded Khan to send troops into Kashmir, starting the Indo-Pakistan war and opposed the Tashkent boundary agreement by which the war was ended. After explusion from the cabinet, he founded the Pakistan People's Party in 1967, publicly criticized Khan for dictatorship and was imprisoned in 1968-69. In 1969 he became President Yahya Khan's foreign minister and deputy Prime Minister before Khan brought in democratic elections in 1970. A skilled politician and powerful personality, Bhutto and his PPP party swept West Pakistan in1970 but he and Yahya Khan refused to listen to the Awami League which represented a large number of seats secured for East Pakistan. The civil war followed. Yahya Khan handed his presidency to Bhutto in 1971 and Bhutto became Pakistan's first civilian president on a populist, socialist platform in the wake of the secession of East Pakistan. He nationalized many Pakistani industries and brought in a new constitution which shifted power from the post of president to that of prime minister. Taking advantage of the change, Bhutto became prime minister. However, he became increasingly authoritarian and his support began to unravel. He dismissed the government of Baluchistan for sedition and passed a law outlawing political parties on arbitrary grounds. His PPP was on the way to becoming Pakistan's sole political party. Having made promises to the poor, the began to support landowners and big business instead. Stull, he made modest progress for the urban poor. Throughout, he relied on support from the military, whose chief, General Zia Ul Haq he had himself appointed. In 1973 Bhutto was elected Prime Minister and the oil crisis and the OPEC embargo caused economic chaos in the country despite his social and economic reforms. A political rival from within the PPP was murdered in 1974, a crime that would come back to haunt him four years later. In 1977 he secured a large majority but it is generally agreed that he rigged the vote against the Pakistan National Alliance, a union of nine opposition parties which would have won a fair vote. Massive rioting followed. Bhutto agreed to new elections but General Zia Ul Haq, who already had a dim view of Bhutto's secular, socialist and economic policies, took advantage of charges of vote-rigging, corruption and of the 1974 murder of Bhutto's PPP political rival to have him deposed. Bhutto's daughter, Benazir, upon returning home from studying at Oxford was placed under house arrest. Throughout the summer and fall of 1978, Ali Bhutto was arrested and released, declaring throughout that General Zia U Haq would not dare touch him. On October 24 he was charged with attempted vote rigging, corruption and murder and convicted by the High Court in Lahore in March. On April 4, 1979, Bhutto was found guilty and hanged.

PLUS CA CHANGE: The hanging of former President and Prime Minister Zulfiqar Bhutto in 1979 and the assassination of his daughter in 2007 points not just to the perennial prominence of a Pakistani dynasty but also to the age-old opposition of sections of the military to a secularized, democratized Pakistan.

BENAZIR BHUTTO
In 1978, Ali Bhutto was executed after being charged with corruption and murder. His daughter, the Oxford-educated Benazir Bhutto inherited the mantle of leader of the secular opposition and in 1984 founded the PPP or Pakistan People'd Party. She and her husband, like her father, would endure periods of arrest and exile and repeated charges of corruption by Islamist parties and governments. In 1988, General Zia Ul Haq was killed in plane crash, rumoured to be an assassination. In 1988, Democracy returned with the presidency of Ishaq Khan. In the same year, Benazir Bhutto was elected Prime Minister. In 1990 she was ousted on charges of corruption. In 1993 she was re-elected. It is believed by many that the MML, a powerful alliance of religious parties, was expressly formed by the ISI to block the election of any secular party as well as to gather or to fabricate corruption charges against Benazir Bhutto.In 1996, Bhutto was dismissed, again on charges of corruption.

NAWAZ SHARIF, leader of the PML-N, currently holding second place in today's elections. In 1997, Nawaz Sharif was re-elected prime minister and used his overwhelming majority to strip the president of his constitutional power to dismiss the prime minister. Sharif made the the position of Prime Minister all-powerful, indeed unassailable to the point of dissenting from the Chief Justice. As a result, the president resigned and the supreme court justice was removed. In 1998, in response to social unrest, he suspended many civil liberties and set up military courts. Throughout his career Sharif had also had several run-ins with chiefs of the military. In 1998, Sharif appointed General Musharraf to head the army. In February 1999, Sharif signed the Lahore Declaration to normalize relations with India. Under pressure from US president Clinton, he withdrew the army from confrontation with India in Kashmir. Electricity shortages led him to put the army in charge of water and power but rumours of selling out to the generals led him to fire Musharraff. On October 12, 1999, Sharif's government was overthrown by Musharraf in a bloodless military coup.

PROFILE: NAWAZ ASHARIF- Born 1949 in Lahore, Sharif was the son of a Punjab industrialist. He obtained a law degree and in 1981 became Finance minister for Punjab where he significantly advanced rural development. In 1985, Sharif became Chief minister of Punjab. On March 31 1988, he was made caretaker after President Zia Ul Haq dismissed both houses of parliament. In 1988 Sharif was reelected in Punjab before running for Prime Minister on a conservative, anti-corruption platform. November 1990 saw him elected Prime Minster and he worked with the private sector to strengthen Pakistan's industry and land reform for the peasants of Sindh. Despite US sanctions,, he achieved economic progress. But in April, 1993, he was dismissed by the president. He was reinstated by Judiciary but after corruption allegations he had to resign along with the president in July. In 1997, he was re-elected prime minister and used his overwhleming majority to strip the president of his constitutional power to dismiss the Prime minister. Sharif made the the position of PrimeMinister all-powerful, indeed unassailable to the point of dissenting from the Chief Justice. As a result, the president resigned and the supreme court justice was removed. In 1998, in response to social unrest, he suspended many civil liberties and set up military courts. Throughout his career he had already had several run-ins with chiefs of the military. In 1998, Sharif appointed General Musharraf to head the army. In February 1999, Sharif signed the Lahore Declaration to normalize relations with India. Under pressure from US president Clinton, he withdrew the army from confrontation with India in Kashmir. Electriity shortages led him to put the army in charge of water and power and rumours of selling out to the generals led him to fire Musharraff. On October 12, 1999, Sharif's government was overthrown by Musharraf in a military coup. Charged with conspiracy, he faced crimina charges when the Saudi kingdom intervened and he was allowed to go to exile in Saudi Arabia.

In 2002, the ISI helped to form 'the King's party' or the coalition of relgious parties that won Musharraf his electoral majority that year. If anything he needed them on side while he fought the Taliban for Washington.
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