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Rise to Power

  • Shahid Javed Burki

Abstract

The fact that the results of the 1970 elections surprised the military regime as well as the political participants should be explained not in terms of the failure of the vast intelligence machinery at the disposal of the government in correctly predicting the mood of the people. Judging from Yahya Khan’s massive intervention in the political life of the country in the period following the 1970 elections, it can be argued that the new military government would not have played a totally passive role in the pre-election period had it believed that the elections would lead to such a clear polarisation of Pakistani politics. Nor can the surprise caused by the results of the elections be explained in terms of the lack of political acumen on the part of the political parties that took part in them. It was not so much lack of acumen but the underdeveloped nature of the political institutions that made it so difficult for them to reflect the aspirations and frustrations of the people. It is also very likely that, had some of the old style politicians correctly gauged the mood of the people, they would have combined their efforts and challenged Bhutto and the PPP. The overwhelming victory of Mujibur Rahman shifted the focus of political activity from West Pakistan to Dacca. With Mujibur Rahman’s Awami League having captured all but two of the 168 seats alloted to East Pakistan and with Bhutto in command of a comfortable majority in the western province, Yahya Khan and his generals could not expect to play the role of political brokers that they had envisaged. Mujib’s stand on political autonomy hardened after the results of the elections were announced and Bhutto, after enthusiastically accepting the role of ‘sole representative of the people of West Pakistan’, began to develop a strategy to block East Pakistan’s rapid move towards independence.

Keywords

Armed Force Security Council Military Regime Army Officer Political Participant 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    For an account of Bhutto’s role in the development of the political crisis that led to the secession of East Pakistan, see G. W. Choudhury, The Last Days of United Pakistan (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1974) passim.Google Scholar
  2. For a defence of his position see Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, The Great Tragedy (Karachi: Vision Publications, 1971).Google Scholar
  3. 2.
    A number of accounts have appeared of the political crisis as it developed in the 1969–71 period. In addition to the works cited in n.1 above, see also David Loshak, The Pakistan Crisis (New York: McGraw Hill, 1971),Google Scholar
  4. Rounaq Jahan, Pakistan: Failure in National Integration (New York: Columbia University Press, 1972),Google Scholar
  5. Robert Payne, Massacre (New York: Macmillan, 1973)Google Scholar
  6. and Marta Nicholas and Philip Oldenberg, Bangladesh: The Birth of a Nation (Madras: M. Seschachalam, 1972).Google Scholar
  7. 3.
    For a text of the surrender document see, D. K. Palit, The Lightning Campaign: The Indo-Pakistan War, 1971 (New Delhi: Thomson Press, 1972), pp. 48–9.Google Scholar
  8. 4.
    Ayub Khan, Friends Not Masters: A Political Autobiography (London: Oxford University Press, 1967), p. 70.Google Scholar
  9. 5.
    See Mahbub ul Haq, The Strategy of Economic Planning (New York: Oxford University Press, 1963) for a description of the strategy adopted by the Pakistani planners and its theoretical justification.Google Scholar
  10. 6.
    For a description of the changes in thinking on the development process see Paul Streeten, ‘Development Ideas in Historical Perspective: The New Interest in Development’, mimeo (Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 1977).Google Scholar
  11. 7.
    Timothy Nutty and Leslie Nutty, ‘Pakistan, The Busy-Bee Route’, Transaction, 8, February 1971, p. 41.Google Scholar
  12. 8.
    Mahbub ul Haq, The Poverty Curtain: Choices for the Third World (New York: Columbia University Press, 1976), pp. 7–8.Google Scholar
  13. 10.
    This was a common accusation levelled against the regime of Ayub Khan, in particular by the members of the Pakistan People’s Party during the election campaign. See Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Let the People Judge (Lahore: Pakistan People’s Party, 1969), passim.Google Scholar
  14. 12.
    Asaf Hussain, ‘Ethnicity, National Identity and Praetorianism: The Case of Pakistan’, Asian Survey, XVI, October 1976, pp. 918–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 13.
    The British administration’s approach towards the northern areas is well documented in Philip Woodruff, The Men Who Ruled India: The Guardians (London: Jonathan Cape, 1965), passim.Google Scholar
  16. Also see, Charles Allen, Plain Tales from the Raj (New York: St Martin’s Press, 1976), particularly pp. 212–19.Google Scholar
  17. 14.
    Paul Johnson, Enemies of Society (New York: Atheneum, 1977), p. 4.Google Scholar
  18. 15.
    For a Marxist discussion of Pakistani ‘nationalities’ see Yu V. Gankovsky, The Peoples of Pakistan, originally published by the USSR Academy of Sciences, Institute of Oriental Studies, and reprinted by People’s Publishing House, Lahore, n.d. It should be recalled that the Pakistan Movement, largely on account of its emphasis on the liberation of ‘nationalities’ received support from the Marxists both inside and outside India. See Gerald Heeger, ’Socialism in Pakistan’, in Helen Desfosses and Jacques Levesque (eds), Socialism in the Third World (New York: Praeger, 1975), p. 293.Google Scholar
  19. 16.
    For a discussion of constitution making during the Ayub period, see Edgar A. Schuler and Kathryn R. Schuler, Public Opinion and Constitution Making in Pakistan, 1958–1962 (East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State University Press, 1967).Google Scholar
  20. 17.
    For a discussion of the role of ‘the passions and the interests’ in the development of modern capitalism, see Albert O. Hirschman, The Passions and the Interests: Political Arguments for Capitalism Before Its Triumph (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1977).Google Scholar
  21. 19.
    For an account of this mini-revolt within the army see Herbert Feldman, The End and The Beginning: Pakistan 1969–1971 (London: Oxford University Press, 1976), pp. 182–9. Feldman was careful to add the following caveat to his account: ‘I must make it clear that the contents of this chapter form, in the main, an attempted reconstruction of events. Quite clearly, in terms of great national crisis much happens that is not documented and much which people prefer to forget’ (f.n. 4, on p. 185).Google Scholar
  22. 20.
    Fazal Muqeem Khan, Pakistan’s Crisis in Leadership (Islamabad: National Book Foundation, 1973), pp. 263–4.Google Scholar
  23. 22.
    Pram Chopra, India’s Second Liberation (Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 1973), presents estimates of the personnel and material strengths of the two armies at both the western and the eastern fronts.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    See Henry Bienen and David Morrell, ‘Transition from Military Rule: Thailand’s Experience’ in Catherine Kelleher (ed.), Political-Military Systems: Comparative Perspectives (Beverly Hills, California: Sage Publications, 1974), pp. 3–26 for an exposition of this point of view.Google Scholar
  25. For an application of this thesis of civil-military hybrid regimes to the case of Pakistan, see Gerald A. Heeger, ‘Politics in the Post-Military State: Some Reflections on the Pakistani Experience’, World Politics, XXIX, January 1977, pp. 242–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 25.
    The Legal Framework Order was produced in full by Dawn (Karachi) and the Pakistan Times (Lahore and Islamabad) in their issues of 31 March 1970. For an analysis of the Order see Feldman, op. cit., pp. 62–75, and Safdar Mahmood, A Political Study of Pakistan (Lahore: Mohammad Ashraf, 1972), pp. 360–72.Google Scholar
  27. 26.
    Robert LaPorte, Jr. ‘Pakistan in 1972: Picking up the Pieces’, Asian Survey, XIII, February 1973, p. 196.Google Scholar
  28. 27.
    For an account of Bhutto’s conduct of foreign affairs during this period, see S. M. Burke, ‘The Management of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy’, in Lawrence Ziring, Ralph Braibanti and W. Howard Wriggins (eds), Pakistan: The Long View (Durham, N.C.: Duke University, 1977), pp. 362–8.Google Scholar
  29. 28.
    See Bhutto’s interview with Oriana Fallaci for an assessment of the type of relationship that had developed between him and Mrs Gandhi on the eve of the Simla Agreement. According to Fallaci: ‘In judging her [Mrs Gandhi] Bhutto had been heavy-handed and too guided by hatred. I myself was actually embarrassed by it, and in my embarrassment had tried repeatedly to restrain him.’ And again: ‘It was amusing to watch them on television while they shook hands and exchanged smiles. Indira’s smile triumphant and ironical. Bhutto’s displayed such discomfort that, even on the black-and-white screen, you seemed to see him blushing to the roots of his hair.’ Oriana Fallaci, Interview with History (New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 1976), pp. 186–7.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Shahid Javed Burki 1988

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  • Shahid Javed Burki

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