(1928–1979) Pakistani leader
Zulfikar Bhutto, one of the prominent leaders of Pakistani politics and founder of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) was born on January 5, 1928, in Larkna, Sind. He was the son of Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto, a wealthy landowner. Bhutto was close to President Muhammad Ayub Khan (1907–74) and held the important portfolio of foreign affairs. He was an excellent orator and represented Pakistan in various world capitals and the United Nations with conviction. He left the company of Ayub after the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 and formed the PPP on November 2, 1967, in Lahore.
The PPP catered to the needs of diverse constituencies in Pakistan, attracting people from various walks of life. In the political turmoil of the last days of Ayub, Bhutto and his PPP tried to oust Ayub. General Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan, the successor of Ayub, ordered the elections based on adult franchise on December 7, 1970. With the slogan “Food, Shelter and Clothing,” the PPP emerged victorious in west Pakistan, whereas the Awami League of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman gained an absolute majority in the whole of Pakistan. The PPP prevailed upon Yahya Khan in not allowing Mujibur to form a government.
Bhutto called the National Assembly to prepare the third constitution for Pakistan. It became operative on August 12, 1973. The parliamentary system was adopted and the prime minister became the most powerful official. He was also the commander in chief of the armed forces.
Comparative stability entered the politics of Pakistan. Pakistan also recognized the independence of Bangladesh in the first amendment of the constitution. Bhutto carried out reforms in industry, agriculture, and the civil services, and ordered the nationalization of banks along with rice, flour, and cotton mills.
Bhutto had a fair amount of success in international relations. He tried his best to revive the image of Pakistan after its humiliation due to the secession of East Pakistan. He cemented the country’s relations with other Islamic countries. Under him both India and Pakistan recognized the Line of Control (LOC) that had been established after their war of 1971 and agreed to refrain from the use of force against each other. Pakistan gained back the territory lost in the war. The accords prevented any major conflagration between the two until 1999.
Bhutto announced in January 1977 that elections were to be held for the National Assembly two months later. The PPP emerged victorious with 155 seats and the combined opposition; the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) secured only 36 seats. The PNA then launched a mass movement against Bhutto, claiming that the elections were rigged. Bhutto was arrested and released a month later.
In September, he was arrested on charges of authorizing the murder of an opponent three years previously. He was found guilty of murder and he was hanged on April 4, 1979. The PPP again came to power in 1988 with Benazir Bhutto the daughter of Zulfikar Bhutto, becoming prime minister.