May 26, 2010

(Zulfikar Ali Bhutto - the respite between military coups)

Most people think of Pakistan these days as "the unstable region" and names like Zia, Musharif and the assassination of Benazir Bhutto come to mind. But I suspect not a lot of people (certainly in recent years) have heard President-turned-Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who was, among other things, the father of Benazir Bhutto and leader of a country coming out of the losing end of a war with India, the loss of a region (Bangaladesh) and pulling itself out of one military dictatorship before falling into another in the later 70s.

Prime Minister Bhutto tried to establish a democratic form of government and did his level best to sell that idea to the rest of the world, including the U.S.

Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto: “If I may put it briefly, the Pakistan of today has little resemblance to the pre-1971 Pakistan. We call it a New Pakistan. Let me tell you why. Geographically it is no doubt a Pakistan reduced in size by the separation of its eastern part, but it is also far more cohesive and united. Far more confident of its future. Politically, it is a Pakistan which is determined to nurture democratic institutions. As you know, Pakistan was ruled by a military dictatorship for more than a decade. It is my country’s pride that, after twelve years of military rule, which inevitably devitalized our political life, we are firmly established civilian supremacy and a government accountable to the people.”

The attempt was short lived, as history has documented so well. But for those of you who think Pakistan's problems are a thing of recent vintage and that a country in a state of perpetual turmoil is something that happened since 2001, it just ain't so.

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