Pakistan's Other Story: 8. Crisis of the Left Leadership - Rise of the Pakistan People's Party

The problem is that the masses do not have the leadership they deserve. In almost three decades the party has been in power three times, each time disappointing the aspirations of the masses. Every experience of the masses with the PPP in government has confirmed this, the present experience being no exception. But nothing in history is wasted. This experience will lead millions of workers and peasants to conclude that there must be a serious change.

"Those who make the revolution halfway only dig their own graves."

Louis de Saint Just (1767-1794)1

"It seems that the lesson of this coup d'etat is that a via media, a modus vivendi, a compromise, is a Utopian dream. The coup d'etat demonstrates that the class struggle is irreconcilable and that it must result in the victory of one class over the other. Obviously, whatever the temporary setbacks, the struggle can lead only to the victory of one class. This is the writing on the wall."

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (1928-1979)2

Stalinism and Maoism

The left in Pakistan had already faced the severe blow of the role of CPI leadership during the national liberation struggle and the trauma of partition. The new regime in Pakistan had intensified repression against the left. The Sino Soviet split further damaged the unity and growth of the left forces in the country.

In the 1960's the major conflict between the different Left and 'Communist' parties were further complicated by the Sino-Soviet split. Although there were no real ideological or theoretical contradictions and differences, they were blindly following the Moscow and Peking 'lines' which were using such Stalinist groups and even larger 'communist' and 'socialist' parties as pawns in their foreign policy pursuits.

In August 1964, Ted Grant in his document on the Colonial Revolution and the Sino- Soviet split gave a Marxist analysis of this conflict between these bureaucracies. He elaborated on the causes and real 'ideological' basis of this split and its impacts on the colonial revolution. Ted Grant wrote:

"The rationalization of the split by 'ideological' considerations was a means to try and gain support within the Communist Parties on a world scale. The Chinese, for the moment, have used radical slogans as a means of mobilizing support in the Stalinist world movement against the Russians, especially among the colonial peoples. Because of their radical slogans, at this time, the Chinese appealed to the cadre elements in the Stalinist parties looking for a revolutionary road.

"(...) The split between the Stalinist bureaucracies on national lines adds further confusion among the broad masses throughout the world. Even among the advanced workers, while creating certain opportunities for the ideas of Marxism, it further complicates the task of revolutionary Marxism".3

As explained in an earlier chapter, the rot in the left in the subcontinent and internationally started with the degeneration of the Soviet Union, the coming to power and control by the Stalinist bureaucracy in the Kremlin and the beginning of the decline and disintegration of the third International in the later half of the 1920's. In the Indian subcontinent this degeneration took a bit longer to complete in the period around 1936.

At the time of partition the Muslim communists of the CPI were also to join the Muslim League, as if the communist were believers in the sectarian divide of the people. It is not accidental that the author of the election manifesto and programme of the Muslim League was a 'communist', Danial Latifi. Stalin's classification, which included religion as a major national trait proved to be an ideological and political disaster for the CPI in the 'practical politics' of the south Asian sub continent.

The CPI later in its various congresses and CC meetings condemned these mistakes, especially after the death of Stalin in 1953. However the damage was done: in Pakistan, where the communist party of Pakistan never became even a modest mass party, this ideological policy was the fundamental cause. There is no doubt that the successive regimes in Pakistan were intrinsically so weak and the left movement in the region and specially the colonial world was in such a rapid flow that the ruling elite had a constant mindset of fear of the left. Hence, throughout the first five decades, every regime was rigorous in its repression and incarceration of left activists; even when they were not a substantial enough force to cause any serious threat to the state and the prevalent system.

This uninterrupted repression by the state was one of the factors which to some extent hindered the growth and attainment of a mass base for the communist parties in Pakistan. But when and where has a communist or a Bolshevik party not been subjected to state repression? Nevertheless, they did gain a mass basis, led socialist revolutions, and transformed societies. The left historians and intellectuals in Pakistan have attributed the CP's ultimate failure to organisational mistakes and the short comings of the individual leaders; this assumption is not entirely false. Yet from our point of view the main cause of the failure of communists in Pakistan was not religion or the theocratic nature of the state, nor were organisational or individual characteristics and personalities of the leaders to blame.

Our contention is that it was the basic ideological and theoretical foundations which were flawed and historically false. All the tactics, methods and strategies employed to build a mass revolutionary party flow from the ideological foundations of the organisation that is trying to build such a party. Most left activists also came from the parent CPI or other left parties that were based on the ideology that the character of the revolution in these countries of ex-colonialism was not socialist but of a national democratic nature. This gave them a fatalistic concession or an excuse to go along with any section of the ruling classes, derive a falsely perceived conception of its progressive traits to support it, and to carry through the 'national democratic revolution'. This meant that they were preparing neither themselves nor the proletarian masses to overthrow the rotten capitalist system embedded within the remnants of feudalism and subservient to Imperialism. Hence they had virtually crossed out a socialist revolution from their agenda.

For all their 'practical' and 'grass roots' politics, the problems faced by the oppressed masses were still being aggravated and perpetuated by naked and aggressive capitalist exploitation. Hence, though being 'communists,' they were in no position to persuade the wider masses and the proletariat to support them in their efforts to become a substantial force in the country's politics. This led to the disillusionment of the 'cadres' and gave rise to crisis, conflicts and splits, again not really on genuine ideological and theoretical issues but on individualistic, organisational and tactical matters.

Lenin and Trotsky

The main problem was that there was no genuine Marxist tendency in existence in those times. The only ideological options open to them were different versions of Stalinism. Unfortunately some petty bourgeois student elements who came from Britain or Europe who claimed to be 'Trotskyists' played such opportunist, ultra-left roles that they further repulsed the left activists from genuine Marxism and Trotskyism. Marx, Engels and Lenin were universally acceptable to the left in general, not as theoretical and political ideologues and institutions, but more as charismatic symbols of the left as interpreted by the Stalinist leaders. In the 50's and 60's Stalin was the hero of the left, but with the rapid and massive gains of the Chinese planned economy under Mao, he too became the hero of the new generation of youth that entered left politics.

Trotsky was not only ridiculed but was pronounced as a traitor, an imperialist agent, and a Nazi fascist by the intellectuals and leaders of all the Stalinist sects operating in Pakistan. Lenin and Trotsky were posed as two irreconcilable ideas, personalities and schools of thought. Again the theoretical level was quite low. Selected works of Lenin which suited the Stalinist leaders were studied and discussed in the study circles in Pakistan. Lenin's works, such as "Two Tactics of Social Democracy" were used out of context to substantiate and justify the two-stage theory. This in itself was proving to be counter productive and alienated the left groups from the proletarian masses and the radical youth who were seething with revolt against the exploitative system.

There is no doubt that there existed important theoretical and tactical differences between Lenin and Trotsky. In fact from the 1903 split in RSDLP till the spring of 1917 there was some heated debate and polemics between Lenin and Trotsky; there are several writings of Lenin where he rebuked Trotsky, especially on the issue of trying to unite the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks. Trotsky later confessed his mistake in not joining the Bolshevik faction in those crucial times.

But the differences between Lenin and Trotsky were grossly exaggerated by the Stalinist intellectuals in Pakistan. The Stalinist school of Falsification was in full spree here, without a profound Marxist tendency to confront it; the Kremlin bureaucracy had expunged Trotsky from all the documents, banners and pictures of the October revolution and his vital role in the first five years of Soviet Government. Similarly, the Stalinist leaders in Pakistan never mentioned the role of Trotsky in the 1915 Zimmerwald conference in founding the left opposition of the second international and other points of united action between the two leaders of the October revolution. In his brilliant work "Bolshevism The Road to Revolution" Alan Woods elaborates on the differences and the later unity of Lenin and Trotsky that led to the victory of the socialist revolution in Russia in 1917:

"The Russian bourgeoisie, like the German bourgeoisie which Marx and Engels had castigated in 1848, had come on the stage of history too late, its social base was too weak, and above all its fear of the proletariat too strong for it to be able to play a progressive role. The fusion of industrial with landed capital, and the dependence of both upon the banks; the dependence on foreign capital was precisely what ruled out the possibility of a successful bourgeois-democratic revolution in Russia.

"In all of Lenin's speeches and writings, the counter-revolutionary role of the bourgeois-democratic liberals is stressed time and time again. However, up until 1917, he did not believe that the Russian workers would come to power before the socialist revolution in the West-a perspective that only Trotsky defended before 1917, in his remarkable theory of permanent revolution. This was the most complete answer to the reformist and class collaborationist position of the right wing of the Russian workers' movement, the Mensheviks. The two-stage theory was developed by the Mensheviks as their perspective for the Russian revolution. It basically states that, since the tasks of the revolution are those of the national democratic revolution, the leadership of the revolution must be taken by the national bourgeoisie.

"Trotsky, however, pointed out that by setting itself at the head of the nation, leading the oppressed layers of society (urban and rural petty bourgeoisie), the proletariat could take power and then carry through the tasks of the bourgeois-democratic revolution (mainly the land reform and the unification and liberation of the country from foreign domination). However, once having come to power, the proletariat would not stop there but would start to implement socialist measures of expropriation of the capitalists. And as these tasks cannot be solved in one country alone, especially not in a backward country, this would be the beginning of the world revolution. Thus the revolution is "permanent" in two senses: because it starts with the bourgeois tasks and continues with the socialist ones, and because it starts in one country and continues at an international level.

"Lenin agreed with Trotsky that the Russian liberals could not carry out the bourgeois-democratic revolution, and that this task could only be carried out by the proletariat in alliance with the poor peasantry. From 1905 until 1917, on the fundamental question of the attitude to the bourgeoisie, Lenin's position was close to that of Trotsky, and, in fact, identical. This was publicly acknowledged by Lenin at the Fifth (London) Congress, as we have seen, following in the footsteps of Marx, who had described the bourgeois "democratic party" as "far more dangerous to the workers than the previous liberals".4

Lenin explained that the Russian bourgeoisie, far from being an ally of the workers, would inevitably side with the counter-revolution. "The bourgeoisie in the mass", he wrote in 1905, "will inevitably turn towards the counter-revolution, and against the people as soon as its narrow, selfish interests are met, as soon as it 'recoils' from consistent democracy (and it is already recoiling from it!)."

What class, in Lenin's view, could lead the bourgeois-democratic revolution?

"There remains 'the people', that is, the proletariat and the peasantry. The proletariat alone can be relied on to march on to the end, for it goes far beyond the democratic revolution. That is why the proletariat fights in the forefront for a republic and contemptuously rejects stupid and unworthy advice to take into account the possibility of the bourgeoisie recoiling".5

Alan Woods further elaborates on Lenin's position on this vital issue:

"Where Lenin differed from Trotsky was on the issue of the possibility of the Russian workers coming to power before the workers of Western Europe. Up to 1917, only Trotsky thought that this would happen. Even Lenin ruled this out, insisting that the Russian revolution would have a bourgeois character. The working class, in alliance with the poor peasants, would overthrow the autocracy and then carry out the most sweeping programme of bourgeois-democratic measures. At the heart of Lenin's programme was a radical solution of the land problem, based on the confiscation of the landlords' estates and land nationalisation. However, as Lenin explained many times, the nationalisation of the land is not a socialist, but a bourgeois demand, aimed at the landed aristocracy. He repeated on dozens of occasions that the Russian revolution would stop short of carrying out the socialist tasks, since, as everyone agreed, the objective conditions for building socialism were absent in Russia. But Lenin's case did not rest there. Lenin was always an uncompromising internationalist. His whole perspective was based on the international revolution, of which the Russian revolution was only a small part".6


Despite the hostility and antagonism that the Stalinist intellectuals and historians have tried to fabricate between Lenin and Trotsky, the situation was totally different.

Trotsky always considered Lenin's position to be progressive in relation to that of the two stages theory of the Mensheviks, but also pointed out its shortcomings. In 1909 he wrote:

"It is true that the difference between them in this matter is very considerable: while the anti- revolutionary aspects of Menshevism have already become fully apparent, those of Bolshevism are likely to become a serious threat only in the event of victory."7

These prophetic lines have often been taken out of context by Trotsky's Stalinist critics, but in fact they accurately express what occurred in 1917, when Lenin came into conflict with the other Bolshevik leaders precisely over the slogan of the "Democratic Dictatorship of the Proletariat and Peasantry", which Lenin abandoned in favour of a policy that was identical with that of the permanent revolution. When this book was published after the revolution, Trotsky wrote in a footnote:

"This threat, as we know, never materialized because, under the leadership of comrade Lenin, the Bolsheviks changed their policy line on this most important matter(not without inner struggle) in the spring of 1917, that is, before the seizure of power."8

From a materialist point of view, the final test of all theories is found in practice. All the theories, programmes and perspectives that were advanced and passionately defended by the different tendencies in the Russian labour movement concerning the nature and motor-force of the revolution were subjected to the acid test in the events of 1917. At this point, the line separating Trotsky from Lenin dissolves completely. The line of Lenin's Letters From Afar and his April Theses is indistinguishable from that which we read in Trotsky's articles published in Novy Mir, written at the same time, but thousands of miles away in America. And, as Trotsky had warned in 1909, the counter- revolutionary side of the theory of the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry only became evident in the course of the revolution itself, when Kamenev, Zinoviev and Stalin used it against Lenin to justify their support for the bourgeois Provisional Government. An open split developed between Lenin and the other leaders of the Bolshevik party who, in effect, accused him of Trotskyism.

In point of fact, the correctness of the theory of the permanent revolution was triumphantly demonstrated by the October revolution itself. The Russian working class as Trotsky had predicted in 1904 came to power before the workers of Western Europe. They carried out all the tasks of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, and immediately set about nationalising industry and passing over to the tasks of the socialist revolution. The bourgeoisie played an openly counter-revolutionary role, but was defeated by the workers in alliance with the poor peasants. The Bolsheviks then made a revolutionary appeal to the workers of the world to follow their example. Lenin knew very well that without the victory of the revolution in the advanced capitalist countries, especially Germany, the revolution could not survive in isolation, especially in a backward country like Russia. What happened subsequently showed that this was absolutely correct. The setting up of the Third (Communist) International, the world party of socialist revolution, was the concrete manifestation of this perspective.

The Bourgeoisie and the Bureaucracy

The situation is clear still today. The national bourgeoisie in the colonial countries entered into the scene of history too late, when the world had already been divided up between a few imperialist powers. It was not able to play any progressive role and was born completely subordinated to its former colonial masters. The weak and degenerate bourgeoisie in Asia, Latin America and Africa is too dependent on foreign capital and imperialism, to carry society forward. It is tied by a thousand threads, not only to foreign capital, but to the class of landowners with which it forms a reactionary bloc that represents a bulwark against progress. Whatever differences may exist between these elements are insignificant in comparison with the fear that unites them against the masses. Only the proletariat, allied with the poor peasants and urban poor, can solve the problems of society by taking power into its own hands, expropriating the imperialists and the bourgeoisie, and beginning the task of transforming society on socialist lines.

Had the Communist International remained firm on the positions of Lenin and Trotsky, the victory of the world revolution would have been assured. Unfortunately, the Comintern's formative years coincided with the Stalinist counter-revolution in Russia, which had a disastrous effect on the Communist Parties of the entire world. The Stalinist bureaucracy, having acquired control in the Soviet Union, developed a very conservative outlook. The theory that socialism can be built in one countryan abomination from the standpoint of Marx and Leninreally reflected the mentality of the bureaucracy, which had had enough of the storm and stress of revolution and sought to get on with the task of "building socialism in Russia".

Instead of pursuing a revolutionary policy based on class independence, as Lenin had always advocated, they proposed an alliance of the Communist Parties with the "national progressive bourgeoisie" (and if there was not one easily at hand, they were quite prepared to invent one) to carry through the democratic revolution, and later on, in the far distant future, when the country had developed a fully fledged capitalist economy, for socialism. In reality they had now even abandoned the second stage and capitulated to liberal democracy and a rotten bourgeoisie. This policy represented a complete break with Leninism and a return to the old discredited position of Menshevismthe theory of the two stages.

In India this Menshevist two-stageism was practised by the pro-Moscow CPI with the so called progressive Indian bourgeois party, the Congress under the leadership of Nehru. The zigzags and the betrayals and attacks on the workers by the bourgeois congress government created disillusionment and conflicts within the ranks of the CPI. This ultimately led to a split in 1964 with the formation of the CPI (M) which was now taking the pro-Peking line. But as there was no fundamental ideological difference between the Russian and Chinese versions of Stalinism, the CPI (M) (Communist Party of India-Marxist) faced a similar crisis, which led to the 1969 split that gave birth to the CPI (ML) (Marxist Leninist). Yet the ideological foundations of these parties remained the same.

However in the 50 and 60's and the 70's there was some semblance and at least a nominal adherence to 'socialism' and 'communism'. These left currents at least brought some reforms in the left front governments in Kerala, West Bengal and Tripura. There were historical and peculiar political reasons for these left parties having a relatively bigger mass base, to which these reforms gave a certain impetus. But now the CPI (M) in particular has virtually abandoned even the defunct two-stage theory. Now they have ended up in the one-stageism which is the eternal rule of bourgeois democracy under the oligarchy of finance capital. Now they have gone so far that they are forcibly evicting poor peasants from the lands that they had acquired during the land reforms carried out by the CPI (M) led left-front government in Bengal in the late 1970s and 80s. In Sighnur, Nandigram, and other places the violence of the State and CPI (M) 'cadres' were used for the forced eviction of these poor peasants. These evictions were made from the land to be provided to Multinational conglomerate investment, mainly India's Tata group and Indonesian Salim group of industries. These policies of neo-liberal Capitalist economy are playing havoc with the peasant base of support for the left parties in Bengal and else where. There is an increasing ferment within the ranks of left parties. Apart from a large number of youths going over to various Maoist groups and armed struggle there is the opening up of enormous possibilities for Marxism to attract this left youth towards the programme of revolutionary socialism.


In Pakistan the parties toeing the Moscow line were mainly mired in the limited democratic causes. They became stale and couldn't put up any significant mass resistance against the Ayub dictatorship. Meanwhile, the growing impact of the developments in China started to influence sections of the students and youth.

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, the NSF had partially rectified the fragmented condition of the student left by promoting a degree of central direction and national-to-district levels of organization for 'progressive students...nationalist, socialist, communist.' It is certainly of importance that the period of the NSF's greatest strength coincided with the early years of the Ayub Regime.

This resulted in part from the Regime's attempts to control and manipulate student politics by bureaucratic penetration of the university system. The University Ordinances (1962), imposed during the Martial Law period and continued after it was lifted, were especially despised. They provided for the forfeiture of degrees for untoward political activity and imposed political controls on faculty salaries, promotions, foreign academic contacts and trips abroad. Another repressive act was the 'Student Affairs Department'. This operated at Punjab University as a campus branch of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), the police intelligence service. For 'politically reliable' students there were scholarships given by the Student Affairs Department, but for the 'politically unreliable' there were the ubiquitous classroom CID informants, the threat of expulsion from the university, expulsion from the city, a visit to the Chuna Mandi Police Station, or perhaps to the dreaded Lahore Fort. The student communities at Dacca, Karachi and Lahore rioted against these University Ordinances, as well as against events abroad, such as the French role in Algeria and the alleged complicity of the United States in the assassination of Patrice Lumamba. In all of these student actions there were strong anti-regime undercurrents.

The debate on 'Maoism' among Pakistani leftists was an intense one, but it was not something in which most students involved themselves. If the visible hallmarks of their new political consciousness were anti-Americanism, a Marxist rhetoric and a pro-China tendency, the reality was that the far stronger underlying current was that of Nationalism. Most of the pro-Bhutto student leaders were neither Marxists nor revolutionaries, but different nationalist versions of Stalinist factions. They were more committed to some kind of basic structural change that would set the nation on the road to economic and military self-sufficiency.

China and Pakistan

But here again the irony was that the Chinese bureaucracy under Mao had a close relationship with the regime, and Pak-China friendship associations were sponsored by the Pakistani State. Yet most left parties and student organisations belonged to the pro- Peking left. This led to utter confusion. Important sections of the Military elite and the state bureaucracy had also a very fraternal relationship with the Chinese bureaucracy (Communist Party of China, CPC). The Chinese and the Russian bureaucracies, pursuing the policies of 'socialism in one country,' degenerated into a socialism embedded in National chauvinism. The comrades were discussing issues in the language of artillery fire and cross border bloody skirmishes. These antagonisms, which created the Sino- Soviet split, had severe ramifications on the left movements especially in the neo colonial countries. Against the Leninist method of internationalism they were pursuing narrow nationalist agendas prioritised by the perks and privileges of the bureaucratic castes in both the USSR and China. Had China become a part of the USSR, as Lenin had envisaged the USSR to be the new socialist union of all the countries of the world, history would have been very different.

Because of the antagonisms between the Pakistani elite and the Indian ruling class, and the support of the Soviet Union for the Nehruvian congress government in India, the Chinese bureaucracy, in retaliation against Russia, gave unconditional and outright support to the Military junta in Pakistan.

Ted Grant writes on the role of the Chinese bureaucracy and the ramifications of the Stalinist ideology of "National Socialism':

"The real face of Chinese Stalinism is revealed in the opportunism of the leadership in the colonial world, where they have given support to the rotting, feudal, bourgeois upper strata in many countries: the support of the Imam in the Yemen, the loans to Afghanistan, to Sri Lanka, to Pakistan, support of Soekarno in Indonesia, etc. Without being able to compete in resources, they have used the slender means of the Chinese economy in competition with the Russian bureaucracy and with imperialism. Their ideology, their conceptions, cannot rise above the narrow national interests of the Chinese bureaucracy. Their 'internationalism' consists in trying to build an instrument of support similar to that possessed by the Russian Stalinist bureaucracy. Their ideology, methods and attitudes are a counterfeit of Marxism, as much as that of the Russian bureaucracy, at various stages of its development".9

After the rigged election of January 1965 the Chinese Prime Minister Chou en Lai was the first international leader to congratulate Field Marshal Ayub Khan on his "historic" victory. In his message he said that this victory reflected the mass support for Ayub Khan.

After the September 1965 war Marshal Chen Yen, the commander of the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army, visited Pakistan and compared Ayub Khan's 'basic democracies' with 'people's communes'. In a statement Marshal Chen Yen said: "President General Ayub Khan's great and dynamic leadership had unified the whole Pakistani nation and defending the sovereignty gave a resounding answer to the enemy."10

In 1967 the leader of the visiting Chinese trade delegation gave the following statement:

"Under President Gen. Ayub Khan's great leadership Pakistan has made enormous progress in both Industrial and agricultural fields. The day is not far off when Pakistan will achieve total economic Independence."11

There was a barrage of such statements from Chinese officials and the pro-Peking left in Pakistan had no option but to somehow support this despotic regime. The main problem with both the pro-Moscow and pro-Peking left was the lack of Marxist analysis and perspective. They were more involved in activism than in building a solid cadre base with an advanced theoretical and political base. The rapid achievements of the planned economy, both in the Soviet Union and China, had startled them. Basing themselves on the 'practicalities', what they saw or knew about these countries was a far greater rate of growth and progress compared with Pakistan. Hence, that was all the 'socialism' they could follow and accepted the ridicule of Trotsky and other Marxists who had said decades ago what would be the ultimate fate of those 'socialist' countries. It was Lenin in 1921, Trotsky in his graphic work Revolution Betrayed in 1936, Ted Grant in his several works in 1943, 1951 and 1959, who predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union, disintegration of Stalinism, and the degeneration of the planned economy in the so called Peoples Republic of China.

Left disarray

The pro-Moscow Communist party spokesman in a statement confessed the class collaborationist policies of two-stageism. He said,

"Our modern rising bourgeoisie will come into conflict with the dominating American and European bourgeoisie in the World Market. Hence, under economic compulsion Habibullah, Valika's and Saigols (Home of the largest Pakistani bourgeois entrepreneurs) will have to turn for trade towards the socialist block. This act will enable us to overcome the domination of Western monopoly. This is that direction towards which we are on the move. If I condemn President Ayub's opening up this avenue towards left, I would be definitely mad."12

Such vacillations, ideological confusions and ambiguity towards the class contradictions inevitably lead to the disarray of the left movement. This was the main obstacle to the formation of a Bolshevik-Leninist Party that could fulfil the revolutionary tasks faced at the time. The class collaborationist ideology led to opportunism, giving rise to tendencies of adventurism and ultra-leftism. A large number of left activists, workers and youth made enormous sacrifices and suffered the tortures and brutalities of the bourgeois state. The basic motive of sacrifice and struggle was for them 'socialism' and 'communism', but in reality their leaders espoused the cause of bourgeois democracy. As soon as the activists realized this they left in disgust, some into the political wilderness, and others into crime and corruption. Ultimately they felt betrayed by the 'cause' itself; the tragedy being that the cause of revolutionary socialism was misinterpreted and falsified by the false ideology of two-stageism (Menshevism).

It was in these conditions of political unpreparedness, organisational incapacity, lack of Marxist perspectives and ideological incoherence that the left leaders and intellectuals were shell shocked by the momentous upheaval of 1968-69; most were bewildered and confused. The role and character of the Stalinists gave rise to the phenomenon of populism yet again in a country like Pakistan.

Populism and Bhutto

Populism was mainly the product of the contradiction between the Stalinist ideology of two-stageism and the socialist aspirations and character of the mass movements that had erupted mainly in ex-colonial countries, particularly in the post second world war period. The most significant examples have been Peronism in Argentina, Soekarnoism in Indonesia, Nasserism in Egypt, and similar regimes in other African, Asian and Latin American countries. The phenomenon of modern populism was based on individual leaders who came to the fore through historical accidents and who gained support by revolutionary sloganeering and socialist rhetoric. It also reflected a certain primitive political culture that gave rise to an exaggerated role and dependence on individuals as liberators and heroes for the masses.

This extraordinary reliance and popularity got them immense political authority. To enhance their support they could only go to the extent of radical reforms. As for overthrow capitalism, they neither had an understanding of revolutionary Marxism nor had they built parties with the revolutionary ideology and organisational structures and ability to overthrow the old order. But, as in the case of the proletarian Bonapartist states, they defied the two-stage theory and in a peculiar manner vindicated the validity and truth of Trotsky's theory of permanent revolution, albeit perversely. However, in absence of traditional workers', socialist or communist parties, they became the new political traditional modes of expression of the masses. However their role and character was and is reflective of the condition and State of the movements of the workers and the oppressed masses in those countries at the time.

The traditional left started to split more rapidly. Some of the pro-Moscow elements who were working in the 'nationalist', 'democratic', and 'progressive' parties had joined the DAC (Democratic Action Committee). This was a political alliance of diverse bourgeois and right wing parties. One of the main Stalwarts of DAC was Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan, a conservative right wing politician and a petty landlord from south Punjab. The irony is that this DAC also included extreme right wing elements, including the Islamic fundamentalists. The arch Islamic fundamentalist party the Jamat-i-Islami, at that stage the main agent of US Imperialism, was also part of this right wing 'democratic' alliance.

The Hegelian dictum goes: "Those who don't learn from the mistakes of history are doomed to repeat them." These left leaders were still struggling in bourgeois alliances for 'Democratic' change.

While these sections of the left were playing 'party - party' and juggling with democratic change the revolutionary blizzard bypassed them without even noticing their existence.

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, being shrewder in sensing the mood of the mass movement, had embarked upon the 'need for socialism' and other radical slogans. This PPP programme clicked with the masses moods, aspirations and sentiments; the PPP became the largest party of the masses in the history of Pakistan, almost overnight. The first activists and cadres that gave the PPP a foot hold and standing were from the different Maoist groups and other scattered left activists. These groups were disillusioned and frustrated by the traditional Stalinist leadership of the left.

The founding convention of the Pakistan Peoples Party was held at Dr. Mubashar Hasan's home on main boulevard Gulberg, Lahore, on 30 November and 1st of December 1967. The founding documents, which were prepared by Bhutto and J. A. Rahim in Paris in 1966, were presented in their final form after long consultations with Dr. Mubashar Hasan, who was also a member of the 'principles committee'. They were very radical and called for a socialist change in the aims and objectives of the new party that was being set up in these two days. Very few of those attending the meeting realized that history was being made at that gathering. The founding document of PPP said:

"The ultimate objective of the party's policy is the attainment of a classless society which is only possible through socialism in our times".13

As was expected, Bhutto's speech, the main attraction at the convention, was full of passion and vigour. He concluded by saying, "We have to tackle basic anomalies ... change this system and put an end to exploitation. This can only be done by socialism. That is why our party stands for socialism."14

After the founding convention Bhutto went into full political action across the country, sensing only too well that the masses were yearning for a radical change. To galvanise those burning aspirations he went all over the country, presenting himself as the revolutionary socialist who would lead the transformation of society through revolutionary change. In one of those initial speeches in 1968 Bhutto said:

"My dear friends, it is said that I am a wealthy man and a feudal lord. It is said that I have no right to struggle for socialism without distributing my wealth among the people ... socialism can be introduced only when all means of production are brought under state control. But even so I hereby announce that if my wealth can be of any good to the nation I will not hesitate to give it away. But I cannot be so foolish as to hand my wealth over to capitalists and feudalists under the capitalistic system, so as to enable the rulers to make more money and spend more on their luxuries...

"(...) But you cannot fool the people by such useless arguments. I believe in socialism; that is why I have left my class and joined the labourers, peasants and poor students. I love them. And what can I get from them except affection and respect? No power on earth can stop socialism the symbol of justice, equality and the supremacy of man from being introduced in Pakistan. It is the demand of time and history. And you can see me raising this revolutionary banner among the masses. I am a socialist, and an honest socialist, who will continue to fight for the poor till the last moment of his life. Some ridicule me for being socialist. I don't care."15

The Founding of the PPP

The men and women who gathered to found the Pakistan People's Party were indeed a diverse group in terms of their social identities, previous political affiliations, ideological proclivities and general characteristics. They held varying notions about the ultimate aims of the PPP, and about the role of Bhutto in it. Some of them, friends from better days and protective of future opportunities, formed the beginnings of an inner circle around Bhutto. Others saw him as the polar opposite to Ayub Khan, and a leader who could unify the political forces against the military-bureaucratic forces and bring parliamentary democracy back to Pakistan. Still others, students and anti-feudalists, regarded Bhutto as a genuine progressive democratic socialist who would, with the aid of a highly organized political party, seek a socialist reconstruction of the economy and society of Pakistan.

Bhutto's concept was not so much of a party as it was of a political movement, where groups and leaders and fragments of groups were held together segmentally, with vertical lines of authority leading to the Chairman. This meant, of course, that neither ideology nor organization could be too rigid or refined. The founding convention dealt substantively with both the ideology and organization of the People's Party, both aspects being greatly influenced by later events.

Bhutto was not a Marxist. He came to ride on the rising tide of the 1968-69 revolution as a result of the tumultuous events that were rapidly unfolding at that time; he happened to be in the right time and place to lead this unprecedented mass uprising. However, he was a widely-read person and had seen movements and societies in restive conditions in many countries of the world. He had studied at some of the most famous institutions in US and Britain. He had a relatively advanced political understanding, and the experience of what had gone on across the world in the 40's and 50's had a certain influence on him. He cannot be totally compared to Chou en Lai, but in that period there were several individuals from the privileged classes in the colonial world who were affected by the massive upheavals of the colonial revolutions in the post-war era. In the colonial revolutions we saw quite a number of peculiarities when even individuals from upper classes were radicalised. But Bhutto had not gone that far; on his return from abroad he was inducted into the Cabinet of President Sikander Mirza in 1956, and ultimately as a minister of Foreign Affairs in Ayub Khan's cabinet in the early 1960's.

Sobho Gianchandani explained this transition in a recent interview with Newsline,

"Bhutto had wanted to join the Awami Party. G.M. Syed told me a joke regarding this: "One day, Bhutto came to my residence and said, "Shah Sahib, I want to join your party." Jokingly, I said to him, "Do you know ours is a party of rebels?" Bhutto replied, I know. Comrade Hyder Bux Jatoi interrupted us and asked Bhutto "Have you taken your father's permission? A Khan Bahadur's son cannot become a member of a rebel party." Bhutto shouted back, "Revolution is not the monopoly of Hyder Bux Jatoi! I am also a revolutionary." Hyder Bux Jatoi persisted. Bhutto spoke to Shah Nawaz Bhutto via telephone. Meanwhile, Iskander Mirza contacted Shah Nawaz Bhutto and told him, "I have planned a great career for your son Zulfiqar, tell him not to join the rebels." Consequently, the next day Bhutto came and submitted his resignation, saying he didn't want to be a rebel. "I told you so," shouted Hyder Bux Jatoi."16

After the 1965 war with India Bhutto and Ayub Khan had a split which was inevitable due to the rising tensions and conflicts amongst the ruling elite. This was inevitable in the immediate aftermath of the war, which had aggravated both the economic crisis and the social unrest. These, although not explosive, had an effect on the cohesion and unity of the regime.

After he was deposed by Ayub Khan his ego was damaged and he was seething for revenge against a military dictator whom he regarded, and perhaps rightly so, as a mediocrity in intellect and political strategy. But this whole episode, with its melodramatic publicity, made Bhutto a revered victim of tyranny amongst the masses in general. In the subcontinental culture the victims get extraordinary sympathy and people try to share their own tragedies with those who are hurt by evil. This gave him personal authority and the political leverage to propel himself to leadership of the masses.

But this is only one aspect of the equation. The objective situation was changing rapidly. He had an instinctive understanding of the mass moods and sudden changes in mass psychology. Hence the empathy between Bhutto and the masses was prepared by a string of subjective happenings and the sharp turns in the objective conditions. Bhutto understood the need for radical change and a socialist programme to bring about the changes in their lives that the masses were yearning for. The rising tide of the movement also swung and swayed Bhutto; his speeches, acts, and style all clichéd with the immediate situations and events unfolding with a lightening speed around him. Never before had the masses heard or envisaged on such a mammoth scale the call for a socialist revolution such as Bhutto was spreading across the country.

In April 1968 in a pamphlet titled, "Political Situation in Pakistan", he wrote:

"Out of the welter of confusion a crystallisation is taking place. A growing body of people, with the younger generation at their head, believe that the old ways are no longer sufficient to surmount the problems of Pakistan. Each epoch has its own political significance; its own seismic pattern. This epoch, exciting and full of challenge, requires a fresh approach for building society anew on the finest aspirations of the entire population of Pakistan. We are not prepared to return to the past. Nor are the people willing to tolerate the present conditions much longer. For this reason, the Pakistan Peoples Party declares: "All power to the people!"17

His position on Democracy was quite accurate. In explaining the real nature of bourgeois democracy he was very close to Lenin's definition in "Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky". Bhutto wrote in the same pamphlet:

"Democracy is essential but is not an end in itself. In the struggle to establish democracy we must never lose sight of the economic objectives, which remain paramount. Without economic progress a nation cannot find satisfaction in democracy alone. Democratic freedom is essential, but economic equality and justice are supremely important. Profound changes in national life cannot come without economic changes. Economic problems remain pivotal. Democracy must go hand-in-hand with enlightened socialism if the servitude of the people is to be ended. The limited resources of this overpopulated country are being wasted and falling commodity prices in the international market diminish its capacity to purchase essentials from industrial countries. In such a situation socialism is the only answer to our economic problems. Socialism offers the only way to end exploitation and to foster unity. Unity will remain a slogan and an illusion until exploitation is ended.

"We are on the brink of economic catastrophe. A new class, small in number, of capitalist barons, is unabashedly plundering national wealth. The disparity between the rich and the poor keeps on growing. Here in Pakistan there is only loot. On the pretext of encouraging private initiative, scandalous incentives are given to facilitate massive exploitation".18

Again he defines socialism in the following words:

"Only socialism, which creates equal opportunities for all, protects from exploitation, removes the barriers of class distinction, is capable of establishing economic and social justice. Socialism is the highest expression of democracy and its logical fulfilment.

The universality of the precepts of socialism is essentially due to two reasons: first, the basis of modern socialism is objective; second, socialist thinking is relevant to all countries in every part of the world in their actual economic and political condition. Socialism is, therefore, of direct interest to Pakistan, an underdeveloped country marked by internal and external exploitation,

"(...) The region of the earth with the highest concentration of poverty is Pakistan. The stigma has to be wiped out by socialism. The immediate task would be to end predatory capitalism and to put socialism into motion. The means of production that are the generators of industrial advance or on which depend other industries must not be allowed to be vested in private hands. All enterprises that constitute the infrastructure of the national economy must be in public ownership".19

In a speech at the District Bar Association at Hyderabad on 26 June 1969, Bhutto thundered:

"The Pakistan Peoples Party is a party of the people of Pakistan. Let me make it quite clear that it is a party of the workers and peasants and the students of Pakistan. It is a revolutionary party".20

Ideological Confusion

This was perhaps the most radical definition of the Pakistan Peoples Party. Yet this was not the full story of the PPP. The other side of the story is that Bhutto and the PPP leadership of the time, although very left and revolutionary in expression, were always burdened by ideological confusion and contradictory ideas and tendencies. Hence they were incapable of laying the basis for a genuine revolutionary party to lead the masses in overthrowing capitalism and carrying through a socialist transformation of Society.

It was not just Bhutto, but also the other main leaders of the PPP with Maoist and other diverse left backgrounds who were pursuing a mixed bag of ideas that were a crude mixture of socialism, nationalism and even with streaks of Pan Islamism that they interpreted in the form of 'Islamic Socialism'.

These ideological deviations resulted in the inevitability of the derailment of this glorious revolution. The ideological confusion and lack of a clear Marxist position are evident in some of the speeches made by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto at the time. For example in a speech at a public meeting in Mansehra, Pushtoonkhwa (NWFP) Bhutto even tried to gain the support of the primitive layers of the masses by exploiting Pakistani and Muslim prejudices. He undermined the class basis and socialist ideals of the revolution that was in full swing when he said:

"The conflict between Hindus and Muslims dates back one thousand years into history. Why can't it be carried into the future? If the nation can fight for one thousand years for its survival, it can do so in the future as well".21

At the Frontier (Pushtoonkhwa) convention on 3 November 1968 at Sherpao, he once again tried to compromise socialism with Islam (religion), saying:

"Why socialist parties have not succeeded in India is because Hinduism is against socialism, just as it is against Islam. Hinduism can never tolerate socialism, because the Hindu religion provides for various classes. While socialism has not made any headway in India, it can make tremendous progress in Pakistan because there is little difference between Islam and socialism.

"I want to say this clearly that in the socio-economic sector there is no difference between Islam and socialism. Had these two systems been in conflict with each other, I would have given up socialism".22


This was in contrast to the reality. One economy is based on the charity shown by the rich towards the poor. In other words, the existence of propertied classes and impoverished classes is considered a social norm. Under socialism this class divide is eliminated and it strives for a classless society.

At the same time this notion of pan-Islamism or later third-worldism as propagated and pursued by a certain variety of Stalinist leaders was also part of the strange mix of contradictory ideologies and systems.

Once again in a speech at a mass rally in Peshawar on November 5 1968, Bhutto said the following:

"Had the Pakistan People's Party been in power at the time of the Arab-Israel war in the Middle East we would have deprived the Israeli Defence Minister of his second eye. But it is regrettable that the largest Islamic State could not play its role which she could and should have played. And the situation is that while Kashmir is with the Indians and Jerusalem with the Israelis we still claim that Pakistan has made big progress. If the Pakistan Peoples Party comes into power, and it will Insha-Allah (God willing), then you will see that not only will the lot of the poor labourers and peasants improve, but also no Indian will be seen in Kashmir and no Israeli in Jerusalem".23

In the address to the District Bar Association at Hyderabad on June 26 1968, Bhutto eulogised the revolutionary ideological basis of partition:

"Pakistan came into being because we were Muslims. We shall sacrifice everything for Islam. Islam means the strengthening of the Muslim people".24

The point is that, within the ideological and institutional confines of the existing state and structure, the tasks of the national democratic revolution can not be accomplished. This includes the demands for the separation of religion from state, i.e. a secular state. A socialist transformation cannot be accomplished merely by the completion of the national democratic tasks, but these tasks can only be achieved by adopting socialist measures. A socialist revolution doesn't only transform the market economy into a planned economy, but through its revolutionary actions it changes the social, cultural, moral and ethical values of capitalist society. The Liberals in Pakistan hold up Jinnah's speech of 11 August 1947 as proof of Jinnah's determination to see Pakistan as a secular rather than a theocratic state. This speech was delivered without notes, but as he put it: "a few things as they occur to me".

But again this is an exceptional quotation with self serving attributions to Jinnah by the Liberals. Most other speeches and statements do not subscribe to this perception. For example on January 25 1948, Jinnah spoke to the Bar Association of Karachi, and said:

"Why this feeling of nervousness that the future constitution of Pakistan is going to be in conflict with Shariat Laws? Islamic principles today are as applicable to life as they were 1300 years ago.

"Islam is not only a set of rituals, traditions and spiritual doctrines. Islam is also the code of every Muslim, which regulates his life and conduct in even politics and economics and the like".25

The Pakistanisation and Islamisation of socialism by the leadership even in those days was typical of populist swings due to the contradictory pressures of various sections of society. This balancing act, a sort of popular Bonapartism, has a fragile basis and is not long lasting. The inevitable results were proved by events that history has witnessed in the four decades after those upheavals.

The most important aspect was the historically exceptional period and a revolution in action that had aroused the masses to an advanced level of consciousness. Hence, if Bhutto had to appease what he thought of as apparently backward layers of society by using nationalist and religious rhetoric, in most other regions and industrial areas it was the revolutionary fervour that was pushing him more and more towards the slogan of radical socialism.

Like Bonapartism of different forms, the balancing between classes through a populist movement is short lived, hollow, and debilitated in its basic character. In this balancing act there are always pressures from the conflicting interest of irreconcilable class positions in society and in politics. The intrinsic weakness of populism causes it to appease and bend to these contradictory class pressures; consequently such regimes are inherently in crisis and turmoil. The description of PPP as a 'multi class' party reflects this deep conflict of contradictions of populism.

There never has been and there never can be a 'multi-class' party. In the end every political party defends the interest of one class or the other; to fabricate the character of a political party as 'multi-class' is demagogic to say the least. The crux of the matter is that the PPP started as a party but has developed into a tradition, a hope perhaps, a movement or a platform where the masses gather as they move into political activity. But they can only begin here, the struggle can never end, aims cannot be achieved, and the change the masses are yearning for can never be accomplished through such a medium of political activity. When the stranglehold on the PPP by ruling classes and imperialism is broken it will not be the same entity anymore. It will be a totally different culture of political and of revolutionary struggle altogether.

It was the movement, historical mammoth rallies, strikes, barricades, and the valour of the workers that was radicalising Bhutto further and further towards the left. Bhutto was not giving the 'voice' to the people. The revolutionary fervour of the masses in reality was giving Bhutto the language and courage to call for a socialist change.

Writing a doctorate thesis on Pakistan People's Party (published in a book) Philip E. Jones analysed the party's origins and Bhutto's role in the following lines. He wrote,

"Without too much exaggeration, it can be said that the dominance of this one individual is the crucial factor determining the organizational and political directions taken by a populist party. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to distinguish here between an 'organizational-base,' or Bolshevik, type of party that stresses the discipline, ideology, and objectives of organization, and a single leader, or 'furtherist,' type in which organization and ideology are subordinated to the particular proclivities and vision of the supreme leader. Though both are mass movement phenomena, the Bolshevik party model is the more thoroughly revolutionary in that it aims to rebuild the state structure from the ground up. The 'furtherist' party model aims to capture the pre-existing state institutions and to bend them to its own ideological and political goals. 'Furtherist' parties thus tend to downgrade their own organization in favour of becoming part of the state apparatus. Clearly, aside from party-state relations, these two models have very different outcomes in terms of leadership styles, organizational strategies, recruitment policies and ideological emphases.

"(...) During its early years, the years of the ascendancy of the 'ideological' wing of the party, the PPP adopted the outward symbols of the Bolshevik model in its provision for a Chairman and a Central Committee and in its grass roots organizational strategy. Yet, in the cultural and political conditions prevailing in Pakistan, it was perhaps only a matter of time before the PPP would transform itself visibly into a 'furtherist' party. Though this process was well underway before the 1970 elections, it became more and more obvious during the years of power. The long internal struggle between the 'ideologicals' and the 'politicals' emphasized the nature of the People's Party as a transitional structure that reflected both the passing age of elite politics and the emergent age of mass politics."26

Along with J. A. Rahim, Bhutto announced the decision for a new party from the Hyderabad residence of Mir Rasul Bakhsh Talpur on 16 September 1967. It would be a 'national progressive organization having its roots deep in the masses equally in East and West Pakistan.'

The founding convention of the Pakistan People's Party was not, as Bhutto admitted, a 'spectacular success'. According to PPP sources, the Ayub Government had gone to considerable lengths to ensure that this would be so. It had bought all the seats on PIA flights from Dacca to Lahore on the day before the convention was held at the home of Dr. Mubashar Hasan out in the elite suburb of Gulberg, some five miles away from the volatile inner city and the complex of educational institutions around Gol Bagh. According to Dawn, some 300 delegates attended the convention, while the most optimistic PPP figures put the number at 500, or about half the number expected.27

There were no delegates from East Pakistan, a fact which allowed the NPT (National Press Trust) papers to dismiss Bhutto as a 'national leader', but which also ominously presaged future events.

The Pakistan Times called it a 'faceless gathering of political romantics, runaway students, and ideological oddballs.' Not to mention the 'briefless lawyers and crypto-communists' who were also present.28

Dawn thought the 'gathering looked more like a teenagers' jamboree than a solemn political conclave,' and opined that, 'with the country already plagued by innumerable political parties, the addition of still another could hardly be expected to kindle popular enthusiasm.'29

The district administration was concerned, if not unduly alarmed, and went so far as to impose Section 144 on the city and to refuse the new party permission to hold its first public meeting, which was scheduled for 3 December at Mochi Darwaza. (Mochi Darwaza ('Cobbler Gate') is to Lahore politically, what Lahore is to Punjab. For decades politicians have gone to Mochi Darwaza to prove their popular appeal Mian Muhammad Shafi, Fazl-i-Hussain, Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, Maulana Ataullah Shah Bukhari, M.A. Jinnah, Liaqat Ali Khan, the Nawab of Mamdot, Mumtaz Daultana, even Ayub Khan, have all had their moments at Mochi Darwaza. The name of a long-vanished gateway into the old city, Mochi Darwaza was an open space along Circular Road, which used to be surrounded by the most densely populated wards of Lahore. To the north and west is the old city, with its veritable warren of alleys, narrow passages and cul-de-sacs, and to the east and south are the teeming wards of Gawalmandi, Ramgali and Qila Gujjar Singh). Movements of even modest appeal have always been able to get good crowds at Mochi Darwaza.

In spite of the smaller than expected turn out the mood at the convention was upbeat. Z. A. Bhutto, who was elected Chairman of the convention on the first day, noted that the 'beginnings of great movements were often modest and small'.

There were four sessions in two days. The first was mainly a long speech by Bhutto, and the second was presentations by self-appointed 'representatives of the peasantry, lawyers, businessmen, engineers and youth leaders...,'which 'demonstrated how extensive the appeal of the party was to politically conscious people.' In the third session, the delegates debated the 'Foundation Meeting Documents' and the resolutions drawn up overnight by the Convention's Resolutions Committee. During the fourth session, the new party was founded. The 'Foundation Documents' and convention resolutions were adopted, the party decided to call itself the Pakistan People's Party, and the delegates chose a tricolor party flag, the latter item being the one which caused the most discussion.

Certainly, Bhutto and the party leaders were in the thick of things in the next stormy years. The movement exploded from the very beginning: Bhutto and K. H. Meer consulted with student leaders during the Rawalpindi disturbances of 7 to 9 November 1968; the PPP Chairman led a PPP delegation out to Pindi Gheb to attend the funeral of Abdul Hamid (the polytechnic student whose killing by police firing had sparked off the revolt) on 8 November; while other PPP figures addressed the crowds around the Inter-Continental. On 10 November Bhutto went down to Lahore by train, meeting large crowds along the way, who somehow had heard he would be passing by. At Lahore he was welcomed by a mammoth crowd and an automobile had to be brought directly onto the station platform before Bhutto could make an exit from his railway compartment. The next day, in a highly charged atmosphere, the PPP Chairman addressed the Lahore District Bar Association. He told the assembled lawyers he refused a Government suggestion that he should appeal to the students to stop their demonstrations. He did so 'because they are fighting and I am fighting with them'.

Bhutto's Arrest and the left-right struggle

On 13 November, he was scheduled to travel down to Multan by train, but was arrested along with his host, Dr. Mubashar Hasan, at 1:30 A.M. under the DPR (Defense of Pakistan Rules). The large crowd waiting at the station for the PPP Chairman erupted, setting off the first disturbances in that city.

The incarceration of Bhutto left the leadership ranks of the People's Party somewhat disorganized and it was only after defeating a sharp internal challenge that J. A. Rahim emerged as acting chairman. This, and the nature of the November Movement, enabled secondary and more ideologically oriented figures to emerge as the active leadership element in the party. Reappearing after a six month hiatus, Nusrat (PPP's weekly journal) began to function as a crucial link, coordinating policy and propaganda for PPP groups all over West Pakistan.

25 November was the beginning of a left-right struggle among political parties to gain control over the movement and the political power that lay beyond it. The left-right polemic was carried on most vigorously between the PPP and Jamat-i-Islami, JI.

By January Nusrat was publishing regular weekly articles on what it called Maududi' or 'Maududism', the philosophy and past political behavior of the founder of JI. In early January, on his return from medical treatment in Europe, the founder, Sayyid Abu A'la Maududi, violently denounced 'socialism' and said that, "It would come to Pakistan only over the corpses of Pakistan's true Muslims".30

In March, the day after the failure of the RTC, in which Maududi represented the JI, the Amir (leader of Islamic parties/states) of the JI asked his party members "to form committees in every mohalla to smother the tongue that utters the word socialism".31

On 10 February 1969 the High Court changed the conditions of Bhutto's incarceration from imprisonment to house arrest at Larkana. On 11 February, he refused to fly in the aircraft put at his disposal on the grounds that a bomb had been planted in it, and went down to Larkana by train, meeting huge crowds at Multan, Rahim Yar Khan, Rohri and Sukkur.

On 14 February, along with four companions at Larkana and other groups around West Pakistan, Bhutto began his 'fast unto death' against the Emergency Rule Laws imposed by the Ayub regime.

On the same day, as Bhutto began his fast, the Government announced the Emergency would be lifted on 17 February and privately informed Bhutto that he was no longer under any form of restraint. Unwilling to let the issue be taken from him too easily, Bhutto decided to continue his fast until at least 17 February, and then, after the announcement by the Law Minister of lifting the Emergency, he said 'if it was not a trick, he would break his fast.'32

Bhutto made a triumphant entry into Karachi on 17 February. He intended, as he had told a journalist in Larkana two days earlier, to start the second phase of the struggle from Karachi, Pakistan's most proletarianized city, which was 'being punished for voting against Ayub Khan'.33

On 18 February, after long consultations with his supporters and party, Bhutto told a meeting of the Karachi Press Club that he would not join the Round Table Conference (RTC) all parties' talks. "The people wanted a complete change, not just concessions".34

Clearly, the left wing of the Peoples party had been able to convince their party Chairman that the Movement had gone too far and penetrated too deeply to accept any compromise with the regime.

There was only one incentive in which Bhutto did not completely rule out his participation, as he shared with his close associates.

It was Bhutto's interest in exploring the possibility of co-operation with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on a joint PPP-AL (Awami League) compromise at the RTC. From his first post-imprisonment interviews, the PPP Chairman had emphasized that no settlement could be made without his and Sheikh Mujib's participation.

He was aware of the meteoric rise in the latter's' popularity in East Pakistan, and suspected that Mujib might now be in a position to compromise on the 'Six Points'. Bhutto flew to Dacca on 23 February and began to make statements sympathetic to Mujib.

"He explained that while he did not agree with all the 'Six Points' he was open to a public debate on them. He would withdraw his presidential candidacy if an agreed candidate should emerge from East Pakistan and he began to demand that the Government withdraw the Agartala Conspiracy Case against Mujib".35

Bhutto met Awami League leaders in Dacca and traveled to Lahore in the same aircraft as Mujib on 24 February, while the latter was on his way to the RTC. It became quickly evident that Mujib's position on the 'Six Points' had been stiffened, not softened, by his new popularity, that the RTC would likely be a deadlock, and that there was no likelihood of a joint PPP-AL stand.

At a news conference in Lahore he intimated that he would join the RTC if a consensus on a directly-elected Constituent Assembly could be reached between the opposition parties. This was unlikely, since the Jamat-i-Islami supported the reinstitution of the 1956 Constitution, a position that Bhutto had explicitly rejected.

On 2 March, he clarified his position further when he said he would join the RTC 'the moment Ayub resigns.' In that event, the Speaker of the Assembly should head a caretaker government until direct elections could be held for a Constituent Assembly.36

To opposition charges that his refusal to join the RTC without preconditions was disruptive, Bhutto replied that by staying away he was keeping the opposition leaders at the RTC honest and answerable to the masses. During this period, the PPP Chairman was again on the move around West Pakistan, almost daily addressing vast public rallies, and attempting to consolidate support.

He also began to court the leaders of the Movement, workers leaders, and social groups and even to make specific commitments by a future PPP Government in return for their support.

Bhutto saw 'nothing new' in Ayub's statement to the RTC in which he accepted two of the opposition demands. The PPP Chairman charged that a civilian coup d'etat was brewing between the rightist parties and the regime. The prospect of a right wing coup pushed Bhutto and Bhashani into a formal alliance.

Bhutto, who professed to be disappointed at the results of the earlier promise to co-operate, and who was known to feel his brand of socialism was different from that of Bhashani, wanted to come to power through elections. Bhashani wanted to get power through a revolutionary workers and peasants movement preferably through a guerilla struggle. He denounced the idea of elections, telling workers in Karachi that "any one trying to participate in the polls would do so at great risk to his property and we would burn his home and crush him".37

When the RTC consensus began to break down over Sheikh Mujib's insistence on the 'Six Points,' and with the disturbances all over the country continuing unabated, it was only a matter of days before Ayub would have to play his last card, the reinstatement of martial law. On 24 March 1969, according to the account given by Piloo Mody, the PIA aircraft Bhutto was taking from Karachi to Larkana was diverted to Rawalpindi 'for mechanical reasons.' On the plane's arrival in Rawalpindi, Bhutto was taken directly to see the Army Commander-in-Chief. Yahya Khan informed Bhutto that the Army saw no recourse but to take over the Government and asked for Bhutto's conditions of support. Bhutto made three conditions: an independent foreign policy, the break up of One Unit and general elections on an adult suffrage basis within a year. Yahya accepted these conditions on the spot.

On 26 March 1969, Ayub was gone and Bhutto had called off the movement.

The subservience of party organizational matters to the broader strategic objective of winning elections was evident from the earliest days of the People's Party. In marked contrast to its swelling popularity, the spontaneous growth of local party units in many parts of Punjab and Sindh, and the requirements of the Interim Constitution, the work of organizing the formal structures downward from the Chairman was remarkably slow, particularly in Punjab.

"According to PPP notables close to the centre of activity in the People's Party, party organization was not a priority of the Chairman and party organization was kept rudimentary for some time after the founding convention".38

The Central Organizing Committee and the Principles Committee were appointed shortly after the convention, but neither acted without specific directions from the Chairman.

The Central Committee was not appointed until 24 January 1971, after the elections. A shadow Central Committee does seem to have existed earlier, made up essentially of the Organizing and Principles Committee members, together with individuals invited by the Chairman. Its most important and only recorded meeting took place on 23 March 1969 at Karachi, "where it committed the PPP to a policy of dismantling the One Unit Scheme".39

Thereafter, the Principles Committee, made up of Bhutto, J. A. Rahim, Dr. Mubashar Hasan, Hanif Ramay (appointed in 1968) and Abdul Hafiz Pirzada (appointed in 1969), acted off and on as an ad hoc Central Committee in matters of party discipline and policy enunciation. "J. A. Rahim was made Secretary General of the party in early 1970".40

None of the other national party officers appointed later in 1970 were founder-members of the party, but were figures of note and influence who joined the party during the election campaign. They were: Makhdum Talib ul Maula (Pir Jhandewaro of Hala Sharif), named a Vice Chairman, Mian Mahmud Ali Kasuri, also made a Vice Chairman and Maulana Kausar Niazi appointed Propaganda Secretary.

On 4 March 1969, the East Pakistan People's Party (PPP/EP) was dissolved. A. Kassim Choudhury and others attempted to reorganize a fragmented PPP/EP, but the party in the Eastern wing never recovered. So weak was it that, unlike other major parties with their main bases of support in West Pakistan, the PPP failed to run a single candidate in East Pakistan for the National Assembly in the 1970 elections.

The 23 March 1969 edition of Nusrat announced that 'the first National Conference of the Pakistan People's Party would be held from 4-6 April 1969 at Lahore'.41 This was clearly an attempt to consolidate the gains made by the PPP during the November movement. Delegations were invited from among students, women, lawyers, intellectuals, journalists, peasants and workers, as well as from established PPP committees.

The imposition of Martial Law on 25 March 1969 included a prohibition on political activity and the PPP conference at Lahore had to be called off. The first National Conference was held from 1-3 July 1970 at Hala Sharif in Sindh, the second, and perhaps the last, at Rawalpindi on 30 November and 1 December 1972. At this stage the PPP was in power.

Attempts at Grass-Roots Organization

The People's Party in Punjab expanded more rapidly at the bottom than at the top. Several periods of rapid organization are apparent. The first occurred immediately after the founding convention of 1 December 1967, when delegates returning home organized the first primary units and set off a wave of 'spontaneous' party organizations. These units were organized by local groups on their own volition, without reference to higher units, which, in most cases, did not yet exist. Most of these original units would later seek accreditation or be discovered by district organizations, though a few of them would fall foul of local rivalries. Approximately eight to ten per cent of all primary units organized between December 1967 and December 1970 were set up in the first three months after the founding convention.

The second surge of primary unit organization came in the urban areas in late 1969 and early 1970 and was related both to the approach of the election campaign and to urban unrest among workers, students and journalists. During this period many of the local units based on special interests were formed, including women's units. It also brought the high tide of left influence in the PPP. The third period of rapid expansions was less viable, but it began after the Conference of Students, Workers and Peasants at Toba Tek Singh on 22-23 March 1970.

There was another mass influx into the party organization at the primary unit level between July and mid-December 1970. It was occasioned by the proximity of the elections, the efforts of the People's Party candidates, and the bandwagon effect of the PPP's high pitch radical campaign that brought a wave of the older type of political figures into the party.

At its upper levels the Pakistan People's Party remained, from the beginning, very much a party of personal loyalty to Chairman Bhutto.

"On the whole, Bhutto's personality worked well for him. His incisive brilliance and worldly wisdom were impressive to intellectuals, the educated classes and to foreign diplomats, journalists and research scholars. With the common people and the party faithful, his dynamism, passion and humour aroused a strong response. He had an excellent memory for names, faces and children and many party workers recounted to us the warm encounters they had had with their Chairman. Yet, Bhutto was a difficult, even dangerous, man to cross. He demanded unquestioning obedience from his social equals and subservience from below. When angered he could act in a highly arbitrary and often arrogant manner."42

Jones further elaborates on Bhutto's personality in his book.

"It is not surprising that Bhutto used highly personal forms of leadership in the party, which operated through an informal hierarchy of access to the Chairman. The inner circle which had formed around Bhutto even before the founding of the party, and which came to be known among the party faithful as the 'central cell,' was made up of the few who had direct personal access to Bhutto".43

Only J. A. Rahim was able to confront Bhutto directly on issues he felt deeply about. His seniority, his role in the conception and founding of the People's Party, and his evident integrity, gave him an authority that Bhutto could ignore only at the peril of damaging his own, and his party's credibility. Rahim was increasingly concerned about entry into the party in 1970 of dubious elements, big landlords and maulanas, whose commitment to socialist principles was highly suspected and who might constitute an alternative cell that would compete for the favour of the Chairman.

The existence of an informal network of authority that only partially coincided with the formal structures encouraged a tendency to 'empire building' within the party on the part of those closest to the Chairman.

The left wing of the PPP was itself a collection of groups of varying size, organizational integrity, ideological emphasis, and proximity to the 'party cell'. Apart from the larger constellation around Sheikh Rashid, which would include the Pakistan Kisan Committee, most of these groups had their origins in the radical union politics of the latter part of the November Movement. These included the Mazdur Majlis-i-Amal ('Worker's Action Committee') of Multan, the Taraqqipasand Mazdur Mahaz ('Progressive Worker's Front') of Lyallpur, the People's Labour Front (Rifat Hussain) of Rawalpindi, and the Muttahida Mazdur Mahaz ('United Worker's Front') of Lahore. The Thal Mehnat Kash Mahaz (The Labourer's Front) and the Chingari group of intellectuals and worker cadres around Dr. Aziz ul Haq and 'Ladu Sahib' had somewhat different origins. The former was a worker peasant alliance formed by NAP-B (National Awami Party-Bhashani) cadres in parts of Mianwali and Muzaffargarh Districts. It allied with the People's Party in March 1969, organized much of the PPP infrastructure in Leiah and Bhakkar Tehsils, but broke with the party when, under the influence of G.M. Khar, when PPP tickets were given to 'feudal and other class enemies'. The Chingari Group, which later called itself the Young People's Front, took its inspiration from the Naxalite magazine, Chingari, published in Canada, and had links, albeit tenuous, with the Communist Party of East Pakistan (Marxist-Leninist).

These groups on the far left maintained their own organizational boundaries and tended to see their links with the PPP as a form of 'association'. Socialists around Sheikh Rashid had their primary political identity with the People's Party but were mainly from a Maoist background.

The issues of industrial and student politics were part of the background of discord percolating inside the PPP in 1969 and 1970, but these would not become divisive issues until 1971 and 1972, when they became central to the disputes that started the exodus of the left cadres from the party.

On 1 August 1969, Sheikh Muhammad Rashid (alias Baba-e-Socialism [father of socialism] in later days) presided over the first recorded meeting of the Punjab and Bahawalpur Council of the PPP, at which resolutions on these problems were passed with large majorities.

The party councillors were also critical of the recent entry of several noted Convention Muslim Leaguers into the People's Party and expressed the concern that discretion ought to be exercised in the enrolment of new members; otherwise the PPP would be 'flooded with undesirable elements.' Finally, the Council called for an early party convention, so that the organizational structure of the party could be streamlined and democratized. These resolutions were an indication that the party members were pressing for a greater voice in the party, that they distrusted Bhutto's efforts at elite recruitment, and that they wanted a speeding up of the development of party structures to strengthen their positions and to balance the highly personalized leadership at the top.

They were not unrelated issues, since the elite within which Bhutto was looking for support was that of mainly large land holders.

Bhutto's pre election attitude to the land question displayed the same kind of unwillingness to become tied to specific positions that is evident in his public approach to other major issues.

Together, the Mochi Darwaza and Toba Tek Singh meetings confirmed to the Punjab left that the ground swell of popular acclaim for the PPP was genuine and that the party likely would win a large number of seats in the elections.

The danger they foresaw was that professional politicians, capitalists and landed aristocracy would enter the PPP to get candidacy tickets and the 'socialist character' of the party would thereby become seriously compromised, if not destroyed.

At the 29 March 1970 meeting of the Punjab-Bahawalpur Council (Provincial Organizing Committee and District/City officers) at 4-A Mozang Road, Lahore, the Council was provided with resolutions for debate, which, if passed, would be 'recommended to the larger party.

  • Individuals with class interests contradictory to the party manifesto should not normally be given party membership.
  • In no case should party membership, office or ticket be given without the agreement of the relevant local party committee.
  • Opportunists, i.e. professional politicians, landlords and capitalists with 'family boroughs' should be kept out of the party.
  • All party offices, including the Central Committee, should be filled through election.
  • The party should control the sale and distribution of party literature.
  • A party financial wing should be set up to administer party funds.
  • The PPP should adopt a land ceiling of fifty acres of irrigated land.
  • All the principal means of production and all major industries, including jute and textiles, should be nationalized without compensation.
  • Finally, the progressive foreign policy envisioned by the party must not be compromised by U.S. interests or pressure.44


Philip Jones explains the rising ideological and class conflicts due to such resolutions from below in the PPP even before the 1970 elections.

"These resolutions angered the Khar- Ramay groups (central cell). They infuriated the PPP Chairman, since they struck directly at his broad election strategy.

"(...) Sensitive enough not to hold this confrontation at Mubashar's house, the PPP Chairman chose the Lahore Inter-Continental Hotel. The meeting mainly consisted of a long, furious harangue by the Chairman directed at the left socialists, mixed with frequent insult and bitter ridicule."45

The incident took its toll: Amanullah Khan was suspended from party membership; the Punjab left would never again press its case so openly in the party, nor would the Punjab-Bahawalpur Council meet again.

The Chairman may well have wanted to press his 'disciplinary measures' further, but he recognized both the importance and the strength of the Punjab left.

"The suspension of Amanullah Khan brought on a chain reaction of open protests, student resignations and resolutions from various groups in the Punjab PPP denouncing the 'undemocratic attitude of the central leadership.' Amanullah Khan was reinstated on 25 August".46

Suppression of The Left

Looking back, it does seem that the 29 March meeting was the high water mark of the Punjab left in the People's Party. Though their decline after it was not precipitous, it was visible. As the PPP election campaign gained momentum after the party's Hala Conference, much of what the PPP left had sought to guard against began to happen.

Bhutto refused to discuss motions from the left on party organization, threatening to resign the PPP chairmanship if the left continued to demand that parliamentary and party offices be separated.

The left had its own internal weaknesses. The 'old left' leadership, a collection of labour organizers and 'drawing room socialists' beset with doctrinal and personal conflicts, had largely stayed out of the PPP and remained potent, but primarily urban centred. Its rural support base, while real enough, was only fitfully organized. Where it was organized, it's Kisan Committees and Kisan Forces proved unable to stem the quiet 'counter revolution' pursued after the elections by the rural elite, district bureaucrats and thanedars (officer in charge of a police station).

After the transfer of power, the left was unable to press Bhutto to go beyond a minimal enactment of the PPP land reform proposals. In the cities, the social base of the left was largely confined to the transient student community, the new labour organizations, whose leaders were harshly treated by the PPP regime. They wanted the implementation of the PPP programme and voted for socialist change, in the sense that the PPP promised to end the elite monopoly of the levers of political power and economic repression. At the same time, however, for many pro-PPP masses it was the image of Bhutto, not ideological justification that carried the PPP programme. Hence, even the far left in the PPP spectrum never directed its criticisms at Bhutto, only at those around him.

It is also clear that the left, for all its inherent shortcomings, was further weakened by actions and policies supported by Bhutto from his singular position as PPP Chairman. Time after time Bhutto refused to implement schemes to strengthen party organization. Possibly it was simply not perceived in the pre-power years as being crucial. These were heady times for Bhutto. His charisma was in full flower in Punjab, and it may well be that he thought it always would be, that he could always 'go back to the people,' and that this was sufficient leverage with which to bargain with the established power groups and to pursue his 'internal united front strategy' of party organization.

Scope for manoeuvre was something Bhutto has always felt he needed because:

a) Prior to the elections he was sceptical of a PPP victory.

b) After the elections he knew he would receive power only at the hands of the military oligarchs.

c) After gaining power there would be the political and military consequences of the civil war, and his unwillingness to be pushed too far to the left by the forces he had helped to arouse.

The Elite Bourgeoisie take Control

The discomfiture of the party left was anything but assuaged by the new wave of elite entrants into the PPP. This trend was strongest in the rural areas, where landed aristocracy comprising of zamindars continued to join the PPP. By the end of 1974, the post-transfer of power entrants in Punjab included the Legharis and Khosas of Dera Ghazi Khan; the Pirachas, Tiwanas, Bandials and Qureshis of Sargodha; various of the Bukhari Sayyid lineages (Pir Mahal, Kuranga and Shah Jiwana); the Daultanas, Khakwanis and Gilanis of Multan; the Kharrals of the Ravi riverain in Lyallpur (now Faisalabad); the Pirs of Makhad, Manki Sharif and Taunsa Sharif; the Korejas of Liaqautpur (Rahim Yar Khan); the Tammans and Jodhras of Campbellpur (now Attock); as well as civil service moguls like Aziz Ahmed and Malik Khuda Bakhsh Bucha.

The entry of the elitist class representatives, upper middle class, traders and even leaders of criminal gangs and rassagir (police pimps) elements, was undoubtedly a protective reaction, for access to the power system has always been crucial to the gaining and holding of land and wealth. For the most part, in return for lip service to the PPP Manifesto and an expression of loyalty to Bhutto, they found easy entry into the PPP. Though their traditional authority had been challenged, often successfully, in the 1970 elections, these elitist groups soon proved their residual authority to be remarkably resilient. They still had the best access to the district and provincial bureaucracies, often through personal connections with relatives and school chums in the upper bureaucracy, and could play the game of 'brokerage' far more effectively than the PPP officeholders or activists who had no social access to elite circles.

They used these contacts to rebuild their influence, getting local petitioner jobs, transfers, promotions, more canal water, agricultural loans, fertilizer, tube well connections, etc. Moreover, biraderi (clan) and other parochial influences had begun to re-emerge as factors in party and cabinet making politics, as well as in by-election strategies.

Once this began to happen, the landed classes, their skills honed by long experience in parochial politics, proved adept at expanding influence. By 1974, the names of the old local feudalists had begun to emerge in the lists of district PPP officeholders, as well as on the District Councils of the People's Works Programme (PWP), the successor to the Rural Works Programme and the major channel of development funds to the local level. By mid-1975, members of aristocratic families held the Secretary-Generalship of the Punjab PPP (Syed Nasir Ali Shah), the Punjab Chief Ministership (Nawab Sadiq Hussain Qureshi) and the Punjab governorship (Sadiq Muhammad Khan, Amir of Bahawalpur). Finally, in late 1976, these politicians of the ruling classes virtually controlled the ticketing politics for the 1977 elections. The list of PPP candidates reads like a 'who's who' of the families that dominated electoral politics in Punjab from 1920 to 1958.

These acts, together with a raging inflation, in part the result of the PPP Government's attempts to satisfy its numerous constituencies and the general decline in moral, education, familial, institutional standards and law and order, apparently ate away at the PPP's popularity in the urban areas, to some extent.


Bhutto had revived the army as an institution mainly for the perpetuation of his own role. As we have seen earlier on, that even in the aftermath of the 1971 defeat the state could have been overthrown and replaced by a workers state. But as there was neither the intention nor the preparation, so the old order began to revive and reassert itself. But after the revival and restoration of its social credibility Bhutto began to feel that the establishment had its own agenda, compulsions and priorities. He could not do much about it. Now the army was going to reassert itself by military action.

In a country like Pakistan there is never a dearth of opportunities for military action. Mostly there are too many for the army to handle. This time the old insurgency had arisen again in Baluchistan, where the National Question was a burning issue. There had been an established tradition of guerrilla struggle in Baluchistan. The Baluch youth took inspiration from the struggles in China, Cuba and Che Guevera's armed struggle in Bolivia and Latin America.

The PPP could not form governments in Baluchistan and the Pushtoonkhwa (NWFP) in 1971-72 because NAP and JUI had majorities in the provincial assemblies of NWFP and Baluchistan; hence they formed provincial coalition governments in these two provinces. The revival of the central state and its assertion soon created tensions. These erupted and the centre acted against the provinces of oppressed nationalities. The alibi to opt for the Military action was soon manufactured.

The capture of arms in a diplomatic shipment to the Iraqi embassy on 10 February 1973, alleged by the Pakistan government to be destined for Baluchistan, and the subsequent death of Hayat Mohammad Khan Sherpao, Bhutto's right hand man in the NWFP, in an explosion in Peshawar in February 1975, gave Bhutto his excuse. He dismissed the NAP-JUI provincial government in the NWFP, and banned the NAP the day after Sherpao's assassination. The Baluchistan government resigned in protest.

In pursuit of political supremacy in all provinces, Bhutto had to constantly challenge the NAP and specifically the Baluch leadership. He saw in the efforts of the NAP a repeat of the Bangladesh issue, a fear heightened by his knowledge that the NAP had supported the Awami League in East Pakistan and that NAP supporters in Baluchistan were fighting the Pakistan Army in the Pat Feeder area (south of Sibi) for the control of agricultural lands. This led Bhutto to declare that

"the provincial leadership of the Baluch sardars had failed "to take effective measures to check large-scale disturbances in different parts of the province ... causing a growing sense of insecurity among the inhabitants and grave menace to the peace and tranquillity of the Province".47

He thus managed to displace the NAP leadership from Baluchistan and sent the Pakistan Army into the province, ostensibly with the aim of constructing roads and providing electricity and water to the poor Baluchis.

The Pakistan Army was back into the political process, a move that was later to haunt Bhutto. The minor Baluch leaders, those who could, took to the hills with their followers. The major sardars (tribal chiefs) and other NAP leaders, including Khair Baksh Marri, were taken into custody by the government, charged with treason and subsequently brought to trial in Hyderabad.

"Mir Hazar Khan, a lieutenant of Khair Baksh Marri, who led the insurgency in the Marri area until 1976, when he left for Afghanistan but continued to direct actions from there.

"The Pakistan Army had meanwhile profited from the gift of thirty Huey Cobra helicopter gunships from Iran, which was fearful of the potential spill over of the uprising in Pakistani Baluchistan into Iranian Baluchistan. The army used these gunships against the people of the Marri tribe (including women and children) who had taken refuge in the Chamalang Valley on 3 September 1974. This action drew the Marri fighters down from their hideouts in the hills and a three day battle ensued in which the heavily out gunned Marris suffered grievously".48


Fighting continued in the barren wastes of Baluchistan, with the tribesmen giving battle continuously despite the numerical and weapons superiority of the Pakistan Army. Finally, the Bhutto government issued a White Paper on Baluchistan in December 1974, claiming victory, and stating that the army would withdraw. However, this withdrawal did not take place until well after the end of the Bhutto government.

There were heavy casualities on both sides. The Baluch youth had put up a fierce resistance and at that stage the armed struggle had a left wing inclination, although the methods, tactics and ideological basis was not classical Marxist-Leninist revolutionary strategy. The Pakistan army had played a brutal role and to some extent repeated the role it played in East Bengal in 1971. The Baluch struggle did not end as proclaimed by the government in 1974. It continued sporadically, but did not surrender. The irony is that after Bhutto's fall through the military coup a sort of truce came about under the dictatorship of Gen. Zia, who was one of the main instigators of this cruel military action. In an act of extreme hypocrisy he withdrew the so called 'Hyderabad conspiracy case' and freed the Baluch leaders. Even some of those leaders who were in exile in Afghanistan were brought back on Military C-130 planes and Zia met them at Rawalpindi with his satiric grin. The main cause of the exhaustion of this armed struggle against the Pakistani State was its prolongation with little result, and its isolation from any active mass support in other areas of Pakistan and the region.

But this conflict re-inflamed the national question in Baluchistan for several years to come. It is not a question that has been resolved, nor can it be solved within the confines of capitalism. With the worsening crisis in Pakistan the national question has become more complex and even more violent. Without a Leninist methodology the problems of nationalities will continue to fester, creating diversions for the class movement. National liberation can only be achieved by the overthrow of a system that, along with class exploitation, is exploiting on the basis of nationality, gender, religion etc. Only the replacement of the bourgeoisie with a workers' revolutionary state can guarantee all the democratic rights, including national and lingual independence. That is only possible through a socialist revolution.

There were, during the middle Bhutto years, many indications of the revival of bureaucratic authority. These included the bureaucracy's dominance of the PWP (Peoples Works Program), where district and tensile level bureaucrats soon combined with PPP, MNAs, and MPAs to exclude party office holders from any role in the programme. But, more than this, the bureaucracy penetrated the party itself. They took over the responsibility for organizing Bhutto's district tours and audiences (katcheries), leaving the party leaders responsible only for amassing large crowds, a function performed through a process resembling subinfeudation.

Two other developments during 1974 require at least some mention. One of these was the removal of Dr. Mubashar Hasan from the powerful Central Ministry of Finance. This was seen as a gesture to the industrialists and an indication that even the 'Third Worlders' in the PPP were coming under pressure from the old establishment. The other development was the removal of J. A. Rahim from both his cabinet and party positions in July.

The removal of Rahim marked a watershed for the PPP. He was one of the few men around Bhutto who was neither dazzled by the PPP leader nor corrupted by power. Anything but a sycophant, he had been a constant spokesman in the PPP for maintaining the socialist ideological and organizational integrity of the party, hoping that it could oversee the major policy functions of government.


The vast numbers of left activists, intellectuals, and trade unionists who had joined the PPP made some profound mistakes which not only led to the demise of the PPP itself, and imposition of Martial Law by Zia ul Haq, but also led to a decline of the left movement in the society and its various institutions long before the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The reality is that the left which entered the PPP was neither theoretically developed enough, nor was it organisationally prepared to play a revolutionary role in this transitional movement of the Pakistan Peoples Party.

To talk about socialism is one thing, to have a clear Marxist understanding and ideological clarity for a revolutionary change is another. Bhutto often used to relate to all sorts of varieties of socialism, even the most reformist types. He often mentioned Sweden and Scandinavia in his remarks. Some still do. From the reactionary role of the 'Socialist Second International' that even continues today there are so many varieties including centrism, left reformism and innumerable varieties of Stalinism that proclaim to be socialist, but in reality are reformist tendencies that strictly adhere to Capitalism and in the last analysis play a counter revolutionary role.

Firstly, they were an amalgamation of diverse ideological backgrounds which never had and never could develop a genuine Marxist theoretical foundation to face the challenges and execute the tasks that loomed large on the horizon. Secondly they themselves were swayed and influenced by the massive popularity of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.

The left leaders in the PPP were so naive, to say the least, that they attributed the rise in mass consciousness to his personality, rather than the social upheaval that had galvanised the people to seek a revolutionary change in their lives, their society, and the system that oppressed them. Bhutto had merely been the focus of their desire for change.

This popularity reached its zenith when he was going more and more radical in his revolutionary and socialist rhetoric. The enormous response he got further moved him to the left. But when the ruling classes counter attacked the movement with war and reforms the left leadership didn't have a clue how to mobilize the working masses to combat and defeat the attacks of the state. With the PPP in power in a bourgeois state the subsequent reformist policies were inevitable. To expect to achieve revolutionary aims through exercising power in a bourgeois state structure was and is a Utopia which the great teachers of scientific socialism had fought against at every historical juncture since 1848.

Above all what this left leadership lacked was the concept of internationalism. Marxism is internationalism or it is nothing. From the First to the Fourth Internationals all theoretical and organisational premises begin from Marxist Internationalism. The Stalinist concept of 'National Socialism' laid the basis of patriotism and Pakistani and other forms of national chauvinism. This was perhaps the weakest aspect of the theoretical basis of the left in the PPP. Thus they could be easily manipulated by notions of national sovereignty, national interests and national defence etc. Such petty bourgeois concepts, and the apologetic attitude of the left towards them, gave leverage to the rightists and the state to stem the growth of a revolutionary force within and outside the PPP. The 1971 war was also able to distract the left wing elements because of their confusion on the principle of Marxist Internationalism.

Again, due to its contradictory ideological foundations, the left in the PPP could never organise itself as an independent revolutionary entity, either inside or outside the PPP. They were practicing a sort of a deep entryism, and a very clumsy one at that. The left did not try to forge a loose united front against the right wing, so once in power the PPP leadership could easily manipulate, sow discord and out manoeuvre the left leaders. Some left the Party while others had to capitulate to a large extent on all their real policies while verbally chanting 'socialism'.

If we examine the origins, structures and the growth of the PPP it wasn't even up to the organisational standards of the traditional working class parties of the second (socialist) international. However, the PPP became part of this International (which Rosa Luxemburg used to call a stinking corpse); it was rapidly moving towards the right. In this process of transformation it has come to a pass that the policies of social democracy are indistinguishable from those of the conservative parties of Europe.

However, the PPP, being the product of the 68-69 revolution which the Stalinists had betrayed, gave space and opportunity to Bhutto to take the initiative. He used revolutionary language and socialist slogans to take up the reins of the great revolutionary movement. The PPP has become the traditional political expression of the working class and oppressed masses and there is no mass alternative to the PPP to this day. The problem is that the national leadership comes under immense pressure to carry out the policies of the ruling class, in direct contradiction to what the masses desire. This will inevitably lead to a left opposition emerging, whereby the working masses attempt to push the party in the direction of class struggle. The Marxists base themselves on this perspective and work to build up a Marxist tendency within the party that can offer leadership to this instinctive movement of the toiling masses.

If Bhutto can be accused of using socialist rhetoric for his rise to power, then neither can most of the PPP left be absolved from such rhetorical masquerading. If Bhutto perverted socialism with a nationalist and religious admixture, then most of the left leaders from Maoist and Stalinist backgrounds were definitely indoctrinated, if not with religion, with nationalist and patriotic diversions from the class struggle. In fact it was in perfect harmony with their own 'left' ideological and political training, education, and understanding. It fitted with their prophecies of what they considered socialism. Such a discourse and the psychology of two-stageism also gave them the pretext of attributing to Bhutto the role of a progressive bourgeoisie, a beacon of hope that could carry through the national democratic stage of the revolution to lay the basis of a socialist revolution in some far off future.

Most were ardent adherents to the ideology of partition and strong advocates of Pakistani nationalism. Again, on the question of 'leadership', with the despotic examples of Stalin and Mao, the left leaders had the non-Bolshevik approach of an individual guide, a great messiah and leader of the masses in Bhutto. Instead of a collectivist approach towards creating a leadership on the basis of polemics, discussion and debate they felt intimidated by Bhutto's personality.

This rise of the individual was due to his role as a leading minister in the past, propped up by the media of the ruling classes and later on by the masses. The trust and confidence the masses had placed in him in the absence of a collective Bolshevik leadership and a democratic centralist party was because of the absence of a revolutionary alternative. Although the role of the individual in history cannot be totally denied, the fate and destiny of a revolution can neither be restricted by, nor can it be dependent on, one single individual. Marx could not have been Marx if there was no Communist League or the First International. Lenin could not have been Lenin had there been no Bolshevik party. The left leaders out in the wilderness were desperate to find a short cut to the helm of main stream politics. They used Bhutto's bandwagon to get there. And they got there, but at the cost of eulogizing Bhutto as the 'Quaid-e-Awam' (Leader of the people) and abandoned the idea of building a revolutionary communist party that was indispensable in carrying through the revolutionary movement towards a socialist victory. Lenin used to say quite often, that there was no short cut to revolution. And, as Ted Grant said, most short cuts always lead to an abyss.

In the PPP's transition from 1967 till today the "Left" of the party has had many opportunities to take the lead and push for a genuine socialist programme. But so far it has failed to do so. That is why the role of the Marxists in the party is so important. Life teaches and the toiling masses that follow the PPP will learn from events. If the Marxists are present patiently explaining their programme they can play a key role in building a mass revolutionary left tendency within the party. With irreconcilable ideological and theoretical positions and principles, combined with flexibility in tactics, the Marxist tendency can first become a mass opposition within the party and later lead a socialist victory in the next period. The lessons of 1968-69 and the experiences and mistakes of the PPP Left can serve as an important factor in the theoretical and organisational development of this subjective factor in Pakistan.

Wars and revolutions are exceptional periods of history. These don't occur frequently and do not last for a very long time, because in a revolutionary situation the social order and the routine and normal life of the prevalent system are in disarray. This creates such a volatile situation that society can't exist in it indefinitely. In such a situation the state's power comes into open conflict with the working classes. Either a revolutionary party takes over this power and forms a workers' state or the ruling classes prevail through civil wars and other violent means. In the aftermath of a revolutionary defeat the exploitation is carried out on a bigger scale. The revolutionary situation of 1968-69 carried on for 138 days in its first major upheaval.

A revolutionary party must take over the political and organisational structure. This party, after capturing the state power, forms a workers state and sets up the order of a new social system. However, if a revolutionary party is not prepared for the revolution, and does not fulfil the task of building a new system, it is forced to use the old structure of the state's apparatus and is unable to complete the revolution, despite its radical programme and policies. In the end, it can't use the old structures of state; rather the state uses it and throws it out after diffusing the mass pressure from below. PPP has gone through this process many times.

In his last book written from the death cell in Rawalpindi jail, Bhutto wrote,

"It seems that the lesson of this coup d'etat is that a via media, a modus vivendi, a compromise, is a Utopian dream. The coup d'etat demonstrates that the class struggle is irreconcilable and that it must result in the victory of one class over the other. Obviously, whatever the temporary setbacks, the struggle can lead only to the victory of one class. This is the writing on the wall."49

This last historic confession of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was perhaps honest and genuine, but the subsequent leaderships of the PPP have abandoned it to the dustbin of history. They seem incapable of learning from Bhutto's historical message written in his death cell as they seem incapable of seeing beyond capitalism. The masses, however, still cling to the PPP; whenever they enter the political arena, whether in elections or in a movement, they cling to the PPP precisely because of the programme and the revolution of 1968-69 that gave the party its historical role as a mass traditional party.

The problem is that the masses do not have the leadership they deserve. In almost three decades the party has been in power three times, each time disappointing the aspirations of the masses. Every experience of the masses with the PPP in government has confirmed this, the present experience being no exception. But nothing in history is wasted. This experience will lead millions of workers and peasants to conclude that there must be a serious change. The present coalition government is doomed to failure. Zardari is throwing away the gains the party made in the elections. The Marxists have warned consistently over and over again that unless the party leaders adopt a genuine revolutionary programme to expropriate the landlords and capitalists then they will create the conditions in which reaction can raise its ugly head once more. Events may unfortunately confirm this prognosis, but that will not be the end of the story. As the teeming ranks of the party, as the toiling masses draw conclusions from their own experience they will see that the Marxists were the only ones who warned them. In those conditions a mass Marxist left of the PPP can be formed. The growing class polarization and revolutionary movement of the masses will put huge pressures on the party, separating the proletarian wing from the reformist.

The same conditions that created the PPP in 1968-69 will create the conditions for the transformation of the Marxist tendency within the PPP into a mass force. If a substantial Bolshevik force is developed and plays a decisive role in the historical events that are approaching, then the victory of revolutionary socialism in Pakistan shall be guaranteed.

« 7. War and Reformism
Contents 9. Dictatorship and Democracy »


1French revolutionary leader, became President of National convention and was guillotined when Robespierre fell

2Z. A. Bhutto, 'If I am assassinated', (Vikas publishers, Delhi 1979), p. 55

3Ted Grant, The Colonial Revolution and the Sino-Soviet Split, August 1964, The Unbroken Thread, p. 308, 309, 310

4Alan Woods, Bolshevism The Road to Revolution, p. 310

5Lenin Collected Works, vol. 9, Two Tactics of SD in the Democratic Revolution, p. 98

6Alan Woods, Bolshevism The Road to Revolution, p. 311-312

7Trotsky, Our Differences, in 1905, p. 332 and footnote of same page"


"9Ted Grant, The Colonial Revolution and The Sino-Soviet Dispute, August 1964, The Unbroken Thread, p. 309

10Pakistan Times (Lahore) 30 March 1966

11Ibid, 29 October 1967

12Outlook, 25th April 1964

13Pakistan Peoples Party Founding Documents, p.5

14Bhutto, Starting With a Clean Slate, p. 45

15Stanley Wolpert, Zulfi Bhutto of Pakistan, (Oxford) p. 124

16Sobho Gianchandani, Interview in Newsline, October 2008

17Bhutto, Awakening of the People, statements, articles, speeches of Z. A. Bhutto, p. 90

18Ibid p. 93

19Ibid, p. 94, 95

20Ibid, p. 233

21Ibid, p. 169

22Ibid, p. 179

23Ibid, p. 197

24Ibid, p. 240

25Quote from, The News Islamabad, 28 Sept. 2008

26Philip E. Jones, PPP Rise to Power, p.98, 99

27Dawn, 1 December 1967

28Political Correspondent, 'Ideological Oddballs Get Together,' The Pakistan Times 2 December 1967.

29A Damp Squib', Dawn, Editorial, 4 December 1967

30Nusrat, No. 16. 12 January 1968, p.15

31The Pakistan Times, 15 March 1969

32The Pakistan Times, 18 February 1969

33Dawn, 16 February 1969

34Pakistan Observer, Dacca, 19 February 1969

35Dawn, 24 February 1969

36Morning News, 3 March 1969

37Pakistan Times, 02 August 1969

38J. A. Rahim, interview, View Point, 12 October 1973

39Nusrat, No. 27 (30 March 1969), p.7-8

40Morning News, 17 January 1970

41Nusrat, No. 26 (23 March 1969), p.4

42Philip E. Jones, PPP Rise to Power, p. 217

43Ibid, p. 217

44The Pakistan Times, 31 March 1970

45Philip E. Jones, PPP Rise to Power, p. 245

46Musawat, 31 August 1970

47Shuja Nawaz, Crossed Swords, (Oxford), p.333

48Ibid, p.334-335

49Bhutto, 'If I am assassinated', p. 55