The Left in Pakistan - 11
By Dr. S. Akhtar Ehtisham
Bath, NY


Pakistan had to accept their (stranded Pakistanis) claim of citizenship, but pleaded lack of resources for their repatriation and resettlement. Saudi and other Gulf governments set up a trust fund for the purpose. 

The province of Punjab offered to take them all if housing, jobs and means of sustenance could be provided for them. Finances were not a problem.  Muslim potentate’s largesse had seen to that.

But Sindhis were apprehensive that regardless of where these Urdu speakers were initially resettled, they would eventually gravitate to Sindh cities. With the addition of the “Biharis”, as the Pakistanis left behind came to be called, the balance of population too would be tilted against them. They started talking of being “Red Indianized”.

A few thousand houses were, nevertheless, built in the Punjab, and those with close relations in Pakistan were repatriated. Some made their way to Pakistan by bribing the border guards. The rest, over one hundred thousand in number (2006), clinging to the fiction of Pakistani Citizenship, are still languishing in UNO refugee camps. There is poor sanitation, little education, and deplorable lack of any purposeful activity in the Camps. A few have taken to doing jobs illegally.

The whole atmosphere is that of sloth, hopelessness, despair, and dejection. Moral turpitude is prevalent. “Sex” work is common.

Trust funds for their rehabilitation have, in the meanwhile, grown enormously. In 2004, they amounted to over 500 million US dollars. In 2004, some camp residents, born since independence of BD (1971), moved the courts in the country that they should be entitled, under international law, to citizenship of the country. The courts agreed with the request and directed the BD Government to offer them citizenship. Some well meaning Pakistanis are (2006) planning a Quixotic appeal to the Supreme Court of Pakistan to order the Government of the country to accept the “stranded” Pakistanis.

The repatriates from the then East Pakistan, did gravitate to Karachi, and live in a vast sprawling makeshift colony on the outskirts of the city. They have little by way of civic amenities. They are, however, an enterprising community and have established a large number of cottage industries making garments, weaving cloth, metal works, you name it. They were trained in sabotage, bomb making, espionage and other such activities by the Pakistan armed forces to fight the BD insurgents. They put the training to good use in periodic confrontations with the police, army and other security agencies. They also played a large role in ethnic riots promoted by Zia, which were to break out in Karachi during his dictatorship. They also proved a great source of strength to the ethnic Mohajir party that Zia is believed to have sponsored.  The matter would be discussed in detail later in the narrative. Suffice it to say at this point, that they contributed to the use of firearms in political affairs.

A large number of ethnic Bengalis were to migrate illegally to Pakistan. They live in Karachi and other urban centers in Sindh and do menial work. They are exploited by employers, victimized by security agencies and looked down upon by other ethnic elements. Many of them, in comparison with the average Bengalis, are tall and fair. They are believed to be the products of the “genetic modification” practiced under the aegis of the butcher of Bengal.

The population of the country is, though, now less than that of Pakistan. The greater population of Bengal had always been a bone of contention. BD government was remarkably successful in promoting family planning. Frequent cyclones, hurricanes, floods, epidemics and poor living condition also worked the attrition. But it was too late to keep the old country in one piece.

One private venture, the Grameen Bank, lends small amounts of money to finance small home-based industries like garment making, etc. But that is a drop in the ocean.

In Pakistan, Bhutto took full advantage of the humiliation of the armed forces. He retired many in the top brass, and exiled others to comfortable sinecures as ambassadors.

He changed the designation of service chiefs from that of Commander in Chief (C-in-C), which he called a relic of the colonial past, to that of Chief of the Staff (COS). A new post, Chief of Joint Staff ,was created but its occupant had only an advisory capacity.

On the civilian front, Bhutto tried to break the back of the entrenched bureaucracy. He had lists of undesirable functionaries prepared. The criteria for inclusion in the list varied from the highest offence of ever disobeying the man himself to crossing the path of the lowliest PPP partisan. Corruption and inefficiency were prominent in being absent from the list.  

 Bhutto changed colonial designations of first to fourth class government servants to grades from 1 to 22.   Special cadres, like administration, police and customs, were formed. Previously a Superior Services officer could be a magistrate, judge, district collector, secretary of a department or serve in the Foreign Service. Now the successful entrants had to stay in their field. He also let professionals be promoted to senior most ranks. A doctor could, for example, become Secretary of Health Ministry, an engineer Secretary of Communications and so on.

Under the pretext of attracting talent, he appointed favorites directly, without the benefit of any experience, to senior bureaucratic positions. This procedure was called lateral entry.

There is little doubt the civil was rigid hierarchy.  Code of behavior was etched in stone. Above all, they were nearly complete segregated from ordinary mortals. A new patriotic institution needed to be created. But Bhutto went after the form much more than the substance. By introducing a few sycophants into the higher reaches of the service, he could not possibly change the “ruling class” mentality.

On the political front Bhutto offered a liberal democratic constitution. He even conceded the demands of the opposition that if he wanted executive powers; he should step down from the office of the President.

A constitutional draft was presented to the parliament. After careful deliberations, the ruling group accepted most of the amendments presented by the opposition. The document was passed by a unanimous vote in 1973. After the President had signed the document, martial law was lifted

In a malicious and Machiavellian display of bad faith, soon after the constitution had been passed, he declared a state of emergency, suspended civil rights, curtailed the authority of courts to entertain cases against the Government, and for all practical purposes set aside constitutional law. The opposition cried foul, but they were helpless

Bhutto ran the country as a fiefdom. It is widely believed that the head of a leading religious party, a venerable old man, was sexually assaulted while in jail. Bhutto personally threatened a high court judge with dire consequences, and pointedly referred to his daughter who went to college every day.

He was to haunt Bhutto later as a member of the panel of judges, which tried him for allegedly ordering murder of a political opponent.

His first law minister Mahmood Qusuri, author of the 1973 Constitution, appeared to grow too big for his britches. He was sacked with the usual admonition to take care lest things were to happen to the females of the family.

Bhutto was one of the prime initiators of the “disappeared technique” of public policy. It was later to be practiced on a wide scale in Chile, and other South American countries. Hundreds were discovered in concentration camps in the early Zia period.       

Another close associate, a noted student leader Mairaj Khan, who had been helpful in catapulting Bhutto into limelight after Ayub had sacked the latter, and had cajoled the left/progressives into casting their lot with the man, fell out with the boss.  To assert his newfound independent status, he joined a trade union procession. He was mercilessly beaten up by the police. He set something of a record. 

I have not been able to find a precedent, in non-communist countries, when a sitting minister had been manhandled by the police. (In later years, the mayor of Karachi was punched in the face by a police officer.  I have the pictures of his bleeding face of the dignitary on file). Mustafa Khar latter, after ruling the roost as governor of the Punjab, was in his turn, taken from his house, and left stranded in a remote area, with no roads and little traffic.  He had to walk about twenty miles before he could find a bullock cart driver to give him a lift to a town.


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.