We may define a political party as an association organised in support of some principle or polity which, by constitutional means, it endeavors to make the determinant of government. Without such party organization, there can be no unified statement of principle, no orderly evolution of policy.—Mactver
The Muslim League headed by Quaid-i-Azam achieved Pakistan. This fact is so incontrovertible that those who jumped on the League bandwagon, at various junctions, much after August 1947, decided to sit on this truism with the sanguine belief that a phenomenal achievement was sufficient for perpetual pleasure in perpetual power.
Immediately after the realization of its supreme objective, the Muslim League, instead of channeling all its vitality in the service of the people, preferred to go into voluntary liquidation. It lost contact with the masses, with their feelings and problems.
But despite such self-evident failings, the Muslim League managed to remain in power for a long time. This was so because the Muslim League and Pakistan had become synonymous terms, especially for the teeming multitudes of refugees who poured into the Promised Land from across the hostile border. The party’s only capital was its name and, on the magic of a name, it ruled this new nation for more than seven formative years, invaluable and irreplaceable years of great opportunities missed and discarded.
Had it not killed itself in the very city where it passed the historic resolution calling for Pakistan’s creation, the intrigue-ridden Muslim League may well have continued to run amuck with the destiny of Pakistan.
The rather sordid manner in which the League handled Dr. Khan Saheb was the immediate cause of its collapse. The more basic causes are to be found in what has been observed at the outset. The Muslim League, in spite of its brilliant beginnings, lost miserably the opportunities to serve the interests of the common man. Conceit and inertia replaced humility and dynamism, so that eventually the soul oozed out of the body that was once beautiful.
This is not an obituary of the Muslim League. The purpose is more general and more constructive inasmuch as this is meant to be a warning to the party that has stepped into power in West Pakistan.
Political parties flourish, degenerate and, on occasions revive. In a democracy, the chances of revival are always present provided the party eclipsed has the determination to revitalize itself. Democratic machinery guarantees such a revival. A democracy functions on the assumption that political parties complete the boom-burst-boom cycle in successive and recurring elections. So, as long as Pakistan remains a democracy, the resuscitation of the Muslim League cannot be ruled out.
The edifice of the modern nation-state, whether democratic or dictatorial, is rooted in the party system. In a dictatorship the ruling party controls the entire organism of the state and tolerates at best a sham opposition.
In the Soviet Union, the Communist Party is accorded recognition in the fundamental law of the land as “the vanguard of the toilers”, that “represents the directing kernel of all organizations of toilers, both public and state.” Stalin reflected the policy of the Soviet State vis-à-vis the Party in these words:
“Here in the Soviet Union, in the land of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the fact that not a single important political or organizational question is decided by a Soviet and other mass organizations without directions from the Party, must be regarded as the highest expression of the leading role of the Party.”
The Communist Party in the socialist state eliminates all traces of opposition within the state and establishes a monopoly of power. Internal changes in the hierarchy of the party have not to this day affected the basic principle of party unity and party predominance. The foundation of the monolithic party, centralism and discipline are the abiding lessons learnt from the victory of the Bolsheviks in the Civil War.
Similarly, Fascist states organise and run governments on the principle that the ruling party is the sole custodian of political power. In Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler embodied the “will” of the German people through the National Socialist Party. “Our constitution,” wrote Nazi Germany’s famous lawyer, Dr. Hans Frank, “is the Will of the Fuehrer.” And the Fuehrer’s strength stemmed from the National Socialist Party.
The prime object of a party that seeks to establish dictatorship is to suppress and, if possible, wipe out all opposition. The quest for power is the dominant motive. Once power is seized, the purpose is served. Whether the party in power reflects the will of the people or has the free consent of the governed is not a relevant factor. The control of the government of the state is guaranteed by the threat and use of force. Hence, in a dictatorship the ruling party perpetuates its stranglehold so long as it can bind the people. The ruling party may, for some period, as was the case in Nazi Germany, have the support of the people, but as far as the objective of the party is concerned, such support is not really important. The party does not relinquish power on losing the support of the governed. It retains its control until the time it is overthrown, either by internal disturbances or by armed action from outside.
In contradistinction, democracy functions on the reverse premise. Without a constitutional opposition, a democracy cannot survive. Thus, it is the duty of the party in power to respect other political parties. Most important of all, in a true democracy, the party in power must have the support of the governed. If the consent is withdrawn, the ruling party must surrender power to the one that wins popular support. The expression of this popular support is found in the system of elections.
In a democracy it is vital for all political parties to try to reflect the will and the sentiments of the people. The party closest to the desires and aspirations of the people is the one that succeeds. Progress is achieved by this keen competition. The party out of power seeks to attract the sympathy and support of the electorate by trying to offer even more than that promised or achieved by the ruling party. This competition has its disadvantages in that, at times, especially in backward countries, irresponsible promises are made to capture votes. False promises of this nature create a sense of cynicism and frustration in the people when it is realized that the promises were only a political stunt. Notwithstanding these defects, in the final analysis, the advantages of this perpetual tussle and competition between rival political parties produces infinite good for the governed.
In a democracy, a political party must have a permanent ideological purpose. The emphasis may vary from time to time, but in the absence of a permanent objective, a political party cannot succeed. All terrestrial things are relative and, therefore, on occasions, even permanent objectives are achieved. If political parties intend to extend their lives after the realization of permanent objectives, they must immediately seek new objectives of a permanent nature.
For example, in undivided India, the permanent objective of the Congress Party was the independence of India and, of the Muslim League, the attainment of Pakistan. For the realization of these objectives, the two parties struggled against British imperialism. Once the independence of India was achieved and Pakistan established, both these parties were faced with the choice, either of dissolution or of drawing up of a new objective and ideals. The Congress Party in India immediately reorientated its outlook and mapped out a permanent programme, the objective being a welfare state. In Pakistan, as has already been mentioned, the Muslim League, instead of striving for a new and attractive ideal, chose to sit on its achieved victory. In these circumstances the afterglow of its victory began to fade and it did little to light up a new path for the people to follow.
In England, both prominent parties—Conservatives and Labour—have permanent goals and both command the respect of the people of Britain because they are striving for worthy objectives and things that are within the grasp and expectation of the people. Whereas, the Liberal Party, which some years ago, had some of the most talented statesmen within its ranks, is now a moribund party. In this revolutionary age of thermo-nuclear activity there is no room for parties of the centre and, in a clash between extremes, those advocating the vital centre fade into the background.
In the United States, the spirit of democracy is kept alive by the rivalry between the Democratic and Republican parties. In periods of stress, like the Great Depression, other parties enter the scene of American politics but only for brief interludes. Political power has, therefore, been shared in seasons between the Democrats and the Republicans. Both parties fulfill the basic requirements in that they both have permanent objectives, although there is not much difference in their approach to problems.
One has either to be an American, or a very observant student of the American way of life, to discern a fundamental difference between the rival parties. In the dark days of the Great Depression the basic difference was more obvious but, with the return to normalcy, the cleavages narrowed to a diminishing point. The important thing, however, is that both parties have a permanent appeal for the American voter and this fixed appeal cannot, by its very nature, be based on passing objectives. Furthermore, in advanced democracies, political parties cannot advocate irreconcilable ideologies. In an arena restricted to shades of differences, the shades themselves assume fundamental importance. So, when Democrats and Republicans make violent issues out of innocuous things, or when they vehemently accuse each other of violating the bi-partisan foreign policy, the electorate considers the disputes to be fundamental. And so it is, for, who would dream of undoing the New and Fair Deals even under a Republican administration?
Just as the one-party system leads towards dictatorship, so also, a multiparty system tends to usher in confusion and instability. The multi-party system functions on the basis of uneasy and unholy coalitions. These political alliances result from the dictates of expediency and are generally headed for doom. In such weak systems intrigue has the upper hand. All constructive interests are on the sufferance of cantankerous day-to-day political horse-trading.
In a democracy, political parties must rely on their inherent strength. Thus only can the party in power strive to fulfill the promises made to the people and also take the responsibility for the failure to fulfill solemn pledges. To share responsibility with another party is a sign of weakness and an escape from true obligations. In such circumstances, it is far more honourable to remain in the opposition. The formation of coalitions is excusable only in the event of grave national emergencies. It is only during an emergency that politicians subordinate their political differences and vendettas.
Three conclusions can be deduced thus far:
a. Constitutional opposition to the party in power is indispensable to democracy;
b. Political parties must have a relatively permanent ideology;
c. Political parties must rely on their intrinsic strength.
The Republican Party in West Pakistan was born in dubious and inauspicious circumstances. However, notwithstanding its tainted origins, the emergence of this party was welcomed by those who were of the view that until the advent of this rival political force, the country, in this Wing at least, was in fact under the ominous shadow of a one-party system. In these circumstances there was always a danger of converting a new democracy into a fascist dictatorship. So, when the Republican Party popped out from a battered womb, many people of this country thought this development was good for the survival of democracy.
The fact that tried and trusted warriors of the Muslim League flocked to the fold of the Republican Party mattered little. The main thing was that an opposition had at least come into existence to challenge the decadent Muslim League and to fulfill one of the basic pre-requisites of democratic government. Time alone will tell if this new party will serve the cause of democracy.
The Muslim League argues that the Republican Party is bound to fail as it has come into existence for a narrow and selfish purpose—for power. In other words, it lacks a permanent ideology which is so necessary to political life. To substantiate this charge, ancillary accusations have been made and not without rhyme or reason. One of the subordinate but compelling arguments was that the bulk of the Republican material was recruited from the Muslim League and that such material is easily repurchaseable.
This accusation is correct. Prior to the formation of the Republican Party there was no other organization in West Pakistan to mother the ambitions of politicians. It is not given to each individual to burst into prominence on independent strength. There was no choice. Whether politicians liked it or not, whether they agreed with it or not, a good portion of them were forced to march under the banner of the only party—the Muslim League. As soon as an alternative appeared, the choice was enlarged. Let us see if the Republican Party will become dynamic enough, revolutionary enough to attract fresh blood. There is reason for doubt and suspicion. Unionists who had joined the League in the Punjab and the Congressites of Sindh who acquiesced to the League tag after partition, were among the first to vacate the concentration camp that the Muslim League had become.
The Republican Party has been born in uninspiring circumstances. What matters from the broader perspective is not the circumstances of birth but the upbringing, the growth and the deeds. Has the Republican Party come into existence to challenge the Muslim League’s monolithic control, as a harbinger of democracy, or has it come into being as an opportunistic force? Time will tell. In the meantime, the younger generation will watch with cynicism if the new party will draw up an elaborate economic, social and political manifesto for the purposes of having a permanent philosophy to attract the electorate.
Regrettably, many precious months have gone by, and so far the Republican Party has not shown the acumen of realizing this necessity. Blindly and foolishly it is treading the path of its predecessor. The architects of the Republican Party have also fallen in the quagmire of intrigue and internecine conflict. The leadership of the party does not seem to have the vision for the attainment of basic needs. Each moment is of prime significance. Therefore, it is incumbent on the responsible elements in the Republican Party to frame a manifesto and a philosophy reflecting the genuine desires of our people. Life cannot be extended on the basis of nebulous utterances of the good old man who leads the party. A bankruptcy of principles leads, without a doubt. to disaster. So, thus far, the Republican Party, has failed to take note of the condition that a political party in a democracy must have a permanent ideology. In this respect, time is of the essence, and time is marching by at quick step. Little purpose, if any, would be served if the task is accomplished at the time of death, for then only naked dictatorship will follow.
At the present juncture, this country does not face a grave national emergency. There is no real need for a coalition Government at the centre. In sheer desperation, the Republicans have coalesced with a party that has its roots one thousand miles away in East Pakistan, and to it has had to offer, on a silver platter, the coveted office of premiership. In a coalition of this nature between parties that are poles apart, there can be very little hope for a constructive future.
A very important figure in the Republican Party had recently expressed the view that this coalition is of temporary duration and that the object of the Republican Party is to capture power for itself. This declaration is unwarranted inasmuch as it presupposes that the object of every political party is to capture power. The only difference is that in dictatorships the party in power does not relinquish authority voluntarily, nor does it adhere to constitutional means in its quest to secure power.
The Awami League undoubtedly nourishes ambitions not dissimilar to the ones expressed by the former Secretary-General of the Republican Party. An objective analysis of the political situation tends to lead to the conclusion that the Awami League is much better organised and has far better chances of stealing a march on the Republicans.
The Republican Party would be well advised to study the lessons of history. Pakistan, like the Weimer Republic, has the symptoms of fascism in its body politic. Let us, therefore, look at Germany on the eve of its conversion to totalitarianism.
The disease of coalitions pock-marked the face of the Weimer Republic. The social and economic consequences .of the depression created appalling problems for war-crippled Germany. In an environment of endless crises the democratic parties were unable to face the gigantic problems that beleaguered the country. Due to their helplessness the parliamentary parties found it necessary to accost extremists. In these conditions Hindenberg was persuaded to accept “the Bohemian corporal.” The German rightists formed a coalition with the Nazis at the end of January, 1933, with a view to using the Nazis during the emergency and then disbanding the coalition at the appropriate moment. Papen boasted that Hitler was his prisoner, tied head and foot by conditions he had accepted. True, Hitler had the Chancellorship, but the real power, in Papen’s view, rested with the Vice-Chancellor, that is, Papen himself.
It was the Vice-Chancellor who enjoyed the special confidence of the President and it was he who held the key post of Minister-President of Prussia with control of the Prussian administration and police; and it was the Vice-Chancellor who had the newly-established right to be present on all occasions when the Chancellor made his report to the President. Only three of the eleven cabinet posts were held by Nazis, and apart from the Chancellorship, both were second-rate positions.
In the words of historian Alan Bullock, “Rarely has disillusionment been so complete or swift to follow .... In the six months that followed the formation of the Coalition Government, Hitler and his supporters were to demonstrate a cynicism and lack of scruples—qualities on which his partners particularly prided themselves—which left Papen and Hindenburg gasping for breath. At the end of those six months they were to discover, like the young lady of Riga, the dangers of going for a ride on a tiger.”
There is always an element of danger in drawing analogies but analogies have to be made. The Republican Party has coalesced with the Awami League at the Centre. The calculation is that Mr. Suhrawardy and his handful of followers can be checkmated by the strength of the Republican Party in the National Assembly and also by the Republican representatives in the Central Cabinet.
Whether there was an emergency in Pakistan or whether other circumstances compelled the Republican Party to enter into a coalition with the Awami League is a question which only the leadership of the Republican Party is best suited to answer. There is no doubt however that an empirical analysis reveals that there was no emergency properly so-called. The Republican Party has not worked out its political philosophy but from its composition it is clear that it is a rightist party. The Awami League, on the other hand, is relatively speaking, leftist parties at least as far as its economic objectives are concerned; or so it claims.
It is quite conceivable that like the German rightists the Republican Party has failed to combine with parties more in consonance with its own views and philosophy, if indeed a combination was essential. This country is fortunate in that the Awami League of Mr. Suhrawardy, unlike the Nazis, is a party dedicated to democratic principles and that it would not resort to all the loathsome tactics adopted by the Nazis to destroy its partners in the coalition. The fundamental defect in the Republican Party’s strategy lies in its having readily acquiesced to the formation of a coalition. It is hard to pay a heavy price for it but the country will pay a heavier price.
It is too early to say whether the Republican Party has paid any heed to the basic demand of democracy by allowing the parliamentary opposition to function without fear. The leader of the party is never tired of declaring that he will see to it that the country has free elections. This promise presupposes that political parties will not be victimized or molested by the Government. However, the temptation to suppress the opposition cannot be ruled out altogether. In our politics the germs of intolerance are ever present. It is hoped that the Republican Party would kill those germs but hope may give way to disillusionment.
Judging from the standards of Western democratic practices, it is unlikely that the Republican Party will emulate the Western system by allowing the opposition parties to function freely at the time of the general elections, or even during the Assembly sessions. It is quite likely that the Republican Party will not desist from pursuing traditional methods. It can give our politics a new meaning, make it cleaner and more akin to what is expected from democratic systems. The present conditions, however, do not justify such optimism.
The Republican Party is about eight months old. It is an infant organization but tender age is no excuse for not fulfilling the basic conditions required of a political party. If infants seek total power and the attendant obligations stemming from power, they must fulfill the basic requirements of political life.
If Maclver’s definition of a political party is valid, it would be found that the Republican Party is not a political party in the strictest sense of the term; for, although it is an “association” after a fashion. it does not seem organised to support some principle or policy which it endeavors to make the determinant of Government.
In addition to the essential conditions already mentioned, a political party must organise itself into an efficient and competent machine. A party must study the national temperament, the needs of the people, their values and cultures, and on the basis of these important considerations, formulate a principle and a philosophy acceptable not merely to one facet of the community but to as many as possible. This is a colossal undertaking and must, therefore, be approached with sagacity and tact, with vision and determination. I doubt if the Republican Party has such vision. Maurice Duverger says:
“A party is not a community but a collection of communities, a union of small groups dispersed throughout the country and linked by coordinating institutions.”
To solidify these dispersed groups a party must have branches, caucuses, and cells throughout the country. These coordinating links must be inter-connected so as to form a pyramidal arrangement. The base of this arrangement—the rank and file—is the most important part of the structure for it constitutes the real master.
It is indeed sad to observe that the Republican Party is not taking steps to organise itself according to the requirements of the modern nation-state. Being in power, it has the resources to embark on a mission of organizing itself on a national plane. Why it has not given due consideration to this vital need, is a thing that baffles many people. An efficient organization is as important to a party as its philosophy. The Nazis in Germany and the Fascists in Italy had, if anything, negative philosophies, yet on the strength of their organizational ability and genius both of them were able to capture power.
The Republican Party must also concentrate on the methods it intends to follow in electing its leadership and also on the manner in which power and responsibility are to be shared between the leadership and the people. So far there does not appear to be any coherent approach. Until this is determined, there are bound to be frictions in the party’s hierarchy, between the titular leaders and the real leaders, and between the real leaders and the masses.
The manner in which members are to be recruited to the party is also a factor. A solid rank and file makes the party a monument of stability. There is plenty of talent in this country, but painstaking efforts have to he made to discover and recruit this talent. Those faithful and loyal to the party have to be stationed in responsible positions. The youth must have its say; so also labour and the peasantry.
There are numerous other things which a political party must attend to if it aspires to gain the confidence of the people. The Republican Party has a choice either of giving this country’s politics an unprecedented turn for the better or of destroying democracy altogether. In either event, it has to act promptly.
What matters in the final analysis is not the attainment of power, for a defeat with honour is infinitely better than victory with dishonour. If the Republican Party desires to leave an indelible mark on the history of Pakistan, it must begin to think not of the end, but of the means that it might follow to attain that end.
The performance we have seen in these crucial months leaves much to be desired. Let us hope we are wrong. Let us pray that we are proved to be wrong. It is better to be wrong than to pave the way for a military dictatorship. The Republican Party does not appear to be conscious of this living threat. Let the people make it known to everyone, to all the politicians and their constituents that we are on the threshold of dictatorship.
... A NEW PHASE BEGINS
In 1958, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was offered a post in the new Government. He was only 30 then. It was to be a fateful choice. It has been asked since why he chose to serve under a military government at all. For an answer one will have to go back to the year 1958. When Ayub Khan took over the country through a quiet and uneventful coup, the people at that time welcomed it. There was so much chaos and uncertainty all round that in that atmosphere of gloom and political despair, Ayub did appear to be the only answer. In the years to follow, of course, this initial acceptance and public enthusiasm was to end in disillusionment, culminating in a countrywide movement which overthrew the once popular strong-man. But in 1958, Ayub’s assumption of power spelled promise—the promise of a strong, stable and clean Pakistan, free of petty intrigue among small-minded men. Another factor which played a part in making up his mind was the then Governor-General, Iskandar Mirza’s assurance that Martial Law would be lifted in three months and a constitutional referendum held.
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who was practicing law at Karachi and, in between, living on his estate in Larkana at the time accepted the challenge. In a few months he was to become the most talked about Minister. His youth, his brilliance, his charisma seemed to have caught the people’s imagination. In a government which was dominated by the strong, central figure of Ayub, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was reputed to be the one man who stood up for his views, was listened to with respect and assigned the most delicate tasks despite his young years. He soon came to be regarded among the people as a man of impeccable integrity and driving enthusiasm. They admired him for his con-temporariness and his forward-looking approach to Pakistan’s problems. He was known to be fearless and principled. Bhutto in his turn took this as an opportunity to serve the people in accordance with his lights. He was not afraid to speak his mind and bold enough to experiment with ideas and concepts.
He was put in charge of the portfolio of Commerce and later of Fuel, Power and Natural Resources. In these capacities he had to deal with international problems of fundamental importance to the interests of Pakistan. In 1960, he went to Moscow to conduct negotiations with the Soviet Union for an oil agreement. This was a crucial mission because it marked the point at which Pakistan’s relations with the Soviet Union, most unsatisfactory till then, began to improve. From the very start of this association with the Government, Bhutto had advocated a shift in Pakistan’s foreign policy. In the first cabinet meeting under Ayub, which made an exhaustive survey of foreign policy, Bhutto pleaded for a basic modification in Pakistan’s foreign policy assumptions and its conduct. He had no illusions about its unrealistic and lopsided character. All through the years he kept advocating a change. On his return from the famous 1960 General Assembly, he felt all the more convinced that the time had come for Pakistan to revise its foreign policy. He once again made his recommendations to the Government which were finally accepted after much opposition from powerful vested interests.
In 1963, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was appointed Foreign Minister —a position for which he was destined. This was the true beginning of his rendezvous with greatness. He not only transformed Pakistan’s foreign policy by giving it a new dimension but came to be regarded in world capitals as one of the most brilliant and outstanding men in any Foreign Office. During these years he was to cultivate many lasting personal friendships with great world personalities, with men like Soekarno and Nasser. He also became an authentic voice of the Third World. His many distinguished appearances at the United Nations and world conferences were to win him an international reputation.
It was at his urging and under his lead that Pakistan normalized its relations with the People’s Republic of China by signing a historic boundary agreement with that great country. But Bhutto’s ascent to greatness was not without its concomitants in the form of intrigue and rivalry within the Government. His forthright views, his liberal advocacy of right causes made him many enemies, within and outside the country. The break came at Tashkent, that short-lived experiment in peaceful living, whose lacunae and basic naivety Bhutto saw with prophetic clarity. Subsequent events were to prove him right. His advice at Tashkent was disregarded by Ayub. He came back and made no secret of his disillusionment and dissent. A parting of the ways came in a few months. The Tashkent Agreement, as predicted by him was to lead to a violent reaction in Pakistan.
The speeches and addresses in this section relate to that period. Some idea of the tremendous contribution made by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to Pakistan’s resurgence and international esteem can be had from the sheer range and variety of the section that follows. His speeches at the UN and elsewhere as Foreign Minister are available separately. Some of them, however, are included in this collection. This was his period of apprenticeship to destiny and he came out with his integrity both as a statesman and a citizen unscathed. No wonder, when he left the Government people from one corner of Pakistan to the other rallied behind him, choosing him as the leader who would deliver them from the blind and iniquitous rule of Ayub Khan.