President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto reiterated that he was prepared to resolve political issues through negotiations, but warned that no one would be permitted to undermine the national integrity.
Speaking at reception held in his honour at the services grounds by the People’s Students Federation, he said that his doors were open for constitutional and democratic negotiations. At the same time, he would not allow internal or external forces to cast an evil eye on the national solidarity and unity, the President declared amidst thunderous applause.
The President said “If you want to work for integrity, prosperity and progress of Pakistan, please come on …. Jet us work together and build up a strong and prosperous Pakistan.”
He took exception to the wild speculations in the foreign Press every now and then about Pakistan, and declared that no one could harm the country any more, such speculations were insult to the people of Pakistan and he was determined to end them once for all.
The President also criticized the Opposition political parties’ 12-point charter of demands formulated at their Rawalpindi convention, and said those were on the pattern of Mr. Mujib’s Six-Point programme.
Referring to the policy of confrontation adopted by the NAP against the PPP, President Bhutto said the fundamental cause for it was not any personal or ideological differences. The basis of this confrontation was the integrity of Pakistan. “We want to ensure the unity and solidarity of the country, while they are averse to it”, he added.
He also discussed the background of co-operation between the NAP and Jamaat-i-Islami in spite of their fundamental ideological differences and said the basis of this co-operation was opposition to Pakistan’s creation. Both the NAP and Jamaat-i-Islami were also opposed to the integrity of Pakistan, he said.
He, however, declared his party was not afraid of such co-operation. In the past too, Combined Opposition Parties, Round Table Conference, Democratic Action Committee, and Jugtu Fronts were formed, but the People’s Party had successfully faced them. He had always told the Opposition to come out unitedly because then it was easier for the People’s Party to deal with them, he said.
He said he had removed the ban on the NAP “unilaterally and unconditionally” on the very first day he took over as President of Pakistan. He allowed them to form their Governments in spite of the fragile majority in NWFP and Baluchistan. He had gone so far as to allow them to have their own Governors as well. But he regretted, they spared no opportunity to flout his directives and malign the Central Government.
He said that they entered into negotiations and signed agreements with him time and again but they always wriggled out of them on one pretex or the other.
The President said he had no personal enmity with them. Had there been any such thing, he would not have given them the Governments and the Governors and he would not have entered into any negotiations with them. His main objective was to create a democratic atmosphere, in the country so that the country could be rebuilt but, he regretted they always failed to reciprocate his positive gestures, although he had gone out of the way to accommodate them.
Referring to the removal of the Governors, President Bhutto said it was not an unconstitutional step taken by him. He said wherever parliamentary form of democracy existed, Governors were agents of the President and could stay in their offices at his pleasure.
He said the NAP was overacting to the removal of the Governor of NWFP and said that Arabab Sikander had not carried out any directives of the Central Government.
The new Governor, Mr. Aslam Khattak, was one of their coalition partners. He was also a Pakhtoon then what was the cause of such a furor he asked.
He said the real cause for it was due to the fact that they had realized that the Government had come to know their “real game.”
He regretted tat while he repeatedly sought their co-operation, he was threatened with talk of guns, bullets and bloodshed. Was it a service to the Pakhtoons to shed their blood for selfish motives, he asked. Referring to Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan’s assertion that the Pakhtoons had no self-respect. President Bhutto said self-respect came into play only for high ideals and cause. The determination of the people of the NWFP to maintain the national unity should not be misconstrued as lack of self-respect, in fact this was self-respect in the real sense.
He said the NAP chief had different faces ate the conference table and before the public and said that he (Wali Khan) told him at Lahore during his meeting with him that in view of the grave dangers facing the country his (Bhutto’s) services were necessary. But when he came out, the NAP President called for his (Bhutto’s) removal.
The President said the NAP President had also told him that democracy was nothing, because he (Wali Khan) was a feudal lord. He talked of undiluted democracy only to hoodwink the people of Pakistan. “One who is the enemy of the land of the pure cannot be upholder of undiluted democracy,” President Bhutto added.
He, however, declared that no amount of internal or external intrigues could harm the country. “You may take a much assistance from anywhere you like, “you will find us ready to face you.”
The President said the NAP had got the inspiration from the situation in East Pakistan. Firstly, the constitutional struggle and in the event of its failure to resort to other steps as was done by Mr. Mujibur Rahman.
He traced the developments in East Pakistan after the 1970 general elections and said Mr. Mujib had insisted on the framing of the Constitution on the basis of Six Points because he wanted to cut at the roots of the country. As the Prime Minister of Pakistan, he would have shifted the Secretariat, State Bank of Pakistan and other things to Dacca and would have ordered they Army to withdraw from East Pakistan under the pretext of agreement with India, and would have ultimately said good bye to West Pakistan.
The President said that when he exposed Mr. Maujib’s plan and it was frustrated, he second phase of the plan came into play.
Referring to the activities of Red Shirt leader Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, President Bhutto traced the history of Pakistan Movement and said that the Red Shirts were the “militant hard core” of the Indian Congress and had not cased their opposition to Pakistan, even after its creation. They had only changed their tactics, he said.
He said the Quaid-i-Azam had tried to make the Government of Dr. Khan Sahib a success. But they could not run the Government, and it had to be dissolved ultimately.
The President reminded his audience of the “venomous speeches against Pakistan, made by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan during the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war and Press interviews given to the Indian Newspapers. Again in 1971 while the patriotic Pakistan, living abroad, were offering themselves for the defence of the country, what was the Khan doing in Kabul? He asked.
He said that Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan had now returned to Pakistan with some special motives.
He said he had asked the then Governor and Chief Minster of NWFP to delay the return of the Khan to Pakistan, because the Government was busy with resolving other pressing issues of the nation, such as withdrawal of troops from the Pakistan territory and repatriation of the prisoners of war from India. He had told them that he had never interfered with the provincial spheres, but was making a “reasonable request” to delay his return for sometime. But he regretted that they insisted on bringing him according to their programme.
This, he said, was a signal for him. The other signal he got was the wriggling out of the Constitutional Accord, although all matters including bicameral legislature, provincial autonomy, independent judiciary, etc. had been decided. Even their own proposals had been accepted by him. Their attitude had made their game clear to him.