Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was founded at Lahore at a convention held on 28th November, 1967. The charismatic Leader, Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was unanimously elected as the Chairman of the Party. A number of Foundation Documents was adopted enunciating the Party Creed which was summarized as follows:
* Islam is our Faith
* Democracy is our Politics
* Socialism is our Economy
* All Power to the People
This blend of Islam and Socialism steered a course away from Secular Dogmatic Marxism and came to be known as Islamic Socialism.
Until the formation of the Pakistan Peoples Party power in Pakistan may have changed hands but remained within the same elite. The socialist parties of different hue had not penetrated the masses, enjoyed scant electoral support and even less representation in the assemblies.
The PPP attracted the active participation of the peasants, workers and middle class.
At the time the Party was founded, Pakistan was under the yoke of the Ayub Khan regime and governed by the Constitution of Pakistan 1962. Under the Constitution power was concentrated in the President, elected members of the National and Provincial Assemblies were debarred from holding Ministerial office and the elections to the office of the President and the Assemblies were conducted through 80,000 Basic Democrats who constituted an electoral college which could be, and was, manipulated to perpetuate the rule of the Convention Muslim League presided by Ayub Khan.
Neither the Basic Democracy nor the Presidential system was in accord with the political culture of Pakistan. There was a universal demand for a parliamentary system based on adult franchise which took the form of a movement in the winter of 1968-69 which over threw Ayub Khan.
Ayub Khan's successor, General Yahya Khan, held the first general elections based on adult franchise at the end of 1970. The Awami League, led by Sheikh Mujeeb ur Rehman, swept the polls in East Pakistan on a Six point agenda of autonomy which fell barely short of secession while the Peoples Party emerged triumphant in the Western wing of the Country on the basis of its socialist programme of vesting the commanding heights of the economy under State control. The slogan of "Food, Shelter and Clothing" for the masses-became the hall mark of the Party.
A civil war broke out during 1971 in the aftermath of the election and the province of East Pakistan emerged as the new state of Bangladesh from that blood soaked trauma. In the wake of the fall of Dacca, Yahya Khan handed over power to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto as President on 20th December 1971. The first Bhutto moved fast to introduce a Provisional Constitution and to lift Martial Law in April, 1972 followed by a permanent Constitution of 1973, passed unanimously, the lasting legacy of the Pakistan Peoples Party to Pakistan.
The first Bhutto administration was an Age of Reform and Reconstruction. Bhutto established Pakistan's first Steel Mill, a second Port, commissioned Pakistan's first hydro electric dam on the mighty Indus at Tarbela, and made Pakistan self sufficient in fertilizer, sugar, and cement. He nationalized the Banks and Life Insurance Companies. He also initiated Pakistan's Nuclear Programme. The economical policies of Bhutto were anti-imperialist and base on state socialism following the mound of other Third World leaders such as Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Ahmad Soekarno of Indonesia, and his own contemporary Salvador Allende of Chile who was elected, over thrown and assassinated during the same period. The Cold War was its most frosty during this epoch. The Neo-Colonialists made a horrible example of Bhutto for his anti-Imperialistic stance, his efforts to unite the World of Islam, and his demarche towards bringing the Third World on one Platform apart from the Nuclear Issue.
Disturbance following the elections of 1977, provided General Zia ul Haq, the reactionary Chief of the Army Staff, an opportunity to ove5r throw the elected Prime Minister and later manipulate for his execution by a hung Court in which the real majority was in favour of acquittal, two of the acquitting Judges having been forced into retirement by Zia.
The whiplash of the Martial Law fell heavily on the Pakistan Peoples Party from July 5, 1977 when Zia declared Martial Law until December 1985, when Martial Law was lifted. Thousands of the cadre of the Pakistan Peoples Party were incarcerated, hundreds whipped, including ex-Minister and Members of the Assemblies. Others were killed or forced into exile.
The police lathi Charged Begum Bhutto who had been elected the Acting Chairperson of the Party following the arrest of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in September, 1977 and cracked her skull leaving her bleeding to death. As a result of long periods of incarceration in unhygienic conditions Benazir Bhutto who was elected as Chairperson of the Party, following the disqualification of Begum Nusrat Bhutto, in February, 1978, has been left permanently impaired in hearing.
Benazir Bhutto rescued and rebuilt the Party from scratch, leading an epic movement for the restoration of Democracy. Her historical welcome in Lahore in April, 1986 was the turn of the tide. In the meanwhile Zia was digging his own grave. He dismissed his hand picked protégé Muhammad Khan Jonejo and dissolved the National Assembly of Pakistan on May 29, 1988. Zia probably wanted to revert to the Ayub's regime. A few days before his death, while revealing his plans for a Presidential system, he told a confidante " I will be around a long time". Fate intervened on 17th August, 1988 when the C-130, carrying him crashed in a ball of fire and Zia went from ashes to ashes and his system from dust to dust.
Benazir Bhutto rode the crest of the wave to victory to become the first Muslim Prime Minister and the youngest women Prime Minister in history at the age of 35. During both her terms as Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto was betrayed by Presidents elected with her Party votes, first by Ghulam Ishaq Khan and later by her close Party Protégé Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari, who dismissed her Governments in 1990 and 1993. She never enjoyed the uninterrupted five years spell in power, which is the right of Government in Pakistan.
By the time Benazir Bhutto was first elected the Cold War was over, the General Accord had been signed; and the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan had begun. The times had changed further when she was elected for the Second Time in 1993-the Soviet Union itself had disintegrated and Germany united. The very country which had introduced the system of a state controlled Economy as a short cut to development, is in the depth of recession and floundering its way to a market economy.
Benazir Bhutto redefined the Party programme at the Silver Jubilee of the Party at Lahore in November, 1992. The New Social Contract of Benazir Bhutto is predicated upon a social market economy, privatization of the means of production, down sizing of the Government, devolution of power to the Province; and decentralization to Local Government. Benazir Bhutto's government was dismissed for the second time on November 5, 1996 by her hand picked President Farooq Leghari, who betrayed her as General Zia ul Haq had betrayed her father.
In the aftermath of the 1997 election, Pakistan has fallen into the grip of a civilian dictatorship and the Muslim League into the clutches of the Sharif family. With the help of the Sharifs, a protégé of Zia, the Constitution has been amended. Taking advantage of the nuclear tests of May 28, the Government has proclaimed an Emergency which enables the Federal Government to impose a unitary form of Government by arrogating the powers of the Provincial Governments to itself. The power has already been exercised by enforcing Federal Rule upon the Province of Sindh , the country's second largest Province, where the Muslim League is a minority Party with less than a fifth of the seats in the Provincial Assembly of Sindh. A similar threat looms large on the North West Frontier Province where the Muslim League minority Government has parted ways with the traditionally strong Awami National Party. The Government of the Baluchistan National Party led by Akhtar Mengal, has already been over thrown.
In a bid to concentrate powers in their family, the Sharif brothers have maneuvered the passage of the Shariat Bill i.e. the 15th Amendment (CA 15) in the National Assembly which is stalled in the Senate by the PPP and most of the regional Parties.
The PPP has forged links with the anti-fascist forces which are attempting to impose a unitary Government in Pakistan with the aid of an Emergency which provides a lame excuse for usurpation of the rights of Provinces. The CA 15 would empower the Sharif's to rule by Decree by-passing parliament and the courts. In this new scenario the PPP has emerged as a party advocates a Federal Liberal Democracy and a social market economy: On the lines of Social Democratic Parties of Europe. This is reflected in the 10 Point Programme announced by Benazir Bhutto in the Autumn of 1998.