Launching politics

In 1967 ZAB launched his movement in Lahore.

Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) was launched by the third usurper to erase the political legacy of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) and his Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). Earlier in the decade of the sixties another brand of Muslim League was raised under Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi of Gujrat (PMLConvention). The Muslim League House on Davis Road was also provided for this purpose. At that time, it was presented as the political face of the dictatorship that ran the country. Pakistan Muslim League (PML) has always claimed to be the successor of All India Muslim League (AIML), Pakistan’s founding party, which it is not. AIML was founded in 1906 at Decca which then moved its headquarters to Lucknow. After the creation of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah as President of AIML tried to steer the new party and even suggested a new constitution but his efforts were thwarted. Finally, he walked out in frustration after severing all his links with the new political entity. Soon most stalwarts left the party (Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy, Maulvi Fazal-Ul-Haq, Mian Ifthekar-Ud-Din etc.).

In 1967 ZAB launched his movement in Lahore. It was the first real political party in the country. He campaigned under the banner of Islamic socialism, a concept introduced by Dr Khalifa Abdul Hakim in his book titled; Islam and Communism which was published by the Institute of Islamic Culture in the decade of the sixties. Progressives joined him in droves, and very soon it spread all over the Western Wing with Lahore as its nucleus. ZAB had a special affinity for the city he named the Leningrad of Pakistan. He even willed to be buried here. Lahore, the city of intellect, remained a PPP stronghold for a long time. In the 1970 free and fair elections there was a clean sweep by the party winning all National Assembly seats by huge margins. Dr Mubashir Hasan polled the highest number of votes from Lahore. After being deposed from power in July 1977, ZAB arrived to a hero’s welcome here. Panic bells started to ring in the corridors of power. It was decided to get rid of Quaid-e- Awam and his political party. He was arrested for the murder of the father of his party dissident. Justice M.A, Samdani of the Lahore High Court (LHC) bailed him out. He was then arrested under the Martial Law Regulations. To try the Ex-PM, a new bench was created under his arch-enemy Maulvi Mushtaq. He was kept in the Kot Lakhpat Jail and humiliated in the courtroom, yet he kept his poise. Every morning he was driven in a Police Jeep to the LHC premises for the trial. There were no mobs in the courtroom. It was strictly kept a legal battle. He was awarded the death penalty which he appealed in the Supreme Court which upheld the decision with a narrow margin of 4 to 3.

While Karachi remained defiant to the first usurper, Lahore remained loyal to ZAB. Zia, the third Military Dictator, desired to take away the city from the stranglehold of PPP. According to Lt. Gen. Ghulam Jilani Khan the then Governor of Punjab he shortlisted three names for the coveted slot of Chief Minister of the province (Nawaz Sharif, Hamid Nasir Chatta, Chaudhry Ghafoor). Nawaz Sharif was chosen by the dictator as he belonged to Lahore.

Despite the all-out efforts of the establishment Bhutto’s legacy survived. According to PML-N stalwart Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, every election since 1970 has been manipulated. In other words, PMLN has never gained power without election rigging. PML-N is becoming irrelevant as the 1985 era is ending, and their Takht-e-Lahore stands dismantled. Lahore has now moved out of the congestion of Gawalmandi into the open air of Zaman Park.

Dr Farid A Malik

The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation, email: fmaliks@

The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation, email:

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