Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (January 5, 1928 - April 4, 1979) was a Pakistani politician who served as the President of Pakistan from 1971 to 1973, and as Prime Minister from 1973 to 1977. He was the founder of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), the largest and most influential political party of Pakistan. His daughter, Benazir Bhutto, also served twice as prime minister (the first Muslim woman to lead the government of a Muslim majority state, she was assassinated in 2007). Educated at the University of California at Berkeley in the United States and University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, Bhutto was noted for his mercurial brilliance and wit.
Bhutto was executed in 1979 for allegedly authorizing the murder of a political opponent. The execution was carried out under the directives of General (later, President) Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. His supporters add the honorific title Shaheed, the Urdu word for "martyr," before his name, thus: Shaheed-e-Azam Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto ("The Great Martyr"). Born into privilege, Bhutto had a passionate concern for the welfare of all his fellow citizens and made providing "Bread, Clothes, and Shelter" his political platform. Despite his patrician background, much of his support came from the less privileged, from the "people." Bhutto could easily have devoted himself to a legal career but entered politics with a genuine desire to empower the rural poor. He drew on the tradition of Sufi Islam, with its emphasis on love for others, in his advocacy of egalitarianism, national unity and a fairer distribution of resources.
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was born to Khursheed Begum née Lakhi Bai and Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto of a prominent Ithna 'Ashari Shi'a Muslim family. Zulfikar was born in his parent's residence near Larkana in what later became the province of Sindh. He was their third child—their first one, Sikandar, died from pneumonia at age seven in 1914, and the second child, Imdad Ali, died of cirrhosis at the age of 39, in 1953. His father was a wealthy landlord, a zamindar, and a prominent politician in Sindh, who enjoyed an influential relationship with the officials of the British Raj. As a young boy, Bhutto moved to Worli Seaface in Mumbai (then Bombay) to study at the Cathedral and John Connon School. During this period, he also became a student activist in the League's Pakistan Movement. Upon completing high school, Bhutto attended Premier College Nazamabad. In 1943, his marriage was arranged with Shireen Amir Begum (died January 19, 2003, in Karachi). He later left her, however, in order to remarry. In 1947, Bhutto was admitted to the University of Southern California.
During this time, Bhutto's father, Sir Shahnawaz, played a controversial role in the affairs of the state of Junagadh (now in Gujarat). Coming to power in a palace coup as the dewan, he secured the accession of the state to Pakistan, which was ultimately negated by Indian intervention in December 1947. In 1949, Bhutto transferred to the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned an honors degree in political science and was elected to the Student Council (the first Asian). Here he would become interested in the theories of socialism, delivering a series of lectures on the feasibility of socialism in Islamic countries. In June 1950, Bhutto traveled to England to study law at Christ Church, Oxford. Upon finishing his studies, he was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1953.
Bhutto married his second wife, the Iranian-Kurdish Begum Nusrat Ispahani a Shi'a Muslim, in Karachi on September 8, 1951. Their first child, his daughter Benazir, was born in 1953. She was followed by Murtaza in 1954, a second daughter, Sanam, in 1957, and the youngest child, Shahnawaz Bhutto, in 1958. He accepted the post of lecturer at the Sindh Muslim College, from where he was also awarded an honorary law degree by the then college President, Mr. Hassanally A. Rahman before establishing himself in a legal practice in Karachi. He also took over the management of his family's estate and business interests after his father's death.
In 1957, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto became the youngest member of Pakistan's delegation to the United Nations. He would address the United Nations Sixth Committee on Aggression on October 25, 1957, and lead Pakistan's deputation to the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Seas in 1958. In the same year, Bhutto became the youngest Pakistani cabinet minister when he was given charge of the energy ministry by President Muhammad Ayub Khan, who had seized power and declared martial law. He was subsequently promoted to head the ministries of commerce, information, and industries. Bhutto became a close and trusted adviser to Ayub, rising in influence and power despite his youth and relative inexperience in politics. Bhutto aided Ayub in negotiating the Indus Water Treaty with India in 1960. In 1961, Bhutto negotiated an oil exploration agreement with the Soviet Union, which also agreed to provide economic and technical aid to Pakistan.
In 1962, he was appointed Pakistan's foreign minister. His swift rise to power also brought him national prominence and popularity.
As foreign minister, Bhutto significantly transformed Pakistan's hitherto pro-Western foreign policy. While maintaining a prominent role for Pakistan within the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization and the Central Treaty Organization, Bhutto began asserting a foreign policy course for Pakistan that was independent of U.S. influence. Bhutto criticized the U.S. for providing military aid to India during and after the Sino-Indian War of 1962, which was seen as an abrogation of Pakistan's alliance with the U.S. Bhutto worked to establish stronger relations with the People's Republic of China. Bhutto visited Beijing and helped Ayub negotiate trade and military agreements with the Chinese regime, which agreed to help Pakistan in a large number of military and industrial projects. Bhutto also signed the Sino-Pakistan Boundary Agreement on March 2, 1963, that transferred 750 square kilometers of territory from Pakistan-administered Kashmir to Chinese control. Bhutto asserted his belief in non-alignment, making Pakistan an influential member in non-aligned organizations. Believing in pan-Islamic unity, Bhutto developed closer relations with nations such as Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab states.
Bhutto advocated hardline and confrontational policies against India over the Kashmir conflict and other issues. A brief skirmish took place in August 1965, between Indian and Pakistani forces near the international boundary in the Rann of Kutch which was resolved by the UN. Pakistan hoped to support an uprising by Kashmiris against India.
Bhutto joined Ayub in Tashkent to negotiate a peace treaty with the Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri. Ayub and Shastri agreed to exchange prisoners of war and withdraw respective forces to pre-war boundaries. This agreement was deeply unpopular in Pakistan, causing major political unrest against Ayub's regime. Bhutto's criticism of the final agreement caused a major rift between him and Ayub Khan. Initially denying the rumors, Bhutto resigned in June 1967 and expressed strong opposition to Ayub's regime.
Following his resignation, large crowds gathered to listen to Bhutto's speech upon his arrival in Lahore on June 21, 1967. Tapping a wave of anger and opposition against Ayub, Bhutto began traveling across the country to deliver political speeches. In a speech in October 1966, Bhutto proclaimed "Islam is our faith, democracy is our policy, socialism is our economy. All power to the people." On November 30, 1967, Bhutto founded the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in Lahore, establishing a strong base of political support in Punjab, Sindh and amongst the Muhajir communities. Bhutto's party became a part of the pro-democracy movement involving diverse political parties from all across Pakistan. PPP activists staged large protests and strikes in different parts of the country, increasing pressure on Ayub to resign. Bhutto's arrest on November 12, 1968, sparked greater political unrest. After his release, Bhutto attended the Round Table Conference called by Ayub in Rawalpindi, but refused to accept Ayub's continuation in office and the East Pakistani politician Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's Six point movement for regional autonomy.
Following Ayub's resignation, the new president Gen. Yahya Khan promised to hold parliamentary elections on December 7, 1970. Bhutto's party won a large number of seats from constituencies in West Pakistan. However, Sheikh Mujib's Awami League won an outright majority from the constituencies located in East Pakistan. Bhutto refused to accept an Awami League government and famously promised to "break the legs" of any elected PPP member who dared to attend the inaugural session of the National Assembly of Pakistan. Capitalizing on West Pakistani fears of East Pakistani separatism, Bhutto demanded that Sheikh Mujib form a coalition with the PPP. Under substantial pressure from Bhutto and other West Pakistani political parties, Yahya postponed the inaugural session of the National Assembly after talks with Sheikh Mujib failed. Amidst popular outrage in East Pakistan, Major Ziaur Rahman, at the direction of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared the independence of "Bangladesh" on March 26, 1971, after Mujibur was arrested by the Pakistani Army, which had been ordered by Yahya to suppress political activities. While supportive of the army's genocide and working to rally international support, Bhutto distanced himself from the Yahya regime. He refused to accept Yahya's scheme to appoint Bengali politician Nurul Amin as prime minister, with Bhutto as deputy prime minister. Indian intervention in East Pakistan led to the defeat of Pakistani forces, who surrendered on December 16, 1971. Bhutto and others condemned Yahya for failing to protect Pakistan's unity. Isolated, Yahya resigned on December 20 and transferred power to Bhutto, who became the president, army commander-in-chief as well as the first civilian chief martial law administrator.
As president, Bhutto addressed the nation via radio and television, saying "My dear countrymen, my dear friends, my dear students, laborers, peasants… those who fought for Pakistan… We are facing the worst crisis in our country's life, a deadly crisis. We have to pick up the pieces, very small pieces, but we will make a new Pakistan, a prosperous and progressive Pakistan." He placed Yahya under house arrest, brokered a ceasefire and ordered the release of Sheikh Mujib, who was held prisoner by the army. To implement this, Bhutto reversed the verdict of Mujib's court trial that had taken place earlier, in which the presiding Brigadier Rahimuddin Khan (later General) had sentenced Mujib to death. Appointing a new cabinet, Bhutto appointed Gen. Gul Hasan as Chief of Army Staff. On January 2, 1972, Bhutto announced the nationalization of all major industries, including iron and steel, heavy engineering, heavy electrical, petrochemicals, cement, and public utilities. A new labor policy was announced increasing workers rights and the power of trade unions. Although he came from a feudal background himself, Bhutto announced reforms limiting land ownership and a government take-over of over a million acres (4,000 km²) to distribute to landless peasants. More than 2,000 civil servants were dismissed on charges of corruption. Bhutto also dismissed the military chiefs on March 3 after they refused orders to suppress a major police strike in Punjab. He appointed Gen. Tikka Khan as the new Chief of the Army Staff in March 1972, as he felt the General would not interfere in political matters and would concentrate on rehabilitating the Pakistan Army. Bhutto convened the National Assembly on April 14, rescinded martial law on April 21, and charged the legislators with writing a new constitution.
Bhutto visited India to meet Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and negotiated a formal peace agreement and the release of 93,000 Pakistani prisoners of war. The two leaders signed the Shimla Agreement, which committed both nations to establish a Line of Control in Kashmir and obligated them to resolve disputes peacefully through bilateral talks. Bhutto also promised to hold a future summit for the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute and pledged to recognize Bangladesh.
Although he secured the release of Pakistani soldiers held by India, Bhutto was criticized by many in Pakistan for allegedly making too many concessions to India. It is theorized that Bhutto feared his downfall if he could not secure the release of Pakistani soldiers, the return of territory occupied by Indian forces. Bhutto established an atomic power development program and inaugurated the first Pakistani atomic reactor, built in collaboration with Canada in Karachi on November 28. In January 1973, Bhutto ordered the army to suppress a rising insurgency in the province of Balochistan and dismissed the governments in Balochistan and the Northwest Frontier Province. On March 30, 59 military officers were arrested by army troops for allegedly plotting a coup against Bhutto, who appointed then-Brigadier Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq to head a military tribunal to investigate and try the suspects. The National Assembly approved the new constitution, which Bhutto signed into effect on April 12. The constitution proclaimed an "Islamic Republic" in Pakistan with a parliamentary form of government. On August 10, Bhutto turned over the post of president to Fazal Ilahi Chaudhry, assuming the office of prime minister instead.
Bhutto officially recognized Bangladesh in July. Making an official visit to Bangladesh, Bhutto was criticized in Pakistan for laying flowers at a memorial for Bangladeshi "freedom fighters." Bhutto continued to develop closer relations with China as well as Saudi Arabia and other Muslim nations. Bhutto hosted the Second Islamic Summit of Muslim nations in Lahore between February 22 and February 24, in 1974.
However, Bhutto faced considerable pressure from Islamic religious leaders to declare the Ahmadiya communities as non-Muslims. Failing to restrain sectarian violence and rioting, Bhutto and the National Assembly amended the constitution to that effect. Bhutto intensified his nationalization program, extending government control over agricultural processing and consumer industries. Bhutto also, with advice from Admiral S.M. Ahsan, inaugurated Port Qasim, designed to expand harbor facilities near Karachi. However, the performance of the Pakistani economy declined amidst increasing bureaucracy and a decline in private sector confidence. In a surprise move in 1976, Bhutto appointed Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq to replace Gen. Tikka Khan, surpassing five generals senior to Zia. Some say that Zia did not deserve this pinnacle but Bhutto appointed him so as the two of them were Arain. He erred in judging a man not on his merit by dint of effort but merit by birth. As we see later he suffered for the undue support he showed to his Biratheri (Clan).
Bhutto was the founder of Pakistan's nuclear program. Its militarization was initiated in January 1972, and, in its initial years, was implemented by General Tikka Khan. The Karachi Nuclear Power Plant was inaugurated by Bhutto during his role as President of Pakistan at the end of 1972. Long before, as Minister for Fuel, Power and National Resources, he played a key role in setting up of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission. The Kahuta facility was also established by the Bhutto Administration.
In his book, If I am Assassinated (1979), written from his prison cell, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto revealed how Henry Kissinger had said to him in 1976: "We can destabilize your government and make a horrible example out of you". Kissinger had warned Zulfikar Ali Bhutto that if Pakistan continued with its nuclear program the Prime Minister would have to pay a heavy price, a statement that is interpreted to indicate an American hand in Mr. Bhutto's trial and execution.
Bhutto began facing considerable criticism and increasing unpopularity as his term progressed. He initially targeted the leader of the opposition Abdul Wali Khan and his opposition National Awami Party (NAP). Despite the ideological similarity of the two parties the clash of egos both inside and outside the National Assembly became increasingly fierce and started with the Federal government's decision to oust the NAP provincial government in Balochistan for alleged secessionist activities and culminating in the banning of the party and arrest of much of its leadership after the death of Hayat Khan Sherpao, a close lieutenant of Bhutto, in a bomb blast in the frontier town of Peshawar.
Dissidence also increased within the PPP and the murder of dissident leader Ahmed Raza Kasuri's father led to public outrage and intra-party hostility as Bhutto was accused of masterminding the crime. Powerful PPP leaders such as Ghulam Mustafa Khar openly condemned Bhutto and called for protests against his regime. The political crisis in the NWFP and Balochistan intensified as civil liberties remained suspended and an estimated 100,000 troops deployed there were accused of human rights abuses and killing large numbers of civilians.
On January 8, 1977, many opposition political parties grouped to form the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA). Bhutto called fresh elections and the PNA participated in those elections with full force and managed to contest the elections jointly even though they had grave differences in their opinions and views. The PNA faced defeat but did not accept the results, accusing their opponents of rigging the election. Provincial elections were held amidst low voter turnout and an opposition boycott, violent PNA declared the newly-elected Bhutto government as illegitimate. Muslim leaders such as Maulana Maududi called for the overthrow of Bhutto's regime. Intensifying political and civil disorder prompted Bhutto to hold talks with PNA leaders, which culminated in an agreement for the dissolution of the assemblies and fresh elections under a form of government of national unity. However, on July 5, 1977, Bhutto and members of his cabinet were arrested by troops under the order of General Zia.
General Zia announced that martial law had been imposed, the constitution suspended, and all assemblies dissolved. Zia also ordered the arrest of senior PPP and PNA leaders but promised elections in October. Bhutto was released on July 29, and was received by a large crowd of supporters in his hometown of Larkana. He immediately began touring across Pakistan, delivering speeches to large crowds and planning his political comeback. Bhutto was arrested again on September 3, before being released on bail on September 13. Fearing yet another arrest, Bhutto named his wife, Nusrat, president of the Pakistan People's Party. Bhutto was imprisoned on September 17, and a large number of PPP leaders and activists arrested and disqualified from contesting in elections.
Bhutto's trial began on October 24, on charges of "conspiracy to murder" Ahmed Raza Kasuri. On July 5, 1977, the military, led by General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, staged a coup. Zia relieved prime minister Bhutto of power, holding him in detention for a month. Zia pledged that new elections would be held in 90 days. He kept postponing the elections and publicly retorted during successive press conferences that if the elections were held in the presence of Bhutto, his party would not return to power again.
Upon his release, Bhutto traveled the country amid adulatory crowds of PPP supporters. He used to take the train traveling from the south to the north and on the way, would address public meetings at different stations. Several of these trains were late, some by days, in reaching their respective destinations and as a result, Bhutto was banned from traveling by train. The last visit he made to the city of Multan in the province of Punjab marked the turning point in Bhutto's political career and ultimately, his life. In spite of the administration's efforts to block the gathering, the crowd was so large that it became disorderly, providing an opportunity for the administration to declare that Bhutto had been taken into custody because the people were against him and it had become necessary to protect him from the masses for his own safety.
On September 3, the Army arrested Bhutto again on charges of authorizing the murder of a political opponent in March 1974. A 35-year-old politician, Ahmed Raza Kasuri, tried to run as a PPP candidate in elections, despite having previously left the party. The Pakistan Peoples Party rebuffed him. Three years earlier, Kasuri and his family had been ambushed, leaving Kasuri's father, Nawab Mohammad Ahmad Khan, dead. Kasuri claimed that he was the actual target, accusing Bhutto of being the mastermind. Kasuri later claimed that he had been the victim of 15 assassination attempts.
Bhutto was released 10 days after his arrest, after a judge, Justice KMA Samadani found the evidence "contradictory and incomplete." Justice Samadani had to pay for this; he was immediately removed from the court and placed at the disposal of the law ministry. Three days later, Zia arrested Bhutto again on the same charges, this time under "martial law." When the PPP organized demonstrations among Bhutto's supporters, Zia canceled the upcoming elections.
Bhutto was arraigned before the High Court of Lahore instead of in a lower court, thus automatically depriving him of one level of appeal. The judge who had granted him bail was removed. Five new judges were appointed, headed by Chief Justice of Lahore High Court Maulvi Mushtaq Ali, who denied bail. The trial would last five months, and Bhutto appeared in court on a dock specially built for the trial.
Proceedings began on October 24, 1977. Masood Mahmood, the director general of the Federal Security Force (since renamed the Federal Investigation Agency), testified against Bhutto. Mahmood had been arrested immediately after Zia's coup and had been imprisoned for two months prior to taking the stand. In his testimony, he claimed Bhutto had ordered Kasuri's assassination and that four members of the Federal Security Force had organized the ambush on Bhutto's orders.
The four alleged assassins were arrested and later confessed. They were brought into court as "co-accused" but one of them recanted his testimony, declaring that it had been extracted from him under torture. The following day, the witness was not present in court; the prosecution claimed that he had suddenly "fallen ill."
Bhutto's defense challenged the prosecution with proof from an army logbook the prosecution had submitted. It showed that the jeep allegedly driven during the attack on Kasuri was not even in Lahore at the time. The prosecution had the logbook disregarded as "incorrect." During the defense's cross-examination of witnesses, the bench often interrupted questioning. The 706-page official transcript contained none of the objections or inconsistencies in the evidence pointed out by the defense. Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who attended the trial, wrote:
"The prosecution's case was based entirely on several witnesses who were detained until they confessed, who changed and expanded their confessions and testimony with each reiteration, who contradicted themselves and each other, who, except for Masood Mahmood… were relating what others said, whose testimony led to four different theories of what happened, absolutely uncorroborated by an eyewitness, direct evidence, or physical evidence."
Clark pleaded with the Pakistan government to commute Bhutto's sentence. When Bhutto began his testimony on January 25, 1978, Chief Justice Maulvi Mustaq closed the courtroom to all observers. Bhutto responded by refusing to say any more. Bhutto demanded a retrial, accusing the Chief Justice of bias, after Mustaq allegedly insulted Bhutto's home province. The court refused his demand.
On March 18, 1978, Bhutto was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. Bhutto did not seek an appeal. While he was transferred to a cell in Rawalpindi central jail, his family appealed on his behalf, and a hearing before the Supreme Court commenced in May. Bhutto was given one week to prepare. Bhutto issued a thorough rejoinder to the charges, although Zia blocked its publication. Chief Justice S. Anwarul Haq adjourned the court until the end of July 1978, supposedly because five of the nine appeals court judges were willing to overrule the Lahore verdict. One of the pro-Bhutto judges was due to retire in July.
Chief Justice S. Anwarul Haq presided over the trial, despite being close to Zia, even serving as Acting President when Zia was out of the country. Bhutto's lawyers managed to secure Bhutto the right to conduct his own defense before the Supreme Court. On December 18, 1978, Bhutto made his appearance in public before a packed courtroom in Rawalpindi. By this time he had been on death row for nine months and had gone without fresh water for the previous 25 days. He addressed the court for four days, speaking without notes.
The appeal was completed on December 23, 1978. On February 6, 1979, the Supreme Court issued its verdict, "Guilty," a decision reached by a bare 4-to-3 majority. The Bhutto family had seven days in which to submit a review petition. The court granted a stay of execution while it studied the petition. By February 24, 1979, when the next court hearing began, appeals for clemency arrived from many heads of state. Zia said that the appeals amounted to "trade union activity" among politicians.
On March 24, 1979, the Supreme Court rejected the petition. Zia upheld the death sentence. Bhutto was hanged on April 4, 1979. He was buried in his ancestral village at Garhi Khuda Baksh.
In April 2008, a documentary film on the life of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, made by prominent journalist and media personality, Javed Malik was released in presence of Yousaf Raza Gillani the Prime Minister of Pakistan who was leading the Pakistan Peoples Party government which was founded by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto remains a controversial figure in Pakistan. While he was hailed for being a nationalist, Bhutto was roundly criticized for opportunism and intimidating his political opponents. He gave Pakistan its third constitution, oversaw Pakistan's nuclear program, held peace talks with neighbor India, and was more of an Internationalist with a secular image. Use of the description secularist, however, needs to be contextualized, as Benazir Bhutto, commenting that in Urdu "secular" translated as "atheist" points out. Rather, for Bhutto "secularism" meant that the will of the people, not "religious scholars" should "determine the laws of the land." His slogan was "Roti, Kapra aur Mahan," or "Bread, Clothing, and Shelter," a "call for economic and social development." During the 1970s, the Jamaati-i-Islam burned "effigies of him" regarding his policies as compromising what they saw as the state's Islamic bone fides. After the loss of East Pakistan, they accused him of plotting this "so that he could consolidate his power in West Pakistan." Benazir stressed that her and her father's policies were compatible with Islam, however, depending on how Islam is interpreted. Bhutto described his socialism as "Islamic." Government pamphlets drew parallels between his aim of breaking down barriers between different classes and clans by citing Sufi saints. Although he defended democracy, as President he sometimes used decrees, when frustrated that change took too long.
His socialist policies are blamed for slowing down Pakistan's economic progress owing to poor productivity and high costs. Bhutto is also criticized for human rights abuses perpetrated by the army in Balochistan. Many in Pakistan's military, notably the current president Gen. Pervez Musharaf and former martial law administrator of Balochistan General Rahimuddin Khan condemn Bhutto for having caused the crisis that led to the Bangladesh Liberation War. In spite of all the criticism—and subsequent media trials—Bhutto still remains the most popular leader of the country. Bhutto's action against the insurgency in Balochistan is blamed for causing widespread civil dissent and calls for secession. Bhutto introduced socialist economic reforms while working to prevent any further division of the country. He enacted tax relief for the country’s poorest agricultural workers and placed ceilings on land ownership. During his tenure there was a massive transfer of resources towards the dominant rural economy by setting higher prices for agricultural products. His family remained active in politics, with first his wife and then his daughter becoming leader of the PPP political party. His daughter, Benazir Bhutto, was twice prime minister of Pakistan, and was assassinated on December 27, 2007, while campaigning for upcoming elections. Benazir highlights his achievements in the fields of gender equality and minority rights:
He liberated women and minorities from their second class position. He appointed the first woman governor … opened the subordinate judiciary, the police force, civil administration, and diplomatic corps to women and set up a quota to ensure that minorities got jobs in key government positions…
His legacy has been associated with the democratic challenge to the tendency towards totalitarianism in Pakistani politics. Ramsey Clark was critical of U.S. policy in Pakistan, suggesting that Bhutto's overthrow could not have taken place without at least tacit U.S. support. Hussain Haqqani argues that while the Bhuttos' record (referring to father and daughter) is not perfect, it nonetheless represents legitimate democratic opposition to the "civil-military oligarchy that thinks it has a God-given right to rule Pakistan without bothering to consult the will of the people." He suggest that, "The focus on the politicians' real or perceived flaws takes attention away from the evils of the ruling oligarchy." "Some view the Bhutto legacy," he continues, "as a thorn in Pakistan's history. But to the family's supporters, the Bhutto name represents a wealthy family that spoke up for redistribution of wealth in an elitist state during the late 1960s, when much of Pakistan's economic growth went to just 22 major families." Commenting on the oft-repeated criticism that the Bhutto family have become a "political dynasty," he distinguished between "dynastic politics and the politics of family legacy," suggesting that "the removal of each Bhutto government by military or palace coup has only added to the aura of their struggle and sacrifice" which is why the PPP turns to members of the family for leadership, thus "Any other leader could have been a brilliant administrator or articulate politician, but none commands the same popularity and recognition as the family members of a martyr."
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