Sharjeel Inam Memon

Minister for Information, Excise, Taxation and Narcotics Control, Transport, Mass Transit Government of Sindh

July 5th is the darkest day in the history of Pakistan. Forty-five years ago, on July 5, 1979, the military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq became an instrument in a global conspiracy against Pakistan, overthrowing the elected democratic government of Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. He usurped power, imposed martial law, and suspended Pakistan’s first consensual constitution. This unconstitutional action by General Zia-ul-Haq brought Pakistan to a state of crisis and destruction from which it has not yet been able to recover.

Not only that, but the imposition of martial law in Pakistan caused significant damage to non-aligned movements in third world countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America, including the Islamic world, as well as to movements for national autonomy and democracy, which remains unresolved to this day. July 5, 1979, is a terrible day in modern history when the dream of building a new world was shattered.

A world in which the poor and underdeveloped countries of the third world could gain freedom from global imperialist oppression and build democratic, prosperous, and just societies with national autonomy. In the context of the conditions that African countries, including Pakistan, are suffering today, there is a greater need than ever to realize the disastrous effects of July 5, 1979.

The judicial assassination of Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was part of the global conspiracy on July 5, 1979. He not only rebuilt a defeated and devastated Pakistan but also put it on the path of national autonomy, economic self-reliance, democracy, and development. To achieve this, he strengthened the national autonomy and democracy movements in the third world, making them his power base. He became the focus of the hopes and aspirations of the people in the third world.

This was not accepted by the world’s imperialist powers. What Shaheed Bhutto did for Pakistan before July 5, 1979, and the destruction he predicted afterward, is best described in his own words.

Sitting in the death cell of the District Jail in Rawalpindi, he wrote a letter to his daughter, Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, on the occasion of her birthday on June 21, 1978. This letter was published in the book titled “My Dearest Daughter.” In this letter, Shaheed Bhutto describes how the rulers of Pakistan summoned him from abroad and entrusted him with the responsibility of saving the country.

He writes, “I was in the United Nations at that time and was trying my best to solve an impossible situation. When General Yahya Khan surveyed the devastation and became fully convinced of defeat and the possibility that nothing could be recovered, and that what little was left was in danger, they sent a special plane to bring me back to Pakistan.”

Yahya Khan’s eyes were red and he was very upset when, on December 20, 1971, at 10:30 in the morning, he told me that he had failed miserably and that I should take charge of a defeated Pakistan because only I had the ability to save the rest of the country. I took the oath as the President of Pakistan at noon under these adverse circumstances. ”

Shaheed Bhutto tells his daughter in the same letter, “After assuming this responsibility for a defeated and devastated Pakistan, I made progress on all fronts with great activity.” Among the first tasks I focused on was the constitution-making work, ensuring that the constitution could be adopted through democratic consensus, particularly addressing the issue of provincial autonomy. Additionally, I initiated economic reforms and implemented important social and economic measures.

“I solved the problem of Bangladesh by recognizing its independence. I signed the Shimla Agreement with India, which had no secret clauses, and successfully negotiated the return of over 5,000 square miles of territory to Pakistan in Sindh and Punjab. I repatriated 90,000 prisoners of war with honor and without subjecting them to trials. I hosted the Islamic Summit Conference in Lahore, modernized Pakistan’s armed forces, and revitalized the nation. These achievements resonated with the voices of people across Asia, Latin America, and Africa, alongside those of Pakistan. Reflecting on these accomplishments, I felt such a wave of joy and happiness that tears came to my eyes.”

Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto writes in the same letter about the motives behind the events of July 5, 1979 in Pakistan and their potentially dangerous effects. He mentions that these events were not about just seizing power, but rather about amending agreements related to nuclear reprocessing plants, protecting foreign interests in mining copper, gold, and other minerals, ensuring Pakistan’s continued alignment with “CENTO” and “SEATO,” and yielding to territorial claims of powerful nations to safeguard global interests. He critiques this shift towards prioritizing Gross National Product (GNP) over national sovereignty and rights.

Instead of supporting freedom movements, they became preoccupied with inflation rates. He points out the contradictions he witnessed: when such leaders depart from the political scene, they leave behind increased corruption, bribery, instability, division, weakened economies, chaos, and constitutional vacuums.

Shaheed Bhutto was not only saddened by what happened to him personally but also deeply concerned about the disastrous effects on Pakistan. In the same letter, he states, “While there may be outrage and personal anger over what these barbarians have done to me, I am more saddened by the greater damage they have caused to national interests.” Despite the personal bitterness, his sense of impersonal pain outweighs his personal feelings.

From these words of Shaheed Bhutto, it is clear that he believed the main reason for the decline Pakistan has suffered until today is July 5, 1979. He compared the situation to regressing to the era of 1947, emphasizing that nations either prosper or undergo explosive and quiet decline, rather than reversing course entirely.


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