Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)
Conceived as a populist left-wing political party to challenge the Ayub Khan dictatorship (1958-69), the PPP soon grew into becoming an inclusive platform for progressives of all shapes and sizes, hue and colour.By the time it went into the 1970 general election, the party had developed four internal lobbies. The most prominent (at the time) was its radical left-wing led by Marxist and socialist theorists and Maoist radicals. The other powerful lobby in the party was led by ‘Islamic Socialists’ who had fused Arab Socialism and Marxism with certain egalitarian notions of the Qu’ran(2) .
The third intra-party faction consisted of ‘progressive’ members of the landed elite, and the fourth, the smallest faction, consisted of moderate religionists.
The party contested the 1970 election on a socialist manifesto and managed to sweep the National and Provincial election in the Sindh and Punjab provinces (in West Pakistan).
The breakaway and a loss to India in the 1971 Indo-Pak war forced a group of military officers to dismiss General Yahya Khan (who had replaced Ayub in 1969) and invite Bhutto to form the government(3).
The party’s left-wing dominated the proceedings between 1972 and 1974, but its influence began to erode after some of its members were dismissed from the party on ‘disciplinary grounds.’
From 1974 onwards, the policy-making largely fell into the lap of the PPP’s conservative wing that gradually began to shift the party’s ideological orientation.
By 1976 the party’s left-wing had all but withered away and in its manifesto for the 1977 election, the PPP downplayed the word socialism(4) and brought in an increasing number of industrialists and members of the landed elite into the party’s fold.
The party swept the 1977 election. But the right-wing alliance of nine anti-PPP parties, the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA), refused to accept the results and accused the regime of rigging the polls.
The PNA unleashed a violent protest movement in the urban centres of the country demanding the resignation of the government and the imposition of ‘Nizam-e-Mustapha’ (Sharia).
Amidst the turmoil, General Ziaul Haq removed Bhutto and imposed the country’s third Martial Law (July 1977).
Bhutto was executed through a sham trial in 1979. During the military regime, the PPP’s radical left-wing revived itself with the support and urging of Bhutto’s widow, Begum Nusrat Bhutto(5).
In 1981 the PPP formed a 10-party anti-Zia alliance, the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD), and was in the forefront of all the major protest movements that took place against the Zia dictatorship.
Hundreds of party workers were arrested, flogged, tortured or simply vanished.