Tariq Ali' s " The Leopard and the Fox"-a Pakistani Tragedy
Tariq Ali’s Book “The Leopard and the Fox- a Pakistani Tragedy” sheds light on role of Thatcher Government and BBC in extending a lifeline to Brutal Dictator General Zia Ul Haq, Is the Blair Government following the same Path of Destruction?
Click on the multimedia link to see the interview
I was born in the year when Popular leader prime minister Zulfikar Bhutto was hanged by military dictator Zia in a military Coup, same year Russian forces occupied Afghanistan, later in life these two events helped explain a lot of politics for me, like most of Pakistanis born in dictatorship my childhood was being fearful of zia and yet fascinated by his proclamations of his brand of Islamisation, which turned out to be nightmarish for large population of poor masses (hangings, lynching and stoning to death), but the islamisation did not effect the military and land lord elite of country.
Pakistan, the country of many contrasts, is a multiethnic multicultural country, different provinces speaking different languages and cultures and lifestyles from tribal to feudal from urban ghettos to posh modern localities.
Up to 1960s Bengalis were the majority population with east Bengal called the eastern Pakistan, Most of the political parties in East were left leaning like NAP- whose leader was a Muslim cleric but also a life long socialist, political parties like Muslim league of west (current) Pakistan were pro American depending heavily on their feudal structure and American assistance for their power, this authoritarian rule and military operation resulted in independence of Bangladesh.
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto belonged to feudal sindhi family, whose father was the prime minister of princely state of Jonagarh in undivided British India, a proverbial silver spoon upbringing and education at Eton ,Oxford and Berkeley , on his return became the youngest and most talented federal minister under Field Marshal Ayub Khan’s military regime, but he challenged the dictator, resigned and led a popular uprising against military dictatorship, military misadventure followed and Pakistan lost its eastern wing to Indian aggression(read war of independence ) which became independent country Bangladesh.
Like every surrender army handed over the power of the remaining West Pakistan to the man of the moment (with90% votes) Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Bhutto with his slogan “Islam is our religion and Socialism is our economy” started rebuilding Pakistan, Land reforms; labour reforms education reforms were initiated. Bhutto signed peace treaty with India and Bangladesh and freed 95 thousand Pakistani Prisoners of war from Indian jails.
Most significantly he coined the idea of Muslim Socialism and in 1974 hosted a grand summit of Islamic countries with economic and political ties among the Islamic countries improving and gulf countries using oil embargo as a political tool, alarm bells started ringing in Washington DC.
Bhutto signed economic treaties with Soviet Union and China for infrastructural projects like Steel Mills, Heavy Mechanical Complex and Karakorum high way. But Bhutto’s biggest crime in American eyes was “Islamic Bomb” the desire to acquire nuclear technology by a Muslim country. In 1976 after French backed out of reprocessing plant for power generation. Henry Kissinger then American secretary of state threaten Bhutto that “we will make an example for Muslim leaders so that nobody dare to disobey us”
1970s under the liberal prime minister zulfiqar ali Bhutto were also a time of celebrating the cultural diversity of remaining Pakistani tribes languages and cultures with song dance and a thriving film industry. by the end of his term in office social, religious conservatives were up in arms against his policies, they wanted to bring Islamic khalafa system of governance, the unrest helped General Zia ul Haq and army seize power and try and kill elected prime minister in a trail smelling of vendetta , Dictator Zia needed a power base or political constituency, he found willing partners in religious clerics, harsh religious interpretation doctrines and punishments were forced in constitution through presidential power of the military ruler.
Russian invasion of Afghanistan
Bhutto was overthrown by a military dictator with help and funds from CIA in1977, a case was fabricated against him and was hanged on 4 April 1979.
The War in Afghanistan saw the flow of dollars to jehadis and chief among them was general zia ul haq who overthrew Bhutto, his draconian “islamisation” was the model that Taliban later followed in Afghanistan. Sectarian killings, Drugs, Kalashnikovs and private militias became law of the land
who can forget those dark days when secret police use to visit people and confiscate books on politics and history of Pakistan. these books were publically burnt as being rebellious to the government(dictatorship) of Pakistan. Mention of Bhutto’s name was enough to land someone in jail.I was a 5- 6 yr old then, i still remember nightmares of police and CID knocking at our doors at night or early dawn, because my father was a trade union leader demanding rights for workers. who can forget colony textile mills in multan where police and army fired on peaceful striking workers and killed dozens demanding their rights, the workers were enclosed within factory walls and police snipers were standing on roof tops just like the 1919 jallian wallah bagh massacre the only difference is that general Dyer was imperialist Englishman, while general Zia and his troops killed their fellow pakistani
Journalists stopped writing because newspapers would not publish what they wanted to say. Now as I have grown older, I have learnt about the demonstrations we participated in and the brutalities that came with that participation.
Many people left for England (because of various reasons) at that time and all books were hidden in attics, if there was a dark period in Pakistan history of brain drain and erosion of knowledge it was Zia’s regime.
US and British Administrations Played their part in Brutalisation of Pakistan, Talibanisation that we see today in large parts of the country and Afghanistan