Pakistan

5th July 1977: Doomsday for democracy in Pakistan

Thirty eight years have passed since former Army Chief General Zia-ul-Haq ousted a democratically elected government of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who is considered one of Pakistan’s most able politician – while critics disagree to this notion.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto

Iranian Publication Kayhan International once stated that General Zia-ul-Haq said, “What is the Constitution? It is a booklet with ten or twelve pages. I can tear them up and say that from tomorrow, we shall live under a different system. Is there anybody to stop me? Today the people will follow wherever I lead. All the politicians, including the once mighty Mr Bhutto, will follow me with their tails wagging.”

General Zia-ul-Haq

On July 5, 1977, General Zia-ul-Haq announced that martial law had been imposed and the national along with provincial assemblies have been dissolved . He had also pledged to hold elections withing 90 days but didn’t happen.


Many senior PPP leaders including its founder was also arrested during Zia’s regime.

However, Bhutto was released on 29 July and immediately started tours across the country, delivering anti-Martial Law speeches but was arrested again on the third of September and was charged for the murder of Nawab Mohammed Ahmed Qasuri , the father of lawyer Ahmad Raza Kasuri which took place on 11 November 1974.

Ahmad Raza Kasuri

Benazir Bhutto, Zulfikar’s daughter, in her autobiography ‘Daughter of the East’ writes, “The case against my father rested primarily on the confession of Masood Mahmood, the Director General of the Federal Security Force. Masood Mahmood was one of the public servants who was arrested soon after the coup and who we had been told was tortured to give false evidence against my father. After almost two months of detention by the military, Masood Mahmood had decided to become an ‘approver’, a witness who claims to be an accomplice in a crime and is pardoned on the promise that he will tell the ‘truth’ about the other participants. Now Masood Mahmood was claiming that my father ordered him to murder the politician Kasuri… There were no eye-witnesses to the attack.” So much so that the “FSF guns, which the ‘confessing accused’ claimed to have used in the murder attempt did not match the empty cartridges found at the scene”

Expecting a fair trial in the murder case was very much unlikely and the whole nation witnessed how the judicial process of the country was blatantly transgressed impartiality was trampled upon.

Stanley Wolpert wrote, “The acting Chief Justice Maulvi Mushtaq never so much as attempted to suppress or hide his personal animus. It never occurred to him that he should refuse himself from the trial.”

Benazir in her autobiography also wrote, “The witnesses were briefed on what they should say” and favorable answers were deliberately whittled down. “At the end of the trial, not one of the objections raised or the contradictions in the evidence pointed out by the defense appeared in the record 706 pages of testimony”.

As expected and feared, Maulvi Mushtaq and his full bench found Zulfikar Ali Bhutto guilty sentenced him to death on March 18, 1978.

Moreover, Zia’s regime proved to be one of the blackest in Pakistan’s history as it promoted an extreme viewpoint of Islam, women rights were trampled and the terrorist institution Taliban was formed during Afghan War. The effects of Zia’s steps are still being felt in the country.

We can say that the democratic process in the country ended on 5th July or not, but it marked the beginning of an end to a democratic and progressive Pakistan.

#5thJulyBlackDay trends on Twitter

Users of social media website Twitter took to the social media website to voice out their opinions on the 5th of July.

Twitter users in Pakistan posted tweets and graphics regarding Zia’s 11 year martial law regime, which is considered Pakistan’s worst 11 years.

Rai M. Azlan stated that Pakistan would have been different if this day hadn’t took place while Junaid Qaisar stated that Pakistan has still not recovered from the crisis it was put in by the former military chief.

Javed Nayab Leghari stated the people came out on the streets against Zia as a mass agitation movement started.

Murtaza Solangi highlighted the backgrounds of Zia’s announcement of his martial law.

Aryba Jalbani posted a picture of women protesting against Zia’s rule

Abid Hussain Qureshi posted that Pakistan’s prosperity is dependant on democracy

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