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History, The Bhutto Government

Simla Agreement, provincial elections, basic industries, owned banks, capitalist class

Under Bhutto’s leadership Pakistan began to rearrange its national life. Bhutto nationalized the basic industries, insurance companies, domestically owned banks, and schools and colleges. He also instituted land reforms that benefited tenants and middle-class farmers. He removed the armed forces from the process of decision making, but to placate the generals he allocated about 6 percent of the gross national product to defense. In July 1972 Bhutto negotiated the Simla Agreement, which confirmed a line of control dividing Kashmir and prompted the withdrawal of Indian troops from Pakistani territory.

In April 1972 Bhutto lifted martial law and convened the National Assembly, which consisted of members elected from West Pakistan in 1970. After much political debate, the legislature drafted the country’s third constitution, which was promulgated on August 14, 1973. It changed the National Assembly into a two-chamber legislature, with a Senate as the upper house and a National Assembly as the lower house. It designated the prime minister as the most powerful government official, but it also set up a formal parliamentary system in which the executive was responsible to the legislature. Bhutto became prime minister, and Fazal Elahi Chaudry replaced him as president.

Although discontented, the military grudgingly accepted the supremacy of the civilian leadership. Bhutto embarked on ambitious nationalization programs and land reforms, which he called “Islamic socialism.” His reforms achieved some success but earned him the enmity of the entrepreneurial and capitalist class. In addition, religious leaders considered them to be un-Islamic. Unable to deal constructively with the opposition, he became heavy-handed in his rule. In the general elections of 1977, nine opposition parties united in the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) to run against Bhutto’s PPP. Losing in three of the four provinces, the PNA alleged that Bhutto had rigged the vote. The PNA boycotted the provincial elections a few days later and organized demonstrations throughout the country that lasted for six weeks.

Article key phrases:

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