Electioneering in Pakistan has revived following President Yahya Khan's decision to go ahead with General Elections for a National Assembly on December 7th.
Electioneering in Pakistan has revived following President Yahya Khan's decision to go ahead with General Elections for a National Assembly on December 7th. despite the shattering cyclone and tidal wave disaster in the Ganges on November 13th.
In the election Pakistanis will choose 300 delegates. And General Yahya Khan, who seized power in March 1969, is giving them 120 days to write a democratic Constitution.
Two leading election personalities, from East and West Pakistan respectively, are Sheikh Mujibar Rahman, leader of the nationalist Awami League Party, and former Foreign Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of the left-wing People's Party.
Mr. Bhutto is the most widely-known internationally of the two men, but Sheikh Mujibar is the man most widely tipped as the next Prime Minister.
Mr. Bhutto's People's Party is setting the pace in the Western sector with candidates in 119 of the 138 seats. It is not contesting the East.
He was born at Larkana, Sind, in what is now Pakistan, in 1928, the son of Sir Shah Nawaz Khan and Lady Khurshid Bhutto. He was educated at the University of California, and at Christ Church, Oxford University. He came into the Government in 1958 as Minister of Commerce under President Ayub Khan, and had a number of portfolios in the next few years.
He was Foreign Minister from 1963 to 1966, when he left the Cabinet ostensibly on grounds of ill-health, although he disagreed strongly with President Ayub Khan's conciliatory policy with Indian over Kashmir at the time.
He was notable for the extreme stand he took on the Kashmir issue, making several bitter and lengthy speeches in the United Nations Security Council.
He was also notable for developing Pakistan's links with both the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China, becoming regarded as especially pro-Chinese.
In December 1967 he launched the Pakistan People's Party, saying "Islam is our faith, democracy is our policy, and we believe in the supremacy of the people". He talked of bringing "Islamic Socialism" to Pakistan.
After the President allowed political activity in the country once again in January, to allow a run-up to the General elections, Mr. Bhutto was one of the first into the fray, although he had suffered detention for his beliefs in the last months of the Ayub Khan regime.
He admits, however, that he has little chance of sweeping the polls to form a National Government. He expects to get about 55 seats.
Sheikh Mujibar Rahman, on the other hand, confidently expects that his Awami League Party will win 157 of the 162 seats for eastern Pakistan. This includes the nine seats in the disaster area where polling has ben postponed for a few weeks. The Awami League is expected to be the biggest single party in the new National Assembly and might even have an overall majority. If Sheikh Mujibar forms the next Pakistan Government, there are likely to be fundamental changes in policy. Trade with India, and particularly with West Bengal, is likely to be resumed. Defence commitments may shift away from Kashmir, and defence spending, at present 70% of the budget, may be reduced. Chinese influence would be balanced by new contacts with India.
Since President Ayub Khan's regime was overthrown last year, the balance of power in Pakistan has shifted from the Punjab to Bengal. The most likely outcome of Pakistan's first election for twelve years is an Awami League Government in Islamabad.
SYNOPSIS: The decision to go ahead with general elections in Pakistan despite the recent flood disasters has borough a revival of electioneering throughout the country.
In the west Zulikfar Ali Bhutto is rallying his Pakistan People's Party. His following comes mainly from his own stature in Pakistan politics.
Up to 1965 Bhutto was his country's Foreign Minister. He negotiated his country's agreements with its allies - including the trade pact with the Soviet Union which he signed in Moscow.
At the United Nations he spoke for Pakistan in the country's dispute with India over Kashmir and other territories.
Two years ago Bhutto was imprisoned under the Ayub Khan regime and spent three months in jail in Lahore. When he was released in February of last year, crowds followed him in procession through the streets of his home town of Lakarna. Now he leads the party dedicated to bringing Islamic socialism to Pakistan.
Heading the other main party in Pakistan, the Awami League, is Sheikh Mujibar Rahman. He expects to win 157 seats in East Bengal and may head the next Government.
His platform is autonomy for East Pakistan.