Here’s a history of the origins of Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party from the Labor Party of Pakistan.
The LPP is a Trotskyist organisation, so take into account their bias against the mainstream communists working through the PPP.
The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was formed on September 1, 1967. Its program was radical socialist and a communist leader, J-A Rahim, had written its basic manifesto. Meantime, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto appeared in political arena as a challenge to the Ayub dictatorship. The communists (both Stalinists and Maoists) were supporting the Ayub dictatorship while Bhutto was representing the masses’ feelings.
Bhutto, himself a feudal lord from Sindh, had been a foreign minister in the Ayub Cabinet. Being an intelligent bourgeois politician, he raised the slogan of socialism and joined hands with some leftists to form the PPP. When the Ayub dictatorship started targeting Bhutto, he became a symbol of resistance,
strengthening his popularity and his grip on the party. In fact, the PPP’s popularity was a sequel to 1968-69 revolutionary movements.
Even prior to the 1970s first ever-general election on adult franchise-basis, the masses had joined this party because of its socialist program. The Labour leaders who became powerful and strong because of the 1968’s movement joined this party.
The Pakistani left as usual failed to understand the unfolding events. They found a radical bourgeois in Bhutto and started supporting Bhutto. Instead of organizing and launching class struggle, the left developed working class’ illusions in Bhutto and the PPP. They reconciled with feudals and capitalists in the PPP and even presented them as leaders. Hence the PPP became a working-class party with feudals as its leaders who used socialist sloganeering. Instead of organizing the PPP on a radical socialist program, it was organized on bourgeois democratic basis, which led to a right wing turn by the party. It was again their ideology that stopped left organizing the PPP on revolutionary basis. The left, again, was working in Pakistan in line with the foreign policy of Moscow and Beijing.
When the PPP came to power in 1972, many communists joined the government.However, the PPP did not bring about any fundamental change, save some radical reforms. This disillusioned the working class. The proletariat took to the streets during the period of May-Sept 1972. The movement was especially strong in Karachi. The government decided to crush the movement. A demonstration of workers was fired on in Landhi, Karachi leaving dozens dead. This angered the communists who had joined this government. Some of them resigned in protest. Perhaps they had forgotten the fact that capitalist governments, no matter how at times radical they may appear, always repress the proletariat.
Disillusioned by Bhutto and the PPP, the left went looking for other more progressive bourgeois figures, leaving the working class, having illusions in PPP, at the mercy of its feudal and capitalist leaders.
The left failed to offer any alternative during this period. Hence when disillusionment grew, it was right wing religious fanatics and reactionary forces that became an alternative to the PPP. In 1977, a movement began against the government spurred by economic conditions and US intervention. he left did not understand the nature of the movement nor did it analyze the nature of the movement’s leadership.
The left termed it a movement for democratic liberties and urged the working class to join it. In a statement from Hyderabad Jail on April 12, 1977 Miraj Mohammad Khan, Sher Mohammad Marri and Ata Ullah Mengal said: “We appeal to the workers, peasants, students, intellectuals and toiling masses to join the ongoing peoples movement which is a movement of democratic liberties. We believe this movement will rid our motherland of the dictatorship.”
They hoped to rid ‘our motherland’ of ‘dictatorship‘ through religious fundamentalists. Labelling the Bhutto regime as a dictatorship was incorrect, both socially and politically. And the hope of democracy from religious fanatics backed by the USA – was irrational.
Their illogical analysis and hopes were soon dashed to ground when in 1977 a real military dictatorship ‘rid’ the motherland of Bhutto’s ‘dictatorship‘.It was the left that suffered worst of all during this military regime led by General Zia Ul Haq.