Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
Following Pakistan’s defeat to India in the 1971 war, which led to creating of a new nation-state — Bangladesh, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto took over the role of President. After the Constitution was passed under a special arrangement in 1973, he resigned from the post and became the Prime Minister of Pakistan.
On the night of July 4, 1977, General Zia-ul-Haq orchestrated Operation Fairplay and deposed Bhutto from power. The Pakistani General, on that fateful night, ordered the arrest of Bhutto, his Ministers and other leaders of both the Pakistan People’s Party and the Pakistan National Alliance.
In a nationally televised address, General Zia announced that the National Assembly and all provincial assemblies were dissolved and that the Constitution of Pakistan was suspended. Bhutto was subsequently executed, in a judicial assassination, on the orders of the military junta. Zia-ul-Haq remained in power for 11 years as a dictator. He later died in a plane crash.
After General Zia-ul-Haq died in a plane crash in 1988, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s daughter Benazir became the Prime Minister of Pakistan in 1988. Her elevation made her not only the first female Prime Minister of Pakistan but also the head of its first civilian Government since the dissolution of her father’s Government in 1977.
Her rule didn’t last long, as the then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan dismissed her Government on corruption and other misconduct charges and called for new elections. In 1993, she once again took the reins of the country. However, despite making headway in Pakistan’s relations abroad, attracting foreign investment in the country, and implementing social programmes, Bhutto continued to face internal troubles. Those came to a head in November 1996 when then-President Farooq Leghari dismissed her Government. She was also assassinated merely after months of assuming control.
Nawaz Sharif is no stranger to being deposed from his seat of power. He has been Pakistan’s Prime Minister on three occasions and has been toppled twice from the position.
The first time occurred after he was elected as Prime Minister in 1990 following Benazir Bhutto’s removal. In 1993, Sharif too was dismissed on grounds similar to those for which Bhutto had been ushered out of office. The Supreme Court reinstated him but then resigned under pressure.
Sharif was once again voted to power in 1997. Soon after taking over for the second time, he forced the elimination of the constitutional provision that had enabled his previous dismissal from office. His second term wasn’t without troubles; the country was facing near bankruptcy, and he found himself in conflict with his new Army commander, General Pervez Musharraf.
On October 12, 1999, Pervez Musharraf, the country’s then-Army chief, overthrew Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s administration and took over the reins of power.
Nawaz Sharif romped to power for the third time in the 2013 elections. But fate played a cruel game with Sharif, and he was disqualified in his last year due to his involvement in the Panama papers offshore accounts case. He stepped down on July 28, 2018.
In the ensuing elections, Imran Khan, the leader of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf, won and became the Prime Minister. His term, too has been full of allegations of corruption, with the Opposition moving a no-confidence motion seeking his ouster, primarily on accusations of economic mismanagement.
Imran Khan delivered his own googly when he called for snap elections. In a short address to the nation, Imran Khan asked the people of Pakistan to “Get ready for elections”. The no-trust motion against him was also dismissed by the Deputy Speaker, who termed it against the Constitution and rules of Pakistan.
Imran Khan recently disclosed that the country’s ‘establishment’ (army) gave him 3 options to end the ongoing political turmoil: Face the no-confidence motion in Parliament; Hold fresh elections; Step down from PM’s post. This explicitly displays the vice-like grip of the Army in the political system of Pakistan.