In Pakistan's history after the death of the Quaid-e-Azam,
the personal proclivities of individuals in positions of power within the State
structure found increasingly free play, as the institutional structure weakened.
In turn individual leaders unrestricted by institutional accountability were able
to further undermine the state institutions themselves. This dialectic between
individuals and institutions was driven more by the greed for personal power than
the aspiration for public service.
Mr. Bhutto and the
Mr. Bhutto's support came not only from workers and
peasants but also from elements of the urban middle classes seeking reform. Conservative
landlords also gravitated to him, because of their antagonism to an industrial
elite that was appropriating a growing share of the economic resources.
The radical stratum of the middle class was dominant in the Pakistan People's
Party until 1972. This was evident from the manifesto which was anti-feudal and
against monopoly capitalists. The same stratum played a key role in devising a
propaganda campaign that aimed to present the manifesto as "revolutionary",
thereby mobilizing the support of the workers and peasants. By 1972 Mr. Bhutto
had consolidated his power and began to shift the balance of social forces within
the PPP in favour of the landlord groups. This shift was rooted in the imperatives
of mobilizing popular forces on the one hand and the practice of politics within
the traditional power structure on the other. In the pre-election period, the
dominance of the urban middle class and its radical rhetoric was necessary if
the PPP was to get a mass base for its election victory. After the election, Bhutto's
own proclivity to constrain demands for radical change within the existing power
structure, combined with the dominance of the landed elite within the party, led
him to purge the radical middle class leaders from the Party. Consequently there
was an institutional rupture between the PPP and its mass base amongst the workers
and peasants. This set the stage for economic measures that were socialist in
form, while actually serving to strengthen the landed elite and widening the base
for state patronage.
Patronage, Power and the Economy
of the most important initiatives of the Bhutto regime was the nationalization
in 1972 of 43 large industrial units in the capital and intermediate goods sectors
such as cement, fertilizers, oil refining, engineering and chemicals. Just three
years later the government nationalized the cooking oil industry and then flour
milling, cotton ginning and rice husking mills.
the first set of nationalizations impacted the "monopoly capitalists",
the second set of nationalizations in 1976 by contrast hit the medium and small
sized entrepreneurs. Therefore nationalization in the Bhutto regime cannot be
seen in terms of state intervention for greater equity. Rather the rapid increase
in the size of the public sector widened the resource base of the regime for the
practice of the traditional form of power: State patronage. Those individuals
and political factions which had political access to the resources of the nationalized
sector, were able to enrich themselves through contracts, lucrative employment
opportunities or outright misappropriation of funds.
the Bhutto period while private sector investment as a percentage of GDP declined
sharply, public sector investment increased even more sharply, so that total investment
as a percentage of GDP increased. Yet overall GDP growth declined from 6.3% in
the period 1960-72 to 5% during the period 1973-77. This suggests a decline in
the productivity of overall investment during the Bhutto period. The reason was
that a large proportion of public sector investment was going into unproductive
spheres. Thus defence and public administration were growing at 11.4% per annum
being the fastest growing sectors of the economy, while the commodity producing
sector was growing at only 2.2% during this period. Even in this sector the lion's
share of public investment went into the Steel Mill Project using a Soviet design,
which was both capital intensive and technologically inefficient. Consequently
the tendency for the declining productivity of overall investment was exacerbated.
The problem of the government's dependence on financial
borrowing as we have indicated, started in the Ayub period, when the obligation
of maintaining a large military and bureaucratic apparatus combined with the imperatives
of providing huge subsidies to both agriculture and industry. In the Z.A. Bhutto
period, budget deficits widened further as expenditures on defence and administration
increased sharply. Higher defence expenditures were part of Bhutto's policy of
refurbishing the defence establishment in the hope of winning it over after his
hand picked appointment of General Zia ul Haq as the Army Chief. Large expenditures
on government administration arose mainly out of Bhutto's decision to build new
para military institutions such as the Federal Security Force which he expected
to be personally loyal to him. He also enlarged and re-structured the bureaucracy
through the policy of 'lateral entry' which enabled loyalists outside the civil
services cadre to be appointed at the upper and middle echelons. Bhutto's attempt
to build a demesne of patronage within the state apparatus had huge financial
consequences. For example, defence expenditure as a percentage of GDP increased
from 2.7% in 1965 to 6.7% in 1974-75. Similarly general administration as a percentage
of GDP increased from 1.1% in 1964-65 to as much as 1.8% in 1974-75.
Apart from the increased expenditures on defence and administration,
the budget was additionally burdened by the losses of the public sector industries.
The deficits in these industries were generated by their poor performance on the
one hand and the pricing policy on the other. Nationalized units under official
pressure to suppress price increases inspite of rising costs, were recovering
not much more than their operating costs. Consequently, internally generated funds
could finance only 7% of the investment undertaken, thereby necessitating heavy
borrowing from the government.
The Dialectic of
Power: Military Vs Politicians
An abiding feature
of Pakistan's power structure, has been a relentless contention for a share of
the power cake between the military on the one hand and civilian politicians on
the other. The space won by each protagonist has depended on the misgovernance
and the economic and political crisis engendered by the preceding regime.
When Mr. Bhutto came into power in 1973, he had enormous
political space, with the military having been humbled by the East Pakistan disaster.
Yet this political space was gradually constricted, as Mr. Bhutto restructured
institutions of the state and civil society to create a personalized demesne of
feudal power that induced popular resentment and economic decline. Tragically
the apparently boundless political space with which Mr. Bhutto began his regime,
gradually constricted until it became a hangman's noose.
style of governance was a combination of some of the cultural attributes of populism,
liberal democracy and feudal despotism. He had reached out to the people like
a messiah of the poor racked by an inner pain. His ability to communicate to the
people, his emotional empathy with their misery as well as their great potential,
enabled him to achieve a special chemistry with the downtrodden. He had a powerful
rhetoric whose images were drawn from the contemporary nationalist struggles in
the Third World, the ideology of liberal democracy, Socialism and the folklore
of the Indus Valley Civilization. Some of the institutions whose formal structure
he attempted to construct (like the Constitution of 1973, a number of universities,
autonomous industrial corporations and progressive labour laws) were all indicative
of his modernist and liberal democratic dimension. Yet, at the same time, a despotic
streak was manifested in his restructuring of some institutions like the civil
services and the paramilitary Federal Security Force in an attempt at creating
within them, a personalized chain of command based on fear of and loyalty to him.
his charismatic personality and populist rhetoric, Mr. Bhutto had in his early
years galvanized mass consciousness and unleashed powerful popular forces. His
failure to institutionalize these essentially spontaneous forces within a grass
roots party and the associated failure to subordinate the military and bureaucratic
elites to the political system, led to his tragic downfall. Yet, the style and
content of Mr. Bhutto's political message left a lasting legacy in popular consciousness:
That the poor have the right and the ability to be freed of the shackles of oppression;
that they too can dream of reaching for the citadels of power.