PAKISTAN PEOPLE'S PARTY NOT TO ATTEND NATIONAL
ASSEMBLY SESSION IF AWAMI LEAGUE NOT FLEXIBLE­
WANTS WANTS ADJUSTMENTS IN SIX-POINTS TWO-SUBJECT CENTRE
NOT ACCEPTABLE


MR. Z. A. BHUTTO'S DECLARATION IN PESHAWAR
On February 15, 1971

 

Mr. Z. A. Bhutto, Chairman of Pakistan People's Party, today declared that his party will not attend the National Assembly Session starting on March 3 at Dacca unless it was made clear to him and his partymen that there would be some amount -of reciprocity from the majority party, either publicly or privately.

 

Addressing a crowded Press Conference he did not term his decision as boycott of the Assembly but said: " We can't go there only to endorse the constitution already prepared by a party and to return humiliated. If we are not heard and -even reasonable proposals put by us are not considered, I don't see the purpose to go there ".

 

Mr. Bhutto said that his party had accepted the first and the last points of the Awami League's Six Points (they relate to the basis of representation and the existence of people's militia in the provinces), but he could neither accept a " two subject Centre " nor the point relating to currency. " I am not without hope about foreign trade and taxation ", he added. Mr. Bhutto said that his party had also accepted 10 out of the 11 points of the students. It could not ..accept the point which said that there should be a sub-federation in the West Wing.

 

He, however, said, " I think we can work out something which will satisfy both of us. There is hope for understanding. But if we are asked to go to Dacca only to endorse the constitution which has already been prepared by Awami League and which is not to be altered an inch here and an inch there, then you will not find us in Dacca on March 2 when elections for women seats are to be held".

 

Mr. Bhutto said his party was of the opinion that the constitution based on the six points could not provide a " viable future for the country" Nevertheless Pakistan People's Party has tried to come as close to the Awami League points of view as possible, even upto the edge of precipice, whereafter there is destruction.

 

He said he had taken the decision as a big responsibility in the interest of the nation. The country is passing through a very critical phase and we may go one way or the other.

Mr. Bhutto said: "If we have to go just for formality we are not prepared". Asked if other leaders go there to help Awami League, he said: " Let them go," adding " but they will have to come back also".

 

He, however, said: " I will not come in the way of a constitution made by the National Assembly. Let them frame it with those who go there. The onus and odium will not then fall on Pakistan People's Party," he added.

 

He accused the Awami League of applying double standards for constitution.. He said for normal procedures of leading to constitution making the party had followed normal democratic principles but for the constitution itself it did not, accept the universal principle of a democratic consensus of all provinces. You, can't apply double standard, he declared.

 

He said dictation or imposition of a constitution on West Pakistan will not be accepted. "We want East and West to live together in equality but that does. not mean things should be thrust on us". Asked if an indication of a compromise was given to him by the Awami League in private and if it did not stand good, he said: " You can always come back ".

Mr. Bhutto said that he had taken the decision after consultations with his, party leaders and other political leaders of the West Wing.

 

He said that his party had the greatest respect and admiration for the people of East Pakistan, and had in its foundation papers, conceded that the people­of East Pakistan had been badly exploited and had a cause to feel aggrieved. It had been even insisted for the removal of the " internal colonial structure," he added.

 

The PPP Chief emphasised that if the Awami League had received a mandate on Six Points, in the elections, they should accept the People's Party's position. that its success was based on economic programme and its stand on foreign, policy. He stated that his party was convinced that the Six Point programme should be taken on a political basis and not on a" test tube " basis.

 

His party had abstained from taking any position on the Six Points, during. the year-long election campaign, since it felt that a" dialogue " was necessary on them.

Mr. Bhutto also regretted over the failure of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to come: to West Pakistan, because of the existence of " vested interests " here, and said, that he could personally guarantee " fullest honour and protection " to the Awami League leaders.

Mr. Z. A. Bhutto expressed his party's inability to attend the National Assembly session, beginning from March 3 in Dacca, in the absence of an understanding for compromise or adjustment " on the six points.

 

Mr. Bhutto stated that his party had "gone as far as possible" on the issue of Six Points to ensure a viable constitution for the country. But, in the present circumstances, they would not be going to Dacca to frame a constitution but to-­" accept " a constitution.

 

"If I am given to understand that there is a room for compromise and adjustment I am prepared to go there even today ", he added.

 

He added: "If there is a purpose to build up Pakistan, we are prepared to, go to the Assembly even today".

 

Mr. Bhutto said that if there was a question of framing of the constitution_ the consensus of federating units, was essential " but the position is that the constitution has already been framed " and the Awami League " wants us to endorse it ", he said. The Awami League, the PPP Chief said, had adopted an attitude of " take it or leave it ".

 

He added, we should have a guarantee that we would be heard and if our viewpoint was reasonable, it would be accepted. Participation in the National Assembly without such an understanding would further "vitiate" the situation.

 

Mr. Bhutto emphasised that if the things were to be taken on democratic basis, "you have to make scope for adjustments".

 

Mr. Bhutto also said that the participation in the present situation, might l--ad to a" deadlock " which was against national interests. " I do not want to deteriorate the position " he said-adding that he was only " objective and reasonable".

 

*                                                  *                                                        *

 

Mr. Bhutto said that it was for the nation to judge as to what had been die stand of the People's Party in the past and " the nation always judges correctly". "' We took no position on six points all through our election campaign ", he said. ,On the other hand the six points had been criticised by many a leader in West Pakistan. The irony was that these very leaders were now praising the six points :because the Awami League had registered a vast majority in the National Assembly.

 

 

 

Mr. Bhutto said that there were many "misgivings" in West Pakistan about the six points. He reminded the Awami League leaders that when he had visited ,East Pakistan in October 1966 he had suggested an analytically critical dialogue on six points, as soon as possible. It created a stir in West Pakistan and the ,politicians demanded as to how he could hold a dialogue on six points.

 

*                                                  *                                                        *

 

Bearing in mind the back-ground of our 23 years history, the six points, as -they stood today, could not be worked viably. He had assured the Awami League leader that the People's Party would try its best to come as close to the precipice as possible and not beyond to accommodate the six points.

 

Discussing the consultations he has had within his own party, Mr. Bhutto ,revealed that there was a" divided view ", on the six-points. Some of his partymen took " extreme" position,-that the party should fight it out-, and a very small number took the position that the Awami League programme should be accepted. But the majority of the party leaders supported the view that there should be ,reasonable adjustments to bring about a compromise.

 

The PPP chief said he had now completed his discussions with other leaders ,of West Pakistan and that at his partymen's meeting in Karachi on February 20 and 21, " we will take formal and final position".

 

*                                                  *                                                        *

 

Mr. Bhutto said that now the date of the Assembly session had been announced .but he emphasised that before he and his party-men went to Dacca they would like to have an idea of the amount of "reciprocity" but this necessary pre-requisite was not yet known.

He had hoped that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman would come to West Pakistan .and that he could have further talks with him. But now it seemed he (Sheikh Mujibur Rahman) was not prepared to do so, because the Awami League leader .felt that the atmosphere was not " congenial " for him, to visit West Pakistan. There was a good deal of talk about the dangers he faced from the vested interests.

 

*                                                  *                                                        *

 

Mr. Bhutto said that he did not know whether there was an element of "give and take" and of reciprocity in the Awami League position. If it was not proper for Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to come here, it was even harder for Mr. Bhutto to go to Dacca. With the present state of relations with India, and in the light ,of the gradually threatening posture of the Indian Prime Minister, Mrs. lndira Gandhi against Pakistan and bearing in mind the PPP's well known and clear stand on the relations with India "have I not the responsibility to be with my people here", he asked.

 

Mr. Bhutto went on to say " I can put myself in jeopardy, but it is a question of 83 party leaders, going to East Pakistan in the present state of affairs." He said that he could not put his partymen in a position of double hostage because of Indian hostility and their non-acceptance of six points.

 

He added that his party comprised of working people, who have to do a job, and naturally they would like to know how long would they be away from-, their homes.

In the beginning it was announced that there would be only a ceremonial' session in Dacca. But the position was not clear today, whether his party members, were to stay there for a long period or only for a few days.

 

*                                                  *                                                        *

 

Mr. Bhutto said that his party members were expected to go to Dacca in the­present circumstances not to frame the constitution but to just " accept " it. " With. this background we will not be there on March 3 in the Assembly".

 

He, however, added that if an assurance was given even privately that there­would be give and take and there would be a purpose for us to be there to construct something together, then we would go.

 

Other leaders of West Pakistan he said, may go if they so desired, but the PPP members would go only if there was room for adjustment, and not to sign. a dictated constitution.

Mr. Bhutto said that on the one hand the Awami League claimed the right to frame the constitution on the democratic principle of simple majority, and on the other it wanted six points because of the geographic peculiarities of the country. He said, it could not have it both ways. If they wanted their six points on the basis of geographical peculiarities, why should this factor not come into play in the framing of the constitution and the principle of the consensus of the federating units applied instead of the principle of simple majority.

 

However, he said that if the Awami League insisted on the framing of the constitution on the basis of six points, then the onus and odium of that constitution would not fall on the Pakistan People's Party.

 

He said that he did not want to deteriorate the situation but was stating, what was objective, scientific and reasonable.

 

He said that he took full responsibility for the position he had taken and he would be prepared to face the barrel of a gun, for he had done so often in the past. But he said, he must save the people from the firing line.

 

Asked if he was boycotting the Assembly, Mr. Bhutto emphatically disagreed: with the suggestion.

 

Mr. Bhutto said that he did not want to aggravate the situation. He conceded that in the past some West Pakistani leaders had dictated to East Pakistan, but he had nothing to do with it. What had happened in the past should not mean that this dictation should now be repeated on West Pakistan. West Pakistan had thrown up a new leadership which wanted to end the system of exploitation, not only in West Pakistan but also in East Pakistan, he said. A constitution imposed as a vendetta against Pakistan would not be accepted, he added.

 

To another question, Mr. Bhutto said that he would accept in good faith, am assurance from Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on the question of give and take in the framing of the constitution, even if such an assurance was given privately.

 

Replying to another question Mr. Bhutto said that he was " satisfied " with his talks with the leaders of the NWFP. Mr. Bhutto met Khan Abdul Qayyum: Khan, President of the Pakistan Muslim League, Khan Abdul Wali Khan, President of National Awami Party and Maulana Mufti Mahmud, General Secretary, Jamaita-e­ul-Ulema-e-Islam, during his two-day stay here.

 

(THE DAWN, Karachi-February 16, 1971)

 

 

Source: Bangladesh Documents, vol-I, p.155-158