QUANTUM OF AUTONOMY BY MUTUAL ACCORD:

 

FORCE OF MAJORITY NO SOLUTION

 

Mr. Z. A. Bhutto's statement on December 21, 1970.

 

Mr. Z. A. Bhutto, Chairman of the Pakistan People's Party, declared in Lahore on Monday that his Party stood for maximum provincial autonomy for all the Provinces, the quantum of which, he added, could only be determined in the context of national solidarity.

 

Mr. Bhutto was addressing a reception given at a local hotel by the workers of Lahore-III to felicitate him on his election to the National Assembly from that constituency.

 

The PPP Chairman said that the determination of the quantum of provincial autonomy was a complicated issue in respect of the framing of the Constitution and that it was for the National Assembly to resolve it. In principle, he said, all provinces in the country were entitled to enjoy maximum autonomy but it would be genuine only if it was determined in the context of national solidarity and with the blessing of the representatives of all the provinces.

 

Mr. Bhutto said that there would be no difficulty in framing the Constitution in less than 120 days if President Yahya, the Awami League and the People's Party arrived at a consensus on the determination of the quantum of autonomy. In case there was no agreement among the three, Awami League and the Pakistan People's Party could agree on a formula, although in that case there could be some difficulty in seeing it through. But if the two political parties failed to come to an understanding, the situation would get out of control. In no case, he said, the solidarity of the country could be compromised.

 

The PPP Chairman said that the quantum of autonomy could not be determined by the force of the majority in the House as in that case, the National Assembly would not be able to give a Constitution acceptable to both Wings of the country. Neither the Awami League nor the People's Party could be ignored in the making of the Constitution. It must be framed with the mutual agreement of the two main political parties of the country, he added.

 

He said that under the circumstances it was not possible to out-manoeuvre either the Awami League or the People's Party as both represented the people of the respective wings-ignoring one would mean ignoring the people of the wing it represented.

 

*                                                                     *                                                                    *                                                             *

 

Mr. Bhutto said that as the Constitution could not be framed without the co-operation and support of the People's Party, no Government at the Centre could be formed without the Party's blessings. The authority at the Centre, he said, would have to be shared between the Awami League and the People's Party to enable the two to execute the mandate given to them by the people.

 

He said that the People's Party could not be forced to sit in the opposition. It would sit in the Opposition only by its own choice. The PPP, he said, would join the Government, only if it felt sure that by doing so it would be possible to execute the people's mandate. If it came to the conclusion that the Government was that of the agents of capitalists and feudal lords and had been formed to protect vested interest, the PPP would never be a signatory to it. In that case it would be in the Opposition and would in that role endeavour to have the man­date of the people executed.

 

The PPP Chairman said he saw no reason why both the Awami League and the People's Party should not share power at the Centre. Since both were to / exercise the mandate of the people, he said, they could form " a grand coalition " to enable the Awami League to fulfil its promises to the people in East Pakistan and the People's Party in West Pakistan. He said that if in West Germany Willy Brandt of the Social Democratic Party and Walter Scheel of the Free Democratic Party could agree on a coalition, why should it not be possible for the People's Party and the Awami League to agree on a similar arrangement. That arrange­ment, he said, would be in the best interests of the country and would help frustrate any conspiracy against the two parties that the interested elements might plan.

 

*                                                                     *                                                                    *                                                             *

 

Mr. Bhutto said that the Western Press was trying to sell a sinister idea that since Awami League had gained majority in East Pakistan and the People's Party in West Pakistan, the former was to form the Government and the PPP was to be in the Opposition. It was a conspiracy against the people of the country. Neither wing could be deprived of its due share in the governance of the country. He said that East Pakistan had been deprived of its share during the last 23 years with the result that there was a misunderstanding between the people of the two wings resulting in mutual hatred, largely promoted by vested interests. If the Awami League made an endeavour to keep People's Party out of power in West Pakistan, similar misunderstanding and disaffection might breed among the people of this wing. It was, therefore, imperative that the representatives of the people from both wings of the country should share authority.

 

*                                                                     *                                                                    *                                                             *

 

He said it was surprising that those who claimed to be the protagonists of democracy, urging its restoration, were not prepared to accept the verdict of the people. In this connection he mentioned, Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan of the PDP who had recently stated that the people had taken a" wrong decision ". If the Nawabzada sincerely believed in democracy, he should not have disputed the verdict of the people. More surprising, he said was the fact that some of the leaders of the defeated parties had wired to the President urging him to reject the verdict of the people. It would have made little difference to the people. If they believed in democracy, they should have accepted their defeat gracefully.

 

(THE PAKISTAN TIMES, Lahore-December 22, 1970)

 

 

Source: Bangladesh Documents, vol-I, p.134-135