QUANTUM OF AUTONOMY BY MUTUAL ACCORD:
FORCE OF MAJORITY NO SOLUTION
Mr. Z. A. Bhutto's statement on December 21, 1970.
Z. A. Bhutto, Chairman of the Pakistan People's Party, declared in
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.
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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.
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
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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
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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)