In Pictures: 50 Years Of Pakistan Peoples Party – The Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Years


The year was 1966. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had recently become interested in the communist ideology. Bhutto and his political mentor, Jalaluddin Abdur Rahim, a Nietzschean philosopher began toying with the idea of forming a political party with progressive values.

Z.A Bhutto with J.A Rahim
Z.A Bhutto with J.A Rahim Source:

Bhutto’s first line of supporter came from student groups identifying with leftist politics.

Student Leaders were the first line of support for Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto
The Formation of PPP

In the presence of distinguished progressive politicians, philosophers and technocrats, Pakistan Peoples Party came to life on 30 November, 1967.

Also Watch: 3 Historic Speeches of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto that Explain Why He Continues to Live

The first set of demands to come from the Party’s platform included: a foreign policy that’s non-allied, parliamentary democracy and departure from Ayub Khan’s capitalist policies in favour of socialist economic reforms. The then newly created Pakistan People’s Party also demanded that the political forces work for an enlightened Pakistan.

PPP Formation

Pakistan People’s Party was written off by mainstream newspapers as a “…get-together of odd balls.”

Mainstream media wrote off PPP upon its formation

The odd-balls however meant business. PPP spearheaded the nationwide protests against the Ayub regime, forcing him to step down in 1969.

Rise to Power

Pakistan People’s Party became a front runner during the 1970 elections – the first elections based on adult franchise in the country.

Election Rally 1970 led by Bhutto

PPP’s first election manifesto pledged a progressive, welfare state. The manifesto proclaimed Islam to be PPP’s faith, socialism its economy and democracy its policy.

Also Watch: The Most Iconic Photos from the Life and Journey of Asif Ali Zardari

As history would have it PPP swept Punjab and Sindh in West Pakistan, making it a likely contender to form the government.

Bhutto sweeps Punjab and Sindh in 1970 Elections

The fall of Dhaka in 1971 sealed the deal and based on the results of the 1970 elections, PPP was invited to form the government with what remained of Pakistan. General Yahya (right) watches as the government is handed over to Z.A Bhutto.

Bhutto takes over the government from General Yahya

After taking charge of the President’s office, Bhutto addressed the nation, promising a new Pakistan. His address was in English instead of Urdu.

Bhutto's first address to the nation

The passage of the 1973 constitution became a moment of celebration. Bhutto’s new constitutional title became Prime Minister instead of President.

Bhutto during a rally celebrating the passage of the 1973 constitution


1973 also witnessed an ideological shift in PPP’s politics. Bhutto launched an offensive of sorts against the party’s leftist ideologues. The party’s founding member and Bhutto’s once close ally, J.A Rahim was on the receiving end of this offensive. He was ousted from PPP, arrested and persecuted.

Also Read: Tallal Chaudry, Are You Trying to Dirty Talk With Bilawal?

The historic Islamic Conference was held in 1974. Bhutto hosted the leaders of 35 Muslim countries in Lahore where the idea of a Muslim economic bloc was first discussed.

Bhutto during Islamic Conference 1974

The calm before the storm: Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto enjoying a light moment with his children, Sanam (left), Murtaza and Benazir.

Bhutto with his children

Bhutto with General Zia-ul-Haq in 1976. Zia was hand picked by Z.A Bhutto to lead the Pakistan army.

Zia and Bhutto laughing
The Beginning of the End

The right-wing coalition, Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) launched violent protests across the country in 1977. PNA refused to accept the results of the 1977 elections and demanded imposition of Shariah law. In  bid to appease the protesters, Bhutto went on to accept most of their demands.

Bhutto with PNA leaders

However, his appeasement measures did not work as the Pakistan army staged a coup in July 1977, placing Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto under house arrest.

His sons, Shahnawaz and Murtaza led protests against Zia and the military regime from London.

Murtaza and Shahnawaz Bhutto protesting in London

Despite immense international pressure the Zia-led military regime went ahead with Bhutto’s execution. His body was clandestinely flown to his hometown in Larkana in the dead of night and buried in the absence of his family by a handful of people.

Last rites of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto

Part One of a three part pictorial series (to be posted every Friday) following the 50 years of Pakistan Peoples Party.