Bhutto : a political biography by Salmaan Taseer

By Salmaan Taseer

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Iskandar Mirza remembered the bright Sindhi lawyer he had met in Shahnawaz’s house, and appointed him at the age of only thirty to the office of Minister of Commerce and Industries. On the 27th of October the new team took oath of office. 21 The new cabinet had barely been inducted when Ayub Khan deposed Iskandar Mirza and personally assumed the title of President. Reluctant to create any further jolts, Ayub Khan allowed Iskandar Mirza’s cabinet to retain office. A few days later, Bhutto attended his first cabinet meeting at the old Prime Minister’s house in Kutchery Road, Karachi.

25 The Cabinet Committee was chaired by Manzur Qadir, the Foreign Minister, and included Bhutto, Muhammad Shoaib, Muhammad Ibrahim, Abdul Kasim Khan, Akhtar Hussain and Habibur Rehman. This was the inner group, and despite his lack of years, Bhutto was an important member. The opinions of the Cabinet Committee had an important bearing on the final shape of the Constitution. As a member of the Cabinet Committee, Bhutto’s views ran closely parallel to those of Ayub Khan. There is no evidence of his opposition to any of the principles or clauses of the 1962 Constitution despite his later condemnation of the whole exercise.

Firmly wedded to the rigid Dulles view of history, Pakistan was unable to maintain her relations with China on an even keel. During the early part of the Ayub Khan regime, Pakistan’s relations with China reached an alltime low. 27 And in November 1959 Ayub Khan apprehensively observed: ‘The sub-continent will be vulnerable to attack within five years. ’28 He then went on to offer a joint defence pact in India. The Chinese responded in colorful and typically cryptic fashion, by asking the Pakistan Government to ‘pull up the horse before the precipice’.

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