MUNIR AHMAD KHAN July 5, 1977 will always be remembered in the checkered political history of Pakistan as the darkest day when a power hungry general uprooted the nascent sapling of democracy by toppling the democratically elected government of PM Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, eventually shoving Pakistan into an abyss of prolonged dictatorship and pushing back the country, its polity and the nation decades back. The main impetus behind the July 5 martial law was to eradicate the People's Party and Bhutto, which Zia simply failed to do despite ruling the country for 11 years. Although, Zia succeeded in physically eliminating Bhutto, but he miserably failed to wipe out his philosophy which has become immortal with the passage of time. Despite having been martyred three decades ago, the Bhutto legacy and Bhuttoism lives on. As far as wiping out the PPP is concerned, the opponents and the enemies of the country should know that the party lives on the philosophy Bhutto and its is the same reason why the it is in power for the third time. It should be understood by now that martial law, tyranny and black laws cannot win over the hearts of the people. However, it is also a fact that the damage inflicted upon Muhammad Ali Jinnah's Pakistan by Zia and Musharraf continues to haunt the entire Pakistani nation even after a lapse of 32 years. Bhutto was toppled by the military despite the fact that he was a political wizard and a visionary leader who rebuilt a nation which was going through low morale due to the fall of Dhaka in 1971. Bhutto worked hard to make a new Pakistan which was his great service to the country. He gave the nation a new vigour, resolve and a vision. The nation was in dire need of a leader whom they could trust. Illiteracy, gloom, feelings of doom, poverty and a deteriorating social set-up had taken away most of the nation's morale and in Quaid-e-Awam they found a leader who, with his magical skills of oratory took the country out of the dark patch of lowest self-esteem possible. In December 1967, when this great visionary leader founded PPP, it became the most popular one in Pakistan as soon as it was established. "The first floor of our house at 70 Clifton, Karachi, began to serve as a branch office of the PPP," recalls Benazir. The party launched its offices all over the country where unending crowds gathered to secure the membership. Very soon, all of the country was in the grip of an unprecedented agitation and unrest against Ayub's government. There was not a single day when there would not be a procession or a public meeting somewhere in the country. Bhutto addressed numerous rallies, fearlessly attacking the policies of the rulers. When this became unbearable for the government, an attempt was made on his life. When this could not intimidate to dauntless Zulfikar, he was arrested and sent to Mianwali Jail where he was kept in solitary confinement. This gave birth to violent agitation in the country. The president could speak nowhere in public without getting shot at or causing a riot. Everywhere people demanded an end to his rule and Bhutto's release. Finding no other way, in February 1969, the government decided to shift him from the jail to his Larkana house, where he was placed under house arrest. Finally, by March 1969, Ayub decided to step down. But, instead of handing over power to the political leadership, he invited the army chief to take over the country who proclaimed martial law, bringing the country into yet another crisis. PPP was one of the major contenders in the election, with an agenda to provide basic necessities of life, roti, kapra aur makan. The election took place on December 7, 1970. PPP won a majority in the western wing, securing 82 of 138 National Assembly seats. Bhutto himself won five seats of NA. Most of his party candidates had defeated big feudal lords as well as wealthy and influential political rivals, setting a new trend in the country's politics. Bhutto, being a federalist was naturally against the anti-federalist scheme that varied between the two sides of Pakistan - Eastern and Western. Two wings of the country, separated by a thousand miles of Indian Territory, had two totally divergent ideological grounds. It was a conflict like that between the North and South American States in 1860s, when two slogans and two ideologies - United States of America and Confederate States of America - pulled the country down. It was a struggle between the forces of federation and confederation. Here Bhutto took a leaf out of Lincoln's book. But, unlike Lincoln he was without power and helpless. The country was in for a crisis as at this most crucial hour of Pakistan's political history an army general of mediocre intellect presided over the destiny of the country. Despite his best efforts, Zulfikar could only ensure the integrity, security and intactness of the present Pakistan. In East Pakistan the Pakistani army commander surrendered before his Indian counterpart and the wing became an independent country Bangladesh. The news of the separation of East Pakistan and army's surrender resulted in mass rallies and demonstration all over the country. The demand for immediate transfer of power to civilian leadership grew louder. Unfortunately, the military rulers were still planning to hang on, but an incident in National Defence College, where the young officers hooted upon and hurled abuses on the army chief when he tried to address them, changed generals' perceptions and compelled them to transfer power to Bhutto. He was still away from the country, when he received the cable from home to reach immediately and take over reigns of the country. As soon as he arrived, he was rushed to the presidency, where he was handed over the power of the country. Bhutto in the beginning of 1977 decided to hold elections in March that year. All the independent observers agreed that Bhutto was riding on the crest of his popularity and there was not even a slightest chance of his losing the elections. But just a day after the announcement of the elections nine political parties and splinter groups formed an alliance namely PNA to confront PPP candidates. The worst of all, Zia was nourishing secret ambitions to get the power in his hands. The general had leanings towards a well organised and well funded religious political party, which served as backbone of the opposition alliance. The opposition and army chief alliance was set for a big showdown with Bhutto and the democratic forces. On the appointed day, some 17 million eligible voters cast their votes for their representatives in the NA. PPP received a little less than 60 percent of the popular vote, while the PNA secured more than 35 percent of the votes. There were certain complaints about rigging of the elections. Making them a base the PNA charted a course of agitation. Following weeks saw the agitation turning into a terrorist movement. Following negotiations between the government and PNA, both the parties reached to an agreement on July 4. This was against Zia's wishes who wanted to impose martial law. "One day, when he (Bhutto) returned from the office, on the dinner, he looked agitated," recalled Benazir." He said that General Sharif [chairman of JCSC] had just come to meet him and had alerted him that Zia was up to no good, and might be planning some kind of coup." When ZAB inquired from his ISI chief, he showed his ignorance and attributed the warning to his ill will towards Zia; because Sharif was not made the army chief. But, the ISI chief was wrong. Zia had fully prepared his plan for the removal of the elected government. Zia's family was not in Pakistan on July 4/5. He had shifted his family to UK under the plea of his daughter's operation. Not only this, the general had also prepared to flee from the country, in case of any such eventuality. However, with imposition of martial law that night, the country ushered into a Dark Age once again. Bhutto was taken into custody and shifted to Murree. The general promised that the army was there just for 90 days, to hold impartial elections. But he again promised to hold his first elections, that too on non-party basis, in 1985, after 90 months After some time, the military government released Bhutto from the protective custody, believing that his charisma was over. But, this was a grave miscalculation. As soon as he came out, hundreds of thousands people came out to greet him and to pledge their unflinching support for him. It was quite evident that in case of holding elections Bhutto would return back to power, with more votes than he ever had got in the past. Zia charted a new course of action, to eliminate Bhutto physically. Bhutto was re-arrested on September 3, 1977 on false murder charges. Within no time an upright high court judge granted him bail and he was set free. He was arrested again, only to be given a death sentence under Zia's orders. PM Gilani has recently stated that the government intends to re-open Bhutto's trial. At the same time, however, every patriotic Pakistani would deeply desire to have trial of Zia for trampling the constitution, toppling a democratically elected government and for Bhutto's judicial murder . Bhutto Shaheed's hanging in 1979 left a huge void in the national politics that was first filled by his able and brave daughter Benazir, followed by her courageous husband, Zardari, who is carrying on the Bhutto legacy vigorously, and that too, against all odds. The writer is a PPP leader and former central secretary information ARD