How a 1937 Vendetta gave birth to the PPP

The Bhuttos are the Kings of Sindh – a land with millions of illiterate peasants who suffer under the tyranny of the vicious and cruel Sindhi landlords.  According to the HRCP (Human Rights Commission of Pakistan), more than 1 million Sindhi peasants live in medieval slavery conditions.  Hundreds of thousands are forced into labour in private jails.  Not only do the Sindhi gangster landlords not care, they taunt their peasants by holding lavish dance festivals for the elite, in the midst of terrible famines.  To make it even worse, Bhutto rejected the Punjab regional government’s offer to assist in famine alleviation, simply because they would rather their own peasants die than to allow Nawaz Sharif’s political party into Sindh.  As a result of this attitude, Sindh is one of the most deprived and socio-economically backward areas on earth.


The Sindhi peasants (95%) are illiterate, hungry, superstitious, and less likely even to know that the internet exists than to ever read this article.  The (4%) Sindhi thugs who enforce their landlords’ control are the beneficiaries of, for example, the 6700 ghost schools in Sindh (whereby Sindhi Government pays these thugs directly out of the education budget, without providing their peasants with any actual education).  The 1% Sindhi Landlord gangster class live off their peasants toil, as well as on Muhajir taxes.

Dr. Hamida Khuhro, a Sindhi, wrote a letter to a UK newspaper in 1971 which provides a blunt, unvarnished view of Bhutto’s politics.  Click here to see the full letter.

Dr. Hamida Khuhro, Member of Sindh Provincial Assembly for PML(N)

Dr. Hamida Khuhro, Member of Sindh Provincial Assembly for PML(N)

First, she discusses the Punjabi (Army & Civil Service) desire to exploit Pakistan and use brute force to crush opposition.

“For the first 10 years after 1947, the anti-politicians of the Punjab manoeuvred behind the scenes and manipulated politicians for their own ends; for the next 10 years, from 1958 to 1968, they ruled openly through ex- President Ayub Khan; and now we see another attempt to re-establish their authority by crushing the one threat to their power”.

Many Pakistanis are still concerned about Punjabi dominance, which some argue has resulted in widespread application of sharia, ill-advised wars with India, ruthless exploitation of Baloch natural resources, and more. Z.A. Bhutto was the no.1 right hand man of Field Marshal Ayub Khan from 1958-1966.  He even organised the sham electoral structure of Ayub’s authoritarian regime. You can read more about this in my previous article, “ZA Bhutto – Enemy of Democracy. Part I”

Hamida Khuhro then describes Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto as a “political bastard”, and writes “His party is increasingly revealed as Fascist in behaviour, with a paramilitary “volunteer” organization, threats against other political groups and leaders and against the press, and a naked pursuit of power by any means”.  She calls the PPP a party with “a spurious socialist stance”.

There was no “socialist” intent in Bhutto’s feudal thinking.  He nationalised the economy of Pakistan primarily because he wanted to destroy the Muhajir tycoons who had built up the economy of Pakistan since 1947.  He then installed his cronies as heads of the nationalised banks, insurance companies, heavy manufacturing etc businesses, and they filled their pockets with loot.  This is how these people are so wealthy today.  Look at any of the cronies around Bhutto to this day – they all live lavishly, own homes abroad, and describe themselves as “die-hard Bhuttoists”.

The 1% Sindhi landlords steal the most, and distribute some crumbs to the 4% Sindhi thugs to enforce control, and the illiterate 95% peasant slaves suffer famines whilst hearing dance music in the distance.

Note: I do not use the word “gangster” lightly.  Bhutto created a private paramilitary force (FSF), and even operated a private concentration camp, which he built at Dalai in Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK), in order to evade the legal jurisdiction of the Pakistan Supreme Court.

After reading this letter, I then asked myself: Why did Dr Khuhro write such a scathing article against Bhutto in the Western media?  Searching for an answer, I discovered a chilling story, a tale of brutal vendetta, with revenge served in full by Bhutto the son, decades after the original slighting of Bhutto the father.

Muhammad Ayub Khuhro (1901-1980)

Muhammad Ayub Khuhro (1901-1980)

Dr Hamida Khuhro’s father was the late Mohammad Ayub Khuhro (1901-1980).  MA Khuhro was a political leader from Larkana.  In the 1937 India Provincial Elections, his rival for the Larkana seat was Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto, the father of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, and the great-grandfather of Prince Bilawal Bhutto, the hereditary ruler of Sindh.

Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.  ZAB's establishment of the PPP and domestic policies were shaped by his father's experiences

Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. ZAB’s establishment of the PPP and his domestic policies were shaped by his father’s experiences


Sir S. Bhutto was the leader of the Sindh Unionist Party, and he was the opponent of Jinnah, whose AIML won 0/60 Sindh seats in those elections.  In 1936, a British official Sindh Literacy survey found that Sindhi Muslims had 95.6% illiteracy (males) and 99.5% illiteracy (females).  So the typical Sindhi peasant in those days may not have been aware what a radio was, let alone whether or not to vote for Jinnah’s AIML (Muhajir) party.

Shahnawaz Bhutto’s party won the election in Sindh, but he himself lost his Larkana constituency election to Mohammad Ayub Khuhro.  This began a legendary feud, with final brutal vengeance carried out by Z.A. Bhutto more than 2 decades later. This is what happened:


Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto’s party won the Sind Election in 1937, but he lost his own Larkana seat to MA Khuhro. Abdullah Haroon, Bhutto’s deputy, also lost his seat.

After the independence of Pakistan, Jinnah separated Karachi from Sindh, and MA Khuhro served as Chief Minister of Sindh.  However, Khuhro’s rivals (no doubt led by Sir S Bhutto) kept on destabilising his administration and launching corruption cases against him.  This is quite ironic, as the sole purpose of most Sindhis in politics is corruption.  For example, Benazir Bhutto’s 1988-1990 government is famous for not even passing a single piece of major legislation!  This period, as this BBC documentary shows, was used simply to loot as much as they could before being thrown out of power.

For a decade, MA Khuhro kept being accused of corruption, losing Sindhi support, removed from power, having the cases quashed, coming back to power, and so on.  Then, in 1958, Ayub Khan launched a military coup and assumed dictatorial powers in Pakistan.  ZA Bhutto was the chief deputy of Dictator Ayub, and he used the opportunity to immediately wreak brutal vengeance on Khuhro.

The chronology is as follows:

[click on the date to see source evidence]

1937: MA Khuhro defeats Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto in his own Larkana constituency in 1937 India Provincial Elections.  This is effectively the end of Sir S Bhutto’s political career, and the result was that he had no chance to grab any Sindh power at Pakistan’s independence.

April 1948: MA Khuhro is Premier of Sindh, but his Sindhi enemies divide his cabinet and launch legal cases against him.  Jinnah dismisses Khuhro, pending a conclusion to the legal process.

August 1949: MA Khuhro acquitted of all charges.  Government implements a deposit system for high-profile political cases, in order to deter frivolous accusations.

November 1951: Sindhi enemies of Khuhro again try to have him impeached for “nepotism, favouritism and corruption” (Sindhi traditions) but fail.

January 1952: MA Khuhro unable to govern as Sindhi rivals in his own Sindh Cabinet are in revolt.  Central government in Karachi forced to dismiss Khuhro and commence (direct) Governor Rule of Sindh.

January 1953: MA Khuhro disqualified from holding office, based on corruption evidence.

October 1954: Khuhro’s disqualification rescinded, as Pakistan repealed the law enabling politicians to be barred from politics. Needless to say, the law was being used primarily by Pakistani feudal politicians to sideline their local feudal rivals.

November 1954: Khuhro reappointed Sindh Chief Minister

April 1958: Khuhro joins Pakistan Federal Cabinet, serving as Defence Minister

October 7 1958: Ayub Khan, backed by his deputy Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, launches a military coup and assumed dictatorial powers in Pakistan

As soon as Ayub Khan took power in Pakistan, Bhutto had Khuhro arrested.  On October 10, MA Khuhro was arrested for selling a car on the black market.  Imported cars in Pakistan carried an import tax of 150%.   However, Sindhis with government powers (particularly over local excise/tax departments) usually waived import taxes on their own cars.  If sold, an instant profit could be made by adding, say, an extra 100% onto the price and then selling it at full price.  This practice has been ubiquitous for decades amongst Sindhi politicians and many others too – I would be surprised if even a handful of Sindhi ministers had not availed themselves of this facility.

1958 Cadillac "Sixty Special"

1958 Cadillac “Sixty Special”

Khuhro imported a Cadillac worth Rs. 23,704 (then $5,040 at the prevailing Rs.4.7/US$ exchange rate).  He then sold it to a Cadillac dealer for US$10,420/Rs. 49,000, who then sold it into the market at the full price of US$12,760/Rs. 60,000 (including 150% import tax).  So Khuhro was arrested for making an illegal profit of $5,380.  I would guess that the car in question was the 1958 Cadillac “Sixty Special”, which retailed at around $5,500: A sensational looking car which would certainly have stood out on the streets of 1958 Karachi.

At the same time, there was a severe food shortage in Karachi.  Punjabi and Sindhi ministers were hoarding wheat in Karachi, and selling it at the highest prices when the shortage was greatest.  As these gangster landlords were also forcibly purchasing it from their indentured peasants at fixed prices, they made massive profits.  Food Hoarding during emergencies is a terrible criminal offence, on a galactically greater level of severity than selling a car at a markup. Thousands of tonnes of wheat were being hoarded and sold openly, yet no Sindhi minister was ever prosecuted for food hoarding.


Karachi in 1958

It seems as if the Khuhro charges were deliberately made to be as ridiculously trivial as possible, in order to humiliate Khuhro even more.  Bhutto was taking revenge for his father’s electoral loss.

In February 1959, 4 months after he was arrested, the 59-year old Khuhro was sentenced to 5 years rigorous imprisonment.  Immediately after the judgment, Khuhro was handcuffed and driven to the central jail.

In April 1960, after 14 months rigorous imprisonment, Khuhro’s trial was bizarrely declared void, and he was released.  Under the Ayub/Bhutto dictatorship, the legal process was under regime control, and Bhutto would have been able to release Khuhro at his pleasure.  It may have been that someone from the Khuhro family pleaded or made an offering of some sort or the other to Bhutto or other regime decision makers, and Khuhro was released.

It may be that Khuhro was inadvisedly considering continuing his political career: The law enabling the government to bar politicians from public life was reintroduced. In July 1960, Khuhro was officially barred from public office for 6 years.  He did not participate in politics after that.  In 1971, Bhutto assumed control of (West) Pakistan after losing the 1970 election to Mujib-ur-Rehman (Bangladesh).  Khuhro died in 1980, 3 years after Bhutto was toppled by General Zia, in the aftermath of a rigged election and hundreds of killed protestors.  Khuhro lived to see Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto hang, for extrajudicial killings committed whilst in power, before he passed away the next year.

This Bhutto-Khuhro vendetta continues to this day: Dr Hamida Khuhro is a Member of Sindh Provincial Assembly, for the PML(Q) party – there is clearly no love lost between her and the PPP.  When Benazir Bhutto was in power, Dr Khuhro’s talents as a Cambridge University graduate (with a PhD from the University of London) were not utilised.  However, when Benazir Bhutto was deposed in 1990 after massive corruption, Hamida Khuhro was immediately appointed Sindh’s Minister for Education and Literacy.






One response to “How a 1937 Vendetta gave birth to the PPP

  1. Pingback: Draft | MQM History·

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