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Poverty of Radical Politics

Sudhir Mathur

By Meenakshi Gopinath
Manohar Book Service, 1975, xii plus 154, 40.00

VOLUME I NUMBER 2 April - June 1976

Political parties in the Third World, committed to democracy and parliamentary form of government, with socialistic slogans and anti-imperialist stand, in the recent past have been able to consolidate themselves into power. This has caught the attention of many western political observers who take this to be a rationalization of the political process and synonymous with modernization and development. Influence of such approach is evident in Meenakshi Gopinath's book under review, Pakistan in Transition, a case study of general elections in Pakistan held in 1970, with special reference to Bhutto and his Pakistan People’s Party. The author identifies the crisis in the politics of Pakistan as that of Identity, Penetration and Integra­tion, Participation, Distribution and of Legitimacy. The State of Pakistan which was based on concentra­tion of authority and economy in the hands of a few, economic disparities between classes and provinces, feudal relationship, imperialist penetration and political ideology identified with Islam, threw up a discontent, and found an opportunity when Yayha announced elections for the Constituent Assembly. The author shows how Bhutto and his P.P.P. organized the campaign despite its being a new party. Its programme and campaign caught the aspirations of the people. Bhutto raised his voice against rightist parties, which in the name of religion were supported by feudal elements, a section of capitalists and imperialists. His slogan of 'food, clothing and shelter to all', and of establishing Islamic Socialism, of safe­guarding social mobility, brought the P.P.P. to power. The author vividly describes the election campaigns, the strategy and slogans to show the working of a 'party' in an 'election'.   She also analyses the success of the party in the various provinces with complete details, the success of the Awami League in East Pakistan which finally had to secede from Pakistan, and the success of the National Awami Party and other parties in Baluchistan and N.W.F.P.   The politics of P.P.P. after coming to power is also discussed and the author shows the failure of the new regime either to take up socialistic steps effectively or even allow the democratic process to develop. In fact, Bhutto resorted to repression of other political parties to strengthen his own position. The author in this connection refers to the startling set of events in the post-1971 period and the immediate consequent problems which had to be faced and to ...

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