Zulfikar Ali Bhutto becomes President

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After the disastrous war with India that ingloriously concluded in December 1971, Pakistan had to face its greatest crisis since Independence. The dismembered Pakistan was left only with the four Provinces of West Pakistan; Punjab, Sindh, N. W. F. P. and Baluchistan. East Pakistan was now independent. Pakistan had lost a whole province of 70 million, 56 percent of the total population, and over 54,501 sq. miles of territory. There were 93,000 prisoners of war in India and Bangladesh. Pakistan’s international credit was depleted.

President Yahya tried to act in a militaristic manner to impose law and order but the people’s patience had been exhausted by this time. Military leadership had been discredited. Disillusionment, uncertainty and pessimism prevailed. People were no longer prepared to tolerate misgovernment. The public severely criticized and accused President Yahya and his Government for ineptness and inability that culminated with the 1971 national debacle.

Faced with these difficulties, President Yahya ceded power to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party that had won the majority votes in the 1970 elections in West Pakistan. On the request of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, on December 6, 1971, Yahya Khan installed a civilian setup at the Centre and Nurul Amin, a prominent Bengali politician who was against Mujib-ur-Rahman, was made the Prime Minister. Z. A. Bhutto was made Deputy Prime Minister on the same day. Nurul Amin remained Prime Minister till December 20, 1971, the day when Bhutto took over as the civilian Chief Marshal Law Administrator.

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