Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (January 5, 1928′ April 4, 1979) was a Pakistani politician who served as the President of Pakistan from 1971 to 1973 and as the Prime Minister Pakistan from 1973 to 1977. He was the founder of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which is one of the largest political parties in Pakistan. His daughter, Benazir Bhutto has also served twice as prime minister. Bhutto is often addressed as the Quaid-e-Awam.
In 1957, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto became the youngest member of Pakistan’s delegation to the United Nations. He addressed the United Nations Sixth Committee on Aggression on October 25, 1957 and led Pakistan’s deputation to the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Seas in 1958. In the same year, Bhutto became the youngest Pakistani cabinet minister when he was given charge of the energy ministry by President Muhammad Ayub Khan, who had seized power and declared martial law. He was subsequently promoted to head the ministries of commerce, information and industries. Bhutto become a close and trusted advisor to Ayub, rising in influence and power despite his youth and relative inexperience in politics. Bhutto aided Ayub in negotiating the Indus Water Treaty with India in 1960. In 1961, Bhutto negotiated an oil exploration agreement with the Soviet Union, which also agreed to provide economic and technical aid to Pakistan. Bhutto also became the de facto foreign policy spokesman for Ayub. In 1963, he was appointed Pakistan’s foreign minister. His swift rise to power also brought him national prominence and popularity.
As foreign minister, Bhutto significantly transformed Pakistan’s hitherto pro-Western foreign policy. While maintaining a prominent role for Pakistan within the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization and the Central Treaty Organization, Bhutto began asserting a foreign policy course for Pakistan that was independent of U.S. influence. Bhutto criticised the U.S. for providing military aid to India during and after the Sino-Indian War of 1962, which was seen as an abrogation of Pakistan’s alliance with the U.S. Bhutto worked to establish stronger relations with the People’s Republic of China. Bhutto visited Beijing and helped Ayub negotiate trade and military agreements with the Chinese regime, which agreed to help Pakistan in a large number of military and industrial projects. Bhutto also signed the Sino-Pakistan Boundary Agreement on March 2, 1963 that transferred 750 kilometres of territory from Pakistan-administered Kashmir to Chinese control. Bhutto asserted his belief in non-alignment, making Pakistan an influential member in non-aligned organisations. Believing in pan-Islamic unity, Bhutto developed closer relations with Muslim nations such as Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states.
Falling out with Ayub after the war, Bhutto founded the Pakistan People’s Party, which won a majority of seats from West Pakistan in 1970. Bhutto refused to accept the victory of the Awami League, leading to a political and sectarian crisis. After the Bangladesh Liberation War, Bhutto took over as president and the first civilian chief martial law adminstrator of Pakistan. In this capacity, he negotiated the Shimla Agreement with Indian leader Indira Gandhi to establish peace.
Bhutto is often referred to with respect as Shaheed (Martyr) or with the honorific title Quaid-e-Awam. Bhutto and his family remain widely popular in many parts of Pakistan, especially in Sindh. Bhutto is the namesake of many public institutions in Pakistan. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto remains an icon of the PPP and one of the most influential Pakistani politicians in history.