Operation Fair Play: When first elected PM Bhutto was ousted 40 years ago

LAHORE: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) observing Black-Day across the country on July 5, when country’s first democratically-elected Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and his government was ousted by dictator General Zia 40 years ago.

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Operation Fair Play was the code name for the 5 July 1977 coup by than Chief of Army Staff General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, overthrowing the government of than Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

The coup itself was bloodless, and was preceded by social unrest and political conflict between the ruling leftist Pakistan Peoples Party government of Bhutto, and the right-wing Islamist opposition Pakistan National Alliance which accused Bhutto of rigging the 1977 general elections.

In announcing the coup, Zia promised “free and fair elections” within 90 days, but these were repeatedly postponed on the excuse of accountability and it was not until 1985 that (“party-less”) general elections were held. Zia himself stayed in power for eleven years until his death in a plane crash.

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