14. Coup d’état Attempt
In 1995, Benazir Bhutto’s government survived an attempted coup d’état hatched by renegade military officers of the Pakistan Army. The culprit and ringleader of the coup was a junior level officer, Major-General Zahirul Islam Abbasi, who had radical views. Others included Brigadier-Generals Mustansir Billa, and Qari Saifullah of Pakistan Army. The secret ISI learned of this plot and tipped off the Pakistan Army and at midnight before the coup could take place, it was thwarted. The coup was exposed by Ali Kuli Khan, the Military Intelligence chief, and Jehangir Karamat, Chief of General Staff. The Military Intelligence led the arrest of 36 army officers and 20 civilians in Rawalpindi; General Ali Kuli Khan reported to Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto early morning and submitted his report on the coup. After learning this, Benazir was angered and dismayed, therefore a full-fledged running court martial was formed by Benazir Bhutto. Prime Minister Benazir issued arrests of numbers of religiously conservatives leaders and therefore denied the amnesty and clemency calls made by the Army officers. By 1996, all of the dissident officers were either jailed or shot dead by the Pakistan Army and a report was submitted to the Prime minister. General Kuli Khan and General Karamat received wide appreciation from the prime minister and were decorated with the civilian decorations and award by her.
15. Death of Younger Brother
In 1996, the Bhutto family suffered another tragedy in Sindh Province, Benazir Bhutto’s stronghold and political rival. Murtaza Bhutto, Benazir’s younger brother, was controversially and publicly shot down in a police encounter in Karachi. Since 1989, Murtaza and Benazir had a series of disagreements regarding the PPP’s policies and Murtaza’s opposition towards Benazir’s operations against the Urdu-speaking class. Murtaza also developed serious disagreement with Benazir’s husband, Zardari, and unsuccessfully attempted to remove his influence in the government. Benazir and Murtaza’s mother, Nusrat, sided with Murtaza which also dismayed the daughter. In a controversial interview, Benazir declared that Pakistan only needed one Bhutto, not two, though she denied giving or passing any comments. Her younger brother increasingly made it difficult for her to run the government after he raised voices against Benazir’s alleged corruption. Alone in Sindh, Benazir lost the support of the province to her younger brother. At the political campaign, Murtaza demanded party elections inside the PPP, which according to Zardari, Benazir would have lost due to Nusrat backing Murtaza and many workers inside the party being willing to see Murtaza as the country’s Prime minister as well as the chair of the party. More problems arose when Abdullah Shah Lakiyari, Chief Minister of Sindh, and allegedly her spouse created disturbances in Murtaza’s political campaign. On 20 September 1996, in a controversial police encounter, Murtaza Bhutto was shot dead near his residence along with six other party activists. As the news reached all of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto hurriedly returned to Karachi, and an emergency was proclaimed in the entire province. Benazir Bhutto’s limo was stoned by angered PPP members when she tried to visit Murtaza’s funeral ceremonies. Her brother’s death had crushed their mother, and she was immediately admitted to the local hospital after learning that her son had been killed.