Movement for the Restoration of Democracy


Movement for the Restoration of Democracy

The Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) (Urdu: اتحاد برائے بحالی جمہوریت) was a major alliance formed by Secular-Socialist democratic political forces aiming to end the General Zia-ul-Haq's martial law and military dictatorship in the country. It was formed in February 1981. The alliance was aimed at restoring democracy and ousting the then military ruler of Pakistan General Zia ul Haq. The MRD coalition comprised Socialist democratic and secular forces such as Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam (MAI), National Democratic Party, Sindhi Awami Tahreek, Awami National Party, Tehrik-e-Istiqlal, Pakistan Muslim League, Qaumi Mahaz-e-Azadi, Pakistan Mazdoor Kissan Party, Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam, (Pakhtoonkhwa); MRD demanded withdrawal of martial law and immediate elections.

At the time of the formation of the Movement for Restoration of Democracy in 1982, the PML split into two factions, one led by Pir Pagara and the other by Malik Qasim. The PPP, though reluctantly, agreed to form the MRD with the very parties which had paved the way for the ouster of the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto government in 1977. This alliance had launched a potent struggle against Zia-ul Haq's rule, especially in Sindh. Military force was used against agitators and the movement was crushed.[1] However, it mounted pressure on General Zia to hold the elections. Convinced that party-based elections would not bring the ‘positive results’ he had been talking of, he decided to hold non-party elections in 1985. But before doing so, he secured his election as president through a referendum.

The PML and the JI were the only parties which contested. All parties in the MRD boycotted the polls.

MRD, in fact, was an uprising against military rule in Pakistan with its epicenter in Sindh. During the decade long existence of the movement, twice the people of Sindh (in 1983 and 1986) went for armed struggle against the military junta, in which hundreds of the civilians and military personnel were killed especially in Dadu, Noaushehro Feroz and Nawabshah districts.

According to the political analysts, MRD in Sindh was an ‘spontaneous’ nationalist uprising to the greater extent and a culmination of reaction against the injustices due to ill federalism in Pakistan against Sindh. The judicial murder of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, ex President and Prime Minister of Pakistan hailing from Larakana district of Sindh became a reason of antagonism between the military and civilians in Sindh and rest of Pakistan.[2] [3]

The prominent leaders of MRD were Ms. Nusrat Bhutto, Ms. Benazir Bhutto, Mr. Rasool Bux Palijo, Khan Abdul Wali Khan, Mr. Fazil Rahu and others. Thousands of the activists were jailed across the country especially in Sindh. hj


References

  1. ^ Martyrs of MRD Movement 1983 Frontier Post retrieved September 29 2008
  2. ^ Interview of Asif baladi, Monthly Sanjah
  3. ^ Monthly Paroor, 1988

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