Remembering Operation Fair Play

Operation Fair Play is perhaps the most significant event in the history of Pakistan. Yet ask anyone and all you will get is a blank stare. After 36 years, the nation is still reeling from the impact of the events that are known as Operation Fair Play.


What exactly is Operation Fair Play?

Operation Fair Play was the Pakistan Army’s secret initiative to topple the government of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. The operation was executed successfully in July 1977 by the infamous 111th Brigade.

Pakistan is deeply divided into several factions. We have the liberals, the democrats, the fundamentalists, the Islamic extremists and whatnot. One thing that everyone agrees on is this: Operation Fair Play was a bad thing.


If this was bad than the aftermath of the event were even worse!


For one, Pakistan became the international Jihadi Tourist Resort with people all over the world coming to satisfy their wish for martyrdom in the epic battle of Good vs. Infidels that happened in Afghanistan.


IT all started in 1976 when the right wing political parties decided that they needed a platform to counter the growing influence and strength of the PPP and its pseudo-socialist program. After much give and take, the collation, named PNA, was launched with a clear mandate; topple the Bhutto regime and install a right wing government with soft corner for religious politics.


The results of the 1977 General Elections came as a real surprise to everyone. The overwhelming success of PPP immediately drew criticism from all corners. The result was a chaos that engulfed the entire country. PNA


How Bhutto Responded to Operation Fair Play?

Bhutto responded in the typical landlord manner. Instead of taking to PNA activists, he used his personal army, the Federal Security Force and the police to beat up and torture the opposition. One thing led to another and one of the PNA leaders wrote a letter to the GHQ, asking the military to “set things right”.


This was the signal General Zia was waiting for. The plan was already chalked out and the units responsible for the operation had their orders and targets. The operation was executed successfully with the following outcomes:


What Followed the Operation Fair Play?

PPP’s government was sacked and all high ranking political office holders were arrested

Martial Law was declared across the country

Pakistan shifted nearer to the US and abandoned its ties to the USSR.

Zafar Iqbal

Zafar Iqbal

Zafar Iqbal is Contributing Editor of Awaz e Pakistan. He strongly believes in the power of words and words represent ideas that cannot be suppressed.
Zafar Iqbal



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