habits and political methods of Mr. Bhutto
The following secret airgram from the Lahore American
Consulate to the Department of State, Washington DC, makes an interesting
reading about Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's stay at the Intercontinental
Hotel (predecessor of the present Pearl Continental Hotel) at Lahore
in the 1970-71. Bhutto was at that time the most popular political
leader in West Pakistan and his Pakistan People's Party had gained
a sweeping victory in Sindh and Punjab in the elections held in
Social habits and political methods of Mr. Bhutto
Department of State
AIRGRAM CONFIDENTIAL A-23
TO: Department of State, Wash DC
INFO: American Embassy, ISLAMABAD; American Consulate,
DACCA; American Consulate, KARACHI
FROM: American Consulate, LAHORE
Date: June 28, 1971
SUBJECT: Social Habits And Political Methods of Mr.
The files of the United States Government are replete
with Bhutto stories, but a few more are always an agreeable way
to relieve monotony, and add fresh insights into the character of
the man who may become the predominant figure in the government
if any real transfer of power is to take place.
Recently, noting that I had called (with Laingen and
Hataway) at rooms 538-42, Intercontinental Hotel, the manager of
the hotel an Austrian named Rudolph Richter, discoursed at some
length on the problems he had encountered during Mr. Bhutto's most
recent sojourn in Lahore.
It seems that every time Mr. Bhutto moves into the
Intercontinental a certain matron who controls a stable of girls
moves in at the same time. Richter said these girls are not prostitutes
and there is no prostitution "as such." However, each
evening the girls go to Mr. Bhutto's suite where they perform songs
and dances for Mr. Bhutto's guests. Richter said many men come in
from the nearby villages wanting to see Bhutto or ask a favor from
him. However, Bhutto is usually too busy during the day talking
to leading officials or politicians. Therefore, he keeps the villagers
waiting in the corridors until nightfall. But in the evenings he
invites them in to watch the songs and dances performed by the girls.
Liquor flows copiously and the singing and dancing, abetted by stamping
and clapping of the villagers goes on until the early hours of the
morning. Richter said on Bhutto's last visit these "orgies"
kept up until 4 a.m. for three straight nights and could be heard
all over the hotel, including by him sleeping two floors below.
Naturally he received numerous complaints from the other guests,
including one from a colonel in the Army who said that if it did
not stop he was going to "shoot" Bhutto. At several points
Mr. Richter was on the verge of calling the police, but finally
brought the matter to the attention of Mr. Bhutto himself and Bhutto
immediately apologized and curtailed the noise.
Richter said that on the whole he gets along fine
with Bhutto, who is a very obliging guest, and he believes the reason
is that prior to the election he "had it out" with Bhutto
over what he considered an unpardonable breach of ethics. One evening
he heard a great commotion in the hotel kitchen and found Mr. Bhutto
standing on the kitchen table making a speech to the hotel workers.
Bhutto was saying, in effect, that the workers should make plans
to take over the jobs in the hotel that they really wanted, for
soon the hotel would belong to them.
Richter said that he told Bhutto outright that he
considered this a violation of the rights of hotel guests and that
if Bhutto made any more such speeches he would personally "throw
him out." Richter said that he thinks he caught Bhutto by surprise
by the boldness of his challenge for after muttering something like
"You do not dare," Bhutto immediately started to apologize.
Bhutto said that the workers had asked for him and that he had felt
obliged to respond.
To this Richter replied "What you do in the privacy
of your hotel room is your own business, but you have no right going
down to the kitchen and making speeches." Ever since that time
Bhutto has been extremely courteous to him. Richter believes Bhutto
sensed that he might carry through with his threat and that the
result could be some nasty publicity that would not be helpful to
Richter's evaluation of Bhutto is that he is a brilliant
man of tremendous energy. He can go through a vigorous working day
and stay up and party all night. By some of the flamboyant methods
just described, he has a charismatic appeal to uneducated people
who absolutely dote on him and swallow anything he has to say. However,
Richter considers him a very dangerous man precisely because of
Source: The American Papers: Secret and Confidential
India-Pakistan-Bangladesh Documents 1965-1973
Compiled and Selected by Roedad Khan (1999). Oxford University
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