By M Waqar
January 5, we celebrate birthday of Z A Bhutto, a leader, politician, revolutionary, who after his execution in Pakistan on April 4, 1979, still lives on in the hearts and minds of millions of Pakistanis, and the party that he founded still possesses the largest permanent voting bank in Pakistan.
The possibility of the secular, democratic Pakistan that he had in mind, like Pakistan 's founder, Jinnah has earned ZAB the title of Quaid-i-Awam . Z. A. Bhutto has still more charisma than any politician in Pakistan. Mr Bhutto was inducted into office as the President of Pakistan in 1971 and was removed in 1977, both events took place around midnight; one in the wake of a war and the other in the shadow of a civil war. In between he gave the country what even his sympathizers and admirers would concede was a 'strong' government, he mobilized his country's first mass-based political party around a socialist ideology and highly independent foreign policy. Pakistan's modernizer Zulfikar Ali Bhutto left deep footprints in the sands of history.
To his lasting credit remains the 1973 Constitution of the country, the Shimla Accord of 1972 which brought the longest peace between India and Pakistan, the social reforms to build an egalitarian society, the non-aligned foreign policy, the nuclear programme and the building of the social, economic and military infrastructure of the country. He was a thinker, author and orator. He was deliberate, discreet, and competent; honest, upright and keeper of his covenants. He was a friend of the poor, downtrodden and oppressed. Fearless in his beliefs he refused to bow before any man or power other than the Almighty. His courage was such that he preferred to face death for his beliefs and embraced martyrdom. He had profound faith in freedom and the liberation of humanity. Under his government, Pakistan gave overt and covert support to the African nations than under apartheid and minority rule. He rejected fanaticism. He gave pride to the poor.
Z A Bhutto is the first person in Pakistan who has given voice to the common people. Z. A. Bhutto remains alive in hearts of millions of Pakistanis. It was a miracle that in less than half a decade a defeated nation had become a significant entity in the comity of nations. Pakistan had friends all around the globe from Africa to the far corner of Asia and from Europe to South America. We were regarded as a nation which had proved itself. Pakistani manpower was exported in the Middle East and the statesmanship of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had started bearing fruit. Under Z A Bhutto's rule, a new vision of Pakistan was born. Within a few years of the defeat in 1971, Pakistan began to see itself not as some beleaguered non-entity in South Asia, as the Indian establishment was prone to see it, but as a strategically located middle-sized power straddling the two worlds of South and West Asia, uniquely poised to take advantage of a host of geopolitical possibilities and enjoying widespread support among the Islamic states. He is one of the few Pakistani leaders that energized the nation and gave it a sense of optimism. Z A Bhutto, saw the future of Pakistan.
Like Jinnah he outwitted Indira Gandhi at Shimla and formed alliances with various world leaders, from Sadaat, to Boumediene to Qaddafi to Faisal. Pakistan survives today because of those alliances that enabled him to build the Nuclear bomb. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto understood the geo-political realities of the region. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto has earned a place in the pantheon of leaders from the Third World who earned everlasting fame in the struggle against colonialism and imperialism. He had the privilege of interacting with many of those leaders who played a great role in the epic struggle for national independence in the 20th century, including Mao Tse Tung, Ahmed Soekarno, Chou-en Lai, Gamal Abdel Nasser and Salvador Allende. During the period between the end of the Second World War and the end of the Cold War, the world was divided into two blocs: The Capitalist West and the Socialist East. All these leaders aspired to aspects of a socialist pattern of economy. Bhutto shared their faith in a leading role for the public sector as an instrument of self-reliance. Bhutto's foundation of the PPP was a setback for the reactionary forces in a country long dominated by the Right. The slogan of "Food, Shelter and Clothing" shifted the focus of Pakistan politics from theological to economic issues. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had the courage of his conviction to decide to lay down his life rather than compromise or seek appeasement.
There was a sense of purpose and direction in the country in pursuit of peace and prosperity. The economic growth rate increased and money poured in from expatriates who got the universal right to passport. The Muslim countries donated roughly $500 million annually to Pakistan, freeing it of international financial institutions. The people got jobs and opportunities. Women of the country were emancipated entering the police force, Foreign, Civil Service and subordinate judiciary for the first time in the country's history. There is a story that the American President John F. Kennedy was much impressed with the then Foreign Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. When they met, Kennedy walked with him in the Rose Garden and said, "Bhutto, if you were an American, you would be in my Cabinet". To which Zulfikar Ali Bhutto smilingly replied, "No, Mr. President. If I were an American, you would be in my cabinet". Z A Bhutto, was highly skilled negotiator and an international statesman, he secured the agreement between USSR and Pakistan, he signed an agreement with China on demarcation of the Sino-Pak boundary. When he became President, Pakistan had innumerable problems, but he was not a man to be cowed down by knotty problems, he was in fact, a dynamo of inexhaustible and boundless creative energy, he was born to solve problems , he had to tackle the problems of shattered country by a methodical system of fixing priorities. Bhutto the adroit politician and statesman tackled the difficult problems of his country one by one with devotion, determination and patriotic zeal and solved them successfully. Since his assumption of power this great man of vision and destiny, equipped with resolute will, extraordinary intelligence and seething patriotic zeal fought successfully against the landlords, capitalists, industrialists, religious fanatics, corrupt bureaucrats, saboteurs, foreign intriguers and spies, he stood like a rock against all odds and achieved national unity, he worked hard for the emancipation of the exploited working class and illiterate masses. His cruel and barbaric murder by military despots caused revulsion across the globe, Z A Bhutto dedicated his life to remove the sorrows from the hearts of the poor and the oppressed, to remove the tears from the children of his poor nation. He lived consciously to make history and to leave a legacy in the form of the development of his nation, his fight was a fight against the policies of IMF, which serve to perpetuate the backwardness of the developing nations.
Bhutto is rightfully credited with saving Pakistan at this dark moment in its history, as French President Giscard d'Estaing said, "he was the man who incarnated Pakistan at a dramatic hour of its history. Tolstoy in the last volume of his War and Peace expressed that history is a movement of ideas in which political leaders play a minor role. Sometimes the movement of ideas is indeed rapid. Yet, at times, the movement of ideas is slower than the melting of the glaciers. The movement of ideas is facilitated in a vibrant political and democratic culture, which gives room for dissent and disagreement. In dictatorial societies, history remains static in a cold freeze. And so it was in Pakistan before Quaid-i-Awam. He was the one who converted that static and decayed dictatorial polity into a vibrant and dynamic democratic society; the cost of which he paid with his own life. He who gave his blood, and the blood of his sons and daughter,
Long Live Bhuttoism….