By Wajid Shamsul Hasan
It is now 41 years to the Martyrdom of Pakistan’s first elected prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s judicial murder by General Ziaul Haq. Despite lapse of four our decades there is no lessening of fervour or massive following. He continues to hold sway over the body and soul of the poor. And as manifested in the observance of his anniversary Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto is remembered in awe and respect in country-wide-every nook and corner of it. The masses continue rededicating themselves to his ideals with religious zeal.
To those millions of downtrodden to whom he gave a voice and unshackled them of the exploitative stranglehold of the vested interests–he was a Messiah-a harbinger of freedom and hope for a better life. His pluralistic politics was a breath of fresh air for the youth, intellectuals, and progressive elites-all wanting to save Pakistan from being hijacked by the obscurantist conglomerate comprising of bigoted religious elements, Praetorian Establishment and powerful vested interests that had almost succeeded in converting Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s egalitarian Pakistan into a security state for the greater good of the vested interest.
As a student of contemporary politics, whatever I had known or learnt of him from my college days, I found it to be manifested in his life that he struggled for the empowerment of the masses. His dearest daughter Benazir Bhutto Bhutto -truly lived and died in as much in her father’s historic and glorious legacy-and indeed, it is that noble blood thar runs in the veins of Bhutto sahib’s followers. It has become an immortal national motto to live like Bhuttos, serve like Bhuttos and to die like Bhuttos.
To many Bhutto Sahib was an enigmatic personality. Born with a silver spoon in his mouth, provided best of world class education, his idealism to unshackle the chained masses was much akin to socialism. When he established PPP it was considered as a vehicle for the good of every one–irrespective of caste, creed, colour or gender. People with different political hues interpreted by Bhutto sahib’s political philosophy-integrated into a political force that remains a formidable threat to this day to the forces of staus quo.
While Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had profound political depth, content and substance to translate his dream of exploitation-free Pakistan into a rainbow reality, those who helped him form and joined PPP could not grasp his scientific understanding of the forces stoutly arrayed against his vision. His game plan was to wrest free flagging and nascent democracy writhing under the jack boots in cahoots with the troika of civil, judicial and forces of status quo who loathed civilian political leadership and a government of the people, by the people and for the people.
Forty-one years down the road the undying slogan “Bhutto Kal Bhee Zinda Tha, Bhutto Aaj Bhee Zinda Hai” reverberates infinitely where-ever PPP followers are-has and shall remain-the strongest political force and unifier of people for all times. What his followers need to do is to get down to wage a now or never struggle for translating socio-economic and political ideals of Shaheed Bhuttos into an action plan to deliver what he, his brave widow Begum Nusrat Bhutto and ‘dearest daughter’ promised to the poor masses. The drift from Bhutto’s ideals because of compromises that got PPP into illusionary power in the game of real politic has to be reversed to stage a come back for alleviating abysmally suffering lives of the great majority.
We must mourn his and martyrdom of Bhutto ladies– also of those hundreds and thousands who laid down their lives for their ideal of a democratic and exploitation-free Pakistan for which Shaheed Bhutto walked to the gallows head high as an uncompromising leader of a proud nation so that his people never bow to the forces of tyranny, oppression and imperialism. He preferred to live for a day like a lion rather than a jackal’s life for 100 years. So did his daughter -despite knowing it well and forewarned-she walked bravely into the trap to the drum beats of the hunters-to lay down her life for the cause she had struggled and lived for. Both of them could have been alive today had they betrayed their commitment to ideals of democracy and empowerment of the masses at the altar of tyranny.
We must not allow Bhutto ideals to be just remembered as folklores. His programme of “roti, kapra and makkan” continues to demand fulfilment. Each one of us should delve deep into his political philosophy, re-read PPP’s founding documents and get down on delivering what they had promised. We must remember as Shaheed Bhutto used to say, in battles there are reverses, what matters is the final victory. Final victory awaits the poor masses.
PPP has been the largest party and notwithstanding the masterly computerised/manipulated and conjured electoral reverses-it can still do it. We have only to revive the real revolutionary spirit of Bhuttoism and we shall open the floodgates of change for the greatest good of the largest number. Inshallah.
Shaheed Bhutto picked up the pieces of a truncated and defeated Pakistan in 1971. He infused a hope of a better tomorrow in his people. We are at a similar cross-road now-with even more dangerous forces rampant within the country. We can boldly and bravely face and force anti-Pakistan elements out there to destroy Pakistan by reviving the Bhutto spirit of post 1971 era. When times are tough, we have got get tougher to over run them.
Let’s pick up the gauntlet and do and die so that Pakistan lives as a befitting tribute to Bhutto Sahib’s political and historic legacy. He promised to the Quaid that if need be, he would sacrifice his life for Pakistan. And that he indeed did when he walked to the gallows head high on April 4, 1979. As martyred Bibi rightly said-democracy is the best revenge!
(The writer is former High Commissioner of Pakistan to UK and a veteran journalist.)