Few leasers have shaped events of the contemporary age to their own vision and policy more surely than former Prime Minister Bhutto. The way he coped with most difficult circumstances and insurmountable difficulties and solved the trying problems of his country made him a legend even in his lifetime not only in his own country but also in the international world. He changed the course of history in South Asia in the sense that his courageous actions and overwhelming influence saved his country from further disintegration and united it with the binding force of Islamic socialism and wide ranging social, political, economic, industrial, labour, educational, administrative and land reforms.
The great apostle of Islamic socialism was the sworn enemy of feudalism, which, no doubt, was the canker in the body politic of Pakistan. He was the high priest of the exploitation-free society and had succeeded, to a great extent, in the eradication of the parasitic exploiters of his country. He did for the progress and prosperity of his country what Lenin had done for the Soviet Union and Chairman Mao had done for the People’s Republic of China. West Pakistan was in the grip of political chaos and economic slump after the dismemberment. Frustration and uncertainty loomed large over the horizon. Nobody knew what was in store for the defeated country. The disintegrative volcano, which torn a part of Pakistan, was still seething and rumbling in the subterranean world. The nation was in desperate and demoralized mood.
But the Chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was born to accomplish great deeds. He inspired his nation with a new hope and proved his worth by immediately launching courageous and revolutionary political, economic, agrarian, educational, industrial, labour, administrative and social reforms and saved his war-weary and famished country from total collapse and utter ruination. Pakistan, politically shattered and economically doomed, entered 1972, under the wise and dynamic leadership of President Bhutto, with much of the self-confidence restored and was ready to gain equilibrium. The frustrated and the defeated nation of the 1971 war with India, now under the guidance of an energetic, intelligent, brave, industrious, patriotic and able leader, was slowly gaining momentum, power and prestige. The dawn of the new era was dimly visible and the new Pakistan of President Bhutto’s conception was slowly-emerging from the ashes of the old feudal, discredited and dismembered Pakistan and was taking concrete shape.
ZA Bhutto was the determined and trustworthy friend of the poor and the exploited masses. Problems were innumerable. 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 did not believe in drawing room chatter but constantly reached out for facts into the fields. His greatest diplomatic scoop, however, was the Simla Agreement. He outwitted Mrs Ghandi in diplomatic bargaining. He secured the release of ninety thousand PoWs and also freed 5,000 square miles of Pakistani territory from Indian clutches and gave nothing in return except the promise of normalization of relations which was more to the advantage of Pakistan than India.
In short, since assuming power this great man of vision and destiny, equipped with extraordinary intelligence and seething patriotic zeal fought successfully against the landlords, Jagirdars, Sardars, capitalists, industrialists, big business, religious fanatics, corrupt bureaucrats, saboteurs, terrorists, foreign intriguers and foreign spies. He stood like a rock against all odds and oddities and achieved national unity with the help of downtrodden and exploited masses.
He was their beloved leader and always advocated with enthusiasm the cause of the poor, the lowliest and the lost. He worked hard for the emancipation of the exploited working class and illiterate masses and his heart bled for their miserable plight. Commenting on Bhutto, President of the United States, Richard Nixon said, “Pakistan entered 1972 as a deeply troubled and demoralised nation. Crisis and defeat in 1971 had torn apart its political structure, halved its population and shattered the established pattern of its economy. Yet President Bhutto has taken many courageous steps of political, economic and social reforms. He has restored much of the self-confidence of his countrymen.”
Prior to the advent of the Bhutto government which came into power on December 20, 1971, Pakistan never enjoyed a democratic constitution in the true sense of the word. Previous constitutions were framed for the country by self styled politician and military dictators. Bhutto had to wipe out the unhealthy and corrupt socio-economic traditions of his predecessors and had to usher in an era of true democracy and the rule of law. The 1973 constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was a milestone in the history of Pakistan. Within three months of taking the rein of the government, Prime Minister Bhutto announced wide-ranging land reforms to allow the peasantry to start a new life. Bhutto was not only the child of his age but he was also a man in advance of his age. He was yearning for a new international economic order based on justice and equity.
Bhutto promised “Roti, Kapra Aur Makan” for everybody. The second slogan enunciated the three fundamental principles of the Party, namely, “Islam is our Deen (Religion), democracy is our polity and socialism is our economy”. Both these slogans are not mere election slogans. They reflect an outlook and a concrete philosophy of life.
Previous government’s by working on out-moded economic models concentrated only on ‘growth’ in complete disregard of the requirements of social justice. The practice led to the accumulation of wealth in the hands of a small class. Bhutto emphasized that the labour class should fully share the country’s prosperity. Labour welfare, was, therefore, the cornerstone of the labour policy of the people’s government under the dynamic leadership of Quaid-e-Awam, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. He also stressed the need for the socio-economic development of the poverty-stricken and backward areas of Fata.
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto transformed Iqbal’s dream of Islamic Commonwealth of Nations into the historic Islamic summit at Lahore in which the Muslim leaders endorsed this concept. The tragic history of Pakistan during the twenty-five years of its existence, before the advent of the People’s Party government was attributed to a certain extent, to the sad saga of its misguided foreign policy. The ruling classes of those days were composed of political entrepreneurs and corrupt bureaucrats, “who were divorced from people’s urges and people’s aspirations and thus unable to appreciate wherein lay the national interests.” They had no principles and no scruples. It was only after Bhutto joined the government in 1958, that the country’s foreign policy began to acquire a degree of balance, realism and a measure of independence, based on enlightened national interest. Bhutto followed the progressive evolution of the concept of bilateralism in foreign affairs, which under him became the pivotal plank of the country’s foreign policy.
Bhutto’s qualities of incisive understanding of world forces, mastery of international law, grasp of historical process and historical situations and subtle comprehension of international politics made him eminently suitable to sift facts from fiction and myths from realities and to draw a vivid picture. In the words of Dr Henry Kissinger, “Prime Minister Bhutto, is one of the few world statesmen who has full understanding of forces that shape the modern world. It is always a rewarding experience to talk to him. Prime Minister Bhutto’s manifesto was destined to do for the third world as Darwin’s theory had done for biology, Plank’s theory had done for nuclear physics and Marx’s manifesto had done for the exploited, working classes of the world.”
The writer is Advisor to Chief Minister Sindh on Information and Archives and Secretary Information PPP Women Wing Sindh.