On April 4th, every year we pay tribute to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a visionary restless soul, with rigorous patriotism and excellent communication skills that gave birth to Pakistan’s largest political party, The People’s Party on a convention held in Lahore on November 30-December 01, 1967. It all started when Bhutto sahab left the government of Ayub Khan on June 16, 1966 claiming to get rid of dictatorship which had adversely affected the nation’s pride at the negotiation table at Tashkent the war.

Bhutto strongly believed in promoting democracy. He worked hard rigorously until he came up with a team that could take country to new heights while facing adverse challenges against the most powerful dictator of those times, Ayub Khan. It was during the same convention when Bhutto was made the chairman of Pakistan People’s Party. The new party had its manifesto as Islam our religion; democracy our policy; socialism our economy; with the main chant of democracy being power lies with the people.

Other than dictatorship, there were other menaces such as feudalism hovering over the country’s progress. Bhutto promised to free nation from orthodox beliefs. He started a movement against Ayub Khan. Bhutto diffused his agenda throughout the country. It started to strengthen the party’s roots and overwhelming response appeared from the masses. Uproar began against the government and Ayub Khan was forced left, right and centre to resign. He, therefore, resigned in 1967 and elections were announced by an interim military government which had taken the charge until new government was formed.

Leading towards the elections, People's Party contested elections steadfastly and won 81 seats out of 138 allocated to West Pakistan in the National Assembly. Huge support from the masses appeared. The major hubs were the provinces of Sindh and Punjab where PPP won many seats. Since not much time had been given for this infant party to spread its wings, therefore, it couldn’t field its candidates in East Pakistan. On the whole, PPP acquired second position to East Pakistan-based Awami League. The military establishment didn’t allow passing of powers to Awami League which had won majority in the national legislature. This gave rise to heinous problems and conflicts and eventually Indian military meddled into the matter and East Pakistan was lost and emerged as an independent nation on the map of the world by the name of Bangladesh. This brings me to what I believe is the feather in ZAB’s cap as the saviour of Pakistan after 1971 breakup.

Amidst bevy of ups and downs, People’s Party was privileged to rule from Dec. 20, 1971 to July 5, 1977. During its tenure, PPP endlessly devoted its efforts to create a versatile future for the people of Pakistan. Bulk of strategies aiming at the welfare of masses had been carved. It was Bhutto sahab’s masterly stroke of statesmanship that despite being the leader of a thoroughly defeated nation he cleverly negotiated with victorious Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and signed an agreement with her at Simla that has given peace to the two countries for 45 years to date. 

The most important constitution of Pakistan, the constitution of 1973, was parliamentary in nature and was legislated under the Bhutto regime. As a student of history and politics I believe the 1973 Constitution was his most astounding achievement. It resolved the divisive issue of the quantum of autonomy for the province in the light of Quaid-e-Azam’s assertion that in Pakistan federating units would have more autonomy than the states in the United States of America. It is no denying the fact that the 1973 has proved to be strongest binding force keeping provinces united—more powerful than the religion itself.

In the year 1977, Bhutto called for elections; the opposition parties merged into one political party naming “National Alliance (PNA)” which then came eye to eye to contest elections.  Despite big names being attached, PNA couldn’t leave a mark and thus lost to PPP which won 155 seats.

Democracy has been always haunted by the dictators in Pakistan. It was in the time of Bhutto when General Ziaul Haq imposed martial law and seized powers on July 5, 1977. The services rendered by Bhutto are written in golden words. He was a man with vision and vigour who drove the nation through the darkest of times and led them towards a path of prosperity, progress and democracy.

Bhutto, the roaring lion was put behind bars under the accusation of murder charge by the martial law regime. Several movements were held; rallies were conducted to free Bhutto and attain justice. The Bhutto family went through a trivial phase and this perforated further into adverse conditions when Bhutto’s death was announced. He was judicially murdered.