Today, the nation observes the 34th death anniversary of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (ZAB), the founder Chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and former Prime Minister, with great respect and reverence.
The PPP that was formed in 1967 has been empowered to rule the country by the people of Pakistan twice by Shaheed Bhutto, twice by Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and currently by Asif Ali Zardari. Despite the fact that PPP leaders and workers faced several difficulties during military regimes, they managed to establish the party as the largest political party in Pakistan. This was possible only because of Bhutto’s vision; a vision to change the exploitative system and give the poor and neglected equal rights. However, he was not allowed to succeed in his ambitions and executed for pleading the cause of the poor and guarding national sovereignty.
Bhutto gave people the courage to speak for their rights. He brought politics out of the drawing room and attracted the teeming millions against the wishes of the undemocratic forces, who have always undermined the people's rule. Bhutto - the man who had awakened and led the masses throughout his political career and the man who befriended the poor, exercised moral leadership and transformed Pakistani politics - was hanged on April 4, 1979. Undoubtedly, his efforts and achievements for Pakistan cannot be forgotten. Some of them are:
i His famous speech at the UNSC: “We will wage a war for a thousand years” - September 22-23, 1965.
i The PPP manifesto with the slogan: "Islam is our faith, democracy is our policy, socialism is our economy, all power to the people" - October 1966.
i He laid the foundation of PPP at Lahore - November 30,1967.
i He led a mass movement for the restoration of democracy – 1968.
i Landslide victory for PPP in the elections in present-day Pakistan - December 7, 1970.
i The signing of Simla Agreement. Pakistan to get back 5,000 square miles of territory occupied in 1971 war.
i Inaugurated Pakistan's first nuclear power plant at Karachi. - November 28, 1972.
i Constitution of Pakistan passed unanimously - April 12, 1973.
i Agreement for repatriation of 93,000 PoWs - August 28, 1973.
i Laid the foundation stone of Pakistan Steel Mill - December 30, 1973.
i Islamic Summit at Lahore - February 22, 1974.
i Inaugurated Pakistan's First Seerat Conference March 3, 1976.
The list goes on. However, while recalling some of Bhutto’s sacrifices and achievements, I also benefited from the memoirs of Mohtarma Shaheed Benazir Bhutto with whom I have had a good working relationship. She remembered her father every day, at every moment and even before taking any decision. She not only wrote about the last moments she had spent with her father, but also followed in his footsteps. On April, 3, Benazir, along with her mother Nusrat Bhutto, had their last meeting with Bhutto whose legacy as a mass leader will live on forever. Here are some excerpts from Benazir’s book, entitled “Daughter of the East”, about her last meeting with her father:
"Why are you both here?
My father says from inside
the inferno of his cell.
My mother doesn't answer.
“Is this the last meeting?”
My mother cannot bear
“I think so,” I say
He calls for the jail superintendent, who is standing by. They never leave us alone with papa.
“Is this the last meeting?” My father asks him.
“Yes,” comes the reply. The jail superintendent seems ashamed to be the bearer of the regime's plans.
“Has the date been fixed?”
“Tomorrow morning,” the
“At what time?”
“At five o'clock according to
“When did you receive this
“Last night,” he says
My father looks at him.
“You have both suffered a lot,” he says. “Now that they are going to kill me tonight, I want to free you as well. If you want to, you can leave Pakistan as the constitution is suspended and martial law imposed. If you want peace of mind and to pick up your lives again, then you might want to go to Europe. I give you my permission. You can go.”
Our hearts are breaking “No, no,” mummy says. “We cannot go. We will never go. The Generals must not think they have won. Zia has scheduled elections again, though who knows if he will dare to hold them? If we leave, there will be no one to lead the party, the party you built.”
“And you, Pinkie?”
my father asks.
“I could never go,” I say.
“Good Bye Papa,” I call to my father, as mummy reached through the bars to touch him.
Today, both the leaders are not with us. Even though they have left for their heavenly abode, their memories and guidance will always be remembered by the people of Pakistan, especially the PPP workers.
The PPP, following the path of their Shaheed leaders, restored the 1973 constitution in its original form, ensured the independence of judiciary, freedom of press and sovereignty of Parliament. It is the first time in Pakistan’s history that a democratically-elected Parliament has completed five years of its tenure. It has also made historic amendments to the constitution by the formation of independent Election Commission and caretaker governments with the approval of the leader of the house and leader of the opposition. Also, the PPP leaders followed Shaheed Bhutto slogan, “roti kapra aur makan”, with the addition of education and health for the forthcoming elections.
The writer is the in charge
of policy, planning and
media, PPP Punjab.