They say, time and tide wait for none! Indeed, in the vast canvas of time, the passing of one year seems like the blink of an eye. Many such years have passed before, and many more are yet to come. What matters ultimately is how you have spent the time given to you. I am reminded of the Scottish satirical writer, essayist, historian and teacher, Thomas Carlyle, who said: “The history of the world is ultimately the biography of great men.” Indeed, in the history of Pakistan, the era of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto is written indelibly in gold.

Today, when people recall the ‘good old days’, they invariably mean the golden era of the 70s. The time when Pakistan was known the world over as a progressive nation; when development and traditions co-existed; when looking towards the future did not automatically mean you were disregarding the past; when being modern and enlightened was not equated to being a desperate copycat of the West; when the world respected us as a nation; and when we respected ourselves. An age when things looked rosy and the future loomed bright. This was a Pakistan governed by Shaheed Prime Minister Bhutto. A leader, who was cruelly snatched from his populace by an unconscionable tyrant - falsely accused, imprisoned, and convicted, he was victim of a judicial murder thinly veiled under the guise of justice - plunging Pakistan into a vortex of despair.

Quaid-e-Awam believed firmly in the manifest capacity of each individual to make his own future, as he made his. He gave himself a goal. He envisioned serving his people and his land, which he did. He believed that an individual should never succumb to tyranny and injustice. He gave his life to live up to his beliefs. He was a true leader of the people, who lived and died for them. And these very principles he instilled in his daughter. The woman, who gave up her dreams, her aspirations, and ultimately her life, for her nation. As the youngest and the first woman Prime Minister of a Muslim nation, Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto created history. And in selflessly giving her life up for her beloved Pakistan, she left an indelible imprint on our lives, as we swore to fulfil her vows, and realise her vision.

Anyway, even decades after he was murdered, Pakistan is united in the belief that Shaheed Bhutto symbolises the nation’s pride. A man who, in his life and death, left behind such deep-rooted prints that their impact reverberated through generations; who spent and gave his life for the rights of his people; who gave Pakistan a unanimous, democratic and Islamic Constitution with provincial autonomy and human rights - the first Constitution to recognise human rights of the people of Pakistan; who had the moral courage to leave the corridors of power and stand with the masses in order to fight tyranny; who chose to walk to the gallows with his head held high, rather than bow to the whims of a spineless dictator - a man so deeply committed to his ideals and his beliefs that he chose death over dishonour. A man with such strength of character that even those who never met him are unwavering in their commitment to follow the path he carved. A man with such foresight, that his vision for Pakistan stands true even 33 years after his martyrdom. In death he was, as in his life, an unparalleled leader - an unmatched visionary. And it is his vision and his beliefs that compel people to follow the creed of Bhuttoism - for Pakistan’s well being. Indeed, history has never forgiven those who murdered him, while he has become a legend!

I was recently in Islamabad when someone from Radio Pakistan asked me a question that is on most minds. “What would Pakistan be if PM Bhutto had not been assassinated?” Attempting to answer this question in a few lines is akin to showing a lamp to the sun - but I did. And during my attempt, what stood out most in my mind was that in addition to the fact that a Pakistan with Bhutto would be economically, socially, institutionally strong, a Pakistan with Bhutto would be in a position lofty and secure enough to point fingers at the very nations that point them at us today.

It is true when they say that an unjust death is avenged again, and again, and again. Indeed, Shaheed Bhutto’s loyalists, his comrades, the people of his nation, have left no opportunity to avenge. His murder is avenged every time someone raises the call of “jiyay Bhutto”; every time someone weeps in his memory; every time someone recounts his lifetime; every time someone goes to his grave to pay homage; every time someone curses the dictator who killed him; and every single time his government fulfils his promises; and it is such remembrances that keep him alive decades after that fateful day, and will continue to, for many years to come.   

n    The writer is Information Minister of Sindh