By way of a counterfactual, it is not too difficult to imagine Pakistan without Jinnah but it’s quite another thing to underestimate the role Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto played in setting up the destiny of this country.

Both Jinnah and Bhutto got a new country entirely to themselves; however, Bhutto also got five and a half years to try what he meant to do.

Like Jinnah, Bhutto knew the cardinal principle of traditional politics and lawmaking: there is no such thing as principles even in the grandest of things. However, his job was not to campaign for a federation but to save one from breaking up further and ensuring its survival. At the very least, he had to fill the void created by the loss of one half of the country.

And he did a tremendous job at it: in Pakistan’s most vulnerable moment yet, Bhutto stepped in and did everything it took - internally and externally, by hook or by crook - to save the idea of “Pakistan” from further deterioration.

He gave Pakistan a Constitution that is still the saving grace of Pakistan’s democracy. The nuclear program he initiated is now doing a similar job for Pakistan’s integrity. Arguably both these things would have been done anyway. It is nationalization of industries and banks, land reforms, civil service reforms, and visa reforms – things reflecting the roots of the man’s vision – that decide his stature.

Decidedly, Bhutto wanted to take Pakistan on a truly independent trajectory. However, keeping in view Pakistan’s two military dictators during two seemingly unforeseeable Afghan Wars, it is clear that such independence would not have suited the interests of the US. With the reversal of Bhutto’s nationalization and myriad checks on his land and civil service reforms, Pakistan did not change in any meaningful way. Remittances continue to come in but that would hardly be slogan for national development.

When the joint session of the Parliament meets on Monday to decide on joining the Saudi coalition in Yemen, the parliamentarians would do well to remember that they face the same dilemma faced earlier by demigods like Jinnah and Bhutto: finding Pakistan’s truly independent identity as a Muslim nation. We wish them good luck.