“I am grateful to you that you have assembled here from far-flung areas to meet me and listen to my views. This is your right and my duty. Wherever I go, even for a few moments, I make every endeavor to establish contact and exchange views with my friends and brethren. This is the only means which gives me an opportunity to know problems and views of my brethren. This job can formally be done in offices too. Conferences, meetings of cabinet, meetings with foreign guests and delegations are held there in Islamabad office. These have their own importance but the people's government has its link with the people. It has to reach the masses, in cities, villages and in every province and area. I, therefore, strive to maintain a balance between office work and mass contact.”

These are the opening lines of one of the speeches by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a popular leader who connected well with people of all classes through his energetic and jovial public speeches. With his dynamic personality, charisma and great mastery of the art of communication with any kind of audience, he was an extraordinary leader. He authored two books, The Myth of Independence (1969) and The Great Tragedy (1971). Bhutto founded the Pakistan People’s Party in 1967 and served Pakistan as president (1971–1973) and the prime minister (1973–1977) following his achievements as very important minister in the federal cabinet.

Bhutto was subsequently imprisoned (1968–69) when he denounced the military regime of General Ayub Khan as a dictatorship. After West Pakistan’s humiliating defeat in East Pakistan on December 16, 1971, another military ruler General Yahya Khan turned charge of the government to Bhutto as Pakistan’s president on December 20, 1971. He became the prime minister after the new Constitution of 1973 made the presidency largely ceremonial. Despite a popular mandate in 1977 elections, Bhutto’s government was seized by military chief General Zia-ul-Haq on July 5, 1977. Soon afterward, the deposed prime minister was imprisoned and later sentenced to death on March 18, 1978 on a murder charge.

As an intellectual politician, Bhutto feels that Pakistan must experience a political evolution before it could claim having attained a reasonable level of nationhood. So he had set into motion exactly such a process in the country, deserted by military coups in the past. On April 4, 1979, Bhutto was executed despite appeals for clemency from several world leaders. Pakistan needs to remember this incident and not allow such tragedies to come to mind again. It is a testament to Bhutto’s perennial legacy that his name still has a presence in the mainstream political discourse even 37 years after his death.

Addressing a public gathering, the late visionary leader said that an independent Balochistan cannot exist as it lacks essential strength for maintaining independence. “Do they wish to gain ‘independence’ through the help of some bigger power,” he questioned while announcing that Pakistan is strong enough to defeat conspiracy against Baloch people. “Some people who have been shouting for an independent Balochistan want to maintain their own system and their freedom to treat the common people as their slaves just as they did during the days of the British.”

These statements show how the great leader openly pointed out a great conspiracy against Pakistan.

“I envision a Balochistan in which the poor is free and in which he is not exploited. I say that the system of exploitation – the reactionary system which has kept the poor Baloch backward and in chains should be brought to an end. I want you to be free. This is our struggle, our aim that you should enjoy the freedom within Pakistan. I am fighting for your freedom. They were fighting for your slavery. I am talking of Pakistan. They are talking of a supposedly ‘free’ Balochistan, but they dread the freedom of the men and women who make Balochistan.”

Bhutto, the pioneer of populist politics in Pakistan, empowered the people by assuring them that Pakistan belongs to them. He laid his life for the rights of the people; that’s why he is living not only on history’s pages but also among his countless followers. He was the pure voice of a modern and progressive Pakistan, and will remain so forever. Bhutto’s death was a dark moment in mainstream politics and what is generally believed to be a judicial murder. Despite all repression, the characters within state were not able to erase Bhutto’s name from the national conscience as the PPP rallied around his name and won the elections from grassroots level to provincial set up and national mainstream politics.

Now the candle of hope that Bhutto lighted in the form of his popular party continues to give hope to the masses under the leadership of Bilawal Bhutto who is holding the flag which was handed down to him by his grandfather through his equally brave and great mother – the late Benazir Bhutto.