''The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones''
Shakespeare's words may well have been written for Zulfikar Ali Bhutto whose 89th birthday is being celebrated today. And before a jiyala gets offended please be reminded that Mark Anthony said these words in praise of his slain friend Julius Caesar.
For, after all that is what our lives are. We do good deeds and we do bad deeds. Those who live more than ordinary lives like political leaders, statesmen etc. are no different. Yet often in their case the mistakes they make are blown and magnified far out of proportion to make them look like nothing be evil. Like Rome did to Caesar who doubled the territory and revenue of the empire, yet was declared enemy of the state!
ZA Bhutto is a classic example for if you listen to his opponents everything that is wrong with Pakistan is his fault. From Ayub's misadventure in Kashmir to break up of Pakistan to Zia's Islamization and tantalization of Pakistan are all conveniently credited to Bhutto. Somehow they restrain themselves from blaming him for the 1947 riots, assassination of Liaqat Ali and the first martial law! For in their opinion, Bhutto did nothing but bad.
On the other hand we have the die hard supporters of Bhutto, often called jiyalas, who would sweep aside any criticism on Bhutto even when this is justified.
For me both parties are equally wrong and real Bhutto lies somewhere in between of what they make of him.
There is no denying that Bhutto was a charismatic leader. Intelligent, articulate, educated and smartly dressed, he stands head and shoulders in political sex appeal above any Pakistani leader except MA Jinnah. But then Jinnah was more of a pre-partition leader of India than Pakistan.
Bhutto came to power at the darkest hour in Pakistani history. A nation which was led to believe its army was invincible had just witnessed its humiliating surrender. At that stage Bhutto brought back the pride of Pakistanis in their nation. Not only that, Bhutto by suppressing the Hamood-ur-Rehman report saved Pakistan army from further humiliation.
It is a frequent allegation against Bhutto that he did nothing for the poor. Well, the fact is that it was the politics of Bhutto which brought poor people from the sub-human status they had been enjoying to a position where they realized that they don't just have to do what the rich man or the feudal lord says. They can negotiate with them so that they get something in return for their loyalty or votes.
Yet Bhutto also made many mistakes, and the biggest of these was that like many other leaders before and since, he allowed himself to be blackmailed by the mullahs. He abandoned the left-wing intellectuals and leaders in bending over to the right-wing religious fanatics thinking that by appeasing them a little, he will be more secure in his seat. This is always a false hope, for once you give an inch to these poisonous weeds they do not stop till it is too late and you have lost your house or life to them.
And unfortunately none of the Pakistani leaders have learnt the lesson. Today Imran Khan is the last great hope for many despite the fact that he has already mortgaged his soul to the mullahs. Even if it is a political maneuver (which I doubt it is for he looks to be sincere in his Islamic ideas) it will lead to nothing but disaster.
How can he not understand that corruption, which he wants to eliminate, is entwined with religious extremism and military establishment? How can you hope cut just one head of the Hydra and expect for it to die?