On the face of it, there was no link between Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi and PPP leader Nusrat Bhutto, except their deaths in the same week, but the way they were mourned by Pakistanis showed that memory linked them. The actual link was limited to Mrs Bhutto having hosted, as First Lady of Pakistan, Gaddafi at the Lahore Summit of the OIC, and could be extended, and that too by PPP opponents to Gaddafi having made some of the payments to Mrs Bhuttos husband for the Pakistani nuclear programme, but it should be remembered that they represented important strands which formed part of that era, and what was being mourned was a lost youth, rather than the figures who actually died. Whereas Mrs Bhutto represented the PPP, Gaddafi represented the achievement, in his own country, of that partys aspirations. If it was hoped that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto would bring roti, kapra aur makan to Pakistanis, Gaddafi was supposed to have done it. Another reason for Gaddafis popularity was his championing the Palestinian cause. The Summit itself was a grand occasion, but the show that Bhutto organised afterwards, at the Stadium that was to be named after Gaddafi, and at which Palestinian symbol Yasser Arafat also appeared, was what made it really memorable for the people, for whom that was the only event. That was an era for young people, as Ayub Khan (probably the ultimate paternal symbol) had been ousted because of a young peoples movement, and the cure for his successors plunging the country into a disastrous war, which saw the splitting of the country, saw the emergence of that symbol of youth, Bhutto. As he became President, his wife became First Lady, and she continued the role when her husband became Prime Minister under the 1973 Constitution. Though he had not picked her for the role, she played it to perfection. It was a role she was partly used to, having been a Ministers wife under Ayub, and partly not, being the role model for the women in the party, particularly a party which tried to attract women, along with youth, is it too much to think she must have reached out to her past, as a leader of the AIML Womens Guard in her Bombay (now Mumbai)? She too was a rebel, and hers was not an arranged marriage. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto followed the tradition of marrying a wife he could present in society, by marrying her. Though they married young, Bhutto had already contracted the 'family marriage, to his cousin Amir Bi, who died decades ago, but not without having witnessed the first tragedy of Mrs Nusrat Bhuttos life, the hanging of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Mrs Bhutto had already had her head opened by the Lahore police during a charge launched to stop the crowd cheering her and raising slogans against the general who ousted him, Ziaul Haq. But she was on her way on the path which would lead to her becoming the Chairperson of the PPP after her husbands hanging, and to the creation of the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy, which struggled hard to remove Ziaul Haq. After her husband, she suffered when her son Shahnawaz, whom she herself described as her baby, was poisoned in 1985. However, that was not all that fate had in store for her. There was the marriage of both daughters, with her elder daughter, and eldest child, Benazir, becoming not just Co-Chairperson of the party, but also Prime Minister after the 1988 election. The former First Lady became Senior Minister, a position she did not regain after the PPP victory of 1996, by which time she was stripped of her Co-Chairpersonship. However, her son Murtaza had returned to Pakistan, and entered politics as an MPA. His killing in 1996 led to her retirement from public life, and she shared her daughters self-imposed exile in Dubai. She did not learn of her death in December 2008, and provides no outstanding example of fortitude. Just a woman widowed young, and who had three of the four children she bore die violent deaths before her. The liberated woman of the 1970s was first a wife and a mother, but even those with a hidden agenda then (of using these relationships to carry on business as usual), could not have wanted her to lose her husband and three of her four children, thus, a loss which has led the President, as filial a son-in-law as any, to name her Madar-i-Jamhuriat. Gaddafi could claim to have lost an adopted daughter to American bombing, and that was, perhaps, the reason for his popularity throughout the Muslim world, as well as the Third World generally. He was anti-American. It became dangerous to be Muslim and anti-American, especially after the collapse of the USSR, and Gaddafi sacrificed even his countrys nuclear programme to avert the fate of Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussain, but ultimately it was, perhaps, worse. Gaddafis rule is supposed to have been brutal, but this was not the reason why the Western powers joined in his removal. His opposition to Israel had toned down over the years, but he still was a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause. His death came after he had lost power and left his capital, but the debate arising after his death, about which European countries would control Libyas oil wealth, showed that the NATO support of those rebelling against him was not to do with the elections that are to be held, or with the Transitional National Council replacing him, but with that oil wealth, which Gaddafi had used to bankroll the generous provision for Libyan citizens, which won Pakistanis to his side when he first carried out his reforms, back in the early 1970s. That those provisions were appreciated is shown by the approval in Pakistan of the PPPs promise of roti, kapra aur makan, which was made around the same time. The resonance of this promise is difficult to appreciate now, after the fall of the USSR, but at that time it was a fresh thought, and implied rebellion against the status quo, which was market-driven, and saw the USA dominant. Gaddafi had gone up against the USA once, he did not go up a second time, though the situation was repeating itself. With Gaddafis passing, not just Libya is at stake, but the whole Arab Spring. With Gaddafi, there have now been changes of regime in the eastern half of the Maghreb. Algeria and Morocco in its West remain. However, the fate of Syria, on the Mediterranean littoral, remains unclear, the USA has, probably, kept the Gulf under the monarchs it has always preferred, and one of whom Gaddafi replaced. Libya has always been crucial to Europe, right to the time the Phoenicians developed Carthage, now Tunis, and it challenged Rome through Hannibal. Libya was the Roman province of Cyrenaica before the Arabs brought it into Islamic rule. One of the fears being expressed is that Libya might travel down the Islamist path. That was a worry that Gaddafi also had, with one aspect of his regime being a suppression of all sources of dissent, which in the Libyan context meant a lot of Islamic parties too. But while Egypts Gamal Abdel Nasser had been openly secular, his heir as the font of Arab nationalism, Gaddafi, showed an Islamic inclination, though unorthodox in some practices. That is also a worry that the PPP government in Pakistan, headed by Mrs Bhuttos handpicked son-in-law, has. That this is an ultimately American worry shows that the passing of those icons of the 1970s that the problems of the past have been merely repeated in the present. The writer is a veteran journalist and founding member as well as Executive Editor of TheNation. Email: maniazi@nation.com.pk