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Remembering Bhutto

05 April, 2010

By Nafees A Siddiqi


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Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was among those leaders of the world who shape the destinies of their peoples.

 

Bhutto asserted Pakistan’s national independence when the country was a member of Western military pacts. It is his initiative in the 1960s that paved the way for Kissinger’s secret diplomacy with China, something that brought the United States and China together and eased international tensions. That courageous initiative is still the mainstay of Pakistan’s territorial integrity. He laid the foundation of a nuclear Pakistan.

Leading a recently vanquished Pakistan, Bhutto, through the Simla Accord, succeeded in securing the return of 90,000 prisoners of war and over 5,000 square miles of Pakistani territory from India.

Bhutto assembled a team of men that included J A Rahim, Mahmud Ali Kasuri, Dr Mubashir Hassan, Abdul Hafeez Pirzada and Mairaj Mohammad Khan who ably assisted him in the execution of his plans. Unfortunately, the PPP today does not such brilliant and courageous people at the top. There is no one on the national scene, not even in his own Pakistan People’s Party, who could take over his mantle after the assassination of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.

The PPP’s political leadership, which lacks a sense of direction, is pushed around by the establishment on the important issues. Despite the achievement of a significant political gain over the constitutional package through consensus, the establishment is cleverly easing the party out, because of the PPP’s lack of will. Meanwhile, the military leadership is being portrayed as the country’s saviour. The PPP leadership’s faux pas have become one of its leaders’ hallmarks.

Bhutto’s biggest contribution in nation-building was the 1973 Constitution and his revamping of the economy. Internationally he was a great exponent of the rights of the Third World.

Although Bhutto advocated populist politics and declared the people as sovereign and the ultimate source of power, he did not limit his options by adopting class struggle and trade unionism. The PPP had been formed as a party which vigorously mobilised the middle class, but he endeared himself to millions of illiterate people throughout the country.

In his book The Myth of Independence, Bhutto Sahib gave a clear indication of the emerging analysis of the developing world political and economic order. He emphasised that “the under-developed nations’ struggle for a better economic relationship with the developed nations makes it incumbent on the underdeveloped nations to articulate their common objectives in order to strengthen their collective bargaining capacity. The North-South struggle, however important it may be for the future welfare of the under-developed nations, is overshadowed by the East-West polarisation, which has the power of inciting ideological passions.”

In the 1960s Third World countries had been reduced to supplying the raw materials needed for the capitalist economies of the Western countries. The Third World had become the dumping ground for the industrial products of the neo-colonial West. Today also the developing countries have become the dumping ground for cheap products of the developed countries. This has resulted in the drastic decline in industrialisation and job opportunities.

Bhutto Sahib had understood the dichotomy of the Western capitalist system and had realised that when developed countries cannot find a solution to the problems caused by their own policies, they become ruthless and more repressive in dealing with the world. That is why the great visionary had decided that Third World countries should join hands in deterring the neo-imperialist onslaught and evolve a framework for their own development, progress and self-preservation.

Under this framework, Bhutto had proposed that more energy resources should be developed to provide electricity and availability of more oil for industrial growth should be ensured. He had visualised evolution of the industrial complex of the Third World that would produce industrial machinery and consumer products. He had emphasised the need for setting up the steel industry the backbone of any industrial activity. He advocated the setting up of more and more nuclear power plants for the generation of electricity and energy. Today such a vision and initiative is lacking.

It was the commitment and resolve of the PPP leadership that enabled Pakistan to negotiate the return of 5,000 square miles of territory occupied by the Indians and the return of over 90,000 civilian and military prisoners of war. National honour was vindicated by the agreement to drop trials for alleged war crimes. National interests were upheld by India’s formal recognition that Pakistan’s position on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute remained unchanged. Relations with Bangladesh were established.

Besides picking up and reassembling the pieces of our shattered relations in the subcontinent Pakistan’s foreign policy under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the PPP government took a new turn on the basis of the principles enunciated in the party’s foundation convention. Bilateralism was the cornerstone of Bhutto’s foreign policy, as it helped in avoiding the entanglements of East-West politics and the Cold War between Russia and the United States. It focused on what was in Pakistan’s national interest and not what suited Pakistan’s donor countries.

This is the time for Pakistan to claim back its autonomy and self-respect. As we commemorate the judicial murder of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on April 4, 1979, it is time for introspection by the PPP leadership, which needs to ask itself where it has moved off-target and away from the aspirations of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Salvation will not come from above, it has to come from within.

 

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