Much like the founding father, he was a modern man with all his flaws, a man who wanted to put Pakistan as a progressive country on the map of this world
Had he been with us, he would have been 84 today. And he would be perplexed much like the founder of this country. What went so terribly wrong with the ‘New Pakistan’ he was destined to rebuild? He was the one determined to build a new Pakistan, as he yelled at the UN General Assembly in 1971. No this is not one of those, often termed as a jiala’s (militant PPP worker’s) cry. Almost 33 years later, a lot has changed in Pakistan, except one thing: Bhutto’s unyielding spirit is still alive from the gallows of Rawalpindi Central Jail, forever and ever.
Bhutto was no saint, nor was he religiously righteous. Just a man of strong will and convictions. In retrospect, not all his convictions could be termed as perfect, but nevertheless, he was an unwavering fighter. His critics unleashed everything in their arsenal on him, on his lineage to his religion. Strangely or ironically, the right, whether it is in the east or the west, clings to this concept, uses it to the core to rally its bigoted base. It does this to create the sense of a so-called moral clarity, very conveniently forgetting that each soul will be tested individually on that Final Day.
A bright mind, a visionary, a zestful spirit, eager to do too much too fast. Yes, he made his share of wrong moves. Much like the founding father, he was a modern man with all his flaws, a man who wanted to put Pakistan as a progressive country on the map of this world. The anchors of any country or nation go through their leadership tests every day. So did he. History records their trials and tribulations for posterity. In the end, what matters is their execution and its overall impact. It would be fair to say that they roll a dice every day. Sometimes it sticks and at times, even with the best of intentions, it fails miserably.
So did Bhutto, to become another Quaid of Pakistan. To maintain his campaign promise, he introduced an automatic roti (bread) plant, which was perhaps a blunder. His ‘Islamic socialism’ and the reverence to Chairman Mao were perhaps not concepts made for Pakistan. Bhutto’s nationalisation of industries and government institutions for redistribution of wealth was perhaps one of his worst moves. The most radical and flawed was to engage his parliament to regulate the faith of people.
Yet what was so appealing, so unique about this man that made him immortal? Many would attribute it to his ability to connect with the masses, by permeating their souls. Letting them know that the masses did matter. Each person had a unique potential to be the best he should be. The severance of one wing was not the end of Pakistan. No wonder why 33 years later, the chant of “Jiye (long live) Bhutto” still lives on. The cynics and critics call this sacrilegious and consider it lunacy to revere a dead man. Perhaps there are certain people in this world who are truly immortal. Bhutto is one of them. With all his poor moves and missed opportunities, flaws and follies, he has emerged as one heck of a survivor.
To his critics, he was a smooth operator, a man raised by another dictator, Ayub Khan. To them, Bhutto was an actor who knew how to mesmerise a crowd. To them, he was a lip-server. To them, he was a feudal. To them, he was taking Pakistan to ruin. If history is the ultimate arbitrator in this world, then it rendered an undeniable verdict in favour of Bhutto and his nemesis Zia. Bhutto chose death over begging for clemency from Zia. He traded a legendary life of immortality, a triumph only reserved for a few valiant souls.
Perhaps General Ziaul Haq underestimated something. He thought that the story would end at the dingy jail cell of Rawalpindi Central Jail. The quiet burial of Bhutto at Garhi Khuda Bux and a strong clampdown on the media would be the ultimate blow. By subjecting the family of Bhutto to ill treatment, he would prevail. Last year, a leading weekly reprinted a foreign correspondent’s account of that ill-fated morning of Bhutto’s execution. At the gallows, according to the scribe, Bhutto’s final words in his native Sindhi were: “O God, you know I am innocent.” Perhaps the angels at the gallows who came to greet him, gave him what he had always wished for, a permanent spot in the hearts and minds of many, a life forever. Like many, this scribe continues to chant till this day, Jiye Bhutto, knowing full well that the chant is perhaps not for a departed soul but for the undying spirit of hope, change and progress. We the people matter and yes we can be the best, so long as we believe in hope. And as all who love him say, Jiye Bhutto, Sada jiye (Long live Bhutto forever and ever).