Bhutto in his death cell in June 1978 wrote: “My daughter (Benazir Bhutto) I give you only one message; it is the message of history; believe only in the people, and work only for their emancipation and equality. The paradise of God lies under the feet of your mother. The paradise of politics lies under the feet of the people”
This is the message from a person, who was the unique and the most exclusive phenomenon of history of modern democracies. The emergence of Shaheed Z. A. Bhutto in the political scene of Pakistan was not an accident; but a wellconsidered decision of a person who believed in people’s power. He establishedPakistan People’s Party (PPP) in an unconventional and non-traditional way. Bhutto resigned from the cabinet of Ayub Khan in June 1966. With anextraordinary imaginative power and futuristic vision, he understood the desireand destiny of the people of Pakistan.
In politics, Bhutto fell in love with people. And like a true lover, he had thecapacity to interact with them and decided to break their chains of poverty andhumiliation. His relationship with people was very strong and genuine.Remember: Pakistan in the mid-sixties had no vibrant mass media or social media. But love and passion has its own language and communication modes. With his unique methodology of communication, Bhutto gave inspiration,awareness and empowerment to people. Bhutto granted this consciousnessand nobody can snatch that.
In his politics, Bhutto was unconventional and innovative. The ordinary politicians ignored and exploited the poor. Conversely, Bhutto banked upon them and embraced them. By discovering their power, Bhutto changed the course of history and political culture of Pakistan. It was the turning point of history and a political miracle. He defeated the elitist “drawing-room” politics, and dragged it into the streets, villages and Mohallas. He was so passionate about his love for people that he determinedly reciprocates the sentiments of the people. He never cared about his life or political career when it comes to people. Bhutto believed “there is romance with every beauty of nature. I haveno hesitation in saying that my most passionate love affair, my most thrilling romance has been with the people.”
Bhutto’s love affair was not one-sided. His youth, his brilliance, his charisma seemed to have caught the people’s imagination. He soon came to be regarded among the peoples as a man of impeccable integrity and driving enthusiasm.People admired him for his contemporariness and his forward looking approach to Pakistan’s problems. He was known to be fearless and principled. He was not afraid to speak his mind and bold enough to experiment with new ideasand concepts. To change the fate of people, Bhutto made revolutionary changes within the domestic and foreign policy domains.
He showed people a new direction of social and political life. He freed them from the enslavement of the influential political families, feudal lords, and closely netted historically transmitted oligarchy. By his style and political practice, he brought a unique change in Pakistan’s prevailing power politics. Bhutto’s philosophy that ‘All power belongs to the People’ was a magical thought that revolutionized the people’s mindset. By empowering people, Bhutto made many enemies. His enemies knew the consequences of people’s empowerment. They knew that the change will end their cruel and dictatorial politics. They also knew that the strength of Bhutto’s romance with people cannot be defeated. So the intellectually bankrupt and power hungry dictator and his allies were bent upon to eliminate Bhutto physically. They started using religion, law, state institutions, military might and Mullahs to crush Bhutto. They partly succeeded on April 4, 1979. But theynever succeeded in their designs. After 34 years of his death, Bhutto is still alive among people and operates as a formidable force in Pakistan’s politics.Death does not destroy his romance with people; rather made it eternal and everlasting. Now, Bhutto is in the political folklore of Pakistan.
For the “crime” of empowering poor people, the powerful dictatorial forces punished Bhutto step by step. First, he was deprived of the elected office of the Prime Minster. Then, he was dragged and put in a dungeon like a common criminals. He was tortured physically and psychologically by putting him in a dark and dirty prison cell. He was locked up 23 hours every day for over a year. He was allowed to walk for one hour a day in a small filthy courtyard to see the counsel and the sky. The coward enemies of Bhutto thought that they could break him and disassociate him from the masses. They could not realize the strength of his love and depth of his romance with people. Despite all the cruelties, Bhutto never begged or bowed to these forces, and courageously faced the moments of his Shahadat (martyrdom) in the early hours of April 4, 1979 in the Rawalpindi Jail.
Bhutto defeated the dictatorial forces at the political turf. He knew the meanness and shortsighted of his enemies. Bhutto’s enemies were fanatics, militants, and believers of violence. They physically eliminated Bhutto; he was crucified but his death had multiple and lasting consequences for Pakistan’s politics. First, his blood nurtured the tender plant of democracy. He gave voice and sense of empowerment, consciousness, and awareness of rights to the down trodden people. Bhutto’s death marked the fact that true leader can die for the cause of people. This glorious tradition was kept alive by his equally brave daughter after many years.
The PPP and Bhutto’s family do mourn his judicial murder. But more than just a murder of one man, there is much to mourn. After his death, Pakistan has been experiencing a spate of violence, terrorism and intolerance. After his death, the forces of darkness were free to destroy forward looking, pluralistic and progressive Pakistan envisioned by Muhammad Ali Jinnah. After hisdeath, for eleven years, nobody was there to stop the spreading militancy, intolerance, sectarianism and fanaticism. Bhutto never compromised withthese forces. Pakistan paid heavy price to kill a most prized politician. The only way forward is to follow Bhutto’s vision of constitutionalism, participatory democracy, and people’s empowerment.