By Shahid Shah
Like every year, birthday of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto is being celebrated today on January 5. He was born in 1928.
There are two kinds of people in Pakistan. The first group loves him, they follow him or admire while the second group has the other feeling. They either hate him or show their bias towards his actions and thoughts.
I think Bhutto had been the most vibrant leader. Founder of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had very little time after independence of Pakistan. However, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto got some time and took the highly daring, no matter they are admired or opposed, decisions in the history of this country.
A lot has been written in support of his actions or against them. I will only share my point of view over his few controversial actions.
Fall of Dhaka
The most unfortunate event in the history of Pakistan was Fall of Dhaka in 1971, when we lost our East Pakistan, which became Bangladesh. Bhutto was blamed and is being blamed for it. In order to understand this depart, we need to go through the history, which shows that East Pakistan’s people had started showing their differences way back in 1948. Since then, differences kept increasing. Those who read the history or were part of the history were certain of such misfortune happening. Bhutto was the only politician in West Pakistan who could handle it. He handled it and saved the country from further dismantling.
People of this country need to remember Bhutto’s successful dialogue with Ms Indira Gandhi, former Prime Minister of India. Bhutto’s former companion late Syed Qamar ul Zaman Shah once told me that Bhutto has shown him the draft of Shimla declaration during their flight, which was later signed by the two leaders. There is no measure of his confidence and power of negotiation.
Nationalisation of industry
He has been criticised for nationalisation of the private industries. If we take some time to go through the economic situation of those days and read story of 22 families, who concentrated the wealth, which was enough for poverty reduction of the whole nation, we will find the action need of time. It was demand from all corners to take the action. It was not Bhutto, but famous economist Mehboob ul Haq, who prepared and made the list public. Bhutto, being the leader of workers and farmers; the masses, took this bold action. Later on, the action proved fatal. Not because of Bhutto but the inefficiencies of the successive governments. They were either not allowed to work freely or had no capacity and efficiency to run the nationalized industry.
He has also been criticized for the implementation of quota system in services for rural and urban people. This decision, which should be highly admired, is being misused and abused by the political exploiters and creators of hatred who divided mostly rural and urban Sindh.
Sindh remained at the top to welcome the migrated Muslim brothers wholeheartedly after the independence in 1947. However, the migrating people settled in the urban areas, which were centre to educational institutions.
I did an investigative story for The News International in 2007, which showed that after 60 years of independence still there was no comparison among the number and quality of education institutions in rural and urban areas of the province. Poverty ratio is also high in rural areas, therefore, affordability of quality education is a question mark. Thus, quota system created equity for the native people, who would have been marginalized, otherwise.
Bhutto worked on the equity model, not the equality. This country needs the equity, which provides better opportunity for those who are neglected. His quota system was not against any ethnicity. Non-Sindhi speaking people living in rural areas are equally enjoying the benefits while Sindhis with urban domicile have also going through the process.
Our country is moving towards the political crisis with the passing time. We need to revisit political philosophy of Jinnah, Bhutto and Benazir to rebuild our country. Let us say ‘no’ to those who believe in ‘divide and rule’.