Although today is the 40th death anniversary of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, he is still alive. I was an infant when Bhutto was hanged on the orders of the then military dictator Zia-ul-Haq, but when I grew up and started learning and understanding words, the first slogan I heard and chanted was “Jeay Bhutto” (Long live Bhutto). Not only me, but others, including my cousins and relatives, aged in between five and six years, also used to chant this slogan.
Despite passage of such a long time and all-out efforts of Zia-ul-Haq, people still respect and love Bhutto and the same slogan is being heard from all parts of the country, which has kept the Founder of Pakistan Peoples Party still alive.
In my last article on the birthday of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, I wrote that he was the most vibrant leader of Pakistan. I have been trying out to look beyond his controversial issues to find out why he is not dead and even after 40 years he is still the most talked about and charismatic politician in the country.
In its more than 70 years’ history, Pakistan take the highest pride in the field of developing atomic bomb, which was achieved owing to the initiatives taken by Bhutto, while several other big achievements are engrossed to his crown.
A few days ago, I got a message, which described several remarkable achievements of Bhutto, which will surely keep him alive in the hearts and minds of the people for a very long time.
Why Bhutto will never die?
The Bhutto government established around 6,500 elementary schools, 900 middle schools, 407 high schools, 51 intermediate colleges and 21 junior colleges.
Bhutto’s government founded Abbasi Shaheed Hospital in Paposh Nagar Karachi in 1974, established Sindh Medical College Karachi on April 7, 1973, established Chandka Medical College Larkana on April 20, 1973, established Bolan Medical College Quetta in 1972, Allama Iqbal Medical College Lahore (then Lahore Medical College) on May 2, 1975. Similarly, Bhutto’s government established Hayat Shaheed Teaching Hospital Peshawar in 1976 (now Khyber Teaching Hospital).
Book banks were created in most institutions and over 400,000 copies of textbooks were provided among the students.
Bhutto established Gomal University Dera Ismail Khan in 1973 and world-class Quaid-e-Azam University and Allama Iqbal Open University in Islamabad in 1974. He also established the Allama Iqbal Medical College in 1975.
In 1974, with the help of Dr Abdus Salam, Bhutto gave authorisation of the International Nathiagali Summer College on Contemporary Physics (INSC) at the Nathiagali and even today, INSC conference is still being held in Pakistan, where thousands of scientists from across the world visited Pakistan an interact with academic scientists here.
In 1976, Bhutto established the Engineering Council, Institute of Theoretical Physics, Pakistan Academy of Letters and Cadet College Razmak in North Waziristan.
Bhutto also has the credit to fix the ceiling of the agricultural land to 150 acres of irrigated land and 300 acres of non-irrigated land. Huge tax exceptions were also introduced for small landowners.
Bhutto upgraded a number of dams and barrages and his government initiated schemes for combating water logging and salinity. In 1976, the Bhutto government established Federal Flood Commission (FFC), which was tasked to prepare national flood protection plans, and flood forecasting and research to harness floodwater.
Bhutto also established Port Qasim, Pakistan Steel Mills, the Heavy Mechanical Complex (HMC) and several cement factories. His policies largely benefitted the poor and working class, resulting in significant reduction the level of absolute poverty. The land reform programme provided increased economic support to the landless tenants.
In 1973, addressing investors of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce Bhutto said: “Activity of public sector or state sector prevents the concentration of economic power in a few hands, and protects the small and medium entrepreneurs from the clutches of giant enterprises and vested interests.”
During his tenure, Bhutto gave the right of a passport to every citizen of Pakistan. From Frontier province alone 35,000 workers were given the opportunity to work in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
Bhutto’s vast knowledge, intelligence, and keen awareness of post-World War II, and the nuclear history, enabled him to craft the foreign policy, which brought unmatched benefits in Pakistan’s foreign policy history.
There are numerous other achievements of his government too, but I could not mention them due to their sensitivity. The above achievements show that Bhutto will never die, at least from the hearts of students, peasants and workers. In other words, I can say without a doubt that Bhutto will never die from the hearts of both haves and have-nots.