This year PPP has decided to observe 43rd death anniversary of its Founder Chairman at the district level due to the Holy month of Ramadan to pay the tribute to the great leader.
Dr. Abdul Razzak Shaikh
The 4th April is the black day in the history of Pakistan that witnessed the judicial murder of great charismatic public leader Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1979. The judicial murder of Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto on this day by a dictator was actually the death of humanity and the voice of the masses.
History will neither forgive nor forget the murder of a leader who wanted to lead the nation to progress, peace, national integrity and prosperity by empowering the masses and by making Pakistan the first Muslim Nuclear Power in the world. He had feared that Pakistan will be exposed to external threat, therefore, had declared that “We (Pakistan) will eat grass, and even go hungry, but will get our own (atom bomb), as we have no other choice”.
Democracy in Pakistan has never been allowed to flourish and has always been subject to direct and indirect interventions. The graves of former prime ministers Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto, and those of their family members buried at Garhi Khuda Baksh, are a testament to the price which Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has paid for taking a stand against the dictators.
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was a Pakistani politician who served as the 9th Prime Minister of Pakistan from 1973 to 1977, and prior to that as the 4th President of Pakistan from 1971 to 1973. He was also the founder of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and served as its chairman until he was martyred in 1979.
He founded the PPP in 1967, contesting general elections held by Military President Yahya Khan in 1970. While the Awami League won a majority of seats in former East Pakistan, the PPP won a majority of seats in West Pakistan; the two parties were unable to agree on a new constitution in particular on the issue of six point movement which many in West Pakistan saw as a way to break up the country. Subsequent uprisings led to the secession of Bangladesh, and Pakistan lost the war imposed by India in 1971. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was handed over the presidency in December 1971 and the emergency rule was imposed.
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto inked a peace agreement at Shimla with Indra Gandhi, Premier of India, brought back 93,000 prisoners of war to Pakistan and secured 5000 sq. miles (13000 km) area held by India without compromising on Kashmir issue or recognizing Bangladesh which was one of the key Indian demands.
He strengthened ties with China and Saudi Arabia and later recognized Bangladesh and hosted the second Organization of the Islamic Conference in Lahore in 1974. Domestically, Bhutto’s reign saw parliament unanimously approve a new constitution in 1973, upon which he appointed Fazal Ellahi Choudhry President and switched to the newly empowered office of Prime minister.
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was the founder of Pakistan’s atomic bomb program, and due to his administrative and aggressive leadership leading this nuclear deterrence program, Bhutto is known as the Father of Nuclear deterrence programs.
The Bhutto government carried out a number of reforms throughout the country. The nationalization process, one of such reforms, was not as successful as Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto expected.
During his tenure as prime minister, a number of land reforms were also introduced. The important land reforms included the reduction of land ceilings and introducing the security of tenancy to tenant farmers.
Bhutto was a strong advocate of empowering small farmers. He argued that if farmers were weak and demoralized then Pakistan’s agricultural strength would be fragile, believing that farmers would not feel psychologically safe unless the country achieved self-sufficiency in food.
Bhutto also made Pakistan a prominent member of the Non-Aligned Movement. Since no single leader could replace him and no single party could challenge his party – PPP, the state establishment forged an alliance of his political adversaries of all ideological hues and colors before the 1977 parliamentary elections which he was accused of rigging. The allegation led to a violent opposition movement that his government unsuccessfully tried to suppress. It was eventually followed by a military takeover.
The last and crucial phase of his political career started in July 1977, after his government was overthrown, and ended in April 1979 when he was convicted of murder in a highly controversial trial and hanged by Zia-ul-Haq.
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto faced those tough times with courage and conviction. He never budged under pressure from an oppressive military ruler. The last two years of his life are entirely opposite to his eight years in politics when he was working with non-elected rulers.
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was the one to lay the foundation of true democracy and paid the price for it heavily.
History will never forget the personality of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and he is really entitled to Shaheed for the cause of poor people, democracy, and sovereignty of the country. This year PPP has decided to observe the 43rd Death anniversary at the district level due to the Holy month of Ramadan to pay the tribute to the great leader.
Dr. Abdul Razzak Shaikh, MBBS, Master in Health Services Management, is the President, Peoples Doctors Forum Sindh and Member Sindh Executive Committee PPP.