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Living with Two Legends


Muhammad Arif : Month of January in Pakistan is always remembered for two persons who were born in January. They are Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Abdul Sattar Edhi. I have the opportunity to work with Bhutto and to see Edhi with a Bicycle on I I Chudrigarh Road asking people to donate funds for his welfare organization. Both are now no more in the world but would remain prominent in history of Pakistan forever.

I am now above 65 years but I remember that I wept two times in my life. One when Pakistan was dismembered in 1971 and second time when we heard that Bhutto was hanged in the late night in Rawalpindi and his death body was flown to Larkana for his burial. I can say with certainty that people of my age group whether they were in favor or against Bhutto went through the same experience.

Here one must remember that Bhutto started his political life with first dictator of Pakistan General Ayub but after 1965 war he realized that he cannot continue. One may not forget that by public perception period of 1958-65 was good for Ayub and he was allowed to do his experiment of basic democracies and go with Indus Basin Treaty where three rivers were given to India. However on ward 1965 when Ayub defeated Fatima Jinnah by rigging and after effects of 1965 war with India started vindicating, common people started going against Ayub. At this moment a movement took its roots and Bhutto decided to lead it. Period of 1968 -71 was a period of turmoil. Bhutto was arrested several times. He constituted PPP with three slogans Roti Kapra and Makan with Islam as Religion and Socialism as economy. However involvement of General Yahay as ruler paved the way for dismemberment of Pakistan and emergence of Bangladesh in 1971. In 1970 elections Bhutto appeared on the face of West Pakistan and Mujib on the face of East Pakistan. Some term 1971 elections as free and fair but the reality was not so. In 1971 nobody was in control of Mujib as he was highly trapped under Bengalinationalism. So to counter him rulers tried to use Bhutto and vice versa Bhutto tried to use Military. This tug of war resulted in wining of election by Bhutto in Sind and Punjab and Mujib in East Pakistan. Bhutto in spite of his rhetoric’s that he would not allow anyone to go to Dacca to participate in assembly session tried to patch up with Mujib. He wanted to become his junior partner, but rulers were not interested in that so operation of 23rd March 1971 started and ended with fall of Dacca.

I and some of my friends when we were University students joined PPP in 1968. That was the period of romanticism. Nehru was in India. Soekarno, Nassir and Lumumba were in Africa. In China MaoTze Tung and Chou En lai were there. Vietnam War was creating waves. In this environment Bhutto with his charisma in line with international politics was the most required alternate. I remember that all young’s in Pakistan attracted towards him like he was a magnet.

I along with my friends first met him in PPP Secretariat at Sindhi Muslim Society where he appeared wearing a Mao cap. He was looking very confident. He talked with us saying that like Mao he wants to lead us. He asked us that he only wants that without any “if and buts” we should follow him. Second time we met when he came to Drigh Road to address a public rally. From Drigh Road Pindi conspiracy fame Retired General Akbar was the candidate for NA. In Bhutto’s address I was the anchor person. I still remember the fear of handling such a big rally.

Another moment came soon when we met him in 70 Clifton. He was talking and talking and on our questions he knew the art to divert towards another side. In fact he was a born leader and unfortunately born leaders do not listen to others.

In 1972 labor unrest started in Karachi and by conspiracy Mill owners left their factories. The Unions thereafter continued with the production. I had a chance to visit Dawood Cotton Mill in Karachi that was being run by the laborers in disciplined manner but the management was missing. Hence this conspiracy brought results and Bhutto ordered for severe action against laborers. This created a gulf between Bhutto and Labor class that was the back bone of PPP.

In 1975 when I was Secretary General of CBA Union of SBP we were forced to go on strike with Habib Junaidi in HBL and Faroouqi in NBP. Banking industry had never seen such a country level strike before and would never see again. Our arrest warrants were issued under DPR. The strike fizzled out due to severe action of PPP government. This further widened the gap between labor class and Bhutto. Then came PNA campaign against Bhutto after 1977 general elections with allegations of rigging.

USA used this opportunity to settle its accounts. The Bhutto’s main supporters mainly from Feudal and Business classes started to distance them from Bhutto. Dollar came in Pakistan in abundance. USA selected Zaiaul Haq and elites in Pakistan. Hence Bhutto was ousted when most of his loyal generals were attending a course in that night and they were not allowed to leave the class room. Later Bhutto was arrested in acase where Ahmad Raza Qasuri had lodged a FIR against Bhutto on killing of his father.

At this Bhutto responded in the court that “I did not kill that man. My God is aware of it. I am big enough to admit if I had done it, that admission would have been less of an ordeal and humiliation than this barbarous trial which no self-respecting man can endure. I am a Muslim. A Muslim’s fate is in the hands of God Almighty. I can face Him with a clear conscience and tell Him that I rebuilt His Islamic State of Pakistan from ashes into a respectable Nation. I am entirely at peace with my conscience in this black hole of Kot Lakhpat. I am not afraid of death. You have seen what fires I have passed through.”

On 24 March 1979 the Supreme Court dismissed his appeal. Zia upheld the death sentence. Bhutto was hanged at Central jail, Rawalpindi, on 4 April 1979, and is buried in Village Cemetery at Garhi Khuda Baksh.

Now Bhutto has gone and thereafter his daughter Benazir Bhutto has also gone. Likewise Abdul Sattar EDHI has gone leaving an empire of welfare activities that his son and wife are running.

In both cases time has revealed that their predecessors have failed to uphold their missions. However time is going to tell that whether they like to live forever like Bhutto or want to be doomed with no words for them in the books of history. Bhutto’s last sentence in his book “if Iam assassinated” is enough to remember. He wrote that “they are laughing at me today but history would tell that who laughs at whom”.


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