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Pakistan’s upright existence today largely owes to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s vision of making the country a nuclear power. Its fortification with the state of the art delivery system (missile technology) by Shaheed Benazir Bhutto covered all the imperatives of ‘Full Spectrum Defence” serving as an ultimate deterrence. Pakistan would have not been worthy of its existence in the face of Indian nuclear blackmail if the country had not been a nuclear power with missile technology. Its status as nuclear power had conclusively shattered the Indian dream of Akhand Bharat for all times to come.
Those who have doubts in their mind may recall the Indian leaders’ back to back statements before Pakistan conducted six nuclear tests in May 1998. Their tone and tenor were earlier assertive, bordering to provocation, to forget Indian Held Kashmir and instead hand over AJK to India because Pakistan allegedly occupied it through aggression. But, after the nuclear tests, the same leaders made an about face repeatedly pleading and underscoring the importance of resolving the issues between the two countries through the negotiations. The Indian then prime minister Vajpayee’s visit to Pakistan in February 1999 might be perceived as the culmination of the restoration of balance of power between the two countries after Pakistan attained the nuclear power status. The vision of the two Bhuttos paid back to the nation handsomely for its reposing confidence in their leadership. The great leaders indeed addressed the security threat to the independence of the nation comprehensively for all times to come.
To further substantiate the point, it can be argued without the apprehension of the contradiction that India had never dared to start full-fledged war in 1971 if Pakistan had been a nuclear power at that time. Pakistani had not suffered the trauma of surrender and dismemberment of the country in 1971. The nation may remain beholden to “Bhuttos” for making the defence of the country impregnable as no aggressor can now even afford to cast an evil eye on Pakistan.
Pakistan would have never experienced loadshedding of electricity if dictator Zia had not toppled elected government of ZAB in 1977. It may be recalled that he had already concluded an agreement with French government of Nuclear Reprocessing Plant with the capacity of producing two thousand MWs of the cheapest electricity followed by similar plants in the country making the country energy surplus on durable basis. The agreement was cancelled by General Zia under the pressure of the US government. General Zia’s despicable legacy may continue to hurt the nation in many ways during the unforeseen future.
The country would have not been facing the delirious aftermaths of Afghan war if ZAB had been at the helm of affairs of the country. He was well known of protecting the national interests in the face of the US naked opposition. It was beyond comprehension he could have succumbed under US pressure as he did not acquiesce on the country’s nuclear programme despite Henry Kissinger’s warning of making him ‘a horrible example’. USA might have manipulated his elimination but Pakistan’s nuclear programme came to fruition.
His futuristic decision to simplify the procedure of issuing passport to all and sundry resulted in massive absorption of Pakistani unemployed labour in the then extraordinary expanding job market in the Middle East. Pakistan’s economy had been reaping immense benefits since then in the form of staggering remittances of the Pakistani expatriates. There is absolutely no exaggeration that overseas remittances have been keeping the country’s economy afloat as their contributions of around twenty billons dollars per annum make difference between on the hook or off the hook of the economy. Pakistan’s economic vulnerability of the country may not be circumvented if overseas Pakistanis remittances are set aside.
Pakistan People’s Party, in form and manifestation, is holistically committed to the federation, the democracy and the empowerment of the less privileged strata of society embroiled in vicious cycle of unending miseries of daily life. The grotesque shackles of status-quo had compounded the predicaments of the have-nots reducing them to the level of sub-human existence. While recently addressing the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of the Party in Islamabad, Chairman Bilawal Bhutto, struck the right chord when he underscored PPP was the only ideological Party and if there was a constitution and right to vote for every Pakistani it was just because of the PPP. He added, the struggle was on, no matter how arduous it may be, for the progress of the country, and no amount of efforts will be spared to accomplish the cherished mission of the Founder of the Party, Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
PPP’s ideological moorings; Islam is our religion, democracy is its politics, socialism -- embedded in social justice -- is our economy, people are source of power and martyrdom is our destination, were the embodiment of coherent strategy to get the marginalised folks out of the holes of poverty, disease, ignorance and want while simultaneously leading collective national life under the democratic dispensation as defined in the constitution, 1973. The PPP founded by Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1967 in Lahore took up the mission to empower all and sundry enabling them to take control of their lives which was earlier denied and later on wrested by the feudal lords, civil and military bureaucrats with the connivance of the few judges who threw away their conscience. They were also hands in gloves in the frenzy to have their pound of flesh. It was, unfortunately, the case during the major part of the political history of the country optimsing tales hubris.
PPP Chairman Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s one of the greatest achievements of his heroic struggle was the granting of the principle of one man one vote. This unprecedented political development tilted the balance of political power in favour of the less privileged. Its heart- warming impact was that it brought out the politics of the country from the drawing rooms of the elite to the door-steps of the poor masses. This dramatically changed the political dynamics in the country by increasing the political leverage of the poor over the political elites. Previously, the law makers were elected by the limited Electoral College consisting 80, 000 Basic Democrats right across the country. But, the situation certainly changed completely as they had to come to them to get themselves elected instead of luring a limited number of BD members to ensure their juggernaut in the assemblies’ chambers. They had to offer quid pro quo in lieu of their support with the promise to undertake the projects devoted to improve their quality of life aimed at their upward social mobility. Although, the honey and milk had not been flowing in the country but the public opinion turning against them could certainly strip them off their robes to get them out of the corridors of power.
The political landscape of the country during early seventy’s was both grim and hostile for the political leadership with revolutionary and progressive vision. It was mired in acute political instability and unpredictability because after the 1970 elections followed by India-Pakistan war; the insurmountable political fault line had surfaced between East and West Wing of the country. The military ruler General Yayha Khan goofily attempted to bridge it through strong arms tactics by launching the full-fledged military operation in East Pakistan. Pakistan Army subdued and more than 900, 000 POWs were under the Indian custody as a result besides thousands of square miles of territory of West Wing under the occupation of enemy country after the war. It was a total national apocalypse and the nation was demoralised, confused and embattled.
Being the biggest political Party in this part of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, became the president of Pakistan with the promise to resurrect the country as New Pakistan -- a stronger, prosperous and democratic Pakistan. While giving an interview to British TV channel ITN, he narrated the state of the country with heavy-heart as fragmented pieces and had to piece them together. The foremost task he was confronted with was the framing of the constitution, a new Compact. After hectic negotiations and extensive deliberations, the Constitution of 1973 --a unanimous constitution -- was given to the nation within months whereas the first constitution took over nine years to see the light of the day. It was the first giant big step to start the journey of national redemption imbedded in democracy, empowerment of the people and their socio-economic development as envisioned by the Father of the Nation.
The widest support of the Constitution among all the people of the country was directly catalyst in keeping the federation intact after the fall of Dhaka despite the grotesque mutilation by the successive military dictators through the unilateral amendments.
It is not difficult to imagine the diplomatic isolation the country was braced with after the emergence of Bangladesh. Shaikh Mujibur Rehman, who swept the elections in East Wing, was adamant to squeeze Pakistan in his bid to accept his outlandish demands caring less for the difficulties for the new government led by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. However, he undertook the whirlwind tour of the Islamic countries to gather diplomatic support by assuring them that new Pakistan would continue to play its role of strengthen its relations with Muslim world and beyond. The holding of the Islamic Summit in Lahore in 1972 spoke volumes of the confidence of the Muslim world reposed in the leadership and in Pakistan. The historic event gave the much needed boost to the Pakistani people as their morale was all time high. Their pride and dignity was visibly beaming in their faces. The country had been making significant strides in all walks of national life. It was playing its role in the NAM, Afro-Asian blocks and beyond as a powerful and robust international player representing and advocating the urgency of New World Order. Pakistan had not only fully recovered under the leadership of PPP government but also was playing scintillating role in the international diplomacy.
The anti-climax struck in the persona of dictator General Ziaul Haq, and the journey of national advancements was instantaneously sapped replacing it with treachery, bigotry, intolerance, sectarianism pushing the nation into the inferno of Afghan war as US proxy. The aftermaths of his legacies may continue to haunt not only the present generation but also by the coming generations. General Ziaul Haq was the worst misfortune that had befallen on this nation. His culpability against this nation is both unforgiveable and unforgettable.
(The writer is Head of PPP Media Cell)