Zulfikar Ali’s Bhutto’s death was a historical tragedy of the greatest order which occurred on April 4, 1979, said SZABIST President Shahnaz Wazir Ali.
She was speaking at a session held on the third day of the ZAB Media Festival 2019 to pay tribute to Bhutto on his death anniversary.
Ali started her speech by saying that Bhutto is one of the most significant and revolutionary leaders of all time. “Nothing is ever adequate to capture what Bhutto was,” she said. The powerful impact that Bhutto had on Pakistan, be it his thinking or his politics, is still talked about.
“It has been 40 years and we still talk about him. We remember him as a leader and a man who stood for a social democratic system in Pakistan. He was the man who spoke for the rights of the people and the third world,” she said.
She was of the view that everyone has the right to choose whether they want to support Bhutto or not. “Some people are strongly pro-Bhutto and some are anti-Bhutto. Whether you’re a supporter of the ideology of the Pakistan Peoples Party and Bhutto’s vision or you disagree with him on his policies, you can’t deny that he was a defining leader in Pakistan’s history.” She said most people have very strong emotions for the leader.
Ali believes that Bhutto had begun to realise that Pakistan was standing at crossroads as Field Marshal General Muhammad Ayub Khan was bringing in a controlled democracy. “It was at that time that Bhutto felt strong enough to begin to formulate his political views,” she said. “His thinking was influenced by the great leaders of the time from Indonesia and China who spoke about freedom. He was inspired by them and worked to fight against controlled democracy.”
She shared that Ayub Khan did not believe in everybody having the right to vote. He had created a structure of indirect voting and not everybody was allowed to contest the elections. “At that time, everybody was deprived. Bhutto stood up against it,” she added.
“He was very conscious of international politics and felt that within the country we were deprived of democracy and there was elitism. As many as 22 families controlled [most] of the assets and wealth of Pakistan. Bhutto stood up to dictator General Ayub Khan and said I will not be silent any longer because you have sold out Pakistan’s interest.”
She shared that in 1960 there was a rising trend of the people’s movement and democratic movements. Bhutto had established the PPP and went to the people. “That was the defining moment of the change in Pakistan’s politics,” she said.
“He went to the deprived, the powerless, the people who didn’t have a voice, the oppressed and he raised a voice on their issues. That is the reason why he is known as a revolutionary leader,” she shared.
“So today, we remember a man who had such a powerful effect on Pakistan. The country is not what it was pre-1970s. He was the voice of the voiceless.”
According to her, Bhutto’s death was a conspiracy. “When Bhutto initiated the nuclear program in 1965, the USA was very unhappy with him. That was the conspiracy which was made to stop his government as the leaders did not want a powerful nuclear armed state.”
Ali expressed her opinion that dictators came and went, but Bhutto fought for freedom. “There has been a very bitter and long struggle behind a free and democratic Pakistan, and the right of the student, writer and thinker.”
“If that day had not occurred, Pakistan would be a different country,” she said.