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Punjab’s pain for Bhutto, ‘River of Sindh’

SAMAA | - Posted: Apr 4, 2020 | Last Updated: 2 months ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Apr 4, 2020 | Last Updated: 2 months ago
Punjab’s pain for Bhutto, ‘River of Sindh’

Today marks the day, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged in the Rawalpindi jail.
His last moments were spent in Punjab but this singular event is prefaced by a long complex relationship for the Bhuttos with this large province.
When ZAB was hanged in 1979, Nasreen Anjum Bhatti, a Punjabi poet wrote a moving eulogy, “Mein Bhutto Sagar Sindh Da” inspired by the folk Var of Qissa Sahiban. The poem captures the pain and admiration for her fallen hero.

Mein Bhutto sagar Sindh da, meri Rawal janj charrhi
Mein turrya sooli chum kay, mainoon aeho reet barri
Mein jhoolay lae laey maut dey, mein charrhi peeng swail
Mein Shah Husain di aajizi, mein Shah Latif di vail
Meray dushman likhan adalataan, meray sajjan khabar parri
Mein Bhutto sagar Sindh da, meri Rawal janj charrhi

I am Bhutto of River Sindh, my wedding feast in Rawal
I’ve kissed the cross and started out, that custom quite enough for me
I have rocked on the rope of death, I rode the swing of daybreak
I am the humility of Shah Husain, the paean of praise of Shah Latif
My enemies scribe the courts of law, my friends have heard the news
I am Bhutto of River Sindh, my wedding feast in Rawal
— Translation by Waqas Khawaja

ZAB was born to an affluent family of Sindh. His father, Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto, served as Prime Minister of Junagarh. But it was Lahore, the capital of Punjab that he chose to announce the start of his political party. The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was launched at its founding convention in Lahore on November 30 and December 1, 1967. He started his election campaign in Punjab from Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Bagh. In an almost unfortunate literary coincidence, it was the same Bagh, where his daughter and Pakistan’s first woman to become a prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, was killed in 2007.
Punjab responded enthusiastically to the call of “Roti Kapra aur Makan,” in the election campaigns of 1970. ZAB’s PPP won all of Lahore’s seats in a clean sweep and 62 of Punjab’s 82 seats. Many first time contesting candidates defeated well-established elite political candidates. Bhutto defeated Allama Iqbal’s son, a resident of Lahore, with over 78,000 votes, which was twice as many. Benazir also contested and won elections from Lahore. It was the same Lahore, which poured out on to the streets when BB returned to Pakistan after exile on April 10, 1986. It is said that three million jiyalas crammed the roads to catch a glimpse of the daughter and political heir of their beloved Bhutto.
Bhutto was the ninth prime minister of Pakistan, and the first to give the country its constitution. It is beyond doubt to assert that he was the most popular political leader in the history of the post-colonial state. Forty-one years after he was hanged, in a controversial case, people still chant, “Zinda Hai Bhutto, Zinda Hai.”

The writer is pursuing Masters in Public Policy at Central European University. He tweets @@jasirshahbaz

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