The Capital Post special
Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States once said: “Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.”
That was true of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. When he took oath as the fourth President of Pakistan on December 20, 1971, he took over the reins of a country that was surrounded by great problems. After the disastrous 1971 war with India, Pakistan was facing its greatest crisis since Independence.
East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) had become a separate country. Pakistan had lost an entire province of 70 million, 56 per cent of the total population, and over 54,501 sq.miles of territory.
There were over 90,000 prisoners of war in India and Bangladesh. West Pakistan was left with four provinces Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and NWFP (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa).
It was a time when people seemed to have lost their confidence in their abilities to do great things. Disillusionment and pessimism and uncertainty prevailed everywhere. But as a president, Bhutto’s spirit of optimism, patriotism and personal pride in his country proved to be infectious.
He was just what Pakistan needed. A courageous, bold and skillful leader. He inspired the nation to look forward with hope and renewed commitment.
As President, he addressed the nation via radio and television, saying: “My dear countrymen, my dear friends, my dear students, labourers, peasants. those who fought for Pakistan. We are facing the worst crisis in our country’s life, a deadly crisis. We have to pick up the pieces, very small pieces, but we will make a new Pakistan, a prosperous and progressive Pakistan.”
His intentions to raise people’s confidence and give them a ray of hope were in several shapes. He spoke about democracy, a new Constitution, and a modified parliamentary system. He united the country after its breakup and brought back 90,000 war prisoners after a peaceful settlement with India.
All that was achieved without giving up an inch of Pakistan’s space or its stance over the Kashmir issue.
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto took numerous steps to ameliorate poverty and revitalise country’s economy, industry and agriculture. Through the creative slogan of ‘food, clothing and shelter’, he raised the consciousness of the people for democracy.
He awakened and made them realise that they were the legitimate fountainhead of political power.
He gave the country its third Constitution in 1973 and established civilian authority over the armed forces. After the promulgation of the Constitution, Bhutto was elected by the House as the Prime Minister of Pakistan and sworn-in on August 14, 1973.
As Prime Minister, he introduced social reforms to build an egalitarian society and adopted a non-aligned foreign policy. The credit for country’s nuclear programme and the building of social, economic and military infrastructure of the country also goes to him.
Bhutto united the Muslim world towards the revival of the Islamic heritage as a message of love, peace and brotherhood.
He was the pioneer of China Friendship during the cold war and further strengthened Pakistan’s alliance with the west.
This great leader of Pakistan was martyred at the age of 51 on April 4, 1979 by those who could not bear to see Pakistan and its people at the heights of glory.
But even after over three decades of his martyrdom, he lives in the hearts and minds of people. History cannot forget the prophetic words - to that effect in The Guardians (London) obituary on Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, “the man is dead but he shall rule from his grave for ever and ever.”