By DR FARID A. MALIK September 12, 2008
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) emerged on the political horizon as a member of the Iskander Mirza cabinet. Since then there was no looking back. He was young and charismatic. After the fall of Mirza’s presidency he continued as a federal minister in the regime of General Ayub Khan. He gained popularity as foreign minister when he established closed links with the revolutionary government of China headed by Mao Tse Tung and Chou-en-Lai.
After 1965 war and Tashkent debacle ZAB left the Ayub regime to start his own political party, PPP. His manifesto was based on: Islam, democracy, social equality and people’s power. As founder chairman he went to every corner of the country to build a cadre of committed workers. Ayub’s celebration of the ‘decade of progress’ triggered countrywide anti-establishment movement. The dictatorial polices of the dictator had clearly drawn the lines between haves and have-nots. ZAB rallied the outcasts of the Ayub Empire. His message was clearly understood across the country. It was the birth of Bhuttoism which stood for the emancipation of the masses and self-reliance of the nation. For the first time the people of Pakistan were exposed to the corridors of power which till then was the sole domain of the establishment.
The 1973 constitution – a hallmark of the Bhutto era – has laid down certain parameters for public welfare. Literacy was declared a right of the citizen which the state was required to provide. Unfortunately, instead of providing literacy the government of Zia issued an ordinance to remove the time limit forcing the people remain illiterate.
Providing employment has always been the cornerstone of Bhuttoism. During ZAB’s regime huge public sector programmes were launched which were need driven and also provided jobs for the youth. Today there is no career planning for a swelling unemployed youth population. PPP governments have often been blamed for over staffing public corporations and decreasing their efficiency.
However, Pakistan is blessed with a huge youth population that can be gainfully employed for nation building but no one has focused on their future. Many young people leave to serve foreign lands. Even approved vacancies are not filled in government departments. As a nation we have become insensitive to our own younger generation which is our asset. Over staffing is not the answer but unemployment is also a scourge that must be addressed. Establishment governments ignore this national requirement for vested institutional interests, while Bhuttoism places a burden on the rulers to provide gainful employment to the masses at times even at the cost of the public sector enterprises.
Bhuttoism as it had penetrated deep into the masses it is this pro-people philosophy that keeps his party alive.
Democracy, technology and meaningful education are the gifts of the western civilisation in the 21st century. Most Islamic countries are devoid of these virtues. ZAB combined all three of them with Islam in forging a Modern Islamic Democracy with major focus on technology and advanced skills.
Bhuttoism has survived for over four decades and will not vanish till the people of Pakistan achieve their cherished goals. Then there can be a transition to a real free enterprise or capitalism. The basics have to be covered; no citizen can be left out. Constitutional requirements have to be met.
The resignation of General Pervez Musharraf is no small event. Bhuttoism has prevailed again. Asif Zardari has been elected president on the Bhutto mandate. Now he has to deliver. ZAB style of governance can produce results. Professionals have to be brought back and the baboos and khakis contained. Personal loyalties and friendships cannot get the job done. Bhuttoism is not limited to political rallies and mobilisation of masses only.
ZAB derived strength from the awami mandate to take on the baboos and khakis to deliver on his manifesto of change. Governance was always an important component of Bhuttoism that will ultimately drive the establishment out from the corridors of power. The transition has begun and combined with the doctrine of Bhuttoism the peoples power will prevail for progressive and democratic Pakistan.
The writer is ex-chairman of the Pakistan Science Foundation.
(Daily The Nation)