Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto...Remembered.

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto with Sheikh Sultan Al Nahyan, at the Islamic Conference.

My earlist memory of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was when I was a child, I heard from my mother who was a Muslim Leagure as to how General Ayub had appointed a foreign minister who was quite intellegent. He would be quite eloquent and expressive and my mother would often talk about him to my father.
The next memories are when I was older, in  ninth class , I think , there was la lot of protest against GeneralAyub and Mr. Bhutto came into power. I remember the division of Pakistan and I always followed the political debates and news as I read the Dawn newspaper very religiously.  East Pakistan was made into Bangladesh and I have very vivid memories of the 1971 war. It has been a traumatic experience for me as the bombing by Indian planes and my youngest sisters constant shivering as she was an infant, still creates shivers in my spine. Mr Bhutto then became the president after remaining a martial law administrator for a short time. At that time I never clearly understood the significance of the politics as practiced by Mr. bhuuto but of course as I grew up came to know his political popularity and his style.
My next memory of him is very clear. I  was about 15 and a half years and had passed my Inter premed with first division marks and was supposed to get admission in med school in Karachi. The  admission list was displayed  the  Dow Medical College , Karachi. I was to get admission at the Sindh Medical College, Karachi along with about 27 other girls. Somehow our names were removed from the final list and we were left in the lurch. I immediately formed a Girls student Action Commitee under guidance from my mother, and started fighting for our admission rights. Finally after trying to approach Mr. Bhutto, we were given audience with Mr. Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi, who conveyed to us Mr. Bhutto's message that if we took admission in a new college for girls in Sindh, Mr. Bhutto would transfer us within 3 months back to Karachi in Sindh Medical College.This he emphasised would help the girls and women of interior of Sindh. So, finally Peoples Medical College , Nawabshah was opened for us and we went to Nawabshah and stayed in the hostel alone, in a strange environment. It was a new experience for me. Tonga rides, primitive, dingy cinemas, lots of train journeys. But  time passed and we were never given any transfer. Mr Bhutto came to Nawabshah, after an year or so and had an open Kutchery which he did in all major cities and Towns. He was very communicative and  travelled extensively to meet the masses. I was invited to meet him also. I represented the college problems to him like improving the laboratory facilities and it was a very good experience. Mr Bhutto was a relaxed and charming man. He listened to everybody including the newly formed Engineering University students also. One thing I noticed even then was that the male  Sindhi students seemed to have a kind of grudge against the people of Lahore and Karachi. During this discussion, I vocally put my point of view forward to improve the conditions of schools and colleges in Sindh towns so that the students would be able to compete with Karachi and Lahore students, instead of bieng depressed.This Mr. Bhutto liked very much and he gave me a kind of very sweet admiring smile.
There was no seperate girls interscience college in Nawabshah then and the girls would do the science lab tests after the male students left in the evening. This I found very disturbing. I remember conveying this to Mr. BK Sheikh who was Mr. Bhutto's health advisor. While we waited in line as Mr Bhutto started going inside the rest house for lunch, he came near me and touched me gently on my cheek and asked me to have lunch with him. I felt honored but politely declined as the girls were waiting anxiously for me at the college to hear the fulfilment of their demands.  These were the times in Pakistan where the leaders and politicians tried to listen to the masses. Mr Bhutto was particularly good at this.
After three years in college, martial law was declared and the country saw the tragic demise of a popularly elected leader, the after effects we are still bearing today.I finally came to Karachi after fighting case in High Court. The saddest part of this tragedy is that this nation has never really questioned and made a real Truth and Reconciliation Commision. His brilliant and beautiful daughter has also been mercilessly and tragically killed in the recent past and still we are not trying to find the cause and the real conspiracy against Pakistan. His predeseccors now seem so small, with a lot of baggage, and I do not know if the party has enough resilience to survive. The sad part is that  party still hopes to carry on the legacy of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, to which Benazir Bhutto excelled at!
Will his legacy endure? Will the party rise as a phoenix above the ashes of murder, death and mystery?Only history will tell!

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