Riyadh, April 15 — On Friday April 4, some enthusiasts of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) met at the residence of PPP-Riyadh Secretary General Mohammad Khalid Rana, and engaged in an insightful discussion on Bhutto’s style, form and substance of politics – its strength and relevancy in the present day situation vis-à-vis the scenario that beset Pakistan and the Pakistani nation over 40 years back.
Instead of discussing and reminiscing Bhutto’s death on this day, I noted that almost all attendees talked of the present and attempted to establish intellectual linkages between events now and then – a healthy sign that Pakistani nationals are moving forward instead of looking back or over their shoulders.
Rather than discussing Bhutto — the personality — and events surrounding his rise and judicial execution, the participants focused on highlighting “Bhuttoism as a school of thought, a mantra, an animated expression of embedding the have nots in the national polity, a political instrument of aligning and regionalizing Pakistan’s strength with that of the Muslim Ummah on its periphery through diplomatic means called bilateralism,” observed Rana.
I believe the welcome change that I noted in these individuals who have their pulse synced with current affairs back home has a direct correlation with the continuity of the political process whose fountainhead is and has always been representative democracy.
The narrative that political process based on democracy has failed or has been failed by the political class in the country has been proven wrong. “The nation paid the price socially, morally as well as politically leading to the creation of a mosaic-like situation albeit irregular patchwork quilt-type scenario rather than being a boiling pot of diversity in unity,” said Riaz Rathore, Advisor to President PPP Saudi Arabia. Now we all are united, moving forward, supporting each other for the sake of democracy and national interests, added Rathore.
Interestingly, “it was Bhutto who initiated and stage-managed the new social contract written in 1973 and his successor Zardari enhanced its relevance by signing the 18th Amendment in 2008, and in 2011 by assuring PM Nawaz Sharif and his government that come what may PPP will let them serve the masses just as Nawaz and his party had let Zardari government rule (2008-2011),” said Sardar Sher Afzal, Vice President PPP Saudi Arabia.
Bhutto exhibited similar statesmanship when he succeeded in getting the 1973 constitution unanimously accepted by all political parties. The same instrument is the Holy Grail that post-2008 civilian governments are hanging their hats on for political unity, survival and management. Sans this document that Bhutto consensually developed, it is hard to believe how the nation would have reacted and managed after Musharraf era that left it in a daze,” said Younus Nawab Ghalib, President of Pakista
“Bhutto also succeeded in bringing the heads of all Muslim countries on one platform by holding the first Islamic Summit in the country in 1973. King Faisel of our brotherly country Saudi Arabia enabled it. Without his help and support the summit could not have succeeded”, added Ch. Farman Saleem, Vice president PPP Riyadh region. “It was a manifestation of Bhutto’s vision to see Pakistan and other Muslim states as one block, and united. Same philosophy (Third World Order) seems being practiced, added Sardar Naseer, Vice President PPP Riyadh.
I was happy to note that these individuals spoke candidly about the weaknesses that led to PPP defeat in the polls and discussed freely how their party should move forward, serve the masses, engage the youth and the poor, and manage failure. Most participants conceded that by invoking Bhuttoism and Bhutto’s art of exercising connectivity – that’s amiss, PPP sympathizers can rally and establish contours of meaningful nation-building.
I wonder if Bilawal has such individuals around him. If not then he should reach out to this motley crew of Jiyalas who I saw practice critical thinking and youthful exuberance — unlike the creed of Caligula (Saudi Gazette, March 10, 2014). If Bilawal already have such individuals around him, then more the better.
For turning ideas into reality, a party the size of PPP needs such individuals now around its young Bhutto — and not later, when the electables could do the rest. ZAB formula worked then — it can work again. (To be continued…)
The author, who is presently in Riyadh, is the Editor-in-Chief of DesPardes (despardes.com), Pkon (pkonweb.com), and Lahore Times (Lhrtimes.com).
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