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Bhutto and I

Published Apr 04, 2014 12:54pm


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- File photo
- File photo

On the morning of April 4, 1979, the military dictatorship of General Ziaul Haq hanged to death Pakistan’s first elected Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

Today is the 35th anniversary of that judicial crime.

If you are as much of a maniacal reader on the political and social history histories of Pakistan as I am, then I’m sure you’ve already noticed that after Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the second most discussed Pakistani leader in such books is Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

So much has been written about the man. His achievements and follies; his charisma and eccentricities; his accomplishments and blunders. I can’t really add more to what is already out there in the shape of whole books, papers and articles written on the man.

I was barely 6 years old when Bhutto rose to become Pakistan’s head of state (in January 1972) soon after the secession of what was once called East Pakistan.

Bhutto’s populist Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) had swept the 1970 general election in West Pakistan's two largest provinces, Punjab and Sindh, and it became the country’s majority party once East Pakistan broke away (after a violent and tragic civil war there).

I do have some memory (rather random images) of the 1971 Pakistan-India war (that followed the civil war) and of Bhutto’s first address to the nation on PTV when in early 1972 he took over the reins of a defeated and demoralised nation.

What I remember about the war are the blanket blackouts, loud sirens and terrifying sounds of artillery fire and jets zooming over our house near the coastal areas of Karachi in Clifton; and how one evening there was a huge explosion that shattered the window panes of almost every house in the vicinity after which (in the morning), the war was over (December 1971).

We trickled out of our basements and make-shift bunkers only to see a number of oil refineries visible from our house, and a series of war ships on the horizon on fire.

The flames rose so high it seemed (at least to a 6-year-old kid) that their thick black smoke was about to darken the fluffy white winter clouds hovering over Karachi.

 Two peasant children stand amidst unexploded bombs in a village in former East Pakistan during the 1971 Pakistan-India war.
Two peasant children stand amidst unexploded bombs in a village in former East Pakistan during the 1971 Pakistan-India war.

Then Radio Pakistan announced that the Pakistan armed forces have surrendered. But we kids were too busy collecting the smothering splinters of the bombs that had been dropped by Indian jets only miles away from our area of residence, not knowing that the country had acutely been split into two.

Bhutto was no stranger in our house. In the early 1960s my father was a Psychology major at the University of Karachi (KU) and a member of the left-wing National Students Federation (NSF).

He was also a bosom buddy of famous student radical (and future PPP minister and politician), Miraj Muhammad Khan.

Though my father came from a large, conservative business family from North Punjab, he was a rebel. He was the first in the large family to bypass studying for a business degree; the first to marry outside the family (to a ‘mohajir’ - an Economics major at KU, my mother); and the first to join journalism (instead of the widespread family business) after he graduated from the university in 1964.

Like many passionate young men and women in the late 1960s, he too became a Bhutto enthusiast and remained to be one until his death from respiratory failure in October, 2009.

When Miraj Saheb, these days himself facing health issues, called and spoke to me at length soon after my father passed away, it reminded me how in January 1972 my father returned home from the Karachi Press Club and told my mother that Miraj had told him that Bhutto would be speaking to the nation on TV.

 A January 1972 edition of DAWN.
A January 1972 edition of DAWN.

Being just 6 years old then, today I only vaguely remember my parents, cousins, younger sister, grandparents and paternal uncles gathered in front of our Russian-made ‘Mercury’ TV set listening to that address.

  Bhutto addressing the nation on PTV (January 1972).
Bhutto addressing the nation on PTV (January 1972).

In those days we were one of the few homes in the country that actually owned a TV set, so the address was largely heard by Pakistanis on the radio, in spite of the fact that Bhutto spoke in English.

It is said that the speech remains to be one of the most widely heard addresses from a head of state and government in Pakistan.

In February 1972, my father moved our family to Kabul in Afghanistan where he agreed to heed my paternal grandfather’s advice to set up offices of the family business in that city.

Instead my father became the Afghanistan correspondent of the PPP’s newspaper, Musawat. It was a Kabul that today would seem like a totally different planet compared to what happened to this city at the end of the Soviet-Mujahideen war in the 1980s and beyond.

I remember Kabul to be a pleasant and clean city, with hordes of western tourists (mostly hippies) roaming its streets and markets.

  Afghan women walk down a shopping street in Kabul in 1972 (Picture Courtesy LIFE).
Afghan women walk down a shopping street in Kabul in 1972 (Picture Courtesy LIFE).

My father became a regular visitor to a popular coffee house in central Kabul where the city’s most animated leftist intellectuals met for coffee, tea, beer and most importantly, to strike passionate discussions on the state of affairs in Afghanistan.

One day my father brought home an intense looking and stocky Afghan Pushtun for dinner. The Afghan was bald, had thick spectacles on him, chain-smoked and spoke both English and an accented Urdu. The gentleman was Sardar Daoud - the former Prime Minister of Afghanistan (1953-63) and the future President of that country.

Daoud, who was a cousin of Afghanistan’s monarch, Zahir Shah, had resigned as PM in 1963. He was also a passionate advocate of ‘Pushtunistan’ – a movement that wanted to merge Afghanistan with the Pushtun majority areas of Pakistan.

My father later told me that Daoud – who’d been banished by the monarchy and had become a radical pro-Soviet republican – befriended my father at the coffee house and told him about a ‘coming revolution in Afghanistan.’

‘Bhutto was not very happy with my friendship with Daoud,’ my father told me many years later. Bhutto as well as Pakistan’s military establishment were extremely anti-Daoud, especially due to his views on ‘Pushtunistan.’

Though we returned to Pakistan in mid-1973, Daoud would go on to topple the Zahir Shah monarchy in a military-backed coup and declare Afghanistan to be a republic (in 1974).

He was himself toppled in a communist coup in 1978.

  Sardar Daoud
Sardar Daoud

In Pakistan, my father began publishing a radical pro-PPP Urdu weekly called Al-Fatha with another journalist colleague of his, Mehmood Sham. Al-Fatha's name was inspired by Yasser Arafat’s militant left-wing Palestinian outfit.

Now back in school in Karachi I fondly remember how small kids (especially boys) loved to imitate Bhutto’s antics as a public speaker. At first I just couldn’t understand, until I rediscovered Bhutto on TV.

Afghanistan didn’t have any TV in those days, even though I remember accompanying my parents to a host of Rajesh Khanna films at Kabul cinemas.

back in Karachi, I particularly remember one Bhutto speech on PTV that he made in late 1973 that finally made the now 7-year-old me understand what all those boys at school were up to.

It was during a public gathering in Lahore. It set the nation on fire! Drunk on passion, patriotism (and his favourite brand of whisky), Bhutto was canvassing to ask his supporters to help him regenerate Pakistan’s lost pride. To my delight, a small section of this speech can now be found in cyberspace (see below):

Another memory I have of the period is watching my father discussing the passing of Pakistan’s first genuine constitution (the 1973 constitution) with his cousins and brothers.

Later on when I entered my teens in the early 1980s, I asked my father why the Bhutto regime declared the Ahmadis as non-Muslim.

His explanation was that since Bhutto wanted to bag the support of Islamic outfits like Jamat-i-Islami and others before the historic 1974 International Islamic Summit in Lahore, ‘he threw them a bone they could get busy with and get distracted by.’

I continued disagreeing with him on this issue, and he continued defending Bhutto’s action even many years later.

I remember the Islamic Summit very well. PTV ran a marathon transmission of the event and I also remember watching speeches by a number of leaders from various Muslim countries.

The Summit was explained as a global expression of Bhutto’s ‘Islamic Socialism’ and ‘vision’ of turning the Muslim world into a ‘third progressive force’ between western capitalism and Soviet communism.

Bhutto greets Syrian leader Hafizul Asad at Lahore airport during the Islamic Summit in 1974. Asad was one of the many leaders of the Muslim world who arrived to attend the historic summit.
Bhutto greets Syrian leader Hafizul Asad at Lahore airport during the Islamic Summit in 1974. Asad was one of the many leaders of the Muslim world who arrived to attend the historic summit.

My childhood unfolded in a very different Karachi. TV was a joy to watch (even though it was entirely one-sided); men and women were crazy about cinema as the Pakistan film industry churned out an average of 60 to 70 films a year; and people loved staying outdoors without any fear and at all hours.

Bars, nightclubs, cinemas and other recreational sites were always illuminated with bright, shimmering lights. I remember accompanying my elder cousins and their friends to the edges of the Clifton area on weekends (on bicycles) where people would gather to drink, chat, take long walks on the Clifton beach and especially eat chaat and ‘gola-gupas’.

Some would order ‘special gola-gupas’ whose liquidy chatni was laced with a heavy dose of tamarind but mixed with beer.

At this edge of Clifton was a house called ‘70 Clifton.’ This was the spacious residence of Z A. Bhutto and his family.

From 1975 onwards, when I turned 9, my father began to often take me with him to this house whenever he had to meet Bhutto.

By now he had also joined the Soviet Embassy (on Bhutto’s suggestion). Bhutto had wanted him to use his position to strengthen the media and cultural ties between the Soviet Union and Pakistan.

It was, I think, in the summer of 1975 when I first met Bhutto in real life. I saw a very young Benazir Bhutto as well, lurking in the background; and I also remember a tall, lanky guy shaking my hand as my father stood talking to the lad in the garden of 70 Clifton. He was Murtaza Bhutto, then just 21 years old.

I found Bhutto’s wife, Begum Nusrat Bhutto, to be the warmest and closest towards my father. I would last meet this amazing woman in 1993 when (as a journalist) I made my last trip to 70 Clifton on the evening Murtaza returned from exile.

As a former member of the PPP's student-wing (PSF), I had sided with Benazir in her little tussle with Murtaza. And I continued siding with her. She was to my generation of young ‘radicals’ in the 1980s, what her father had been to the generations before us.

But the fondest ever memory of those visits with my father to 70 Clifton was of one evening in early 1976 (I was now 10) when, as my father and I entered a spacious hall, Bhutto, smartly dressed in a suit and a tie and with a cigar in hand, approached my father and with a mischievous smile loudly asked: ‘Aur Paracha! (So, Paracha); how are the Soviets treating you?’

My father smiled back and answered something to this affect: ‘Sab sahi hai, Bhutto Sahib (All’s well, Mr. Bhutto); the Soviets are fine as long as one keeps appreciating their Vodka!’

Bhutto burst into laughter.

My saddest childhood memories of the time were not exactly the shutting down of schools and the curfews that were imposed during the right-wing Pakistan National Alliance’s protest movement against Bhutto in April 1977.

Nor do I remember what I felt when I saw this weird looking military man with a strange handlebar moustache talking on PTV (in July 1977) - A man against whom I would eventually spend all of my college years fighting as a student activist in the mid and late 1980s.

A tyrant who would retard the political and social evolution of Pakistan for years to come. A man called Ziaul Haq.

My saddest memory regarding Bhutto is, of course, of April 4, 1979. I was 12 years old and now smart enough to understand what was going on.

My father had been blacklisted by the Zia regime (in 1977) and was out of a job. He still refused to join the family business.

I’d had a terrible morning at school two days before Bhutto’s hanging. My mother was summoned by my teachers and told that I would be suspended for giving a fellow student a big fat black eye! Thankfully I wasn’t.

The bugger had been waving a picture (cut out from Jang newspaper) of a cop flogging a man in public. He was mocking the flogged man, saying that all PPP supporters would be getting flogged this way.

Suddenly, bam! I smashed my fist in his face, knocking him out in 5 seconds flat. My anger was purely the result of the depression I was feeling from the economic pressures and uncertainty my family had been facing ever since the Zia regime blacklisted my father, making it impossible for him to get a job in any newspaper or magazine.

Saddest was when on the night of 4th April, some 12 hours after Bhutto’s hanging, I entered my parent’s bedroom and found my father sitting on his bed, his palms cupping his face, his head hung low, as he listened to a special programme on Bhutto on BBC Radio’s Urdu service.

I quietly sat on a chair opposite him, my knuckles still sour from punching my classmate. Then it happened. A sight I shall never forget.

My father removed his palms from his face to light a cigarette. And for the first time ever, I saw this cool, calm and stoic fellow, wiping tears from his cheeks. His eyes were swollen and red, as if he’d actually been weeping for hours.

I was stunned. I had no clue what to do. It was only then that I realised that Bhutto really was dead.

Scene after scene was related over the years in articles and books by so many people of how Bhutto’s death had actually made grown-up men and women cry.

I saw one such person do that right in front of my eyes. That evening I wanted to hug my father. But I somehow couldn’t. I just got up and left. The age of apathy had arrived in Pakistan.

 My father at our house in Karachi in 1967. He passed away in 2009.
My father at our house in Karachi in 1967. He passed away in 2009.

Author Image

Nadeem F. Paracha is a cultural critic and senior columnist for Dawn Newspaper and He is also the author of two books on the social history of Pakistan, End of the Past and The Pakistan Anti-Hero.

He tweets @NadeemfParacha

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (104) Closed

Khan Apr 04, 2014 01:03pm

You are right, there is so much written about him that no matter how hard you try, you can portray him as an innocent angel. These Bhuttos have ruined the country and everyone knows that.

Yasser Apr 04, 2014 01:15pm

NFP, I'm a long-time reader of yours and rest assured this your most toucjing piece. God bless you.

Saad Apr 04, 2014 01:15pm

@Khan: How exactly did the Bhutto's ruin the country? If Zia hadn't killed Bhutto, Pakistan might have actually been a respectable country and not the joke that it is fast becoming.

ashok kumar lal Apr 04, 2014 01:19pm

good article. Sir--High time you realised Bhutto was the cause of many of your country,s woes.This is not to defend Zia, who was maniac satan. The terrible anti India stance of Bhutto took your country on wrong path.Forget him and move on

Awais Rana Apr 04, 2014 01:19pm

Very well written.! Apr 04, 2014 01:37pm

very nice article, I am post 1971 generation and was very young to feel the effects of Zia in the 80s, dont remember ZAB at all, but whatever I see in Pakistan now helps me understanding of the missed oppurtunities for a nation, and a demon in the shape of Zia

Aijaz Apr 04, 2014 01:40pm

Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was a legend, beyond any doubts. It is so unfortunate that we kept the dictators and killed our leaders. God bless us and our country and may always protect us from dictators and provide us an honest leadership to drive our country towards prosperity and stability. Long live Pakistan.

Yasser Apr 04, 2014 01:40pm

@Khan: By 'everyone' you mean those who have mutated into becoming monsters today, feeding on soldiers, politicians and cilvialians of Pakistan. People like you are willing to talk and even defend these monsters but refuse to forgive whatever few mistakes made by genuine leaders like Bhutto. No wonder our country has become a playing ground of all kinds of madness.

Narayanan Iyengar Apr 04, 2014 01:45pm


I am a regular follower of your articles. The narration literally moved me....

Adnan Apr 04, 2014 01:54pm

Its tragc. I saw my father wipe his tears off when Benazir died. It is truly a case of what could have been. Those two generations had deep affection for PPP and if not for such opposition Pakistan may have been quite different, we had a direction then. But again a case of what if! No matter what lovers or haters say, he deserved to have a fair trial. How he was treated has harmed this nation more and that happens when one man holds the reins of a country.

Junaid Apr 04, 2014 02:02pm

Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto picked small pieces of pakistan and build a established pakistan after war. he wanted to make a muslim block in asia where people can easily travel without any visa, trade without boundaries and emerge economic, i.e. Euro Zone. 1974 oic conference when muslims leaders met at one plate form. and his plan for atomic technology. both reasons was enough to make a conspiracy plan to kill him. if we honour bhutto in just words its not enought. fullfilling his dream is true success

Zain Sheikh Apr 04, 2014 02:16pm

This is your best piece yet. May your father's soul rest in peace :).

Next time you're in London, we need to have a beer together :).

event horizon Apr 04, 2014 02:18pm

Surely ZAB was the most influential politician Pakistan has ever produced. Sadly, he was taken out of the way too soon. Then his daughter was also taken out of the way by the forces that are powerful.

Impressed Apr 04, 2014 02:36pm

Rich with personal recollections and anecdotes, this is a very touching, moving piece indeed. Thanks NFP for sharing your memories with us!

AdHawk Apr 04, 2014 02:53pm

I hear you NFP. Many of our parents were similarly duped by Bhutto in the '70s

Roomi Apr 04, 2014 02:55pm

Beautiful ! Very emotional piece for me because I too had a father who probably must have cried on Bhutto's death but never showed us his tears for his belief and hope in Bhutto and Pakistan. His legacy continues to arouse passions both for and against him but I always wonder what would have happened to this beautiful country of ours had PPP and PNA had patched up and Zia had not toppled the government. What kind of Pakistan would it be today ?? I wonder !! ?

Zozu Apr 04, 2014 03:00pm

This has to be the best Piece ever written by you !! .. Amazing ... Very Moving and Emotional ! ..

AdHawk Apr 04, 2014 03:02pm

You can always tell the neo-Jiyalas by their constant bleating on the 'foreign conspiracies' that took down their leaders. If only they had the perspective to realize how criminally this faux-liberal party destroyed the very foundations of this society; and was eventually done in by its own duplicity.

Sarang Abbasi Apr 04, 2014 03:34pm

This is for me the best piece you have written so far .It certainly moved me with how and where events have gone wrong. I have seen people mourning for Bhutto death even after 35 years of his execution .But, Now I realize that they lost hope and the leader whom they believed to change the fate of this country.

gerry d'cunha Apr 04, 2014 03:45pm

za bhutto was a farsighted and a genuine leader for pakistan,had he been alive, pakistan's position would have been much much better today, he is the architect of making pakistan a nuclear state - he was not a corrupt person - he trusted his advisors and made some mistakes and his enemies (religious parties) took the liberity in supporting the cruel man zia-ul-haq in taking his life and also supporting usa to get rid of him.

Very True Apr 04, 2014 04:01pm

Had Bhutto lived, Pak would be the Asian Tiger and India would look up to us as its ideal!

AHA Apr 04, 2014 04:02pm

"The age of apathy had arrived in Pakistan."

Well said. A truly touching finale to your blog.

AHA Apr 04, 2014 04:06pm

@Khan: Everyone?

You certainly do not speak for me. Count me out.

NHM Apr 04, 2014 04:30pm

Justice to Bhutto can only be done by following his vision. Modern and Liberal Pakistan, having a respectful place in the Modern and Islamic world and a socioeconomic domestic policy favoring the masses ,not the top 1% Unfortunately today's PPP has betrayed that cause and has sat down with the remnants of Zia's culture , the present leadership is a part of the grand scheme of larceny, lie, deceit , cheat and fraud in this country.

Ashok Pandey Apr 04, 2014 04:33pm

I check dawn everyday to see if you have a new article.. fan of yours and your writing style.

The images of pakistan in 70s were never known to me but feel that Karachi was one of the advanced cities of asia and society was a lot more tolerant. A nation should be proud of writers like you..

Laeeq, NY Apr 04, 2014 04:37pm

No doubt ZAB was a great leader but did some great blunders which caused him to see the gallows. He bowed to the Islamists and declared Ahmadis as non Muslims was a first step to to his demise. He gave the space to Islamist, and in turn Islamist took the space from him. He did not keep the military at bay and we got the military dictator who was much worse than these Islamist. Those seeds sowed by this monster are still haunting us and country is still in the gripp of these extremist elements. As a whole, ZAB did more harm than good to the country. We were not ready yet that kind of democracy yet. He was a 21 century leader, not the 20th. Century.

Badar Apr 04, 2014 04:43pm

@Khan: Bhutto ruined Pakistan, Really?

Bhutto gave Pakistan a Constitution, He envisioned and started a nuclear bomb project which some day may save the entire Muslim world. He established Steel Mills, Aeronautical Complex (now JF17 are build there), Tank Building Factories (two types of them), Tarbela Dam extension. Uniting Muslims in Lahore (1974 Islamic Conference) was another grave mistake by Bhutto. Some of these acts invited USA's wrath for sure and Kissinger delivered the warning in person. An extra ordinary event in itself.

All of the above sure ruined Pakistan..Yeah? Do we really need more of you?

Narejo Apr 04, 2014 05:01pm

A lot of readers look forward to your blogs and articles; I was wondering the other day what happened to Paracha's blog that Dawn publishes mid week! Glad to finally have the blog. And what a lovely blog this one is too. Totally worth the wait. Kudos!

Khurram Apr 04, 2014 05:25pm

NFP I really like your writings. However, just as a side note I think you are obsessed with Bhutto and everything that had anything to do with PPP. You mention everything about its past and how it was but never in your writings have mentioned anything how corrupt they were and are. What about Bhutto's role in the making of Bangladesh. I guess your readers will appreciate you shedding some light on those issues too. Thanks

Ray Apr 04, 2014 05:27pm


Really Khan! Don't dare to compare Bhutto's legacy with the followers who took the reins after his death.

Roxaff Apr 04, 2014 05:35pm

Imperialists and Rightists are natural allies to destroy a nation.......This is what happened then, and is whats happening these means they not only destroy the image of religion but also polarize the society between liberals and conservatives , fate of the nation being torn among them. Tolerence is need of hour for us........ Will miss this great man......NFP you made me weep ....

Moeen Apr 04, 2014 05:54pm

I can only say it was good riddance to bad rubbish.

Nadeem Chaudhry Apr 04, 2014 06:01pm

O Yes! I remember April 4th, 1977 and I was 21. It was a dark day in Pakistans's history. I still remember Mark Tully of BBC announcing Mr. Bhutto's death. He was a man born in the wrong country and inherited a treacheourous people.

Muhammed Ali Apr 04, 2014 06:18pm

@AdHawk: I think the jiyalas like the sugar coated version..

Karachi Wala Apr 04, 2014 06:28pm

NFP I come from almost same era and same Karachi but certainly you have a much better recollection of the events. Pakistan came into being in 1947 and there are people on both side of the divide who continue to argue about the legitimacy till this day. Similarly people who were mesmerized with Bhuttuism, no matter what will continue to romanticize and vouch for him and those against him will continue to justify the draconian rule of Zia. I find interesting similarities between the two. Pakistan movement was started by handful educated and secular Muslims to protect the economic interests of the Muslim minority of India. If one keeps in mind that the majority of Indian Muslim happened to be illiterate and had no aptitude for business and were very poor. The demand makes sense. The problem arose when some influential segments including prominent Mullahs rose against the demand for separate homeland for the Muslims. At that juncture demand for Pakistan was mixed with religiously charged slogans so the masses could be prompted to rise in support of a separate homeland. The trick did work. Pakistan came into being. It is another story on the both sides masses had to swim through rivers of bloods. After the creation of Pakistan, I am not sure about the reasons but unfortunately policy of appeasing Mullahs was adopted. Once the objective resolution was passed there was no going back. Be it civilian or Military Mullahs successfully blackmailed each and every government. Now fast forward to Bhutto

Sridhar Apr 04, 2014 06:41pm

It was a great personal perspective, NFP! Well written, indeed. I distinctly remember the day he was hanged and felt very sad to notice the depressing headlines in all afternoon newspapers in Mumbai. As I traveled in the local trains, I heard nothing but sympathy and people were discussing the event with much compassion notwithsatnding the "the Indian dos" and "thousand year war" .

I happened to follow Bhutto's rise from the moment he started appearing in UN Security Council and General Assembly, making a case for Pakistan. Throughout his career until his death, I noticed, a politician who was given to more personal ambition and establishing a dynasty. No opportunity at self-agrandisment was passed up. Bombastic, often playing lose with facts, and ever ready to turn on the uneducated, uninformed masses to a frenzy. Unprincipled opportunism led him to engage in vitriolic rhetoric, corruption, subjugating the minorities that included Ahamdis.

It was his cold (mis) calculation that foisted the Frankenstein Zia on Pakistan. Bhutto had met his match in Zia. As ambitious and megalomanic as Bhutto but smart enough to hide his intentions till he got the nation by its horns. Zia was more cunning that he could fein innocence and selflessness and have the military and the mosque to support him for the next fateful decade. Neither of them were saints. Both have contributed immensely to destruction of democratic institutions and the civil society in Pakistan.

K G Surendran Apr 04, 2014 06:50pm

Nostalgia can be riveting, never mind its yours. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Sometimes one wishes that we could turn the clock back and get away from the mayhem of today - if only wishes were horses then.......!

Talat H Apr 04, 2014 06:59pm

It was a sad day - so much more sadness that has been added since

MSH Apr 04, 2014 07:15pm

@Karachi Wala: 'unfortunate policy' more like deliberate policy to hang on to power. If the PPP was a party based on principles than this would not have been so.

MSH Apr 04, 2014 07:26pm

@Sridhar: well said.

tattu saeen Apr 04, 2014 07:40pm

the great thing about that speech is that Bhutto is telling people that each one of us has to work hard towards the progress of this country unlike nowadays when politicians just say that they will build this and that and do stuff in 90 days.

Mahmood Apr 04, 2014 07:47pm

Dear NFP, I have been reading your article for some time as they are fun and factual to some extent. I read this one too...and felt one strongly that I wanted to share. We have been busy in remembering generals, politicians for quite some time. Our people celebrate there birth days, there death anniversaries even after they have long been gone. Interestingly all of them are titled as "Shaheed". However what I really feel we don't remember the actual "Shaheed" of all the wrong doing of these so called celebrated personalities, the Pakistan. More I read about Bhutto, Zia, more I am convinced that they have done more damage to our society, our nation, our beloved country. Politician of west and Army were equally responsible in breaking Pakistan. Bhutto at best was a dictator (without uniform), manipulator, politician, best loyal to self-interest. He was not even close to the standards of Politics that founder of Pakistan had set.

I had been a long admirer of PPP due to its liberal values. However I have lived the time when Benazir became the youngest PM of Pakistan and to my dismay, all my dreams and fantasies fall a part. Nothing changed for good but to this day we have been on down ward spiral.

I am not dreaming of Pakistan where people are drinking in open to show their liberal values (you refer to a lot in your articles) but where people do care about private and public life of each and every citizen of Pakistan.

Long story short, please write more about Pakistan. Long Live Pakistan.

sahi Apr 04, 2014 07:54pm

@Khan: You do not know Bhatto. Inspite of some shortcomings he was only nationalist leader since 1947 in this country. All others were and are only exploiters and dictators.please read the histry.

Salim Apr 04, 2014 08:21pm

@Saad: Sir do you realize if there was no Bhutto there would be no Zia-ul-(na)haq. Anyway you measure Bhutto he outdid his good deeds with the irreparable damage to Pakistan. Ask the Bengalis,ask the Baluchis, ask the Ahmedis, Ask his "New Sindhis" NFP surely Mairaj Mohammed Khan could not have said nice things about the man?

sam Apr 04, 2014 09:08pm

Bhutto preached hate against India. Became a victim of hate. Those who live by the sword , perish by the sword. This hate has now poisoned the entire Pak Nation.

imran Apr 04, 2014 09:31pm

so plz post my previous comments if have dare to face the reality

M. Siddique Apr 04, 2014 10:03pm

Good article. Minor correction Bhutto became president on December 20, 1971 and not in January 1972. I remember we waited hours for his first speech and he spoke around 11pm on that fateful day when the nation was in mass depression and wanted someone to stand up hold them together. I did not vote for Bhutto but he shouldered the grieving nation. He steered the country out of agony which had befallen on everyone. Yes, he was murdered.

Jiyala Apr 04, 2014 10:13pm

Pakistan had only two visionary leaders, Bhutto and Zardari.

ehtaSHam Apr 04, 2014 10:15pm

exceptional narration of sore historical events cloaked in a passionate personal account.... Well done NFP, as usual

murli Apr 04, 2014 10:23pm

Beautifully written sir!! Am an Indian and of your age. I share the Bhutto memories as i remember those days vividly. I too read a lot about Pakistan. You are correct.... Pakistan stumbled on Zia's arrival. God bless your nation.

Siddhartha Shastri Apr 04, 2014 10:54pm

@AHA and @NFP: When the author talks about having been apathetic, he is actually cursing himself for not having hugged his Father when the latter was feeling so low, and can no longer make up for the lapse on the anniversary of that traumatic event. We all feel guilty about having missed one opportunity or the other to have expressed solidarity with our loved ones. At the risk of sounding presumptuous, I'd like to suggest a counter perspective on why the 12 year old son could not bring himself to do what he instinctively wanted to.

When you are brought up to respect individuality as NFP obviously has been, you instinctively avoid treading into someone's individual space when that person is down and out. It is NOT apathy, it is respect for that individual and his feelings. The Father was not grieving openly - he was trying to come to terms with it in the privacy of his own room when the child walked in.

The situation the 12 year old stepped into that evening was awful and traumatic. At that age, your Father is the strongest person you know, and when you see that very man in tears, you stop being sure of yourself and begin to doubt your instincts and judgement. How could he be sure that hugging his Father to offer consolation was the best thing to do?

Another cause for doubting himself was the timing of the trauma of witnessing his Father in tears. Merely hours earlier, the young man had used force on a classmate to make a statement. Right or wrong, it was perhaps the first independent decision he had taken that may well have been outside his own upbringing. NFP had perhaps felt somewhat vindicated for his show of force - after all he was not suspended, so he must have done something right.

Against that background, he comes home to find the two strongest personalities he knew devastated - one humiliated by authorities in power, and the other devastated with grief. Is it a surprise the young man did not have the courage to throw his arms around his Father in consolation?

Maymar Bin aZIZ Apr 04, 2014 11:10pm

@Khurram: Well yes he should if the actual Hamood ur Rehman Commission report ever be published......!

Rizwan Apr 04, 2014 11:11pm

Mr. Paracha, I found your article to be a good read. However, I think it would have worked much better as a personal memoir about the history of your family and your childhood than a commentary on the politics of the country.

I am of the same age as you and have many of the same memories as you. I recall the blackouts and the sirens of the 71 war with India. I remember the demonstrations of the post-election period in the 77 and I clearly remember the day when I heard that Bhutto had been hanged. My father, however, was from an earlier generation than your father. He walked in stride with the likes of Jinnah and Liquat Ali Khan to create a new home for the Muslims of India. He then sacrificed all he had to move his young family and migrate to Karachi. We didn

Ursilla Ajnum Apr 04, 2014 11:13pm

@Siddhartha Shastri A brilliant observation, indeed. I agree with you. Also, NFP remains to be one of the most individualistic journalists and columnists in Pakistan.

Karim Apr 04, 2014 11:44pm

nice article made me cry again!! I cried with my mother on April 4, 1979 when I was just 9 years old even without knowing Bhutto and politics at all!!

old horse Apr 04, 2014 11:52pm

@tattu saeen: If you call politics of gharao and jalao hard work

Jawaid Inam Apr 05, 2014 12:17am

Very nice & moving account of the days gone by. Just a small correction, Bhutto took over the reins of power on 20th December 1971 and addressed the nation the same night with his famous speech starting with words ," We have to pick up the pieces, very small pieces....."

simple Apr 05, 2014 12:21am

I have heard lots of people" Bhutto was great leader " With due respects, can anybody specifically highlights his contribution by points to Paksiatn?

Ganga Din Apr 05, 2014 12:22am

Much of what Zia is being blamed for, was actually started by Bhutto. Bhutto was in cahoots with these Mullahs, started dressing like Mao Zedong and started stepping on the toes of his foreign handlers and hence the end. No regrets, No sympathies. Garbage in/Garbage out.

Rashid Nasim Apr 05, 2014 12:25am

Can't find words. Just want to say THANK YOU

Rashid Nasim

TKhan Apr 05, 2014 12:31am

@Jiyala: They were visionary alright; unfortunately blindfolded. One for Greed of Power and other one, you guessed it right.

Syed Zafar Kazmi Apr 05, 2014 12:34am

Great article Mr. Paracha

Naveed Khan Apr 05, 2014 01:33am

Bhutto despite his short comings at the personal level, had deep love for the country. He was a doer, a mover and a shaker. He did lot of things for the country. He gave first fully accepted constitution, he started the only steel mill in Pakistan of some volume, he started the Pakistan's Nuclear programme financed by the Arab leadership and the list goes on and on.... His ambition to galvanize Muslim countries on a single platform to earn global recognition and resolve some of the most intractable Muslim issues, led to his downfall. Global Zionists, Global Evangelicals did not like that at all. It posed a threat to their power and their stranglehold on economy. He was undone by a low IQ General, who never understood the bigger picture. If Bhutto had succeeded in bringing Muslims together on a common platform, 9/11 would not have happened, and 3 Million Muslims would not have been killed as a revenge for the terrorist act of 9/11 and 100 million Muslims would not be subjected to the humiliation of being occupied.

Nizamuddin Ahmad Aali Apr 05, 2014 02:16am

I am a big fan of Mr. Paracha. Will he be kind enough to write about Bhutto Saheb's logic or reason to nationalize the schools, banks industries. What was his thinking.

Mirani Apr 05, 2014 02:20am

@simple: Help yourself try Google :)

Zahra Aamer Apr 05, 2014 02:35am

Nadeem Piracha, you should write a book! Or make a documentary!

Mona Apr 05, 2014 03:53am

I have heard from everyone including those who don't like PPP tht he was a great, confident leader, what pakistan really need. I wish he was alive today. N this lunatic Zia got some mild punishment in the end...

Syed Apr 05, 2014 04:20am

@simple: Bhutto was great but did very little for betterment of Pakistan. He didn't accept the mandate of the free and fair election held by Yahiya Khan the only good thing the general did during his tenure. He did not accept the outcome of Election and divided the country just because he was losing power by the public mandate. He destroyed the economy of the progressive Pakistan which Ayub Khan had done by industrializing the country. He nationalized all the major Industry and brought Pakistan to Bankruptcy because of his corrupt and money mongering cabinet members.

He destroyed the education system in the country by nationalising the school and since then and till now our school system has not improved.

These are the few follies of Mr Bhutto which nation will always remember. Then during his end period he became a dictator I still remember his TV speech when he said this chair/seat is very strong. But he forgot the very nature's rule that every rise has a fall and because of his arrogant nature he met a very disgraceful end. He forgot that the same people who brought him into power can also put him onto the gallows.

Tariq K Sami Apr 05, 2014 04:53am

For a man to so honor his father NFP you have won my heart.

MA Apr 05, 2014 05:24am

Paracha Sahib, yaar aap ne to kamaal ker diya article likh ker. Thanks so much for the glad and bitter memories.

Ganga Din Apr 05, 2014 05:26am

@Badar: What uniting Muslims in Lahore? That conference was a complete failure. By calling that conference, he thought he would be next Gamal Abdul Nasir and in his false ambition he stepped on the toes of his western handlers.

Ali Wadood Apr 05, 2014 07:22am

@Saad: I will only give give Bhutto credit for making Pakistan a nuclear state, and in turn preserving its freedom.

Yawar Apr 05, 2014 08:48am

Bhutto should have never nationalized industry. He should have known that to be in power in Pakistan, you need to keep the army and the rich industrialists happy.

APatel Apr 05, 2014 09:09am

@Saad: The involvement of Bhutto's in the sub-continent history is far before the creation of Pakistan. Z.A.Bhutto's father ( Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto) involvement in crushing the Hurs of Sindh during freedom movement for his British Lords does not get as much coverage as hanging of Z A Bhutto. We should not forget that: - Z A B was the foreign minister during Ayub Khan's dictatorship. The seed of hatred by the Bengali people for the people of West Pakistan was actually sown when Z A B had a lot of influence in Ayub Khan's government. - The political stupidity that Z A B showed by non cooperating with a Awami League resulted in separation of East Pakistan.

I was in my early 20s when Z A Bhutto was in power and have seen all the mismanagement, corruption and lawlessness during PPP so called DEMOCRATIC Government. I had seen live ammunition including automatic weapons in Colleges and Universities far before anybody had heard of Ziaul Haque. ( 1974-75 )

As far as Mr.NFP is concerned, he was only 6 years of age at that time and belongs to a family which was very close to ZAB and was very much benefited also. ( as mentioned by Mr. NFP ). Anything that he writes is more of the records that he has collected from the VERY LOYAL people of Z A Bhutto.

All I can say is that we as a whole has proved our self to be SELFISH, THANKLESS, CORRUPTED & VIOLENT NATION.

Hussein El-Edroos Apr 05, 2014 09:21am

Thank you for sharing this article about your father's relationship with Bhutto

observer Apr 05, 2014 09:41am

From Afghan women in skirts on the streets of Kabul to girls covered in shuttlecock burqas. What has Pakistan done to Afghanistan! And to itself.

The Loyalist Pakistani Apr 05, 2014 09:54am

NFP another best column & superb narration of events which are enough to make nostaligic. I wish we could produce some more writers like you.

On political note, & reading the criticizing comments , I think Asif Ali Zardari is the only one who has learned the lessons & has emerged as the one who's trying to put politics, democracy & country back on track which was derailed and damaged by the short shortsightedness of early politicians & largely opportunist Bhutto. He has never bowed down to religious politicians, highly tolerant to media , paved the way for smooth transition, created a room & understanding of judiciary (Azad Adlia though corrupt), exposed establishment to the extent that all the produce of establishment are now abusing and distancing themselves from establishment. He has also exposed "Hassas Addaray" as culprit of national unity and gave courage to our 'brave' tv anchors to say them 'Khufiaa Idaray, agencies & discussed their role on TV ., what else can someone do in a short period of his active political life span . Though he's under PPP's umbrella , but his politics is all against the ills identified by most of PPP's critics. Now in opposition he's actually controlling the direction of the government, remember when he spoiled Mush's escape in Jan this year when he said "Billa Doodh pee jaata hai" which resulted in pressure on govt to put him under trial.

I'm sure that history will give verdict in his favor , & we may not have to wait for decades

ali Apr 05, 2014 11:17am

Bhutto ruined this country, tore it apart, destroyed its industrial institutions. Zia turned that disaster into a catastrophe. And what was left after zia, the bhuttos came back to burn. The dictators looked at this country as a place to impose their will, the politicians, as a piece of meat they can tear to satisfy their greed. You can romanticize bhutto all you want, or the country's dictators, but that wouldn't change anything for the millions of pakistanis who live in this country on pennies, looking over their shoulders for handguns, abusing and cursing the souls of leaders who have gone before.

Kashif Apr 05, 2014 11:32am

Great Article ! Nadeem Sahib. For a couple of time i visited your era and your time, Probably they were halcon days. You Passed your epoch with celebrated entities.

Chadna Apr 05, 2014 11:37am

It was not the government that hanged the ex-PM, it was the court that ordered his sentence for murder. Following Bhutto, still, is naivety. He was not a film hero sort and his stint as a politician is not very impressive so it doesnt make sense that he be patronized as a saint or a legend. There should be no difference in a politician's and a citizen's life. It's not only Zulfiqar who was hanged and it was not only Benazir who was murdered. People's party had their time and the hole we are in just became bigger. They failed within and failed Pakistan. Shame on those people who believe in Bhutto's bloodlines being sacred and claiming their right to the throne of the party and the government. We are just corrupting the next generation also. Nadeem, you should retire!

Ahsan Apr 05, 2014 11:43am

They killed Bhutto, but he will be living alive in generations's heart and mind. He was the only hope that was brutally killed by "powers". Current PPP has nothing to do with ZAB or his ideolgy. Pakistan would be progressed country like Malaysia or Turkey if Bhutto was not assassinated. In his short term if you list the work he done, You'll be amazed.

Bolan Medical College, BZU Multan, Pakistan Steel Mill, Over seas Pakistani Foundation, First Constitutions, Pakistan Atomic Program, and many. Golden era of pakistan ended with him

ahmad butt Apr 05, 2014 11:52am

@Badar: What about the nationalisation of the industries and ruining the growth in this sector once and for all? Did he put an end to feudalism or extremism or encourage it? I hope NFP write an article based on impartiality on the achievements and fallout of Bhutto tenure.

Tahir Apr 05, 2014 12:04pm

Leaving aside your personal relations/emotions, how do you explain the break up of Pakistan just because Bhutto refused to accept the electoral victory of Mujib. How do you explain his slogan of 'edar hum udur tum'?

Naweed Razzaq Apr 05, 2014 12:25pm

@Tahir: Edar ham edar tum is only a slogan to get political hate for Bhutto sahab why we dont want to say edhar bhi tum udhar bhi tum and elect Khalida Zia as Prime minister of Pakistan and merge the both parts pf Pakistan,East Pakistan and West Pakistan. In Bangladesh match 1st sixer of Afridi actually confirmed why Pakistan broken and 2nd sixer was actually telling us the story how Pakistan was broken.We have to understand the reaction of crowd.

SUNNY Apr 05, 2014 12:46pm

Bhutto was gifted and honest leader,i respect him very much,he was taken far to soon

Shahryar Shirazi Apr 05, 2014 01:11pm

My parents, both Iranians, were friends with the Bhutto family. In the 60s, they were introduced to Nusrat khanum and Mr. Bhutto during my dads days at DMC Karachi. My parents were in U.K when the call came in one morning about this sad news. For my dad, Bhutto's death and Shah of Iran's fall were back to back blows. Its sad to relive the story my mom has narrated to me so many times. It was the 70s when Pakistan's decline got triggered. My parents, settled in Karachi since the Khomeni revolution, have seen a Pakistan of the 60s during their student life- a vibrant, tolerant country to the present day mess.

Parvez Apr 05, 2014 01:28pm

Nicely told.........the reader gets a glimpse of the Bhutto's and your family. As far as leadership is concerned.............we will have to make do with the Bhuttos, Sharifs, Zardaris, Zias, Musharrafs etc....until a true leader comes along and the country prospers, then we will be able to say ' yes, he was a leader '.

Asad Apr 05, 2014 02:02pm

I was brought up in a military background, and most of my family supported army-backed Muslim League of Nawaz Sharif, and naturally I did so until I reached the age where I could analyse the right and wrong myself.

I now strongly believe that Butto was - without any doubts - the greatest leader of Pakistan after Quaid-e-Azam. He had vision, charisma and leadership qualities. Pakistan would be a different country, if he was alive and let complete his tenure. I am not saying he had no shortcomings, but every human has.

Military governments can bring prosperity for a very short time, as did Musharraf, but they destroy the foundations of the country, and leave a big mess behind, as every single dictator did.

Moral: Never ever support a dictator!

Iltaf Kiani Apr 05, 2014 02:13pm

This article has truly moved me.I missed my old Pakistan! Thanks NFP

Shafiq Khan Apr 05, 2014 03:12pm

Thank you for a very personal account. It reminds me of a time a few things about Mr. Bhutto. Just before that election where he got a great majority in the then West Pakistan. He visited Rabwa, the headquarters of the Ahmaddya community and promised fair deal for the persecuted community. He got unstinting electoral support from that community. Then what he did after the election, is history. He refused to publish the full true records of the parliamentary proceedings. A dishonesty of the highest order. After that I thought him as not a man of his word and a hypocrite. My family suffered as a consequence, many of the faithful found greener pastures since. I still shed a tear or two on the day of his execution, only because the dictator had shown every thing an utterly dishonest person would do. Rigged Court, case decided before the Court decision, the sham trial the highest type of hypocrisy. The most dishonest thing any national leader could do is to knowingly hurt his country. ZAB put his personal interest before his nation's.

ZABhotto betrayed his country when he destroyed Pakistan, by not accepting the result of an election, because he wanted to be a Prime Minister .The East Pakistani Mujeeb should have become the Prime Minister with a majority in the parliament and not Bhutto. Quid-a-Azam's Pakistan would have been still in place bar his treachery . An act of treachery and uncommon dishonesty.

Suren Singh Sahni Apr 05, 2014 03:22pm

Awaami party was the largest party that won the election and Sheik Mujibur Rehman should have been the PM of Pakistan. Bhutto contrived to deny the democratically elected leader and thus Pakistan fractured. Rest is History.

aamir Aqil Apr 05, 2014 03:40pm

Piracha Thanks, I am a regular reader of your articles, this one is simply superb, which took me to 70s, please write a book on Bhutto and if possible make a documentory it will be a great favour for the new generation who have been brained washed by the establisment through their paid column writers , Please bring the facts about the great man . God bless you

sh. Ayub Apr 05, 2014 05:03pm

Very impressive, indeed! Bhutto was a man of inspiration and will continue to be.

salim Apr 05, 2014 08:50pm

@Naveed Khan: The low IQ GENERAL was appointed by ZAB himself superseding a dozen other better qualified men. It was his shortsightedness, and grandiosity that he could control,a less intelligent man . Bhutto's own IQ could not save him from the wretched and gruesome Wadera within him.

Liaquat Apr 05, 2014 10:18pm

i can not stop my tears what a loss

Abubakr Apr 05, 2014 11:51pm

Be it Bhutto or any other leader who lost it to dictatorship, it was their immaturity and their own decisions which led to their eventual fate

Z.A. Naqvi Apr 06, 2014 04:27am

Bhutto was a romance, and he still is, not only for those who lived during his time, but also for generations born after his execution. Even though I was just about 6-year old in 1977 when the protest movement of Pakistan National Alliance against Bhutto was in its boom and when the Zia-led military coup toppled the first elected government of the country, I had some memories of hot political debates on daily basis in my Hyderabad

Nasir-ud-din Soomro Apr 07, 2014 12:25pm

Bhutto without doubt was a phenomenon,he had committed unforgivable mistakes at the same time given voice to weak and downtrodden me he was/is complex person...he is critically accaimed man for sure! However,I am ardent reader your write-ups Nadeem Bro,this piece is well-written.You are in the leading list of progressive writers of Pakistan.

Adil Apr 07, 2014 01:58pm

Pakistan was doing fine until Bhutto manipulated a few generals and politician and eventually succeeded in replacing Ayub Khan. He then refused to accept the 1970 election results, thus causing the 1971 war. He became the first ever civilan Martial Law administrator, and then picked Zia over many other senior generals because he thought Zia would be his 'Yes Man'. Not only was that choice a disaster for Bhutto, but for Pakistan as well. Thank God his devious and ultimately destructive nepotism is at last coming to an end. Even after 40 years, those poor people don't have his promised Roti, Kaprra aur Makaan. Though, for his son in law and his family who are wining and dining, wearing expensive suits and living it up in Bilawal House, that slogan has more than came true.

shuaib Apr 07, 2014 04:29pm

@Saad: How exactly Bhutto ruin this Country?, is the question you asked. A very simple answer would be that Bhutto was a covering candidate in the presidential election of Ayub Khan against Mohtrma Fatima Jinnah. Leave everything aside, this association caused separation of East Pakistan. Consider this small answer enough and understand it. Please do not ask about other Bhutto's; whose actions, I hope, happened in your maturity

shuaib Apr 07, 2014 04:52pm

@Badar: So you think that a ruler should just sit back and work like other buttos or son in law of Bhutto. Come on man, these were his duties as a PM. On that account what's wrong with Zia ul Haq, he materialized that Atomic bomb, which Bhutto started. These were their duties and not favours!!!

Nitin Gulhane Apr 07, 2014 04:54pm

NFP, Your posts and articles are the reason why I keep coming back to Always illuminating. I have heard stories of Afghanistan and how it was once a progressive and pragmatic country. A stark contrast to todays Afghanistan.

How I wish, I could go back in time and visit Kabul. Or Karachi for that matter.

Hope that peaceful subcontinent becomes a reality in our lifetime. Until then, I will just keep reading your posts. Thanks.

Siddharth Apr 07, 2014 05:07pm

Brilliantly written. I was 32 years old the night ZAB was hanged. He was not known to be a friend of India bur for some strange reason, there was a thick feeling of melancholy in the air as AIR announced the news. I think Indians in general respected this man's guts. Unfortunately for his admirers, his legacy has been completely destroyed.

Nizauddin Ahmad Aali Apr 07, 2014 07:36pm

Zia was using religion ( JI and mullas ) and military to remain in power. His friends such as Charlie Wilson and Jo Ann Herne were using him for the victory of USA in Afganistan. Look what happened to Pakistan. Almost failed state. Bhutto sahib was a school boy compared to slick and crook Zia. At the end Mr. Bhutto lost, so did the nation.