Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s contribution to Pakistan runs the entire gamut from formulating the 1973 constitution to formulating the 1973 constitution. Throw in the ‘Islamic bomb’ into the mix and that’s basically game, set and match on anything ‘positive’ that the man might have achieved – the emphasis being on ‘achieved’. And of course to conjure the Islamic bomb, Pakistanis were supposed to eat grass; Bhutto’s nationalisation of industries was probably to facilitate the inclusion of grass in the diet plan of his countrymen.
Even so, Bhutto’s fan club doesn’t really venerate the man as ‘lawmaker’ extraordinaire – or ‘bombmaker’ extraordinaire, for that matter – the man’s supposed to be the father of democracy, secularism, liberty, fraternity, equality and all other terms borrowed from the French Revolution. He’s supposed to be Muhammad Ali Jinnah 2.0, with socialism – popular ingredient of the time – added in for a more contemporary flavour. At a time when Islamic fundamentalists were ubiquitous, Bhutto’s was supposed to be the sole voice clamouring for freedom, or so our liberal brigade – the diehard Bhutto jiyalas – would have us believe.
[quote]He’s supposed to be Muhammad Ali Jinnah 2.0, with socialism[/quote]
Bhutto can indeed be dubbed the quasi-political reincarnation of Jinnah, but that would be for all the wrong reasons. The most glaring of those would of course be: barefaced contradictions.
As hard as it is let’s set aside the fact that a feudal lord was leading the chants of socialism and that the father of democracy never accepted the Awami League’s mandate and Sheikh Mujibur Rehman’s right to lead Pakistan. Let’s also ignore the fact that the proponent of freedom gave the green signal to the 1973 operation in Balochistan and the fact that Pakistan’s first democratically elected leader only managed to bag that distinction because one half of the country was chopped off owing to an assortment of events in which Bhutto played his due part.
Let’s instead solely focus on the Bhutto being touted as the flag-bearer of secularism and the thesis of which Zia-ul-Haq became the anti-thesis, ostensibly leading to every single problem that Pakistan is currently facing, or so – again – our liberals would have us believe.
Bhutto apologists peddle every one of his striking list of hypocritical ‘follies’ as being the need of the hour; the only possible solution or the product of political ‘pressure’ that the man succumbed to with escalating frequency. This leeway is reserved for only two leaders in Pakistan’s history, Jinnah and Bhutto. Everyone else is answerable to our liberals, sometimes simply owing to the fact that they propagated an ideology that our liberals do not conform to.
[quote]Just because Bhutto signed the declaration of Ahmadis as non-Muslims reluctantly it should not purge him from allegations of bigotry[/quote]
The Bhutto and Jinnah apologists are no different to the Taliban or Islamism apologists – they pick their favourite cherries. That Bhutto – or Jinnah – took leaves out of the aforementioned ideology to propagate themselves is paid no heed, since all one needs to do to become the proponent of secularism in Pakistan is not be a practicing Muslim, and everything else becomes justifiable thenceforth.
It was ‘secular’ Bhutto whose constitution made Pakistan an Islamic Republic – an A-grade oxymoron. It was ‘secular’ Bhutto who shut down bars and banned alcohol – which apparently is compatible with our liberals’ brand of Islam. It was ‘secular’ Bhutto who vied to personify Iqbal’s pan-Islamic ‘Mard-e-Momin’, by uniting the Islamic world and formulating the Islamic bomb to counter the threat of the imaginary Jewish, Christian and Hindu bombs. And of course it was ‘secular’ Bhutto under whose leadership Ahmadis were excommunicated in 1974, politicising the process of takfir and in turn creating a beast of bigotry that has its claws around the Shia community as things stand.
The justification provided for all of the above manifestations of ‘secularism’ is solely: reluctance. Just because Bhutto reluctantly signed the paper declaring Ahmadis to be non-Muslims it should suffice in purging the man from allegations of bigotry, but Zia’s Ordinance XX that debarred Ahmadis from using any Islamic titles is a brazen depiction of bigotry, since it was in synchrony with his own ideology.
So basically Pakistani liberals criticise a religious fanatic for acting like a religious fanatic but defend a liberal for acting like a religious fanatic. In most other countries, those that delve into history vying to adjudicate the performances of historical figures judge their actions in accordance with the ideals they stood for, or claimed to stand for. If Bhutto is judged as a secular, liberal, democrat he won’t get half the score that he would get if he’s judged as a pan-Islamic authoritarian. And that ladies and gentlemen just burst the ironicometre.
There’s no point criticising Zia, for all of his Islamist actions fall in line with his ideology. His literalist interpretation of Islam falls in line with the interpretation of every single leader venerated in Islamic history and the interpretation of the scholars that formulated the ideological foundation on which the Islamic superstructure stands. Bhutto’s “Islamic socialism” – another A-grade oxymoron – was neither here nor there, just like the man himself.
If we’re extolling Bhutto solely because his extraordinary eloquence and oratory skills struck a chord with liberal hearts, let’s also excuse Taliban sympathisers for being moved by the articulacy of the new TTP chief Fazalullah. It’s just a different ideology that he propagates. But unlike Bhutto, Fazalullah – like Zia – will stick to his ideals. Whether they are bigoted to the core, is another debate altogether.