Thursday, January 4, 2018
By Aamir Hassan
The despot had wanted to kill him but ended up immortalising him instead.
Man is mortal; however, it is his character on world’s stage that makes him immortal. Socrates and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto are the immortal characters of world history who share common ground in a way. Socrates had to drink the goblet of poison and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged for the same reason and the ‘crime’ but on different turn of history and place. However, the latter’s crime list is long and myriad. It ranges from giving voice to the poor to nuclearise the defence of the country.
It was he who brought back the 90000 Pakistani prisoners of war from India and gave nothing in return. Wasn’t it a crime to be punished? The formation of 1973 constitution was the crime for which he should not be absolved of. He nationalised the blood-sucking industries and gave a severe blow to status quo in this way. Yes status quo which is discussed every other day in our country. Holding Islamic Conference and levelling ground for the unity of Ummah were the acts for which he must be punished and the ruling powers of the world made him example for which they had promised. But we know an axe cannot cut the wood until a piece of wood itself helps for the same.
By giving his life, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto set a new example of sacrifice when needed for the nation and his family including Shaheed Murtaza Bhutto, Shaheed Shahnawaz Bhutto and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto followed suit. As a matter of fact, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was just 17-years-old- when he wrote a letter to Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in April in which he clearly mentioned that he would sacrifice his life for Pakistan and the history witnesses he came up to his words.
He wrote: “You, Sir, have brought us on one platform, under one flag, and the cry of every Muslim should be onward to Pakistan. Our destiny is Pakistan. Our aim is Pakistan. Nobody can stop us. We are a nation by ourselves and India is a subcontinent. You have inspired us and we are proud of you. Being still in school, I am unable to help the establishment of our sacred land. But the time will come when I will even sacrifice my life for Pakistan.” Quaid-e-Azam replied him with pleasure from his Mount Pleasant Road residence at Malabar Hills of Bombay on 1st of May 1945 and advised him to have thorough study of politics.
Bhutto worked wonders by introducing reforms in every sphere of life despite rigid opposition and conspiracies both from inside and outside
Every aspect of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s life is distinctive and desirable. For example he was born on 5th January 1928 the year when for the first time Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah visited Bhutto’s ancestral home called ‘Al-Murtaza’ at Larkana, on invitation of Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto. It would be instructive to survey that Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto was in close contact with the father of the nation and presided over Sindh Mohammedans Association at that time. His family shifted to Bombay (now called Mumbai) when Zulfikar Ali was just six years old. The Bhuttos resided in their splendid home ‘The Nest’ in the posh locality of Bombay. Young Bhutto got his early education from Cathedral High School, Bombay and John Connon School, Bombay like Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. He grew in a heated political atmosphere of Bombay where the Muslims being minority were struggling for their recognition as a separate entity. In Bombay, he took keen interest in student politics and offered an active role in Direct Action Day observed by Muslim League on 16 August 1946.
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto got admission in the University of Southern California in the United States after passing his Senior Cambridge. He stayed two years there. During his passion for reading books coupled with strong communication skills signified his bright career in politics. He held a niche in social and university life as an outstanding speaker. In June 1949, Zulfikar Ali joined Berkeley University for his further studies where he won the first election of his life with margin despite the fact he was the only non-American candidate out of seven contested for the seat of Representative-at-Large on the Students’ Council. So was the man and such was the popularity he earned in foreign lands. In 1950, he left for England where he was to study jurisprudence and law at Oxford’s Christ Church College. He completed his degree summa cum laude in two years instead of three years. This brilliant success caused to win the heart of an Oxford professor who became his aficionado and a lifelong friend.
In 1953, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as a barrister returned to Pakistan and joined Karachi Bar and started delivering lectures at a law college. He also conceived articles in the leading newspapers suggesting a framework for the future Constitution. He was still less than thirty when, in 1957, he was awarded honour to represent Pakistan at the United Nations General Assembly. Next year, he was entrusted the portfolio of Commerce Ministry in federal government. He did not look back when he was awarded portfolio of foreign ministry.
As a foreign minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto brought the moderation in foreign policy without delay and balanced the country’s relations with the then two superpowers. The nation is still grateful to the then foreign minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto for his support for China’s admission in the United Nations and the Peoples Republic of China always recognised Pakistan’s role for the same and stood side by side with Pakistan through thick and thin.
At that time, almost all the prominent world leaders were convinced of his wisdom. While making official tour to USA as foreign minister, he impressed President Kennedy so much so that the latter, after the meeting, shook Mr. Bhutto’s hand and remarked, ‘If you were an American you would be in my Cabinet’. Bhutto quickly retorted: ‘Be careful, Mr President, if I were American, I would be in your place’. This resulted in great laughter by both the gentlemen.
The genius like Shaheed Bhutto could not find himself fit in the narrow minded despot’s cabinet for a long time and developed serious differences with the government over post war handling and resigned from the cabinet consequently. Averse to the dictatorial regime, the people of Pakistan saw Mr. Bhutto as the only hope to save Pakistan.
This led Mr Bhutto to found Pakistan Peoples Party in December 1967. After the dismemberment of Pakistan in 1971 due to the General Yahya’s lust for power, first he held office of President and then Prime Minister of Pakistan. During his short tenure, he worked wonders by introducing the reforms in every sphere of life despite rigidity of opposition and conspiracies both from inside and outside. A snake in the grass bit the democracy and imposed martial law in the country but could not weaken the Pakistanis’ love for Bhutto. At this he found it essential to murder the history by hanging Zulfikar Ali Bhutto after managing fake and biased trial. This act is called judicial murder in history. The despot wanted to kill him but immortalised instead.
Had Zulfikar Ali Bhutto been foreign minister of Pakistan today, he would have made tours to different countries and make them understand the Pakistani narrative as per need of the hour. It goes without saying that the much-needed national narrative would have been prepared by himself alone. Can the present leaders even think of doing so?
Several candlelit vigils were organised in the provincial capital on Thursday to pay tributes to martyred Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer on his seventh death anniversary. Taseer’s family arranged a ceremony at their home to mark the death anniversary wherein family members, close relatives and friends participated. Special prayers were offered for the soul of late Salmaan Taseer, who sacrificed his life for the cause of humanity and provision of rights to the marginalised sections of the society.
The former governor was assassinated by his own bodyguard, Mumtaz Qadri, on January 4, 2011, because he had defended a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who was accused of blasphemy. The Guardian had described Taseer’s assassination as ‘one of the most traumatic events in the recent Pakistani history’.
In a statement issued on the occasion, Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto paid glowing tributes to Shaheed Salmaan Taseer. He said that Shaheed Salmaan Taseer always stood for the weak and the vulnerable, struggled for the restoration of democracy and the constitution and eventually laid down his life for the cause he lived for.
Bilawal said that Shaheed Salmaan Taseer kept alive the hopes of the downtrodden and weaker segments of the society attached to the party and the ideology of the forefathers of the country. “The way he fought for the marginalised people who were targeted by oppressors made him a hero of the nation,” he said, adding that Shaheed Salmaan Taseer was a true follower of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. He said late Taseer was an asset of the party and that he would remain in the memories of PPP leaders, workers and the voiceless people forever.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Punjab Chapter held a ceremony to pay tributes to late Salmaan Taseer as well as other party leaders, including former prime minister Zulfkar Ali Bhutto and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who had sacrificed their lives for the sake of the country.
PPP Punjab Women Wing President Samina Khalid Ghurki and Lahore District President Aziz ur Rehman Chan also arranged separate ceremonies in this regard.
Activist Saeeda Diep, who had been very active in organising candlelit vigils and other ceremonies to honour the services of late Salmaan Taseer for the mankind, claimed on Thursday that she had been barred by the police from attending a candlelight vigil planned by the Institute for Peace and Secular Studies at the Liberty Roundabout. However, a police spokesman clarified that she had been taken into ‘protective custody’ due to security threats.
Will Taseer’s sacrifice for a better Pakistan go in vain? While remembering his offering, the lawmakers of the country need to consider revising the blasphemy law.
4th of January saddens Pakistani minorities because on this day seven years ago, they lost their beloved hero, Salmaan Taseer. He always stood against persecution of minorities in Pakistan. The cruel history of Pakistan has unfortunately very few examples of such figures who stood their ground despite threats. And Salmaan Taseer was one of this. With his blood illuminated the darkest sides of the social injustices and inequalities.
The cascade of his blood washes away the hidden mines of hate, religious illiteracy, intolerance and human cruelty. The assassination of the Punjab governor was not only the loss of the immediate family but the nation at large. The death anniversary of the great human being refreshes the wounds of both the family and the Christian minority. There are millions in Pakistan who never speak for religious minorities but Taseer stood up for Asia Bibi.
In the judgment against Mumtaz Qadri, the assassin, one of the judges wrote, Salmaan Taseer was not a religious man. If he was a person not meeting the Pakistani religious threshold, how he touched the heights of humanity for standing side by side with a minority faith prisoner? In this mortal world, people come and go but some occupy the place of an obelisk of humanity, thus was the destiny of Salmaan Taseer. His assassin will be remembered as a murderer who was hanged by the law but the history will cherish the sacrifice of the assassinated governor as a beacon of hope for the voiceless communities in Pakistan. In 2012 Asia Bibi wrote her memoir in collaboration with French journalist Anne Isabelle. On Salmaan Taseer’s murder, she wrote, “(the warder) Khalil makes me jump when he opens my cell to give me a meal. He stares at me; he is about the say something, laughs and tells me: ‘Your guardian angel has just been assassinated because of you. Your beloved Governor Taseer, the Muslim traitor, is now bathing in his own blood. He was killed with twenty-five bullets in Islamabad for defending you. Good radiance! You’d better keep your head down! My heart trembles and contracts, my eyes fill with tears. I implore God: Why? Salmaan Taseer was a good man, he was a humanist who was so quick to oppose the Taliban and the Islamic extremists. When he heard about my death sentence, he defended me in public.”
To pay tribute to Salmaan Taseer, we need to pledge to continue the glorious legacy of the late governor, his courage, humanism and his determination and to stand up for Asia Bibi, the poor Christian woman languishing in jail.
In an Islamic country, it is certainly hard to criticise religious doctrines but is wrong to state that blasphemy laws are ‘divine documents’. Seven years after his assassination, the debate on the misuse of blasphemy laws continues. After his sacrifice, blasphemy law has so widely been discussed and criticised that it has lost its sanctity. It is now clear that the law is merely a weapon to terrorise political opponents, dissenters and target the religious minorities. Will Taseer’s sacrifice for a better Pakistan go in vain? While remembering his offering, the lawmakers of the country need to consider revising the blasphemy law. For sure, if this incident would have taken place in any European country, the law would have been changed or revised.
Time and again, different International forums raise the issue of blasphemy law with the Pakistani governments. Though in the present political situation, where the ruling party is already suffering because of this law, we cannot expect the government to take any measures to find a solution. But sooner or later, Pakistan will have to find a viable mechanism to avoid the abuse of blasphemy laws.
To pay tribute to Salmaan Taseer, we need to pledge to continue the glorious legacy of the late governor, his courage, humanism and his determination and to stand up for Asia Bibi, the poor Christian woman languishing in jail. Hearing of Asia Bibi’s case is expected this year, and if she is acquitted, it would be the completion of the unfinished agenda of Salmaan Taseer.
Even after the great loss, the Taseer’s family stood firm for the rights of Asia Bibi and the Christian community. With their incredible commitment, sons and daughters of Salmaan Taseer have proved to be the keepers of the legacy their beloved father left behind. It is the nation’s responsibility to work for the well-being of the downtrodden in the country. There is need to negate the message that whosoever stands for minorities will be eliminated from the earth. Rather, this sacrifice must be taken as a last nail in the coffin of those forces who believe in division, intolerance and inequality. Let us resolve at this seventh anniversary of Salmaan Taseer that we will continue the passionate legacy of sacrificing for others like the one who stood for the voiceless Christian community. Let us hope that Asia Bibi gets justice this year.
A large number of Pakistanis took to social media sites to pay tribute to the slain Punjab governor Salman Taseer on the occasion of his 7th death anniversary. Salman Taseer was shot dead by one of his own police bodyguards in broad daylight in the federal capital Islamabad on January 4, 2011. Taseer, 66, who was appointed the Punjab governor in 2008, was killed by Elite Force commando Mumtaz Qadri, who claimed that he killed Taseer for calling the blasphemy laws “black laws”.
Mumtaz Qadri was later hanged to death after being sentenced by the country’s judicial system. Many Pakistanis, including politicians, took to social media to remember Salman Taseer and share their thoughts regarding the former governor and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader on his 7th death anniversary.
In a Twitter message, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari stated, “There is bravery and then there is Salman Taseer’s bravery. Punjab politics is now in the hands of political pygmies, megalomaniacs and cowards. 7yrs on we slip further into the abyss”. Aamna Taseer, wife of late Salman Taseer tweeted,” 7 years on, 4th of January remains a bleak difficult day But as the sun rises and I think of the great legacy Salmaan Taseer left behind, and my 3 incredible pillars…I count my blessings”. Shehryar Taseer, son of the slain governor also took to Twitter to pen a heartfelt note. He stated,”Today, the 4th of January 2018, marks my father’s 7th death anniversary. At his grave, I prayed that god gives my family the strength to carry out his mission for a peaceful and progressive Pakistan”.
Twitter user Umer Ali stated,” Today is the 7th death anniversary of former Governor Punjab Salmaan Taseer Shaheed. He dared to speak against the inhumane blasphemy laws of Pakistan when no one else could and by doing so, lost his life to an intolerant religious maniac”.
Another Twitter user, Arshad Chandio stated,”7 Years ago, Taseer gave his life but became a Symbol of Bravery &Courage forever, while Mumtaz Qadri took a life but will always remain a symbol of Cowardice & Inhumanity because there is no bravery in killing and no honour in violence”.
Another individual, Khushal Khan, in a tweet stated,”May Shaheed Salman Taseer Rest in Peace. Thoughts and prayers are with you and your family today. His bravery, his strength will never be forgotten. His legacy lives on through you and your family.”
Ali Salman Alvi, a columnist tweeted, “RIP Salmaan Taseer. Your killer was a mislead coward. The bullets he fired killed you but failed to tame your flame”.
Just 24 hours after President Donald Trump took aim at Pakistan on Twitter, the South Asian nation already appears to be cozying up to the world's second-largest economy.
A day after the U.S. leader slammed Islamabad for harboring terrorists in a New Year's Day tweet, Pakistan's central bank announced that it will be replacing the dollar with the yuan for bilateral trade and investment with Beijing.
The same day, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang defended Islamabad's counter-terrorism track record, saying the country "made great efforts and sacrifices for combating terrorism" and urged the international community to "fully recognize this."
China has been watching closely as U.S.-Pakistan relations become increasingly strained. Trump has long demanded the frontier economy to do more on counter-terrorism while he simultaneously grew closer to its arch-rival, India.
"Pakistan and the U.S. have had a fraught relationship for years, but the big change recently has been China," said Simon Baptist, Asia regional director at the Economist Intelligence Unit. "China has really gone hard in cementing its existing relationship with Pakistan, it's really the only place that's seen significant investment under the Belt and Road initiative and China has been pushing for geopolitical advantage there."
Islamabad is home to one of Beijing's central infrastructure schemes, a near $60 billion collection of land and sea projects known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor — a centerpiece of Belt and Road.
And with a steady stream of Chinese capital under its belt, Pakistan may no longer be receptive to American threats, the most recent of which involves Washington cutting off security assistance.
"Pakistan balks far less at reductions in American aid, which, as the former points out, has dwindled in recent years anyway. China, on the other hand, has promised Pakistan $57 billion in investments on infrastructure and energy under its Belt and Road Initiative," Madiha Afzal, a nonresident fellow at Brookings, said in a recent note. "All this means that America has far less leverage over Pakistan."
"The history of Pakistan's relationships with China and the United States also shows that Pakistan's policy does not respond to strong-handedness, but to loyalty, and to being treated with dignity," she continued.
For Beijing's part, a Monday editorial published by Chinese state-run news outlet Global Times said that "China and Pakistan enjoy an all-weather strategic partnership of cooperation, Beijing will without doubt not give up on Islamabad."
Regardless of hardened rhetoric between the White House and Islamabad — Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif recently dismissed Trump's outburst as a political stunt — the two nations are expected to continue cooperating this year.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said that Pakistanis were deeply missing their beloved leader Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as the current internal and external situation requires a political sagacity of his calibre to handle the current affairs.
“Those who snatched Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto from us actually tried to eliminate the dream of our founding fathers about Pakistan. But wisdom, tolerance, patience and bravery of Benazir Bhutto foiled the evil designs of the perpetrators of both murders,” the PPP chairman said in a statement issued on the eve of the 90th birth anniversary of ZAB.
Bilawal said that Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto picked up the broken pieces and rebuilt the country after getting freed 93,000 Prisoners of War and 5,000 square miles of our land [after separation of Bangladesh] from India through his excellent diplomatic skills.
He said that people of Pakistan would always remember him in golden words as their hero while his opponents were also accepting his courage, statesmanship, foresightedness and love for his country and nation.
“Tormenters of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto vanished into midair in a natural justice system but he remains in the hearts and minds of millions of people even today,” he remarked.
He pledged that his party would continue to pursue the mission and vision of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to make Pakistan an egalitarian, peaceful, progressive and a democratic role-model Muslim country in the world.
Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) President Asif Ali Zardari, in a message on the eve of the 90th birth anniversary of founding chairman of PPP Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, said the PPP would fight the religious extremists and not permit them to usurp political power in the name of religion.
Zardari said that “the political ideal of our founding chairman that all political power belongs to the people has inspired and will continue to inspire generations to come”.
“I call upon the democracy-loving people to rededicate themselves to this ideal and not permit religious extremists to usurp power in the name of religion,” he added.
The PPPP president said that standing tall as a beacon of light and inspiration Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto awakened the people and gave them hope.
“ZA Bhutto illumined the path for the coming generations. No one can rob him of his great achievements,” he added.
“Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto restored the nation’s confidence, lifted the spirits of the people and gave them the gifts of a unanimous democratic Constitution and a strengthened national defence,” he said, adding the party would protect this legacy of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto at all costs.
Zardari further said, “On this day as we rededicate themselves to the political ideals of chairman Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Today we also pay homage to all those who laid down their lives and endured exile, torture and imprisonment in the cause of democracy and fighting against tyranny”.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Thursday paid rich tribute to Salmaan Taseer, saying that the martyred former governor of Punjab had always raised his voice for the oppressed.
In a statement, Bilawal said that Salmaan Taseer resisted the dictatorial regimes for the restoration of democracy, adding that the slain leader was an asset of the party.
Bilawal added that Salmaan Taseer was a strong advocate of the restoration of the 1973 constitution in its original form and believed in the rule of law.
Salmaan Taseer had been shot 27 times in the chest on January 4, 2011 in Islamabad by a religious extremist Mumtaz Qadri who accused him of blasphemy. Mumtaz Qadri was unable to prove his blasphemy allegations on the founder of Daily Times and was sentenced to death by Supreme Court.
Qadri was hanged on February 29, 2016 in Adiala Jail after his appeal for mercy was rejected by President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain in December the previous year.
In his tweet, Bilawal said that Punjab politics was dominated by ‘political pygmies, megalomaniacs and cowards’ after the death of Salmaan Taseer as seven years after the tragic killing, ‘we slip further into the abyss’.