GHQ of Corruption

The foundation of the PPP was appealing – “Roti, Kapra Aur Makan.” Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto set it rolling. But did the people ever get even one of these promises – all the way down to Bilawal Bhutto?

By S.G. Jilanee | May 2020


When the Pakistan Peoples’ Party was launched, some 50 years ago, it was a beacon of hope for the people, with its slogan of “roti, kapra aur makan.” The message captured the imagination of the masses and spread like prairie fire across West Pakistan. Among its founding members were talented people like Dr. Mubashir Hasan, Yusuf Buch, Khuda Bux Bucha, Sheikh Rashid, Khurshid Hasan Mir, Maulana Kausar Niazi, Hafiz Pirzada, et al. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was its chairman. Socialism and “musawat” (equality) were its policy.

The credit, or otherwise, for the separation of East Pakistan also goes to the PPP. It was Bhutto’s clarion call of “udhar tum; idhar hum” (There you; here, we) to the people of East Pakistan, reinforced by his threat to “break the legs” of the West Pakistani lawmakers who traveled to Dhaka to attend the first National Assembly session after the 1970 elections as well as his refusal to accept Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as prime minister, even though he held overall majority, - that clinched the issue of East Pakistan’s independence.

Bhutto achieved his ambition to become prime minister. His hubris invited his nemesis and he departed as he had come, like a meteor, suddenly. After Bhutto’s tragic departure from the scene, his daughter, Benazir, took up the reins of the party. Her circumstance as a young, unmarried orphan, touched the cord in every heart and triggered a groundswell of mass sympathy; people flocked in droves to Lahore from all over the country, to have a glimpse of the new leader.

And then, Benazir married Asif Ali Zardari. Why she took this step, remains a mystery, because, in social status they stood at the opposite ends of the social yardstick. A Zardari is to a Bhutto as an untouchable is to a Brahmin. The Zardari-Bhutto combination, therefore, makes an oxymoron. That is why Bilawal struggles with an identity crisis. Moreover, Zardari is known as an arch crook. That was why Benazir’s brother, Murtaza, never forgave her for the marriage.

Zardari’s contagion infected Benazir and permeated into her system to such an extent that it evoked a lengthy special report in the New York Times, under the title, “House of Graft,” by John Burns.

When corruption set in, the founding fathers left the party. Dr. Mubashir Hassan joined the PPP (Shaheed Bhutto), led by Murtaza Bhutto’s widow, Ghinwa. Others went their different ways. Even Mumtaz Bhutto no longer holds any party office.

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