Why Poor Still Love Bhutto?
The graveyard of Garhi Khuda Bakhsh in Sindh's Larkana district receives thousands of people every year on April 4, who come to pay respects to one of the most popular leaders of this country.
Thirty-five years after his death by a military government through a controversial trial, ZAB still rules the hearts of hundreds and thousands of downtrodden masses of Pakistan.
If one talk to landless peasants, kiln workers and other working masses he will realise that quite a few of them still miss Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the charismatic leader whose death anniversary being observed today. Most people regard this day to be the darkest day in Pakistan’s history as the leader who was always there for them, who treated them humanely and gave them a voice, was executed by former military dictator Ziaul Haq in 1979.
Bhutto's style of politics, his populism and economic policies, his famous slogan ‘Roti, Kapra aur Makan’ being treated by certain quarters with disgust today but it was this love for the poor made him dear to the people who sacrifice their sweat and blood as fuel to the economy of Pakistan.
Some of Bhutto's Pro-People Policies
During Bhutto's rule hundreds of thousands of acres of state land acquired under the land reforms were given to the landless farmers. The important land reforms included the reduction of land ceilings and introducing the security of tenancy to tenant farmers.The land ceiling was fixed to 150 acres of irrigated land and 300 acres of non-irrigated land.
Bhutto was a strong advocate of empowering small farmers, when Bhutto argued that if farmers were weak and demoralised then Pakistan's agricultural strength would be fragile, believing that farmers would not feel psychologically safe unless the country achieved self-sufficiency in food.
Bhutto introduced socialist economics policies while working to prevent any further division of the country. Major heavy mechanical, chemical, and electrical engineering industries were nationalised by Bhutto, and all of the industries came under direct control of government.
Bhutto's policy largely benefited the poor and working class when the level of absolute poverty was sharply reduced, with the percentage of the population estimated to be living in absolute poverty falling from 46.50% by the end of 1979–80 to 30.78%. The land reform programme provided increased economic support to landless tenants, and development spending was substantially increased, particularly on health and education, in both rural and urban areas, and provided material support to rural wage workers, landless peasants, and urban wage workers.
Bhutto's nationalisation policies were initiated with an aim to put workers in control of the tools of production and to protect workers and small businesses. Conservative critics believed the nationalisation policies had damaged investor's confidence and government corruption in nationalised industries grew, although no serious corruption cases were ever proved against Bhutto by the military junta.
The Labor policy was among one of the most important cornerstone of Bhutto's government and a comprehensive labour reforms initiated by the Bhutto government. Bhutto's government imposed conditions on the dismissal of the workers. In 1973, the government instituted Labor Courts for the speedy redress of workers’ grievances and the government also introduced a scheme for workers’ participation in management, though the nationalisation policy. This scheme provided for 20% participation by workers in management committees set up at factory level. The Government abolished the workers’ contribution to the Social Security Fund; instead, the employers were made to increase their contribution from 4 to 6%.
Pakistan People's Party earned a bad name for its mis-governance and charges of corruption during the party's 2008-2013 rule.
The party that under the charismatic leadership of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto opened a new era of the people's politics in the history of Pakistan and remained the most popular political force in Pakistan in the post-Bangladesh era went down in the history to the most unpopular ruling party of the country in its last tenure headed by Asif Ali Zardari.
The materialistic and heartless society we have today, there are no leaders like him anymore.