DR FARID A. MALIK
Political legacy of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) lives on 29 years after his political murder. Ghari Khuda Baksh the resting place of Bhuttos has turned into a democratic nucleus of Pakistan. But ZAB was also unmatched administrator of his times. No one ever doubted his ability to rule. Expect for the controversial nationalisation, governance was his forte. Winning elections is not enough, at the end of the day results have to be delivered. Shaukat Aziz type rhetoric compounds problems which then become in surmountable.
While political mileage is being gained by visiting the grave of the Quaid-e-Awam no one seems to be focused on his style of governance.
ZAB was an anti-establishment leader who fully understood the game plan of this evil-empire that eventually took his life. There are two main components that have ruled Pakistan – the baboos and the khakis. Together they wreck havoc on the people. Infact the baboos were the first to encroach on the nascent democratic order followed by the khakis and they neutralised the entire political leadership.
For good governance it is essential to contain the baboos and insulate the khakis from the civilian order. Khaki insulation has started with the shedding of the uniform but the baboo onslaught continues an-abated. ZAB took on the baboos in their domain of the file by the asking pertinent questions that had to be addressed not avoided.
His notes were exemplary and to the point, response time was short. Most ministries had round the clock file management system to keep pace with the PM. Those who performed had nothing to fear but those who did not could neither run nor hide. Effective results were produced; the files were kept moving till delivery.
Through lateral entry he inducted professionals to head ministries like Science and Technology, Railways, Defence Production, Petroleum and Natural Resources, Communication, Housing and Works, Water and Power and Information. Industries were developed. Pakistan Steel, Fertilizer Complexes, Aeronautical Complex, Nuclear Sector, Heavy Industries Taxila to name a few.
ZAB communicated with the masses, understood their needs and then created frameworks to deliver. Party workers had direct access to ministries and ensured that the common man was not left at the mercy of the baboos. Police brutalities were dealt with strongly. When the police in Punjab and Sarhad decided to strike they were dealt with an iron hand. His capacity to work was unlimited.
Most files were processed and returned within 24 hours. Ministries could not sit on the paperwork, immediate replies were sought and decisions taken in best public interests. Back to back meetings were scheduled, some continued till dawn. Perhaps he was the most hands-on chief executive ever to run the PM Secretariat.
ZAB was an avid reader. He kept his knowledge current to effectively deal with issues. His personal library was well stocked and frequently used. He closely monitored the performance of his deputies especially the provincial chief executives. Hanif Ramay was one of the most effective CM Punjab, while Mumtaz Bhutto changed the face of Karachi as CM Sindh.
For the first time, people’s power started to prevail. There was total transparency; no hidden agendas and vested interests were exposed. Transparency was the order of the day. As Chief Executive ZAB had complete grip on power and set the tone of his administration. The 1973 constitution was perhaps his biggest achievement. He gathered the right team to research and formulate the document. He was clear on the need for consensus.
ZAB’s style of governance was professional and effective. Focus was on results not rhetoric. He had the vision and courage to move Pakistan forward in the comity of nations. Personal loyalty was rewarded but not at the cost of work. Party stalwarts were let go when there was stalemate. By contrast the present regime has relied heavily on friendships at the cost of merit. Incompetent individuals have occupied the highest positions with no results. ZAB later admitted himself that his biggest blunder was when he compromised on merit and appointed Ziaul Haq as COAS instead of General Muhammad Sharif.
As a final word, courage, capacity and commitment were the hallmark of the ZAB’s administration. No PM after him could match his brilliance, his passion to deliver and make a difference. He reached out and touched the common man and then delivered what they desired. He ruled over the hearts of the masses. Changing the system is not easy but ZAB was able to dent it. The people of Pakistan have waited long enough to be served. The chants of Bhutto Zinda Hai call for action not rhetoric.
Source: The Nation, 24/4/2008