One of the reasons why most of the people in Gilgit – Baltistan remember and appreciate Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto is that he was the one to abolish the centuries old, exploitative, system of governance throughout the region. Whether abolishment of that traditional system led better governance is a separate and debated question.
PPP’s politics vis-a-vis Gilgit – Baltistan has been more progressive than any other federal party of Pakistan. Abolishment of FCR laws and hereditary states, introduction of the Northern Areas Council (1974), promulgation of the Northern Areas Council Legal Framework Order (LFO) of 1994 and, more recently, the upgradation of Northern Areas Legislative Council to the Gilgit – Baltistan Legislative Assembly, are some of the reforms introduced by the Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto and the Gillani led PPP government.
Whether these reforms changed fate of the people of Gilgit – Baltistan is a debated question. Federalist parties tend to regard them as positive change but the nationalists argue that these policies further strengthened the illegal rule of Pakistan over the region.
Notwithstanding the political likes and dislikes, there is a general agreement in Gilgit – Baltistan that after PPP, Musharraf is the only one who qualifies as a true friend of Gilgit – Baltistan.
My parents seem to be among those who may not like to qualify as Jiyalas, but keep the Bhuttos in high esteem.
While returning to Karachi from my village a couple of days after BB’s assassination, I could see burnt vehicles and markets in almost all parts of Sindh. The Jiyalas had vented their anger by putting the country on fire.
Today, after 3 years of BB’s death there are many questions in many mind about the fate of the Zardari led Pakistan Peoples Party. Zardari’s leadership has disappointed a lot of people, including PPP stalwarts like Aitzaz Ahsan, Naheed Khan, Safdar Abbasi and Makhdoom Amin Faheem (to name a few) top brass leaders. He is being blamed of not doing justice to the blood of BB despite of winning the election as a result of sympathy votes gained over the brutal end of PPP’s last great leader.
Whether the party is be able to leave an impact in the times ahead will depend on drastic shift in policies with respect to elimination of corruption, rehabilitation of the flood affected 20 million people and stabilization of the economy. In Gojal Valley, in particular, the PPP has earned bad name for not being able to drain the landslide triggered lake. Taking necessary steps in this regard may save the party from further downfall in the valley.
These are uphill tasks but there is no other option available for the party’s leaders.