KARACHI: Thirty-four years ago, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was assassinated at the gallows in Rawalpindi. This was probably the most significant political murder in the country’s history. A terrified nation, headed by the country’s most brutal dictator, General Ziaul Haq, witnessed this harrowing act. The ruling classes connived with the despotic general in eliminating the man who had become a threat to the system after being deposed through a military coup in 1977 and then incarcerated in harsh conditions.
After the ruling class was forced by events to hand over power to him in December 1971, Bhutto carried out the most radical reforms in Pakistan’s history. His acts bruised the interests of the capitalists, landlords and those of imperialism. The PPP represents the interests of the working class in mainstream politics. The party has been a part of the struggle for the rights of workers, students, peasants and all deprived sections of society since its inception. Chairpersons Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto and countless other party workers have lost their lives fighting against imperialist forces. The struggle of the PPP is the struggle of the workers and peasants for democratic change in the political, economic and social system.
During the five-year rule of the PPP, which just ended, the government tried to maintain its relationship with the working class by implementing pro-worker reforms. It lifted the ban on labour unions and also formulated the pro-worker labour policy of 2010, which has set new standards for labour protection. It also reinstated 11,000 employees who were sacked by previous governments. The government doubled the minimum wage of unskilled workers from Rs4,600 in 2008 to Rs8,000 in 2012. Pensions have increased by 158 per cent and the salaries of government servants have increased by over 150 per cent. The ceiling for social security benefits has increased from Rs5,000 to Rs10,000. The hopes of all deprived sections of society will not be fulfilled unless the core ideological spirit of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto is fully implemented; i.e., “socialism is our economy” and this will only be possible by laying the foundations of a classless socialist society.
Syed Umarullah Hussaini
Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2013.