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Bhutto’s folk Islam


 This handout picture from the Press Information Department dated December 31, 1974, shows former premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto addressing a gathering in Patan. — AFP Photo

This handout picture from the Press Information Department dated December 31, 1974, shows former premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto addressing a gathering in Patan. — AFP Photo

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) became the first Pakistani political party to set the tone of its rhetoric according to the populist imagery of “folk” Islam, in the process managing to attract the urban working classes and the rural peasantry towards its social-democratic programme.

Not only did the PPP chairman, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB), become one of the first major Pakistani political figures to start being seen indulging in rituals associated with “folk” Islam (such as visiting Sufi shrines), PPP rallies too started radiating an aura of the colourful activity found at many Sufi shrines. The 1970s in Pakistan thus became an era of populist extroversion.

With “folk” Islam adopted as a populist political expression by the ruling PPP, this form of expression eventually became the tool that culturally connected the country’s secular political parties with the spiritual and political moorings of the working classes and the peasants.

The cultural synthesis emerging from such a connection was one of the reasons behind Bhutto’s image, graduating from being that of a “brave patriot” (1967-68), to becoming a people’s messiah (1970s) and the embodiment of a Sufi saint posthumously. (via Bhutto’s folk Islam | The Dawn, Pakistan).

The tragedy of the Pakistani people

Interesting approach to the Pakistani conundrum. Wonder if this theory holds water.

Between the US and Pakistani military establishment, lies the responsibility of Pakistan’s descent into its current morass. A bewildered Pakistani nation, watches helplessly as feudal landlords (of whom Bhutto was one), dysfunctional polity and a power-hungry military, vie for power over a impoverished Pakistan.

It is time that India reminded Pakistan – and the world, that India agreed to a Pakistan, based on some claims made by an insistent Muslim leadership, backed by their British overlords. The most significant promise made by the then Muslim leadership was a better deal to Indian Muslims. After more than 60 years, it is time that Pakistan is put on notice.

And Pakistani-occupied Kashmir is the first step.

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