Many would consider this person as one of the most important Pakistanis, living or dead. However, he (yes, that is a clue, it is a male) is/was controversial to some, and revered by others. From the quotes I give below, can you guess who he is?
I certainly hope that people – including the silent types who never comment – will give a shot to guess who this person might be. Some may recognize him immediately; others, I am sure, will be surprised. But do, please, give it a try. And do spread the word to others who are not regular ATP readers but may be able to guess.
So, without further ado, here are some quotes… him talking about his life (some words have been removed because they would make it too easy to guess). Can you guess who he is?
My father shaved off my hair every time he returned home and the community awarded me the nickname Roti…
My early childhood was peaceful, and without trauma; nothing untoward or dramatic had occurred until by eleventh year, when the school bell chimed. I was tying my books together and felt a discomfort that made me look up, it worsened when I noticed that school master staring with sweat beads sliding down his forehead. I looked away nervously, feigning concentration on my work, unable to understand the alien expression that distorted his face from somewhere within. I felt his fiery red eyes lingering upon me – at last I scrambled off and ran all the way home… [Later, one day he gestured for me to follow him out of class] when he looked back and smiled I recognized the expression of the other day and my heart began to pound. I sensed evil, despite it I followed for a few steps, then bolted in the opposite direction. I ran, tripping, falling, then charging without stopping until finally puffing and panting, gasping for breath I reached home and flopped down on the doorstep. I pulled off my shirt and wiped the sweat from my face… although I related the incident to non one, I left the madrassah in class four.
I have included this very personal bit because it may hold the key to at least partly explaining who he became. Speaking of which…
In the year 1962, without considering the consequences, I reacted against the political octopus and jumped into the arena by standing for membership of basic democracy [introduced by Ayub Khan]… accusations were hurled and reinforced in a desperate attempt to curtail my rise. I was projected as a communist, a womaniser, a thief, and most of all an illiterate… Nonetheless I won, becoming [a] member of parliament at the age of twenty nice. In 1964 I supported Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s sister, Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah against President Ayub Khan, and although she lost, I again won the membership from Mithadar. At Nishtar Park, I attended a meeting held by President Ayub Khan. When he finished informing the people of his grand plans for Pakistan and his ‘selfless battle for the masses,’ I stood up and proclaimed, “You are lying. This is not the truth.” The outburst was countered with silence. Later, I heard the comment of a minister, “Nations have many disgruntled men, lazy at work and bitter with life. The little man needs no comment.”
In 1967, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto appeared on the political scene. He revived hope in the hearts of a disillusioned public and his slogan of Roti Kapra aur Makaan inspired him to awaken to themselves. Like many others I too was impressed… [After meeting him, however, I told my friends,] “I had hoped for leadership of a purer quality, one that rose about compromising the truth and was committed to selfless public service.” …in 1970 I stood as an independent candidate, at both national and provincial levels… This time it was not an impulsive decision, it was, however, a grueling and consuming one. In a free and fair election, Bhutto’s charismatic personality swept the People’s Party to a landslide victory and I lost both the National and the Provincial Assemblies….[Later] when Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was served with a sentence to death by hanging I was shaken by the enormity of the decision and the precedent it would set… The grotesque manner in which he was put to death magnified the tragedy and deeply affected almost everyone.
In 1982 General Zia announced a cabinet based on the Islamic Shura to conduct the affairs of state according to Islamic principles. This was obviously easier said than done…. the general was hardly of a calibre that could put such a complicated matter into original perspective… and implement it. When he offered me the privilege of becoming a member [of the Shura] I declined…. But he insisted, assuring cooperation in my demands [for change]…. That we were now becoming Ulema, about to dispense Islamic justice did not fool me but, I accepted the position. I wished to personally witness the manner in which decisions were taken for the people, or rather, were not taken. I was curious to stand in a room where the fate of Pakistan could change and I needed to know why it never happened…. Most of all I wondered what would happen to me.
Let me leave the story here, and see if you can guess. There is much more to the story that I will come to later. In many ways, this is not the main story of his life anyhow. But more on that, also, later.