On the first death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto we had carried a post asking “What if she had not been killed?” Today, on the 22nd death anniversary of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) it may be a good time to ask the same question about him.
On previous anniversaries of ZAB’s death we have asked you to comment on Mr. Bhutto and his legacy and about the rationale and reasoning given for his death by his nemesis, Gen. Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. This time let us think a little about what his death meant for Pakistan – and, thereby, for all the rest of us.
Of course, one expects a lot of naara baazi from both his supporters and his detractors. That is merely to be expected. But beyond the black and white slogans there was the man and the legacy of the man that has clearly impacted much of what has happened since his death, especially because of the nature of his removal.
Indeed, one could suggest that there are at least two separate questions here: What might have happened had Zia Ul Haq’s coup not happened and if Bhutto had lived on? And, what might have happened if Bhutto had not been hung after the trial?
I am not presupposing any answer, nor am I suggesting that these are questions that can be logically answered precisely. But they may be questions worth thinking about today; not just to speculate about how might have happened, but much more important to think about how our acts of political expediency today can have long and deep shadows – nearly always unintended, quite often consequential, and sometimes historically disastrous even for those who orchestrate them.