Mumtaz Bhutto advocates confederal system
Former federal minister, chief minister and governor Sindh Mumtaz Bhutto finally breaking his silence on Saturday about his Sindh National Front merger into the PML-N said that Nawaz Sharif’s persistent campaign for the ouster of present government and his seriousness about a confederal system had led him to the decision.
During an informal chat with freelance journalist Salahuddin Haider at his residence in Kara-chi, Mumtaz Bhutto spoke on a host of issues ranging from his introduction to politics and his philosophy of confederal system.
He disclosed that he was brought into politics by late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
“I was practicing in high courts as a barrister but Mr Bhutto persuaded me and my father to let me join him. I had little option but to surrender to his will,” he added.
However, he conceded that after Bhutto was hanged, he did not know what to do. For a while, he felt stranded in the mid-stream, then moved to London where he conceived the idea of a confederal system for Pakistan, the former chief minister said.
He spoke to Baloch leader Sardar Ataullah Mengal and Afzal Ban-gash and floated
the Pushtoon, Sindhi and Balochi Front, seeking maximum control of smaller provinces over their resources and looking for a new social order for the country in the light of the 1940 resolution, which formed the basis for the country, the Sindhi leader said.
When asked why he kept mum for so long, and how would his confederal concept be acceptable to a Punjab-based party, his response was prompt and unreserved.
He explained that Nawaz Sharif alone was campaigning systematically for the exit of the present government. No one else was chasing that target. Imran Khan was also in the same mood, to some extent. Although he sent his party secretary general Dr Arif Alvi to him, and himself kept telephoning him, but after a care-ful assessment he thought that Nawaz was more serious and sincere about the idea, Mumtaz Bhutto added.
In reply to a question, he said that the Zardari government had brought the country to the pit’s edge as mismanagement, corruption, economic crisis and political instability were at their zenith.
“Pakistan passport has become a virtual red rag for most immigration counters at world airports, foreign policy perceptions have failed to deliver, and expenses for president’s and prime minister’s houses have soared to Rs2 mil-lion a day,” he deplored. “That is why we want this government to go. Most of the governments don’t trust the present rulers of Pakistan, and are reluctant and unwilling to lend finances for development purposes,” he said and opined that the change of government might switch the situation for the better.
Mumtaz called for controlling corruption and reactivation of what he said paralysed administration as basic remedial steps.
“If that is done, foreign investments will start flowing in, and people will again get interested in us,” he hoped.
The PML-N leader denied that he had been dormant, saying he had been going from town to town and village to village asking the people about their problems,
and telling them that salvation of the country lies in enriching and empowering the provinces, rather than maintaining a “monstrous octopus-like government in Islamabad.”
He said that he had visited Pun-jab recently. People welcomed him and invited him to visit Faisalabad and other cities in the province. “They knew my thoughts, but little or practically no resistance was visible. Per-haps people have also realized that salvation of the federation lies in confederal system and a new reform order,” he said.
About his PML-N’s alliance with the nationalist parties of Sindh, he said that except for Jiey Sindh Qoumi Mahaz (JSQM), no other nationalist party had asked for Sindhu Desh.
“They all stand for maximum provincial autonomy. There appeared no contradiction in their philosophy. Nawaz Sharif under-stands the aspirations of the people in smaller provinces,” he re-plied in response to a question.
Expressing dissatisfaction with the latest NFC award, he said that Sindh, which contributed over 70 percent to total revenues of the country, needed greater share from the divisible pool. “A new award is needed from the National Finance Commission in which provinces should have greater share and the Centre should have the minimum to take care of essential services like defence, foreign affairs etc,” he stressed.
He lamented that neither the prime minister, nor has the President time to visit Balochistan for a week or so and talk to genuine Balochi people.
Very serious efforts are required to restore sanity in Balochista, and people’s hopes and aspirations should be met judiciously, he added.
Mumtaz Bhutto spoke highly of the chief justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry and described him as the only hope for the country, but regretted that the entire govern-ment from top to bottom was “thirsty for his blood which is a tragedy.”
“This government must go and go quickly. Then and only then this country can have any hope of survival. “The longer the PPP government, which comprises looters and plunderers, Pakistan has little or perhaps no hope for regaining its lost image”, he re-marked.