A Bhutto loyalist through and through, Aftab Gul laments the dearth of political leadership that followed the demise of the Pakistan People’s Party founder but maintains that Imran Khan is an “honest and committed” leader. Scoffing at the idea that any comparison could be made between “the greatest leader of post World War II Third World” Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Imran Khan, Aftab Gul proceeds nonetheless to compare the two leaders, saying that the situation today called out for a leader the same way the threat of Pakistan’s break up called out for a leader in the late 60s.
Yet, Aftab Gul asks, Imran Khan may be an honest and committed person but committed to what? His ideology is right-leaning and ill-defined, Gul remarks, while his party is built around his personal charisma, ready to disintegrate if he leaves it.
Between then and now, in Part Three of the series, Aftab Gul recounts how Pakistan People’s Party lost its ideological moorings and became inundated by opportunists, his experience with “PPP Mach 2” under Benazir Bhutto, how the Punjabi land-owning aristocracy reasserted themselves through the Pakistan Muslim League reborn, and how Pakistan today is more divided than ever.
Vivid and vast, the lived experiences of individuals carry more weight than the pages of history books; fleshing out the empty spaces between the black and white lines of endless text. As such, The Correspondent aims to document and preserve these accounts for those that follow.
Our first witness is Aftab Gul, a man who has lived multiple lifetimes in the space of one. A student leader of Pakistan’s emerging left in the 60s, an international test cricketer, a successful lawyer, and a close associate of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and a prominent member of the Pakistan People’s Party in its nascent days, Aftab Gul’s life is a treasure trove of history’s key moments.