PPP founding member Dr Mubashir Hassan passes away

Published: 03:16 PM, 14 Mar, 2020
PPP founding member Dr Mubashir Hassan passes away
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Dr Mubashir Hassan, the man at whose Gulberg residence Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had launched the Pakistan People’s Party in 1967, died on Saturday at 98. He was the first secretary-general of the party.

He was the finance minister during the ZAB rule and the mastermind behind the idea of large-scale nationalization. He thought such a step was imperative for the sake of a socialist economy.

Issueless, Dr Hassan was the life partner of Dr Zeenat Hassan, the owner of the famous Zeenat laboratories.

Dr Hassan was also Mr Bhutto’s adviser on science and he played a role in the promotion of Pakistan’s nuclear programme.

He did not have good terms with Benazir Bhutto, as was her case with many other ‘uncles’.

A hydraulics expert, Dr Hassan was close to Mir Murtaza Bhutto, the estranged brother of the assassinated prime minister. When Syria-born Ghinwa took over the party after the murder of her husband, Dr Hassan became its secretary-general.

(Murtaza’s son Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Junior and Fatima Bhutto are not playing any role in politics).

However, the party did not take off. Ghinwa Bhutto did not have roots among people and Dr Hassan’s health did not allow him to visit various cities and villages to maintain contact with the masses.

As a result, the party remained a non-entity, just like other parallel factions floated by various disgruntled leaders.

Rana Shaukat Mahmoud, Naheed Khan, Dr Safdar Abbasi and Mumtaz Ali Bhutto did try to cause a dent to the PPP through their factions. However, their parties remained confined to papers. Rana Shaukat, ultimately, rejoined the PPP, apologizing for his mistake of parting ways with the main party.

Dr Hassan was a strong supporter of Pakistan-India ties. For this purpose, he visited India many a time and also invited Indian leaders to his residence, mostly without being noticed by the media. However, his efforts did not bear much fruit and the nuclear-armed neighbours remain sworn enemies to this day.

He was appreciative of NAB’s role against the corrupt elements. He was especially very happy on the appointment of Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal as Chairman NAB. He believed that now the institution would uproot corruption.

He was very particular about punctuality. He used to start his news conferences on time, without bothering for the number of media persons.

He owns a spacious house, co-owned by his brother Dr Shabbar Hassan. However, it looks like an ordinary house.

The former finance minister used to go for a nap after lunch. Once his security guard told the writer that he was under instructions not to awaken him under any situation. “Don’t awake me even if my father comes from the grave”, the guard quoted Dr Mubashir as saying.

In an interview with a magazine, Dr Mubashir was quoted as saying that the president of the Socialist Party, C.R. Aslam, secretly had directed the diehard communist activists of his party to become members of the PPP and advance the cause of Communism through the new party. They would raise the slogan: “Asia surkh hai, Asia surkh hai” (Asia is red, Asia is red) and initiate and lead agitations. The objective of the Communist activists was to exploit Bhutto for their own agenda, but they ended up being used cleverly by Bhutto. However, no leftist intellectual supported the PPP.

Asked who had formulated the ideology of the party and coined the basic slogans of the PPP, Dr Hassan said: The document contained one paper written by Bhutto, two by Rahim, including one titled ‘Socialism is necessary for Pakistan’ and the other on ‘The need for a special relationship with Assam,’ in which he cited the example of France’s special relationship with Quebec in Canada. Actually, Rahim’s son, Sikander, originally wrote the paper on socialism. A paper titled, ‘Declaration of the unity of the people,’ was jointly written by Hanif Ramay and me. It was also included in the foundation and policy document.

The lines “Socialism is our economy, democracy is our politics, Islam is our religion and all power to the people,” were crafted by ZAB and Rahim. The line, ‘All power to the people’ was inspired by the Soviet Revolution’s slogan of, ‘All power to the Soviets.’ Incidentally, roti, kapra aur makan was never the PPP’s official slogan. This slogan was coined by some people on their own by borrowing the lines of a couplet from Habib Jalib’s poem, ‘Maang raha hai har insaan, roti, kapra aur makan.’

Dr Mubashir Hassan was elected a member of the National Assembly in the December 1970 elections, and subsequently became Finance Minister in Bhutto’s first cabinet.

Dr Hassan developed some differences with Bhutto and resigned from the cabinet in 1974. After the removal of Bhutto government, he spent seven years in the Adiala jail, Rawalpindi. After his release, Dr joined the UET again.

Meanwhile, he had some serious differences with Benazir Bhutto, especially on economic issues as well as the way she was handling the party. That’s why he did not join the PPP government in 1988 and remained a strong critic of her.

According to Dr Hassan, Benazir and Bilawal have turned the PPP upside down.

Reacting to the news of Dr Mubashir Hassan’s death, Bilawal expressed his condolences and said one of the founding members of the party.

Ashraf Mumtaz

The writer is the Deputy Editor of 24 Digital.