A True Son of a Troubled Land Returns Home
By Ras H. Siddiqui
(Left): The late K. B. Bhutto (Right): Namaze Janaza in San Francisco Bay Area
He was not educated at Oxford or Harvard. No Ivy League schools touched his academic life. His English skills were not great but he was fluent in speaking Saraiki, Sindhi and Urdu, a true son of his soil. This writing is about a relatively unknown young man who died recently in a San Francisco Bay Area ( California ) hospital on Friday, July 3 rd. His body headed home on a PIA flight on Saturday, July 10 th to be buried where his family wanted his remains to rest. His name was Khuda Bux Bhutto, also known as KB by his friends, and “Daddy” to his children here. He was only in his mid-50’s and a proud carrier of his family and clan name.
I met him during the early part of this tumultuous decade. Benazir Bhutto had made a heart warming speech at a seminar in California’s capital city of Sacramento in 2001 deeply moving this scribe due to the sense it made so soon after 9/11/2001 when the twin towers of the World Trade Center were destroyed in New York . She was a very brave woman then, who came out in defense of Pakistan and people of Pakistani origin here in the United States, at a time when things were difficult. She was to remain brave till the end, but that is something to write about another time. And the question did come to mind at the time as to why she was in exile, and why such an articulate personality from Pakistan was not being frequently asked to represent the country.
Not long after or around then, I met Khuda Bux Bhutto (KB) for the first time. Having had a personal soft corner for the PPP since the 1970’s, it was inspirational to meet KB and his wife Najma along with Dr. Malik Kayoom Awan. Before that, I was only remotely aware that “Jiyalas” of the party still existed here in the US and that too right here in northern California where KB and his family seriously carried on the tradition along with support from an old group, a carryover from the 1970’s and 1980’s when the PPP / MRD held demonstrations against General Zia on his visit here.
Most people here had drifted away from active Pakistani politics since then to become part of immigrant America . But the memory of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s (ZAB’s) execution after a farce called a trial still remained with some. KB was certainly one who became really active on the 25 th anniversary of Z.A. Bhutto’s assassination. With the help of a rejuvenated local PPP he was able to hold a formidable event in this area to which people from as far away as Los Angeles came. This scribe went for the nostalgia but KB had already succeeded in inspiring many to re-awaken the old PPP.
A man of limited resources, KB found the support that he needed. He was a sincere and dedicated party worker and a man devoted to the founder ZAB and his daughter Benazir. He used to call her Benazir Sahiba at one time while some of us referred to her as BB or Bibi. But one day he changed all that and only used the more formal term “Mohtarma” for her out of respect. What we did discover from then on was that there was no stopping KB, because supporting the PPP was his life mission.
Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto used to come to the United States often because she was a member of an international speaker’s circuit which included current or former high profile personalities who exchanged their ideas with select groups of people here in America. Some Pakistanis were able to attend these seminars but few interacted with her directly in an open forum. Thanks to KB’s efforts Benazir Sahiba addressed two local PPP gatherings for our community after a long time in the years 2004 and 2006. She really trusted KB to deliver. Other leaders including Makdoom Amin Fahim and Syed Naveed Qamar were also hosted by KB in this area.
Many people who attended his Namaz-e-Janaza at the Islamic Society of West Contra Costa County or Richmond Mosque on July 9 th recalled his efforts on behalf of the PPP to this scribe once again. Khuda Bux Bhutto suffered a stroke just a few weeks ago. Some people survive to carry on with their lives after a stroke; KB unfortunately was not from amongst the lucky ones.
Khuda Bux Bhutto, with his sincerity and dedication to the PPP, touched many lives. One can remember how his face used to light up when he talked about ZAB or Benazir Sahiba “Mohtarma” in his words and other party members. And as they say since the Bhuttos are no strangers to tragedy, KB was true to his last name and left us at a very young age of 55. His body will have arrived in Pakistan by now. A true son of a troubled land returns to his home in a coffin. Death, be not proud.