KARACHI: Former Sindh chief minister Mumtaz Ali Bhutto passed away on Sunday at his Karachi residence. He was 94 years old. His spokesperson Ibrahim Abro, while confirming his death, said he had been ill for some time. He added that Bhutto's body will be taken to Larkana for the funeral.
A cousin and close aide of PPP founder and former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Mumtaz Bhutto had parted ways with the PPP to form his own party — the Sindh National Front (SNF) — in 1989. He has served as both chief minister and governor of Sindh.
Prior to the 2013 general elections, Bhutto had merged the SNF with the PML-N and contested the elections under the latter's banner. Soon after, however, he developed differences with the PML-N and in 2017, joined the PTI. He was most recently affiliated with the ruling party.
Condolences poured in on the news of his demise from leaders across the political spectrum.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was "saddened" by news of the death. "My condolences and prayers go to his family," said the premier.
President Dr Arif Alvi also expressed grief over the demise and prayed for patience for the family while extending his condolences.
"May God grant him a place in paradise," said the president.
Sindh Governor Imran Ismail expressed his grief over the death and prayed for Bhutto and his family members. "Along with being a political leader, he had a kind, compassionate and sociable personality," said Ismail.
PTI Senator Faisal Javed Khan prayed for the deceased's family and friends to cope with the "huge loss".
Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Haleem Adil Sheikh, meanwhile, said he was "deeply aggrieved" upon hearing of the death.
He said Bhutto was an "important character" in Sindh's politics and served the people during his tenure. "Sardar Mumtaz Ali Bhutto's death is a big loss for Sindh's politics," he said.
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif said he was saddened by the news of the death. "He played an active role in [the] political history of Pakistan," he tweeted.
"Very sad to hear about our uncle, Mumtaz Bhutto's, passing," Fatima Bhutto said.
The chief of the Pakistan Muslim League (Functional), Pir Pagara, also expressed sorrow and said in a statement that he was an "equal partner in grief" with Bhutto's heirs.
"I am very saddened to hear of the demise of Sardar Mumtaz Ali Bhutto. May God elevate the ranks of the deceased and grant patience to the mourners," said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani.
Qaumi Awami Tehreek chief Ayaz Latif Palijo too expressed grief and praised Bhutto as an "unconventional and transparent politician".
"Mumtaz Ali Bhutto played an important role in Sindh's [political] awakening," he said.
Bhutto started his political career in the 1960s as a founding member of the PPP, according to his long-time colleague Ayub Shar. He was elected as an MNA in the 1970s and served as a federal minister.
He formed the Sindhi Baloch Pakhtun Front in 1986 with barrister Hafeez Pirzada during his self-imposed exile in London after Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's hanging.
Shar said that Bhutto gave the concept of "confederation" in Pakistan. "He advocated provincial autonomy under the Pakistan Resolution of 1940 and struggled [his] whole life for its achievement," Shar said, adding that the "echo of provincial autonomy in parliament" today was a political achievement of Bhutto.
The deceased has left behind a widow and four children, including PTI leader Amir Bux Bhutto and journalist Ali Haider Bhutto.