The fault in Nawaz narrative

1646676-maleehamanzoor-1519789058-220-640x480There are two of Sharif’s maneuvers that terribly backfire when nature pulls a Nawaz Sharif on him. One is his opposition to abolish articles 62 & 63 during the preparation of 18th amendment, and the other is his refusal to Opposition’s demand for the Parliament to investigate the Panama scandal – to which he turned oblivious because the mighty Nawaz Sharif was too big to be investigated by a small Parliament representative of the common people.

However, right after the ouster, Nawaz Sharif makes a volte-face and suddenly turns into a democrat.

As soon as any court decision against Sharif comes out, social media is abuzz with PMLN sympathizers engaging into debates to persuade the supporters of democracy into siding with Nawaz Sharif, adjudging it comme il faut, against what they perceive as an insult to vote. Forget the past; move on; take the principled stance – they shout loud. At times, they altercate with abuse and slangs which in itself is at odds with the very essence of the democracy they press for.

Even if one has to sympathize with Sharif for that matter, on what grounds should we? Is Nawaz Sharif’s tirade against state institutions forsooth a battle for democracy?

Though the PMLN mandate continues to sail through the constitutional tenure, Nawaz Sharif goes into the electoral campaign as a man-at-arms, doing an impression of a rebel-like opposition leader. He laments that had he remained in government, things would be different – as if currently, it’s the aliens ruling in his name who ousted his entire party and usurped his mandate.

He speaks of regaining the lost respect for democracy, restoring the supremacy of Parliament, and of sanctity of the people’s vote.

But all that is in self-contradiction.

The Nawaz Sharif a day before the disqualification and a day after, are two repugnant extremes. Was it not a democracy when he put on a black coat, proudly marched towards the Supreme Court that now he is ultra-critical of, to get an elected PM disqualified on his petition? Was it not a democracy when he resorted to political victimization of the political rivals right after assuming the office in 2013? Or when the Paladin refused to meet the leader of the biggest opposition party to ‘please’ he knows who?

Lest we forget that the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif hardly attended any sessions of the same Parliament he wants to be defended in the name of. Was Parliament not being undermined when he would avoid taking it in confidence even on the major national security issues ending up in a diplomatic fiasco? Or when he would lie while standing at the most sacred of the state institutions re money trail? Such is the respect for the Parliament that at one point, opposition senators had to lodge protests to compel the democratic PM to fulfill his constitutional obligation of attending Senate session, whilst many of the parliament sessions would be adjourned owing to the lack of quorum. And the Chairman Senate still has to protest the grave delinquency that PMLN ministers evince even after having ‘turned democrats’.

And oh, then comes the sanctity of vote!

Let’s not go into the Nawaz frenetic days when he would assist Osama Bin Laden to topple a democratic government, run maliciously misogynist campaigns against the first elected Woman Prime Minister of the Muslim world, influence courts to give maximum punishments to his political rivals, or would escape to Jeddah compromising with a dictator – all for the sanctity of vote, of course. But they say, forget the past.

So as of recent days under the brave democrat, where did the respect of vote go when the funds of the smaller provinces were diverted to Punjab, and South Punjab’s to specifically Lahore? PMLN government still turns its back on the smaller provinces that are compelled to survive on the 7th NFC award of 2009. Federal government is also reluctant to disseminate funds under Public Sector Development Program that recently drew ire of the Chief Minister of Sindh, but the cries fell on deaf ears.

The vote power is to Nawaz Sharif’s perquisite only through which the person-specific legislation is done. 18th amendment, a watershed in the constitutional history of Pakistan, was used by him only to pave way to the third-time premiership. He had reneged on the other critical desiderata like invalidating the PCO judges and the establishment of the Federal Constitutional Court to resolve constitutional issues as assented in the Charter of Democracy.

But for the time being, even if the past is blotted out, [the public has no short memory though, at least not as short as NS sympathizers think] the present is selfsame, and it does not merit sympathy either.

The biggest fault in Nawaz’s current narrative is that it is Nawaz-centric. Clearly he never went against the powers that be, until they abandoned him; the narrative comprehends victim rhetoric that presages no reforms, but only his restoration. It is based on a bedrock of deception that requires one to shut eyes to half the show with no dejection and regret of the past blunders, as had there been any, he would have delivered an apology for those like us to ‘move on’.

Irrevocably, the people are the final determiners of the destiny, who make up the majority of 200+ million and remain discarded. It is for them to decide if the Nawaz narrative qualifies for their vote. However, offering nothing for the people, the narrative is all about a defeat ensnared into being the ploy of a foxy political aspirant to attract voters. It carries no good of the common people whose basic concern is an access to security, health, education and a better living. While the elected government is bent on fueling institutional crisis, the poor remain disenfranchised. The champion of democracy’s exceptional bravado does not allow him to stand by the marginalized either. His government keeps making concessions to Islamic populism but ignores a peaceful movement as big as the Pashtun Long March – besides hampering the FATA-KP merger to gratify some of his allies.

The campaign thus drops down to mere victimhood with nothing productive for the people or the institutions of democracy at the receiving end.

Yes, there may be errors in the judgment, like there are in the entire judicial system which leads to judicial activism every now and then, but the only panacea is reforms not opprobrium. While the reformist Nawaz was disappointingly negligent in carrying out any reforms as the PM, even as the leader of ‘Tehreek-e-Adal’ (movement to restore justice), no endeavor to formulate the reforms is in sight. [No efforts to forge a national unity comprising political, legal and civil society stakeholders over a national cause.]

If not honest, then it is nothing but a childish prattle or a sham.

Nawaz Sharif cannot be trusted, given his democratic credentials, because whenever he has had the chance, he only brought democracy near the edge of precipice. He is fighting the fire with fire and a democratic stance would be to denounce the institutional conflict not up the ante.

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1646676/6-fault-nawaz-narrative/

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Remembering the lifeline of PPP, Benazir Bhutto

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In a society that was stuck in the morass of misogyny, where women were surrounded by strangling mediocrities, a young woman emerged as the strongest and the most powerful: Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto. Muslim World’s first female Prime Minister, who broke all the barriers refuting the anti-woman narrative and paved way for all the female achievers, once caged in the prisons of patriarchy.

Not for the women alone, Benazir Bhutto rose as the hope to countless of the poor and destitute. A saviour to the marginalised who were subdued under dictatorship post the assassination of her father Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan’s undisputed leader who preferred to accept gallows but didn’t bow down before usurpers – for a people’s love; for country’s honour. He continues to be eulogised decades after his assassination.

“What gift can I give you from this cell out of which my hand cannot pass? I give you the hand of the people.” – writes Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in a birthday letter to his daughter Benazir Bhutto from his death cell on June 21, 1978.

BB was the father’s daughter. She held the people’s hand. Bhutto’s legacy as her raison d’être, she fought for democracy, for emancipation of masses till the last breathe. Inherited the prowess to woo popular support from her father, she ruled over the hearts of millions. Such deep-seated was her connection to the people that no exiles could keep them away, 1986 and 2007’s grand receptions remain unequalled in Asia’s political history. But BB’s rise to becoming Pakistan’s greatest political hope was not a piece of cake; it was a trial by fire.

In 1977 when tragedies befell Pakistan and its elected government was overthrown, BB was only 24. She was placed under house arrest as she returned home after completing her studies. Bhutto’s dismissal landed the young Benazir on a hard road and the PPP in dire straits.

Under the worst of the dictatorial regimes governed by the law of the jungle, where human rights were a fiddling little affair, BB had to fight for her father’s life and later on, for the PPP’s survival. During Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s homicidal trial and after his execution, BB was faced with a lot of challenges from within and outside. She along with Begum Nusrat Bhutto was left unescorted by the powerful political elite that once enjoyed perks during Bhutto regime. To change things outside, the biggest challenge for the young Bhutto was to first put her own house in order.

Apart from breach of trust by party leaders, she had to run the gauntlet of some egocentric elders. The New York Times in 1986 quoted some of her colleagues that she refused to be treated as a mere face to the campaign, asserted her command to lead instead. And what strengthened the BB-led PPP the most was her credence in workers’ loyalty. As she fielded young loyalists on important positions, the party workers backed her, the ministers and uncles did not – nor did she care about them.

BB was told that she could not win an election, that she didn’t know the language of the people. Nevertheless, she brought all her opponents’ claims to naught. The Oxford educated proved that she might be new to the political environment but was well acquainted with her roots; that she might not speak people’s language initially but knew their music.

Within a few years, she took party to a position where people would believe that even if a pole is given the PPP ticket, it would win. To quote two big examples of transfer of power from political elite to workers: the feudal lord and spiritual leader Pir Pagara was defeated by a PPP commoner Pervaiz Ali Shah and Mumtaz Ali Bhutto, ZA Bhutto’s cousin and his former aide, lost elections to a BB’s candidate Deedar Hussain Shah, who had once served as his manager. Her art of political war was her penchant for positioning the educated young people against the mightiest.

This day marks the 64th birthday of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. More than 9 years have passed since her assassination but the party is somehow unable to grasp biggest of the popular support, and rightly so. The juxtaposition drawn between current popularity of other parties and the PPP’s is unmerited. PPP has not only survived the assassination of its leading figures but has also arisen to eminence in the political realm every now and then. Is it possible to imagine a PMLN and a PTI without their main leaders?

Today, the hullabaloo over defections is same as 80s. Bilawal Bhutto is confronted with many challenges similar to BB’s – he is living in better times though; living in a democracy restored with his mother’s blood where no political leader has to stay in the blazing hot Sukkur jail in political vendetta like she did. Critical opprobrium against him too is on the account of his young age and his first language etc. But he has this whole legacy of his mother to follow, which provides him best of the solutions to overcome crises. Empowering workers whilst giving no fig to the desertions and committing to not let them re-enter, prioritising loyalists over turncoats, making everyone abide by party policies, instilling faith into the workers – this is the BB Shaheed’s strategy.

BB was not concerned about the political elite. In an interview she said, “all ministers who betrayed us, people who made hay while the sun was shining. I decided I didn’t want such men around me, ever.” If the picayune reneging of party members had to matter, BB would not have re-emerged after sitting in the parliament with only 17 members in 1997, nor had she sustained betrayal of infamous party leaders elected on PPP tickets landing in Musharraf’s lap in 2002.

PPP has survived everything. What this almost fifty year old party will not be able to survive is the deviation from its ideological basis and that is out of question as long as the workers remain. PPP’s power headquarters lies among its ideological workers for BB gave them this empowerment; she is the lifeline of this party. She breathed oxygen into PPP with her sacrifices. She connects the third generation of the party to the first, links Bilawal Bhutto to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. She is still the rescuer and what can make this party the most popular again, is the SMBB’s way of running the PPP.

BB’s son, like his mother, has the savoir faire to represent Pakistan internationally. He has inherited the same affection for masses; he too has his heart in the right place. PPP is undergoing an extensive reorganisation process under his watch and he has been personally interviewing every single candidate. With sheer commitment to mother’s cause, he is trying to connect to the masses. If the facts are not resented out of prejudice and if the history tends to repeat itself, then the party is not over yet – the party has just begun…

This snippet from SZAB’s letter to his warrior daughter should serve as the motivation for the young Chairman and all the supporters:

“I believe I still have a role to play. I believe people still want me on this stage, but if I have to bow out, I give you the gift of my feelings. You will fight the fight better than me. Your speeches will be more eloquent than my speeches. Your commitment equally total. There will be more youth and vitality in your struggle. Your deeds will be more daring. I transmit to you the blessing of the most blessed mission.”


Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto – Pakistan’s undisputed leader

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Almost four decades have passed since the prosecuting authorities arbitrarily sealed fate of the people of Pakistan with a verdict against Pakistan’s most celebrated leader, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Yet the millions of his followers continue to march towards an egalitarian society jingling his mantras of democracy.

Bhutto with his charisma had filled the leadership void created after Jinnah – a void that remained unfilled till several years of political vulnerability eventually resulting in a martial rule, followed by the split of Pakistan in 1971. Today, he is idolized by every aspiring leader. Even by the competitors of his party.

It was his charisma that not only inspired his followers but also the foes.  A former dictator, in a recent TV interview, recalled how he cried out of hopelessness after the embarrassing Dacca surrender while a civilian leader ZA Bhutto appeared as the only hope for the country which was bearing the brunt of defeat. He motivated the military as well as the public. He saved his homeland from disintegration, united the shattered nation, established real democracy and took Pakistan to the heights it never touched before.

A colossus in diplomatic jockeying, Bhutto gracefully grabbed peace from the jaws of discomfiture post Dacca surrender. He brought home 90,000 of our soldiers and recovered 6000 square miles of our territory through the remarkable Simla Accord. Like his principled stand on Tashkent Agreement, he stood up to the Indian aggression in Kashmir at every international forum. He endeavored to unify the third world countries, conducted the first grand Islamic Summit in Pakistan, and stood up for Pakistan’s right to nuclear deterrence in defiance of the West and all odds at the cost of his life – successfully enhanced the prestige of Pakistan, built a better image while erasing the preceding humiliating one.

In pursuit of a society devoid of lawlessness, inequity and destitution, the people’s darling moved the heaven and earth to eliminate the deprivation prevailing among the masses. He gave the abandoned the sense of identity, enlightened them about their right to question.

Bhutto was all about people. He left everlasting imprints on the minds of the people of Pakistan, making them a powerful force against usurpers. Constitutional supremacy, social reforms, nuclear technology, industrial structures contribute to the actualization of his vision for the economic and social well-being of the masses.

His quest for people’s emancipation enabled him to conquer the hearts and minds that he rules till the day. His name still reverberates as a hope where there is despair. For the people, loss of a leader who embraced struggle for the marginalized and dispossessed was a fate worse than death, but he was larger than life. He breathed life into them even with his blood, aroused their conscience to fight back. He empowered them to break the shackles of tyranny and reclaim what belonged to them.

His sacrifices stand as monuments of his commitment to the country, to the flag, to the people. They imprisoned him, hanged him but could not eliminate him. The divine love affair between him and the masses has been strengthening each day after he left the world. With the courage he embedded in his people, he still haunts the suppressing powers that be. People have resisted up to the hilt all the attempts aimed at halting the struggle he started. They have been sacrificing their lives in his name, for his cause. Such romance is too uncanny to find in rest of the political world.

To quote Former President of France Valéry Giscard d’Estaing: “Dead Bhutto governs the living.”

He is governing the hearts of the people for whom he accepted the gallows. He leads from the grave. If he was allowed to live, he would have been a giant at any age.

Today’s Pakistan needs a Bhutto-style figure to lead the country, who could intrude into the lives of the poor speaking in the vernacular to reach their hearts; who considers service to humanity above everything, at all costs. We are fortunate to have been bestowed with the heritage of democracy and the heroic legacy to follow; we must glance into his life and do justice to his legacy by our actions not empty rhetoric – for he lived by his acts; by deliverance of his promises.

Defiant in death, as in life, Bhutto shall always be Pakistan’s undisputed leader. Nothing would suffice as homage to a leader larger than life, except reverting back to the politics of and for the people – that would indeed be the best tribute to him. We must give back to him.


Time to fix the justice system

a68aab10-89a5-42ac-86f8-ca883e510c95‘Let us move on…’ Comes from a grandson standing in the hall of Lahore High Court that ordered his grandfather’s extra-judicial murder who gave this country its first unanimous constitution.

They say he is too young to understand politics, but this 27-year-old outstrips the seasoned and experienced people relishing in the corridors of power when he bids to move on. He shuns the politics of vengeance when those older than half his age are either busy doing entire politics on sit-ins or dragging country back to the 90s. Even on the existential threat like terrorism, he turns out to be the most intrepid while the rest are still kicking the can down the road.

On 11th January 2016, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari addressed the Lahore High Court Bar dragging the heed towards ground realities that surround the country. The speech encompassed nearly all the pivotal affairs being discussed but what should allure much the attention is our judicial system – that never gets media firestorm.

Unnecessary suo-motos, selective justice, establishment of military courts to trial terrorists and then execution of juveniles and ordinary criminals instead – doesn’t it all render accusation of serious crimes on the judiciary? Keeping it concise, these are merely the recent acts; a single write-up would not suffice if we stretch back to the most heinous crime of executing an elected Prime Minister whose reference case is still in abeyance. But let us move on…

A system of accountability is an indispensable criterion for the independence of judiciary. But our judicial system lacks any and hence the absence of judicial accountability has further deteriorated the institution. There are annals of irregularities in the judicial system that are deliberately kept unrevealed. Here the clear-headed PPP Chairman weighs in: ‘it is in the nature of power to crave more power, judges are also humans and honorable judges as human beings cannot be exempt from this human frailty.’

Except him, how many voices do we hear demanding the accountability of judges? Individuals are rather hailed, by political leaders, as heroes for their unconstitutional acts serving mutual political interests. The accountability of the judges is necessary indeed as it will not only help safeguard the independence and integrity of the judges but also build the trust of masses.

The current judicial system does not meet the local conditions either and is in no way effective for the people. With thousands of cases pending till ages in the courts, lower judiciary, constitutionally bound to serve the commoners, has miserably failed to provide justice. For the majority, it is more of a penance to file a case due to high expenses and idle procedure. Hence it is the need of the hour to revise the system.

Though several such discussions have been conducted intermittently on different forums as how our judicial system is not up to par – the traditional politicians do not even pay heed to this serious issue – however, the one who appears to be looking at it through the prism of constitutionalism comes up with the solution as well. Manifesting his vision to strengthen democracy, Bilawal calls for the improvement of this organ of the state and recommends:

  • Proper role of the President, the Prime Minister, the Parliament and the Bar Council in the appointment of judges.
  • No unconstitutional interference of the Supreme Court in the government affairs.
  • No consultation to be sought from the Chief Justice while appointing government officials as it is unconstitutional.
  • Establishment of constitutional courts.
  • Judicial accountability.
  • Regulation of suo-moto powers.
  • Improvement of the process of the civil courts and magisterial forums to provide justice to the downtrodden.

Had the above recommendations been made earlier by those responsible and taken into account, perhaps the political and judicial failure would not have resulted in the formation of military courts. But we have this custom of waking up at the tail end as we did in the case of terrorism. His cries were made irrelevant by initiating talks with the mass murderers, demanding offices for them, and eventually we came on his page after devastating more than hundred innocent lives of APS.

Right after a week of his address highlighting the pitfalls as well as the solutions to improve the justice system, today on 18th January, the former dictator Musharraf gets the acquittal in the murder case of Akbar Bugti delineating that, unlike politicians, Generals cannot be tried – that the ‘independent’ judiciary is not so independent to take on a former dictator. This clearly prophesies the utter failure of the judiciary and in its aftermath, the democracy will suffer.

So wake up before it is too late again. Before any constitutional subversion is validated, before another elected Prime Minister is dismissed, before more judicial crimes are committed, wake up! Fix the system so the public has confidence in both the administrative as well as the executive organs of the state.


Bilawal Bhutto carrying forward the legacy of martyrs

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Judiciary is one of the pillars of the state that acts as an arm of the government. Especially for the trembling governments, it is imperative for the judiciary to be independent and powerful to help the political systems even out. Unfortunately, despite more than sixty years to the creation, the judiciary of Pakistan has been destabilized by the anti-democratic elements ever and anon. But in the fight for the independent judiciary, one party that has been on the forefront to enforce the supremacy of the constitution and the rule of law is Pakistan Peoples Party. This party never hesitated in struggling for the independent judiciary while its rivals sometimes worked against it or sometimes supported the cause having their own ill intentions behind that were pretty much evident during the last governmental tenure when a single individual, mainstream political parties had fought for, almost turned into a vigilante and worked tirelessly with the support of opposition to oust the democratic government which came into existence after an elongated martial law.

PPP is the only political party to have worked as per its manifesto to safeguard the law. In this regard, Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto endeavored with the lawyers to ensure strong and impartial judiciary. But exploring the judicial history of Pakistan, one court that holds the major significance in shaping political dynamics of the country is the Lahore High Court. Pakistan Peoples Party stands as the biggest victim that fell prey to the unchallenged atrocities committed in hallowed halls of this court since it awarded death sentence to the populist leader ZA Bhutto. This court being one of the oldest courts in the country has been so powerful that its verdict was upheld by the Supreme Court resulting in the execution of the first democratically elected prime Minister of Pakistan. In the same Lahore High Court, many times political revenge was sought by judiciary on behest of ruling authorities from Benazir Bhutto as well as Asif Ali Zardari through abuse of judicial process. However, connected to this court is its bar association, the professional body of Lahore High Court Lawyers, that has its own glorious chronicles of shielding the democratic values defined in the constitution throughout dictatorial regimes. LHCBA had not only recorded protests against the judicial murder of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto but also hailed his daughter being the most prominent flag-bearer of democracy, officially declaring 2007 as “Year of Struggle of Benazir for Democracy”.

Today at the time when Pakistan is in urgent need of implementation of actual democratic principles in accordance with the law, the youngest politician Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, during his brief trip to Lahore, chooses to address the Lahore High Court Bar Association that has played great role in the administration of justice. This effort to strengthen ties between the judicial power and national politics by the young vibrant leadership of the PPP is of noteworthiness and manifests his vision. Although the corridors of Lahore High Court are not new for the family that has paid several visits fighting the baseless cases, but following in the footsteps of the mother and the father, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has shunned any grievances and is taking a step ahead.

It takes strong political will to enhance support for the judiciary that made his family suffer the most, and he has proved to be having the prudence and insight that can steer institutions out of madness and ensure real supremacy of the constitution. The future leader taking interest in the judiciary is a good omen especially when the country is at war against the menace of terrorism as heavy responsibility lies both on the judiciary as well as the political parties. More cooperation between both the pillars would result in effective outcomes.

Moreover, addressing the Lahore High Court Bar Association at the outset of his political career is very substantive especially on the account of its historical worth as ‘The Thinker of Pakistan’ Allama Iqbal had also been its member. The same high court has also had the honor to be braced by the appearance of the founder of Pakistan Mohammad Ali Jinnah on an occasion. Hope other political leaders will follow the suit as such rendezvous with the judicial institutions will be fruitful for the democracy in Pakistan.


Another October 18; The growing concerns and fears

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For the PPP supporters, the dreadful day was to be a day of rejoice. The PPP leader was coming home after a long exile. Millions were out thronging the streets of Karachi to welcome her, however, it turned into a tragedy when the caravan reached Karsaz and the entire world witnessed one of the deadliest terror attacks ever carried out in South Asia. I hold that day very close to my heart. The scattered human flesh on the road, the screams of the injured… It all established a fact that the fight between the forces of extremism and those who want a progressive Pakistan had breached the wall of politics and reached the homes of common people – for it resulted in the deaths of more than two hundred Pakistanis who had joined the struggle for a peaceful Pakistan.

18th October is symbolic in a way that the war between the forces of extremism versus forces of modernity signified its entrance into the political parameters of Pakistan. The tragedy and its aftermath shaped the future political dynamics of the region. The Pakistan Peoples Party has always taken a tough stance against terrorism and its ways are tried and tested unlike some. We saw what the Swat agreement resulted in, the Taliban imposed a rule which has become obsolete and has been rejected by the people of Pakistan, yet Pakistan gave them a chance. After the atrocities committed by terrorists within that small time period, it was yet again the PPP to entrust the army to get rid of this menace like it is currently doing in the dangerous terrain of Waziristan.

Although immense support of the masses paved the way for Pakistan Peoples Party to the ruling corridors but unfortunately the tragedy had great impact on the party itself. The only political party that was deep-rooted among the masses had to deviate a little from its masses-oriented politics due to the security risks faced by the leadership. Due to the continued disconnection with the masses and political vulnerabilities, party lost its major stake in the general elections of 2013.

To me, losing an election was not at all a point to be concerned at. I do believe that electoral success and defeat is a democratic process. The nucleus of my concern is the forceful replacement of PPP with an extremely conservative force. My concerns even grow when I critically analyze this replacement by stating a hypothesis that, a leftist party being replaced by the rightist forces. The result appears to be a horrifying caricature of future political dynamics of the country where intolerant and religiously motivated ideologies are strengthening their grips in the political arena of Pakistan whereas a progressive and a liberal political force has been sidelined by some unanimous forces.

The demographic and geographical sophistication of this country requires a moderate, liberal and progressive ideology but, on the ground, things are turning out to be adverse. The impact of the political vacuum vacated by the progressive forces in Pakistan may end up with a disastrous political and security nightmare. One must not forget the point that in politics, the consequence of a political vacuum is always unintended and unprecedented. This point can better be illustrated by looking back at the history of the formation of Nazi Germany which paved the way towards World War 2.

Not only for political arena but for Pakistan, it is needed to restore the left. Now the core responsibility lies on the shoulders of the ideologues to revive the party that was once the chain of federation. Instead of pointlessly criticizing the party by sidelining themselves, must the ideologues pitch in all their ideas to bring back its lost charm – for mere criticism and rants can never lead to the solution. PPP has a great strength which other political parties can only dream of and that strength is the diehard supporters like the martyrs of 18th October 2007 who preferred to surrender their lives than kneeling down before the dictator. Every PPP supporter holds the martyrs of the 18th October in reverence. They were well aware of the threats they were facing and also the forces which were in action to stop the only hope, Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, at all costs – yet they came out in huge numbers defying the threats, risking their lives.

So rather than being used by channel owners for mere TRP, must all contribute in reorganizing the party and strengthen it in order to counter the right wing forces who are triggering clash on religious, sectarian and racial bases. This is only way we can pay tribute to those martyrs who died fighting for our better future.


Democracy and Lord of the Flies

Big-Flag-PPP-hd-wallpaperThe results of May Elections 2013 were widely celebrated for witnessing the first ever democratic transition of power rather than for the clean-sweep of a particular political party that currently holds the biggest public office. It was believed to have finally come to the point from which the journey towards mature politics and strengthened democracy had to commence. But observing the current scenario when mere 14 months of an elected government have brought some of the political forces to streets, should the validity and potency of democracy be questioned?

For the on-going political tension that has put a question mark on the very future of democracy, responsibility lies on the two most apparent characters of today’s drama – Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri and Imran Khan. It is quite strange that despite the shift of power, Dr. Qadri clings to the same complaints he had against Pakistan Peoples Party (not very long ago) which were addressed by the then government and Qadri was satisfied after ‘Islamabad Long March Declaration’ was signed. The same Dr. Qadri is yet again in action giving his infamous ultimatums to another elected government who, despite having wished to bring reforms to the whole system, avoided to contest elections – preferring to stay at some luxurious villa in Canada whose nationality he possesses while revolutionizing the country he rarely visits. Does this revolutionary owns any right to object on a system he refused to be a part of by keeping himself thousands miles away during its constitutional transform on May 11? Moreover, if the corrupt system dug such a big hole in his heart, what made him take a whole year to realize the need to jump into political realm and hold common people hostage with the help of few hundreds of his brainwashed workers?

Dr. Qadri needs to understand that Pakistan is not merely a handful number of his mureeds (devotees) sitting in Minhaj-ul-Quran offices of Model Town Lahore and some other cities of Punjab but the ‘people’ from Sindh, Balochistan and KhyberPakhtunkhwa as well come within its territory. People who have never supported Qadri for pressurizing the governments they elect. Even to bring about a revolution, a few towns of Punjab have been the focus of Dr. Qadri. Ignoring the opinion of other units of federation has already resulted in Pakistan’s split in 1971. Alas. Learning nothing from the past, the non-democratic mindset continues to prevail. Without the consent of small provinces, the revolutionary doctor’s desire to impose his agendas on the common people would bring no revolution but further break this country into pieces.

Balochistan is the foremost example that has been a victim of political leadership’s negligence and cowardice. On one hand, international forces have kept their eyes on it and on the other, its people’s prolonged sense of deprivation has not been eliminated yet – neither process of throwing mutilated bodies of young Balochs has ceased. Meanwhile, considering Sindh in a normal position would be a big political blunder. Qadri’s demand of making new provinces is what hurts people the most. Sindh’s residents cannot even tolerate listening to any discussion on this sensitive issue so Qadri’s division formula can never be acceptable to Sindh as it’s a ‘kill or die’ matter. Hence for Sindh, outcome of accepting Qadri’s demands can be foreseen.

In all this predicament, Imran Khan’s stance does not seem to be any different from Dr. Qadri’s. His party’s policy regarding the sensitive issues of small provinces is ambiguous. Little he knows that if anything happens without the consensus obtained by small provinces, before any political party it would be the federation to be damaged. Like Sindh, people of KP oppose the construction of Kalabagh Dam. For several times in Punjab, Imran Khan has spoken in favor of KBD. Can he dare advocating this project at KP’s land? Isn’t it hypocrisy to not mention KBD in KhyberPakhtunkhwa but in Punjab? This hypocrisy can only divide the nations. Moreover, more appalling is the fact that his long-march over rigging in elections indicates derailment of democracy, that recently brought his party into parliament, and demands Prime Minister’s resignation. Rigging was highlighted by other parties as well. Important to mention that Pakistan Peoples Party also had reservations on the results of Elections 2013 but playing its due democratic role it accepted the results in the interest of democracy and political stability. PPP also supports Imran Khan’s stance over rigging – but not on the cost of democracy – for it had sacrificed the most for democracy’s revival as well as for its survival.

On the mode of self-destruction, role of the ruling party is also not appreciable. Committing suicide itself, PMLN government’s non-pragmatic handling of events has made a crisis out of nothing. The list of blunders committed by PMLN would go long, though the prominent ones that led to current chaos are worth mentioning. First, the use of force against PAT workers that killed 14 of their devotees at Model Town Lahore and then restraining PAT from lodging FIR against those government officials responsible for Model Town Tragedy. Second, the reluctance to show political maturity to counter Imran Khan and evoke of Article 245 along with putting blockades on the roads towards Islamabad ignited the PTI and PAT followers. Moreover, its willingness to countenance the use of force against the marchers further deteriorated the situation. The unrelenting attitude of Govt representatives towards the other party leaders who have backed the government for the cause of democracy has also spared no effort to add fuel to fire. During the last democratic tenure, PPP government survived all kinds of sit-ins, rallies and long marches; its crisis management has set a benchmark for the upcoming governments. From current situation, which is no less than a calamity, Pakistan Peoples Party outshines rest of the parties.

Ignoring the fact that the same PMLN had violated Charter of Democracy occasionally. In accordance with constitution as well as democratic norms, PPP disregarded any previous conflicts and conspiracies hatched by PMLN to dismiss an elected Prime Minister and to thicken plot against President Zardari through Swiss cases, memogate and several other issues. Two of the PPP’s Prime Ministers were dragged to courts while against the President, a petition was filed on behalf of Nawaz Sharif for regular hearing of the memogate case by Supreme Court.

On the contrary, Asif Ali Zardari’s role despite heading the largest opposition party has not been less than of a savior. Upholding Charter of Democracy, he has stood with what his slain leader gave up on her life for – the democracy. When Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto returned in 2007 to contest elections, she was aware of the expected pre and post election rigging, but had she boycotted the elections, democracy would not have been restored. Nawaz Sharif had boycotted the elections then, and Shaheed Mohtarma asked him to run for elections. After her assassination, it was again a PPP leader, Asif Ali Zardari, to convince him to withdraw his decision of boycotting 2008 polls, in order to oust a dictator through democratic means. PPP has its history of siding with democracy against the worst of the dictatorships and their beneficiaries. At such a critical juncture when a few thousands have captivated the Capital to achieve their unjust demands, Zardari has stood beside Nawaz Sharif who occasionally plotted nests of intrigue during PPP regime. Despite Nawaz Sharif having said that ‘Pakistan and Zardari could not co-exist’, he turned to the same Zardari for rescue who did not disappoint him rather guided him with political acumen.

It is very important for the political parties to reassert their commitment to democracy during the current mess, and PPP with its unmitigated loyalty to democracy has emerged as the strongest to defend the state and constitution. Political maturity among the segments of PPP survives and throws its weight behind the elected government. The morale of the defensive government recovered after it called on the joint sessions of Parliament on the advice of PPP’s Aitzaz Ahsan and Khursheed Shah, and the house echoed with PPP leaders chanting slogans for democracy. In this scenario, imagine if PPP had also demanded government’s resignation then what the situation would have been? But apparently, in every decade, it takes one Pakistan Peoples Party to save and run democracy.

As in Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s words, “Overcome the hate before it devours us all.”


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