THIS is apropos F.S. Aijauzuddin’s article (May 23). While working on my book “40 Years of Pakistan People’s Party” (published in 2007), I was amazed to observe the frequency of declarations made by armchair intellectuals to the effect that the party was sinking, or had collapsed, or was over, since the inception of the party in 1967. But every time the resilience embedded in the party has proved all such declarations and predictions wrong.
The doomsday scenario for the party was first painted in darkest shades in 1977 when the PNA-led agitation led to imposition of martial law. There was jubilation in circles opposed to ZAB that he had been sorted out by the army and that with him his party was over. Soon it was clear that the observation was no more than wishful thinking.
Since then these doomsday scenarios have been repeated with regularity: when Nusrat Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto left the country in the 1980s; when PPP governments were dismissed in 1990 and 1996 by the then presidents on charges of poor governance and corruption; Benazir Bhutto’s going into exile in 1999 and the recent one when she was killed in December 2007.
But every time the party’s springing back to the centre-stage of Pakistan’s politics has exposed the superficiality of those observations and predictions.
This time the favourite observation regarding the end of the party has been based on the party’s securing just 35 seats in the National Assembly in recent elections. They conveniently ignore the fact that the party has even secured 17 seats, half of the present number, in the 1997 elections, under Benazir Bhutto’s leadership. This type of ebbs and flows are part of parties’ histories all over the world.
Then, there has been bemoaning on alterations, some real and some imaginary, in the party’s hierarchy ever since President Asif Ali Zardari took charge. Again it is forgotten here that every leader has a right to select his kitchen cabinet according to his or her choice.
It is also a fashion to say that the PPP has deviated from its original manifesto unveiled in 1967. The writer of the article has even blamed ZAB for deviating from the manifesto that he had given to the nation. Here again, the concept of evolution amongst the parties is conveniently forgotten.
The policies and programmes of parties are not frozen in times but keep on evolving as time passes. Just have a look at the Indian National Congress’s creed and programmes in 1885 and the All-India Muslim League in 1906, when they were founded and what they preached in the 1940s.
Hence, the party is not sinking. It is preparing for another dawn.
DR MUHAMMAD ALI SHAIKH
Professor of Communication