The PPP’s strong stance -by Riaz Ali Toori

Leaders from all political parties, including the PPP, have expressed their dissatisfaction over the election results yet the PPP is supporting the government for the principal reason of endurance of democracy

October 18 is seen as another gloomy day in the blood-ridden history of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). On this day, in 2007, after the return to her motherland filled with hope in her heart after a long exile, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed was targeted in a huge bomb attack near Karsaz in Karachi. Benazir Bhutto survived but 177 of her workers lost their lives while 600 received serious injuries. This attack on her life could not deter her highest resolve of serving the people of Pakistan. She continued her struggle unabated, eventually concluding in her martyrdom on December 27, 2007.
October 18, 2007 was, in reality, a manifestation of the condemnation by the people of Pakistan, who declined to bow down to repression, dictatorship and radicalism. It was a referendum and protest against a dictator and the mindset that had been nurtured and developed by dictators in different eras, especially during Ziaul Haq’s period. October 18, in fact, was a day for disapproving radicalism, fanaticism and terrorism, all of which have resulted in the killings of thousands of Pakistanis in earlier decades, from Parachinar to Karachi.
On that day, Benazir Bhutto was leading a caravan of millions of democracy enthusiasts who wanted to see a Pakistan with equivalent rights for everyone. “I am returning to Pakistan on October 18 to bring change to my country. Pakistan’s future viability, stability and security lie in empowering its people and building political institutions,” said Mohtarma before leaving for her much-loved motherland, Pakistan. The bloody tragedy of Karsaz was nothing but a continuation of that particular mindset in which there is the belief in curbing and killing the voices that want to raise the flag of a progressive, democratic and peaceful Pakistan. In the October 18 bomb blast, Benazir Bhutto came out alive but suffered the wounds of her workers’ martyrdom in her heart. She did not surrender her struggle but sacrificed her life. The cold-blooded forces that attacked her caravan in Karsaz attacked her again in Liaqaut Bagh, Rawalpindi, where she breathed her last.
The Bhuttos gave up their lives but never looked for a middle ground on national uprightness and the people’s rights. Aware of all the threats to her life, Benazir Bhutto chose to return to Pakistan. As a matter of fact, Benazir Bhutto was the only politician who presented a real threat to the mindset that wishes for Pakistan to be the breeding ground of extremists where they can freely carry out all their nefarious activities to achieve their ends. The mindset of Ziaul Haq is horrified by the ideology of Bhuttoism and finds all others around them to be either best associates or kind apologists.
The PPP has always remained on the hit list of extremists, both national as well as international extremist organisations that have never desired to see the PPP in power in Pakistan. Likewise, in elections in the past, when international terrorist organisations abetted parties against the PPP — like in the elections of 2013 as well — the PPP came under immense threats that led to all political parties enjoying a free hand for their canvassing. The PPP could not campaign for elections nor could it hold any big public rally.
The PPP’s leadership carries the characteristics of bravery and courage that are transferred from generation to generation. After the fearless leadership of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the PPP was led by his progressive daughter, Benazir Bhutto, who, despite being an eastern woman, typically where a female is always suppressed, she challenged the most treacherous of forces, from the heartless dictator Zia till her martyrdom on December 27, 2007.
Today, Pakistan is passing through a political impasse, deadlock and turmoil. A section of the public is on the roads, having rejected the PML-N’s mandate, alleging it to be forged and orchestrated. Leaders from all political parties, including the PPP, have expressed their dissatisfaction over the election results yet the PPP is supporting the government for the principal reason of endurance of democracy because, over and over again, democracy has been derailed and the country pushed into darkness. The only democratic government that has completed its constitutional tenure has been the PPP’s last government under the leadership of Asif Ali Zardari.
The fact is that the PML-N left no stone unturned in incapacitating the nascent democratic process during the PPP’s era. It devised a cunning plot like ‘Memogate’ to slander the PPP’s leadership and overthrow its government. However, Asif Ali Zardari, following the reconciliation policy of Benazir Bhutto, forgot what had been done to him by Nawaz Sharif in the past, travelled all the way to Raiwind, met him and extended his party’s full support for democracy. It is clear that if the PPP had not supported Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif, he would have gone home two months back in the wake of these sit-ins by Imran Khan and Dr Tahirul Qadri.
In the same way, a jirga, named the siaisi (political) jirga, convened by PPP leader Senator Rehman Malik, was given the task to defuse the current political uncertainty created after the PTI and PAT protests. Senator Rehman Malik has been playing an important role and providing full opportunity to the protesting parties and government to resolve their differences on the table rather than on the roads. It was Senator Rehman Malik’s effective role that led to all roads to and from parliament being cleared and the siege was brought to an end. This shows that the politics of principles is still alive and the PPP co-chairman, Asif Ali Zardari, is delivering and will continue to deliver into the future carrying on his policy of reconciliation.
In such a complicated situation, surely Pakistan cannot afford further volatility and a continuous deadlock when the world around is progressing fast technologically, socially, diplomatically, economically and politically. Engulfed in huge problems, Pakistan cannot afford that its future leaders be of limited ideology that fuel only domestic political gimmicks to remain in power. In order to integrate ourselves with the modern, developed world, we need leaders of international standard like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto.
Among today’s politicians we find none other than Bilawal Bhutto Zardari characterised by all international standards as an emerging, strong political leader. Bilawal has always vehemently condemned human rights violations and has minced no words in speaking against atrocities committed by the Taliban, something that the present political stalwarts openly refrain from. He has challenged the malicious forces that killed his mother and has put himself in danger but has not given up the trait of bravery in condemning oppression.
Today, when he is practically in politics, let us give a chance to the heir of thousands of martyrs of democracy.

The writer is a citizen of the tribal areas of Parachinar, associated with the PPP and an expert on FATA. He can be reached at and on Twitter @RiazToori

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