General Zia believed in strong centre. In order to counter PPP and Benazir Bhutto, he ‘engineered’ ethnic and sectarian parties: by Wajid Shamsul Hasan
Once I was asked what was Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s most outstanding achievement. No doubt he left indelible imprints on the sands of time. As an admirer of Bhutto Sahib since my college days I could have easily said — his charismatic personality was too fascinating for the youth of the day — his dare, his swashbuckling style, his love and commitment for Quaid’s Pakistan and his courage and defiance against odds made him our hero.
Later in the years the more I came to know of him, the more enamouring his multi-faceted personality dawned on me. He was a statesman par excellence, his oratory held his contemporaries in awe in the United Nations defending Pakistan or speaking his populist language he moved millions of shirtless, down trodden masses in Karachi’s Nishtar Park or Lahore’s Moochi Gate into hitherto unknown ecstasy.
I was with him in Simla in 1972. It was significant for me on two counts. I was introduced by him to his ‘Dearest Daughter’ who would be leader of Pakistan, to live and die like him. Secondly, it was historically land mark event to witness an upright leader of a vanquished nation with 93,000 generals and soldiers rotting in Indian PoW camps, with over 12000 kilometres of its territory under the Indian occupation lost on the battle front — negotiate with honour with the victor — Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi riding high on the crest of popularity.
Negotiations with Mrs Gandhi were as difficult as any war could be yet the two great leaders — as equals — came out with an agreement that has given peace to our region for over 45 years. It was his masterly stroke of statesmanship and diplomatic skill that convinced Mrs Gandhi that it would be in the interest of peace to end being hostage to communal history, acrimonies of the past to seek peaceful co-existence. Infinite wisdom and burying of distrust by the two leaders needs to be emulated even now to bring to an end snake and ladder relationship. We should get onto a trajectory crossing uncertainties to usher in peace and harmony for the good of 1.5 billion half starved, shirtless and shelter-less masses of the two-nuclear powers.
Negotiations with Mrs Gandhi were as difficult as any war could be yet the two great leaders — as equals — came out with an agreement that has given peace to our region for over 45 years. It was his masterly stroke of statesmanship and diplomatic skill that convinced Mrs Gandhi that it would be in the interest of peace to end being hostage to communalism and other acrimonies of the past and to seek peaceful co-existence instead
I believe whether it was astounding success of diplomacy at Simla or Bhutto Sahib’s defiance of the Americans despite being threatened to be made ‘horrible example’ in pursuit of nuclear technology for Pakistan — each one was his great achievement second to none. However, as a student of history and politics, I had a different view of his unparalleled contribution in the form of his gigantic struggle for the empowerment of the masses and socio-economic change for seminal developments for the greatest good of the largest number.
His establishment of Pakistan Peoples Party in association with like-minded Left-of-the-Centre friends at a time when country was straight-jacketed in the stranglehold of a powerful rightist establishment representing forces of status quo including the well-entrenched feudal class and the bigoted mullahs -would no doubt be recorded as his singular achievement in the archaic politics of Pakistan.
Bhutto Sahib, being of sharp mind, an admirer and follower of the Quaid from his students days, having keenly studied his politics and raison d’être for Pakistan knew what direction to take. From the outset he sought answer to the fact as to why a pure Indian nationalist Jinnah having resisted for long, opted finally for Pakistan.
ZAB traced the plight of Indian Muslims in the roots of 1857 revolt that changed the power and socio-economic structure rendering Muslim ruling class and others into “hewers of wood, drawers of water”. He found that tug-of-war between Hindus and Muslims was not related to religion. It pertained to economic causes, Muslims outnumbered by Hindus in every field, no jobs, not much of education, in matter of wealth too poor to match. They could not compete even if they were the best.
A thorough-bred nationalist, known as Ambassador of Hindu Muslim Unity — Jinnah Sahib tried his best to bring around Nehrus (father and son) to an equitable formula for peaceful co-existence. His 14-points sought maximum autonomy for the Muslims in their majority areas and reserved quotas for jobs, education etc. where in minority. His proposal for keeping India united was rejected by Indian Congress.
Bhutto sahib knew that it was over the issue of autonomy and economic disparities that India was divided. And when Sheikh Mujib raised his 6 points, he wanted to resolve the issue through debate but Ayub with Altaf Gauhar has been the master planner — he would not let Bhutto Sahib go to East Pakistan. Once battle had been lost by the generals and Bhutto handed over power as legitimate representative of West Pakistan, he got to resolve the autonomy issue that had seeds for future implosion. And indeed, to this date Constitution of 1973 has proved to be stronger unifying and binding force than religion itself.
General Zia believed in strong centre, divide and rule. In order to counter PPP and Benazir Bhutto, he ‘engineered’ ethnic and sectarian parties. Thousands of PPP workers and leaders starting from Bhutto Sahib, Begum Bhutto, Benazir Sahiba, her two brothers — theirs was a struggle strewn in blood, toil and tears confronted by General Zia by raising brigades of ethnic and sectarian forces to counter PPP’s democratic march. Zia engineered much like today ethnic groups to divide PPP’s power of the people and to push back to burner issue of provincial autonomy in context of Pakistan with five provinces and resource sharing between centre and the federating units. Either General Zia did not deliberately or inadvertently understand the gravity of issue that had led to the partition of India in 1947 and later break up of Pakistan in 1971.
In 1972 with Jinnah’s truncated Pakistan, its once powerful army writhing in pain and shame of humiliating defeat, it would have been easier than done for the leaders of smaller provinces where nationalist forces had already raised their head of deiance, to declare independence encouraged by the establishment of Bangladesh. They would have been at once given recognition by the erstwhile Soviet Union, India and Bangladesh followed by many others including dozens of ‘brotherly’ Muslim countries. Bhutto Sahib appealed to the collective wisdom of the elected leaders of Balochistan, KP and Sindh to remain united for commonality of interest for survival in a region which shall always remain a bone of contention for super and regional powers either for its warm waters or for sitting at the mouth of the Gulf. We were lucky to have leaders who could understand the gravity of the situation and in the spirit of collective weal the 1973 constitution was passed unanimously. It resolved the most-thorny issue of provincial autonomy. Despite Article 6 General Ziaul Haq committed act of treason, judicially murdered ZAB and held in abeyance transference of concurrent list to the provinces by1983 as enshrined in the Constitution. Himalayan credit must be given to the PPP jiyalas for keeping alighted the lame of democracy in the darkest period of our history. When her husband had been murdered by Zia, Begum Nusrat Bhutto aided by her daughter Benazir garnered an opposition parties alliance — the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD), burying their egos, to confront Zia’s dictatorship. Since Bhutto’s province — Sindh had taken upon itself the lead role, PPP and its supporters suffered most deaths and injuries, its people were singled out for genocide by Ziaist troops, his scotch earth policy destroyed one village after another.
On this, its 50th birthday — the PPP must re-enforce its commitment to secular democracy, constitutionalism, rule of law and a more vigorous reiteration for the socio-political and economic empowerment of the people irrespective of caste, creed, colour or gender
Whatever, Zia had to surrender. First he held party-less elections, appointed Muhammad Khan Junejo as Prime Minister who cleverly nibbled his powers and brought about a crack in his constituency by appointing General Aslam Beg as Vice Army Chief without Zia knowing it. And Junejo would have sealed his fate and that of his coterie by exposing the mega corruption by President Zia and his generals by publishing the highly explosive indings of Federal Interior Minister Aslam Khattak Commission’s in the Ohjiri Arms Depot disaster of 1988 — much similar to that of Nuclear Supermarket under General Pervez Musharraf. General Zia dismissed Junejo fearing his impeachment.
In his most recent statement that he was proud of PPP for its correct conduct in the challenges circumstances and mysteriously engineered dharnas by the clerical brigade, ongoing tussle between convicted prime minister and the Supreme Court, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto has deinite reasons to feel pride that his party has remained unaffected by the temptations of the ‘Chamak’ master who was known for staging a judicial coup in 1997. It has done well to be cautious of the ‘engineers’ too. Though his party and its leaders have been at the receiving end of the highest judiciary yet they had not deied its decisions-howsoever biased. PPP’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani created history and not Nawaz Sharif, by resigning when he was convicted for contempt.
Pholan Devi and her ‘hum-nawa’ are projecting PML-N as an anti-establishment party despite being two-in-one — both in opposition and government. They cry hoarse in decrying PPP and accusing it of being switched over on the side of Establishment. No party has as strong and credible antiestablishment credentials as PPP.
If he were to get another chance to live in Saroor Palace, he should take with him his party and have a dip in the scented swimming pool to give a strong veneer of perfumery to cover up their stink as well. I feel PPP did right in not bailing out Nawaz again since his and Pholan Devi’s diatribe against judiciary is not for saving democracy but his and his family’s vested interests. He got trapped in the cobweb of his lies with no way out accept the current suicidal course to destroy the ediice of democracy painfully raised brick by brick by PPP.
I could go on regarding his anti-democratic role since his Zia-engineered advent in politics in the early eighties to this day, how he was funded and propped up by ISI under Gen Hameed Gul in 1988 to stem Benazir Bhutto’s landslide, under General Aslam Beg and his ISI chief General Asad Durrani — again to stop PPP in 1990. And the story continues. In 2013 too PPP was denied its rightful vote though PPP questioned the poll result but did not reject it to sustain continuity.
On 50th year of its foundation PPP must re-enforce its commitment to secular democracy, constitutionalism, rule of law and more vigorous reiteration for the socio-political and economic empowerment of the people including less privileged irrespective of caste, creed, colour or gender. I was shocked and hurt on the failure of political parties — excluding PTI and those whose collaborative views are well known — to raise their voice against blackmail. The clerical dharna, the abuses and hate language used by their leaders in their speeches needed to be widely telecast live 24/7 so that the nation knows who the real enemy of Pakistan is. By muting their x-rated ‘galam-galooch’ and blocking their vitriolic telecasting — the government has not done any service to democracy as a matter of fact TV channels have done a great disservice.
Whoever engineered nearly three-week long dharna paralysing the Federal Capital with the motive of pressurising the judiciary to let Nawaz & Co go off the hook or to create such a law and order condition that the army would be forced to intervene — has been well-commented upon by the Islamabad High Court Judge Mr Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui who questioned the legal authority for army’s intervention to broker a deal between PML-N government and the dharna parties. It is regretted that both the PML-N government and military establishment were either conniving with them or were afraid of a violent reaction. On the surface of the matter both the Interior ministry and the Defence allowed the clerics to mock at the writ of the state. I would share the view that since army was involved in combating terrorism, it should have treated the miscreants who blocked the roads as terrorists and should have punished them accordingly.
The writer is former High Commissioner of Pakistan to UK and a veteran journalis
Former President felicitates democratic political workers
Recounts achievements of the Party
Islamabad November 29, 2017: November 30 this year marks the fifty years- the Golden Jubilee- of the founding of the Pakistan People’s Party. On this auspicious occasion I wish to felicitate all the Party workers throughout the country and overseas and indeed all democracy loving people. It is an occasion of festivities as well as of stock taking, reorganization and soul searching for all democratic political workers in the country.
This has been stated by the President Mr. Asif Ali Zardari said in a message on the 50th founding day of the Party on November 30.
The Party is proud of its record in the service of the people . Its slogan ‘power belongs to the people’ has shaped the political landscape of the country during the past half a century. Indeed it is ingrained in the consciousness of the people that will never be erased.
Apart from fighting successive dictatorships the PPP gave the country its unanimous Constitution, strengthened defence by giving the missile and nuclear program, created Council of Common Interest to give say to the provinces, gave collective voice to Muslim countries, won back the territory lost in 1971 and emancipated women, workers, farmers and the oppressed classes. It is the PPP that stopped India and Pakistan from going to war through Simla agreement. It is the PPP that protected the human rights of every citizen by introducing the habeas corpus for the first time in the history of Pakistan.
In the pursuit of its principles and ideals two successive Chairpersons of the Party and countless workers have laid down their lives. It is a record and a distinction in democratic struggle that has not been equalled– much less surpassed– by any political party in the country.
We believe that political change must come only through fair and free ballot. The Party has always rejected and will continue to reject manipulated power transfer. We reject re-engineering of political landscape under any pretext and we will fight against any attempt to impose religious apartheid in the country. We pledge to frustrate any attempt by un-elected individuals and institutions to usurp peoples’ power.
“I ask the workers to go out to spread the Party’s message of hope and deliverance. Spread out and tell the silent, demoralized and suffering people that a bright morning awaits at the end of a long and dark night. Tell them to come forward and support the PPP for the dream to come true. Gear yourselves to face the challenges that lie ahead. You are fated to succeed.”
On this occasion we also pay homage to the leaders and workers of the Party and all democratic political workers who have made enormous sacrifices in the course of our historic democratic struggle. When democratic workers were fighting dictatorship there were also those in the state institutions ready to submit before the dictators, taking oath of allegiance and providing dictatorship legitimacy. This makes our workers stand tall and their sacrifices even more glorious. The Party salutes all these valiant workers for their commitment and sacrifices made for the cause. The Party would not have been standing tall today without their sacrifices, he said.
KARACHI, November 29, 2017: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has vehemently condemned the terror attack outside an Imam Bargah in Islamabad.
PPP Chairman said that he has been shocked and saddened on loss of precious lives in the indiscriminate firing on peaceful citizens outside the Imam Bargah.
He said that, “Terror attacks in Islamabad are a serious challenge to government.” “It is the prime responsibility of the state and the government to ensure complete security, safety and protection of the citizens.”
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari stressed that the perpetrators of attack outside the Imam Bargah should immediately be apprehended and taken to task.
KARACHI, November 29: Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto has called upon the PPP workers to renew their commitment and carry forward the founding mission of the Party to the next generations and decades with same vigor.
In his message on the golden jubilee celebrations of the PPP’s Foundation Day being commemorated across the country on Thursday, the PPP Chairman said he is proud of the Party, its history, sacrifices and the accomplishments in the last fifty years life. “We lost our two Chairpersons Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and thousands of workers during the five decades long struggle for the democratic rights of the down-trodden people,” he added.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari pointed out the PPP suffered more than any struggle for democracy in the contemporary world. From Gallows to torture sales and public flogging, the PPP leaders and workers underwent every kind of misery and ruthlessness. “During fifty years, several individuals and groups were pumped into political bubbles but the parties so created primarily to harm PPP, eventually vanished or littered.
He said that PPP gifted the first-ever unanimous Constitution to the nation and laid foundations for an invincible, economically-stronger and egalitarian Pakistan.
Golden Jubilee of the PPP is being celebrated at more than one hundred district headquarters all over Pakistan on Thursday, November 30. Party’s district organizations have chalked out elaborate programmes to celebrate the day and pay tributes to the founders and comrades of struggle. PPP workers will unfurl Party flags on their houses to commemorate the history day. A grand Jalsa has been scheduled at Parade Ground, Islamabad on December 5 where workers from all over the country will congregate to hear their young Chairman unfolding Party’s roadmap to next fifty years and beyond.
In a tweet related to the golden jubilee this week, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that “We may not always live up to everyone’s expectations. However, having witnessed the conduct of other political parties this past week I have to say; could not be prouder of the Pakistan Peoples Party.”
PPP is the only Party in Pakistan, which introduced latest hologram technology in order to expand its outreach. Introducing hologram technology to address workers crowd in many cities at the same time, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said, “use of innovative technology is in line with our vision of seining a technologically-advanced Pakistan. We Are Trend Setters.”
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that despite braving worst onslaughts, conspiracies and media trials by three dictatorial regimes and their puppets, the PPP was here to stay and continue to make history. In the struggle for a democratic and invincible Pakistan with an egalitarian society, we lost our founder Chairman Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and thousands of workers. “But the struggle is on and the convoy of democracy and downtrodden masses is still marching towards our mission,” he added.
He was speaking at an event organised by the National Commission on Status of Women (NCSW) in Islamabad on combating violence against women.
“Local governments with women participation can play an effective role in combating violence against women he said and called for the implementation of NCSW recommendations pertaining to reserved seats for women at all levels,” he said.
He said that intolerance and violence in Pakistan was increasing day by day and identified two areas of violence. “One is security-driven violence as in the case of missing persons, bodies and the reported violence in Guantanamo Bay like internment centres. It is the women and children who suffer most when their men folk disappear mysteriously,” he said.
“The second category is belief-driven violence in which case the rich and the poor alike are beheaded. This violence goes far beyond as an accused of blasphemy cannot find a lawyer to defend him,” he said
“The largest variety of violence takes place against women as newer forms of violence against them are invented every year ranging from men’s honour, gang rape and acid-throwing. For women, it is death by the kitchen stove in Punjab, by pesticide in South Punjab, axe in Sindh and guns elsewhere. An unheard of new kind of violence was invented by a holy man when he inserted a red hot iron rod in the abdomen of his wife,” he said.
“Lack of access to justice, broken criminal justice system, jirga that exclude and degrade women and misapplication of Qisas laws have further compounded violence against women,” he said.
“Of course pardon can be granted under the Qisas law, but only after conviction. It is a miscarriage of justice and misinterpretation of the law by accepting pardons even before conviction,” he said.
Later, talking to the media, he said that to fight crimes against women, the society must recognise economic rights, the right to own land, the right to inheritance and equal wages for women. “The draft Constitution of October 1950 contained clear cut provisions for ending all forms of torture and also for equal wages for women. But both the provisions were deleted in the draft Constitution finalised in 1956,” he said.
Senator Farhatullah Babar on Friday asked the defence minister not to make any commitments in Riyadh without first notifying Senate.
Published in Daily Times, November 25th 2017.
Islamabad, 24 November 2017: Former President of Pakistan and President Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians Asif Ali Zardari has strongly condemned suicide attack in Peshawar killing several policemen including Additional Inspector General Police Ashraf Noor and his guard.
Asif Ali Zardari said that these policemen are heroes of the nation as they have offered supreme sacrifices fighting the menace of terror. The entire nation is saddened and grieved over the martyrdom of these valiant policemen, he said.
Former President said that now it has become necessary to eliminate the patrons of terrorists. All the financial supply line of these terror organizations have to be cut off as well. He also demanded to abolish every nursery of terror in the country.
Asif Ali Zardari expressed his sympathy with the bereaved families of victims and Prayed to Almighty Allah to grant eternal peace to the departed souls and strength and fortitude to the victims’ families to bear this irreparable loss with equanimity.