In November 1967 Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) launched his PPP in Lahore. During his mistrial he had wished to be buried here as he considered it the Leningrad of Pakistan. It was against his wishes that his funeral after his execution in Rawalpindi was hurriedly arranged in his native Larkana in April 1979. His first wife received his remains and arranged the burial as both his second wife and daughter were in jail while his two sons were in exile.
PPP was the first country’s first real political party. ZAB took on the antidemocratic regime of the first dictator. His struggle paid off with a great election victory in the 1970 elections. After his physical demise, his daughter Benazir ably led the movement for the restoration of democracy.
ZAB was the architect of the 1973 Constitution. By inserting Article 6, he was convinced that military overthrow of elected governments would not take place in future as its violation carried the death penalty. Ziaul Haq was the first violator of this article. It did not stop here, after getting rid of an elected PM through a manipulated judicial trial, he launched an unknown political entity Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif of Gawalmandi, Lahore, to consolidate his grip on power. Like all King’s Parties the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) was launched from the ‘ Freemasons Hall of Democracy at 33 Davis Road. Riding the bandwagon of anti-democratic forces he was first inducted as Punjab Finance Minister, then CM. He was then given the task of challenging the elected PM, Benazir Bhutto. After failing to dislodge her through a vote of no-confidence, he had her dismissed by his mentor, President Ishaq Khan, who had replaced Zia the tyrant.
Through the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad ( IJI ) he was launched for the second time at the centre to take on the Daughter of the East, the only warrior of democracy of her times. Despite all pressures and manipulation she stood her ground and did not boycott the elections in 1990, and the blunder of the 1985 walk over was avoided this time. Now Nawaz had it all, total control of Punjab and the Centre. While Ghulam Haider Wyne, an ordinary worker of the party, was the dummy CM, real power was exercised by his younger brother Shahbaz. The loot and plunder now reached the centrestage, ably assisted by the provincial goons of his party, mainly the Gullu Butts of Gawalmandi. So blatant was the misrule that President Ishaq Khan had to intervene and dismiss the government of his protégé using Zia’s draconian 8th Amendment.
The Bhutto’s struggle for democracy is legendary. ZAB had all the opportunity to escape the wrath of the establishment but he decided to fight his case like a true leader. The Lahore High Court under Mr Justice Maulvi Mushtaq Hussain was clearly biased yet he appeared in his trial with his team of lawyers hoping to get relief from the Supreme Court in appeal. Party workers were not asked to pack the court rooms or intimidate the Judges. Even after his judicial murder Benazir followed the legal course while her brothers decided to use force to topple the regime. The establishment, supported by unscrupulous civilians like the Sharifs of Lahore and Chaudhry’s of Gujrat, were responsible for the launch or extension of the Zia Dark Ages that continues to haunt us till today.
The presence of Maryam Safdar, daughter of Nawaz Sharif, in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh for the death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto on 27 December was a slap on the face of all antidemocracy forces like the Sharifs. There is nothing in common between the two father-daughter duos. This time they were not as obnoxious as Captain (retf) Safdar was at the Mazar-e-Quaid but their presence in the Temple of Demcoracy where the Shaheed-e-Jamhuriat rests in peace was totally unwanted, unnatural and undesirable. Bhutto was given the title of Quaid-e-Awam as he served the masses with honesty and integrity. As there were no dossiers of corrupt practices against him, he had to be physically eliminated through a manipulated judicial process. His daughter was made to suffer through false cases registered by Sharifs all over the country under influenced judges. But Benazir gallantly fought on for democracy till her last breath. She went into self-exile twice but was there to face all the charges against her.
Compared to Nawaz-Maryam, Bhutto-Benazir received world class education in the best global institutions. Bhutto attended the Bar in London while Benazir had to cut short her academic career after graduating from Oxford University to carry on the political mantle of her father. Nawaz-Maryam educational credentials are very ordinary. While Nawaz managed to get his degrees with very little learning, Maryam could not even get admission in the prestigious Kinnard College Lahore. Dr Mira Phailbus, the Principal, was removed from her position on refusing to admit her, and by the way Nawaz had got into Government College on a seat reserved for wrestling when he could not make it on merit. Bhutto struggled for three years (1967 to 1970) before leading his party to a well-deserved victory in the Western wing. The PPP is the only party to have won five elections despite a clear anti-establishment stance.
The PML(N), being an establishment-launched party, was able to create its own establishment through its long stints in power. The party has twice managed to secure an absolute majority in Parliament and has the unique distinction of getting its government restored after dismissal through the 8th Amendment. It has also dared to attack the Supreme Court when the PM was summoned for his unconstitutional practices.
Double standards is the hallmark of PML(N) politics. While two usurpers have violated Article 6, a case has been filed only against one of them and that too partially. It was Zia-ul-Haq who was the first one to cross the line and kept on disfiguring the constitution together with creating third-rate leadership like the Sharifs and Chaudhrys. In other words the Sharifs were born out of this violation in July 1977. Pervez Musharraf first violated this article in October 1999 and then again in November 2007. The President acts on the advice of the PM, who then relies on the Law Minister for preparation of the ordinance. As PM, Nawaz invoked the article only against the President, while the others went scot free. Why? The dictator who derailed democracy and eliminated the Quaid-e-Awam remains their political mentor while the one who spared their life and then gave them an NRO ( National Reconciliation Ordinance ) has been targeted. Sins against democracy committed by Nawaz-Maryam cannot be condoned. While the sacrifices for democracy by Bhutto-Benazir cannot be ignored. Their paths have been very divergent, one is the antithesis of the other. Offering fateha at the Bhutto shrines by Maryam carries no meaning. On the contrary, Bilawal’s visit to the deserted grave of Zia in Islamabad will have disastrous political consequences for Bhutto’s party.
The PPP remained an ideological political entity till it was taken over by Asif Zardari after the assassination of Benazir, while the PML(N) lacks ideology, being a party of interests where making money through misuse of power is considered kosher. While there are few corruption cases against the PPP leadership, that too mostly initiated by the PML(N), Nawaz-Maryam both have been convicted already. Appeal and bail does not mean exoneration. Delay is their only defense as they cannot produce money trails. The show at Gari Khuda Bakhsh was impressive, but with the corrupt and pirates of democracy sharing the stage with the party that has the blood of the martyrs in its foundations, I am sure the Bhuttos must be turning in their graves. Which raises the question, is Bilawal a Bhutto or Zardari?