Fake Civil Society must stop blaming the PPP: A rebuttal to Naveen Naqvi and Sana Saleem

How many of the jiyalas present in the Taseer Reference belong to the Twitter Opportunists Club?

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We, at LUBP, have been exposing the shenanigans of the fake “civil society” of Pakistan for a long time. The civil society is a term which in our opinion includes all those who don’t want to be part of a political party but complain about the problems of our political system. According to Shahid Khan, such chattering class represents the fake civil society of Pakistan; the real civil society is comprised of trade unions, genuine journalists, rights activist etc who remain a part and parcel of the PPP and other political organizations. It is a fact that the majority of the fake “civil society” members come from the urban centers of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, cities that do not vote in the Pakistan Peoples Party. It is also a fact that the fake “civil society” on their own cannot bring in 100 people on their own to their events. They believe in seminars and symposiums which are usually held on a “hot topic”. These days the hot topic is the shock facing the civil society after the assassination of Salmaan Taseer.

Let me present some facts: Salmaan Taseer was a PPP worker and leader. He was appointed as the governor of Punjab by then President, Pervez Musharraf, with due consent of current President, Asif Zardari. Salmaan Taseer was following an agenda whose prime motive was to bring the PPP back into power in Punjab. He had said this clearly and was a big thorn for the opponents.

The shenanigans of the fake civil society, it seems, want the PPP to collide with the resurrected alliance of Barelvis, Deobandis and Wahhabis by suggesting that anything less than a hasty repeal of the blasphemy law would be unacceptable.

However a relevant fact that requires attention is that the PPP has 130 members in an assembly of 342 members. As a percentage, that comes to 38% of the votes which is insufficient to pass any amendments in the constitution or present a new bill that makes changes in the Pakistan Penal Code. In order to pass any amendment, you need 66.67% votes which means 228 seats in the national assembly and 67 seats in senate.

In 1988 assembly, PPP had 94 members; while in 1993 assembly, it had 87 members. In essence all three times, the PPP has never even had a majority of its own. It has depended on small groups / regional parties to form a coalition government.

So the demands by the “civil society” to hastily repeal laws like the 295-C in the Pakistan Penal Code and shifting all the onus on the PPP is unfair and based on malice (and possibly motivated by their puppet masters in Aabpara). Another interesting aspect is that the civil society is demanding the PPP to give a “definitive statement on the stance of the PPP on the Blasphemy Laws”! They also claim “the PPP continues to adopt an apologist position towards both the murder of their governor and the Blasphemy Law debate”.

We have been looking out on the activities of our civil society in discrediting the PPP on the matter of the Blasphemy Law and the assassination of Salmaan Taseer. We have seen hectic efforts of pawns like Samad Khurram as well as many others, while his mentors are active in the backstage.

We stumbled on Naveen Naqvi’s website where there is a posting called “Power and fear” and also Newsline Magazine’s Citizens and Political Forces Unite Against Oppression and Disinformation.

These two posts relate to the reference held in Karachi’s PMA House for Salmaan Taseer on 18th January, 2011. We have covered the event as “Scared of mullahs? Civil Society needs to ally with the PPP for survival”. Our sources tell us that of the 500 participants at the reference, nearly 2/3rd attendees were PPP workers. PPP Information Secretary, Fauzia Wahab, attended the meeting and one could see why the workers came. It was not a PPP event, it was a “Civil Society” event. The PPP participated to show solidarity to the “Civil Society” who have a tendency to have a proverbial “15 members and 45 groups amongst themselves”.  That is how fragmented they are.

Fauzia Wahab’s son, Ali Wahab commented on Naveen Naqvi’s post explaining his mother’s point of view, writing:

Dear Ms. Naqvi,
I think the attendance of Fauzia Wahab at the event itself was the necessary symbol of support to the civil society. Please note that the civil society cannot function without a strong, anchoring political party. Do you think it is easy to finish a legacy law, which no one is willing to even reason about? My mother has herself been a target of the the non-sense of this blabbering media. Last year she was accused to have committed blasphemy when she said that during Hazrat Umar’s time there was no constitution and on 7th of January, 2011, after the assassination of a very dear to us Salmaan Taseer, she said on the floor of the house that If Aafia is a daughter of the nation, then Aasia is also a daughter of this nation. Some elements in the media are out to make her life miserable too with headlines like “Salmaan Taseer kay baad, maloona Aasia kee himayat mayn fauzia maydan mayn aa gayeen”.

One can have a personal definitive ideology but at a political party level, it is not possible. Everything takes time and with only time people realize the need for change.

The PPP has been facing the brunt of the obscurantist forces for the last many years. In the very little pictures I saw of the event at the PMA House, I could see quite a few PPP workers in the audience. Amongst the speakers, I could see Iqbal Haider as well as Taj Haider in the audience. These are all known PPP men.

On the matter of Blind Faith, I personally saw the videos yesterday on youtube and believe me, it is something that should be relayed on all channels. Let’s say the PTV doesn’t. Will the other channels that are there to talk of the civil society and human rights play it? No!

Please give time to the matter. PPP has lost its people when in power and when not in power. The progressive population has to side with the PPP as it can help lead to our survival and then progress.

On this, Farieha Aziz who has reported on the Newsline website shot back:

@Ali Wahab

Thank you for articulating this, much of what was not known to many perhaps.

Our grouse, as members of the civil society, is most definitely with the PPP government and its officials. It is true, that the PPP isolated Salmaan Taseer and Sherry Rehman. Rehman Malik and Babar Awan’s statements are proof of it. Nobody else came to their defense either or bothered to clarify Taseer’s stance. And now we see neither the government nor its official taking any kind of decisive action against those promoting vigilantism and hate, or even where Qadri’s punishment is concerned. Why?

It is not the duty of the unprotected masses to take this matter up, but of those in government. But since they have not, civil society has been at the forefront, putting its neck on the line.

What we would have liked at the reference was for the PPP to articulate a party position and government position, to tell us where it stands on the issue and what it intends to do about it. But that did not happen. We were hoping your mother would do that for us, as we thought she was there as a PPP representative.

As for other PPP supporters present at the reference, Mr Iqbal Hadier does not Identify himself with the ruling PPP. He was there in an individual capacity.

Off course on Twitter, Naveen Naqvi who nowadays sports slightly grey hair probably to seem more intellectual, had been commending Farieha and also approving the comments.

@FariehaAziz wow! good answer. it’s been approved… 9:35 PM Jan 19th viaTweetDeck in reply to FariehaAziz.

Later on another “Civil Society” member, Sana Saleem, jumped in. She wrote:

“@Ali Wahab: I fail to understand how asking our political parties to stand with us and to take a strong and clear stance at a point like this is a matter of confusion. I also do not understand why an appeal for PPP to take a strong stance needs to be scrutinized. You say that yourself, that civil society needs political backing in oorder to get things done. However, you also suggest that it is difficult for PPP to tackle a legacy law? If I’m not mistaken, we are talking about the legacy of Zia and his laws? After 31 years, and being in power three times the least PPP can do is take a strong stance against the legacy of a man that has done the worse possible things to this country and the Bhuttos. You talk about threats, and I understand and appreciate that, but let me inform you that she is not alone. In fact she is probably the most protected of us all. Who despite death threats have been talking, and taking to the streets to register our protest against the lawlessness. It’s really shameful that you keep pointing out at the loss of Blood by PPP and ask us if the civil society have lost any members. So let me ask you this: How many people died in the twin bombing on the 18th of October, when Bibi was attacked? How many were handicapped? How many died when Bibi was killed? How many died in the riots following her killing?! The loss of leadership isn’t just the loss of the party alone, but the country at large. By taking PPP as an entity separate to the civil society and the general public you are making a grave mistake. The fact is, reactions after Taseer’s death were a failure of Governance at all levels. At this point and time when the PPP has lost yet another leader, and civil society has been pushed back and forced to live in fear we must join forces towards better governance and rule of law.

Can one ask these Civil Society members how they can say that reaction to ST’s assassination was a failure of governance? It’s like you blame everything on one thing. When they don’t have a concrete argument, all they have to say that “Corruption” and “Misgovernance” is plaguing us.

The “Civil Society” needs to grow up and act a little mature. Saying that having been in power for 3 different times how can PPP not do anything to amend the laws, one needs to tell them that you need to give someone the necessary power first and then hold them accountable.  Karachi’s educated elite have always voted for Jamat-e-Islami, JUP and then the MQM. Lahore votes for the “taliban and PML-N on the same page” political party, while Islamabad votes in the PML-N.

I consur with what Ali Wahab wrote that the civil society needs to find an anchor party. They can choose to have PML-N or the PTI or the MQM. If they can do things on their own, we challenge them to hold a rally in which they can garner 500 people on their own, without any political party.  Then they’ll know the difference between symposium attendees and a street demonstration.

Another important point that I want to raise is the support for Sherry Rehman. She tabled a private members bill in the national assembly, without discussing the same with anyone in the party, only to gain attention. Now she is sitting at her home in Karachi, which incidentally is next door to Intelligence Bureau Headquarters called the Bhopal House. Off course, Sherry has been a journalist and an editor of The Herald, which was instrumental in 1996 in discrediting the PPP government. She also left the cabinet at the time of  Long March of March 2009 assuming that the PPP’s government is on the way out. The civil society supported her as a principled stand.

On the other hand, Fauzia Wahab is currently on the forefront, and also under threat. She said it very clearly sometime back “People may not like me for being aggressive on TV. That probably is my nature. But my responsibility is to ensure that my party remains united and doesn’t break away like it did in 1990′s and early 2000′s. If I can remain the information secretary and hold my party together, I would have done my job.”

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