The liberal face of Pakistan.
Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim League (N) both have a different political history, objectives and a world view which is in contrast to each other.
PPP is inherently a liberal democratic and to some extent secular mainstream party, it always supported peace, friendship and reconciliation. It also claims to establish liberal, progressive and an egalitarian society in Pakistan. It also wishes to be recognized as secular political power on international level. That’s why PPP has traditonally been against fundamentalism, sectarianism and terrorism. It is also a fact that all the fundamentalists and sectarian forces involved in terrorism are against PPP. But still Peoples Party in the face of all these threats, is active and struggling against these forces.
PPP clearly and critically described causes and cures of terrorism in it’s election 2008 manifesto, that democracy never wages terrorism, dismantle militant groups that take hostages and impose their writ through force and terrorism and militancy will be vigorously confronted.
On the other hand, in it’s election 2008 manifesto PML N’s understanding is very much naive and apologetic and described in this way, extremism and suicide bombing is raising against foreign occupation and foreign dominance, strengthening of law enforcing agencies to detect terrorist and their groups and supporters, Influence the groups supporting terrorism through intermediaries and civil society organizations and intensification of diplomatic efforts to deal with the underlying causes like Kashmir and Palestine.
PPP’s leadership always highlighted terrorism as biggest threat in it’s Speeches and articles:
“The bombing of the World Trade Towers killed people of all races, ethnicities and religions. It killed Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Jews who were working together building worldwide trade communication and cooperation. The biggest challenge before the countries of Asia, indeed the countries of the world is to overcome the forces of terrorism that spread hate, religious intolerance, conflict and bloodshed. At this time of continuing crisis, the Asian people need to understand those who use violence in the name of Islam. They are not clerics. They are criminals.”Shaheed Benazir Bhutto
“I was banned by special decree from contesting the October elections. I have challenged that ban. Mullah Omar’s teacher was allowed to contest the elections and is now a member of Parliament. My husband, hostage to my political career, sits in a Musharraf prison as we speak this evening. This is the state of justice in Musharaff’s Pakistan. ” Shaheed Benazir Bhutto
“And on a very personal level, I have lost my wife, Benazir Bhutto, the mother of my children and Pakistan’s greatest leader. She warned the world, in her speeches and her writings, in her last book and her very last words, that fanaticism is a threat to all people; that dictatorship had led to its spread within Pakistan; that my nation had to wake up; and that the world must take notice. She paid with her life for her prescience and her courage, and I have to answer to future generations and to my own children that she did not die in vain.” The Frontier Against Terrorism – By Asif Ali Zardari
Punjab remains the center of most religious attacks and it also serves as the operational nerve center of sectarian groups. Christians, who are living relatively peacefully in Karachi and Islamabad, are subjected to harassment and blatant discrimination in the Punjab. Violent attacks are not uncommon and church burnings are not unheard of.
PML N’s president Shahbaz Sharif says his party’s ideology is close to that of the Taliban and Punjab Law Minister, Rana Sannullah, is seen (literally) holding hands with the chief of a banned sectarian organisation, Shaheed Governor Salmaan Taseer had appealed to the Punjab government to exercise a zero-tolerance policy when dealing with cold-blooded terrorists, as he fears that leniency would fail to deter them and may aggravate the situation.
He further said that the Punjab government’s going soft on certain banned religious outfits, has given the terrorists an impression of impunity, he also vowed that the Pakistan People’s Party would leave no stone unturned in exterminating the terrorists and in protecting the minorities from their clutches.
Unfortunately today, Pakistan is stuck in the quagmire of extremism and terrorism and terrorism has affected virtually everyone, but it seems as a nation we could not develop consensus against this danger.
Imbibed with Zia’s thinking and Idealogical confused PML N, is not understanding nature and complexity of extremism. It is really sad fact that in the Punjab urban conservative bourgeoisie and petty-bourgeoisie community become the main supporters and voters of PML N. and sympathizer of the religious extremist organizations constitute the major chunk of the PMLN vote bank and thus pose a serious threat to the prosperous and bright future.
Due to this distortion and political interestswe are losing conman ground in the society and mutual perceptions are based on a highly filtered discourse, so responsibility lies on our civil society, media and political parties that they should play a constructive role in combating growing extremism and terrorism in the country.
At this critical juncture, where lines are clearly drawn, on the one side are those who are for centralization, unity, religion, bias, war and hatred and on the other side are those who are for decentralization, diversity, pluralism, secularism, peace, love and friendship. Thank God, in present challenging scenario, PPP Pakistan’s only main stream federal party on the right side and track. Shaheed Benazir Bhutto said, famously, that “truth, justice and the forces of history are on our side.”