We will build a society in which the old values of greed and advancement will be replaced by a common concern for the welfare of the whole community – Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
The Pakistan People’s Party was founded on November 30, 1967 to challenge the Ayubian dictatorship. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the first chairman of the party, took the responsibility to free the masses from the clutches of that dictatorial regime. The basic principle was Islam is our religion, democracy is our politics and socialism is our economy. The party vowed to provide roti, kapra and makan to all the people. Since then, the party leadership has been working hard to live up to that principle. The PPP commits itself to religious tolerance embodied in its principle. Religious belief of individual citizens has little to do with the business of the state. The PPP’s commitment to freedom and fundamental rights, including freedom from hunger and want, is written in the blood of its martyrs and in the marks of lashes on the back of its workers. Living up to this principle, Zulfiar Ali Bhutto faced the gallows refusing to bow before tyranny, defending the rights of the people until the end.
The PPP aims at creating a just and equitable society with equal opportunity for all the citizens. The PPP is proud of being the voice of the poor, the working classes and the middle class. The PPP’s policies, which are dedicated to the underprivileged and the down-trodden have created conditions that enabled the business and trading classes to compete in the open market. The party aims at providing full employment, health, education, water supply and sanitation. It reiterates its firm commitment to provide food, clothing and shelter to every citizen of Pakistan through its emphasis of full employment.
The PPP believes in protecting and supporting the disadvantaged by providing quality education and making Pakistan a business-friendly country. The party gives priority to empowerment of women, ensuring their equal rights. It believes in provincial autonomy and citizen-centric government.
Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, as prime minister of Pakistan and chairman of the party, created an enabling environment for these principles. Pakistan was unfortunate that a leader like Bhutto, who believed in people’s rights, was sent to gallows by a dictator. The responsibility then fell on his heirs.
Benazir Bhutto challenged the forces of dictatorship and extremism. All hopes of the dictators to bury Zulfikar Bhutto’s ideals were smashed when Benazir became the PM in 1988. Restoration of democracy and ridding the country of dictatorship were her articles of faith. She was the hope of masses, the downtrodden and marginalised. She continued the policies of her late father. Benazir was martyred on December 27, 2007, while she was leading a political rally in Rawalpindi. Asif Ali Zardari, Benazir’s husband and now the president of Pakistan, has assumed Shaheed Zulfikar Bhutto’s role to accomplish his ideals. He has an unshakable belief that Pakistan should embrace the modern world with the same confidence and courage that Zulfikar Bhutto had. Zardari believes in democracy, freedom and openness.
Zardari’s two years in office are marked by the accomplishment of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s mission and ideals. Since assuming office, Zardari has used conciliatory approach towards his political opponents to get their support on important national issues. It is easy to develop a new structure, but extremely difficult to reform the existing one. Zardari did the latter in the form of the 18th Amendment.
The government has undertaken a number of steps to nullify the dictatorial measures. These achievements stand out as a testimony to the accomplishment of Bhutto’s mission. It includes the seventh NFC Award, Aghaaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan, political reforms in Gilgit-Baltistan and FATA, and reconstruction of the Council of Common Interests, allocation of 120 Pakhtunkhwa as net hydel profit, launching of Benazir Income Support Programme to alleviate poverty and increasing gas development surcharge for Balochistan.
At the international front, Zardari has followed in the footsteps of Zulfikar Bhutto. He has stressed the need to further strengthen Pakistan’s relations with China. The spirit of participation, centralisation and equal opportunity are the guiding principles for the formulation of Zardari’s policy at strategic and implementation levels.
Zardari made history by signing the landmark constitutional reforms bill into law in the form of the 18th Amendment. It is indeed a great honour for me to have signed into law this bill that seeks to undo the undemocratic clauses introduced in the constitution by undemocratic leaders. The doors of dictatorship have been closed forever, said President Zardari while addressing a ceremony after according assent to the amendment.
The autonomy package for Gilgit-Baltistan, introduced by the PPP government lead by Zardari, is the accomplishment of Bhutto’s ideal to strengthen the federation.
Zulfikar Bhutto had promised to make Balochistan an equal partner in the federation. Balochistan has passed a number of laws to accomplish this idea. It includes the Industrial Relations Act 2008, The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act 2008, The Protection Against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2009, The Removal from Service (Special Powers) Ordinance 2000 (Repeal) Act 2010, The Services Tribunal (Amendment) Act 2010 etc. In order to uphold the dignity of labour, the people’s government passed the Industrial Relations Act 2008. It regulates the government’s vision on labour. The Protection Against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act is a modern legal instrument to provide protection to women.
The Musharraf regime had targeted the civil servants by introducing the black law of Removal from Service Ordinance 2000. Realising the negative aspects of this black law on the performance of the civil services, the PPP government passed the Removal from Service (Special Powers) Ordinance 2000 (Repeal) Act 2010. Now the civil servants can work according to their conscience.
The government is following its motto of ‘Roti, Kapra aur Makan’ as the government has initiated the construction of 300,000 low-cost houses for the poor under the Benazir Behan Basti scheme.
The PPP believes in creating one nation from Khyber to Karachi, under the banner of Pakistan with one leader, one mission, one programme, one destination, and one voice reflecting the hopes, desires, wishes and aspirations of the people. However, the party and its leadership have been labeled as anti-establishment by those who could not digest its peoples-centric policies. President Zardari has foiled the malicious designs of these forces to accomplish Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto’s mission.
The writer is the adviser to the Sindh chief minister on information and archives, and information secretary of the PPP Sindh Women’s Wing