A salute to the workers of PPP; the strongest pro-moderation pro-democracy force in Pakistan…

To PPP workers

Friday, December 26, 2008 (The News)
by Harris Khalique

Common political workers belonging to any party must be held in a very high esteem. These are the people who put their lives, livelihoods, families and whatever small belongings they have at stake just to see their dream of a social change come true. They may believe in different ideologies and follow different paths but their commitment to change is undeterred in the face of political oppression, hardships, police lockups and prison cells, torture and blackmailing, removal from jobs and what not. I have met people from across Pakistan who sacrificed their youth in struggling against the governments they did not like and spending decades behind bars. These people never rise to positions of prominence even in their parties, let alone getting lucrative senior governmental appointments, diplomatic postings or ministerial portfolios. Leaders also sacrifice but get dividends in return in the shape of power, prestige and influence. Even those who do not make it to the corridors of power, get recognition in other ways. But in a country like Pakistan where politics is a deadly game and raising your voice for the rights of the masses is detested by the power-elite, a common political worker is more important than ideologues, perfect at blowing storms in teacups.

On the occasion of the first death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto, who was brutally killed while struggling for the cause of democracy, moderation and return to civilian rule in her homeland, a leader who commanded respect even among those who ferociously disapproved of her politics, I want to speak to the workers of the PPP. For it is their comrades who laid most lives in the struggle for democracy, were flogged for what they stood for and spent years in prison. It is not only the Bhutto family but countless workers of the PPP who have suffered at the hands of powers that be. I want to remind them today that they have given innumerable lives and suffered irreparable losses in this struggle to realise the vision of creating a modern, democratic state where the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the citizens are protected. They have supported PPP in the name of socialism, democracy and empowerment of the people. They wanted a Pakistan not only for the idle rich classes but for the common people who give their sweat and blood in our fields, factories and business houses. This was envisioned in the founding documents of the party.

I want to remind the workers of the PPP to revisit what was written by the founder of their party, Z A Bhutto, in his two books, “The Myth of Independence” and “If I Am Assassinated”. In the latter, published after his martyrdom at the hands of a dictator, he says that the interests of two conflicting classes cannot be served in tandem. The haves and have-nots cannot be made happy at the same time. He considers it a mistake in the policies he pursued. The baton was passed on to Benazir Bhutto who committed mistakes like a politician would but sacrificed her life and tried her best to pull the federation of Pakistan together. She was neither vindictive nor petty. To some of us she may not have tried enough in making this country strong but at least she did make efforts to improve the living conditions of the teeming millions. Her death deepened the crisis of leadership in this godforsaken country.

When little hope is left in the leadership, it is now for the workers of the PPP to decide what they can do to make sure the access to good quality education for every child and decent healthcare for every Pakistani. It is up to them to see if fundamental municipal services can be made available to every one and unequal development will be replaced by an even development in all parts of the country. I salute the workers of the PPP for they have never let our hope in the political process fade away.

The writer is an Islamabad-based poet and rights campaigner. Email: harris@spopk.org