We are celebrating the 45th Foundation Day of Pakistan Peoples Party through the auspices of which, proper democracy and constitution got introduced first time in Pakistan. From 1947 to 1973 we had failed to formulate an effective constitution but PPP managed it within a couple of years after taking power. We knew Democracy by its name but were unable to see its application for two and a half decades. The charismatic leader Z A Bhutto Shaheed ushered in democracy and gave us a constitution that is even now “Centre of Unity and Sovereignty” and equally sacred to all political parties and provinces. Even today PPP is strengthening democracy through policy of reconciliation under the farsighted leadership of Co-Chairman and President of Pakistan, Mr.Asif Ali Zardari who beautifully smiles over the abusive criticism of his political opponents.
Co-Chairman Asif Zardari- introduced the culture of tolerance and reconciliation in Pakistani politics and today, throughout the country because of which, for the first time, there is not a single political prisoner and there is no single politically motivated case against the leaders of any political party.
Since its inception Pakistan People Party faced the brunt of right wing elements. It appeared on the edifice of Pakistan’s politics as a resistance to elements wanting to drive Pakistan on those fault lines leading towards destruction. PPP has a long and rich history of struggle aiming to steer the country out of crises and put it on the road to prosperity and progress. From 1967 to 2011 Pakistan Peoples Party showed no flexibility to its foundation principles and spared no chance to confront those elements that want to push Pakistan to the Stone Age. Those principles are:
• Islam is our Faith
• Democracy is our politics
• Socialism is our Economy
• All Power to the People
PPP is committed to its basic principles from which there can be no deviation whether it was the time of Z.A Bhutto Shaheed, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed or the incumbent Government. PPP policies in all these tenures can be traced back to these enshrined principles.
Starting from the great Z. A Bhutto Shaheed to President Asif Ali Zardari, we find a perpetual flow of PPP policies. Shaheed Bhutto was a charismatic leader and a great orator whose speeches are part of his legacy that anyone wishing to be a successful politician should study and follow. His legacy as a ruler is something else. It is a mixed bag. During the first few months after his assumption of office, he nationalized major industries, banks and educational institutions and indeed it was a bold and revolutionary step. He supervised the framing of the 1973 constitution for which he obtained the approval of all political forces in the country. The National Assembly adopted it unanimously with only a few abstentions. In spite of a number of subsequent amendments, this constitution is held in high public esteem to the point of being considered sacrosanct. In the 1973 war, India had taken not only territories in West Pakistan but also more than 90,000 Pakistani soldiers and civilians as prisoners of war. Peace had to be established to get these people and territory back. Exercising marvelous perseverance and diplomatic skill in meetings with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi at Simla, he paved the way for achieving both these objectives.
Z.A Bhutto Shaheed was indeed an outstanding figure of Pakistan’s political history, who will remain unparallel eternally. Had Bhutto not been hanged, today Pakistan would be one of the most shining nations of this world. Unfortunately, Pakistan lost a great leader; more precisely not only Pakistan but the world lost a great leader. Bhutto Government aimed at providing Bread, Clothing & Shelter to the people of Pakistan, providing education and health facilities to everybody and removing unemployment & diseases. Yes, it was Bhutto Shaheed, who vowed to make Pakistan a nuclear power even if it meant eating grass.
Later, his daughter Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed, continuing with the legacy of her father strived whole-heartedly to make Pakistan a land of her father’s dreams— a Pakistan, for which Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, her father had laid down his life. Benazir, who was too young a woman in politics felt the sorrows of her nation and struggled to bring about democracy and rule of justice, providing equality to all, strengthening the country so that it worked on laws, not the principle of “MIGHT IS RIGHT”.
Shaheed Benazir Bhutto – Daughter of Destiny, who aimed to empower women and improve the literacy rate. She worked tirelessly to eradicate poverty, unemployment and disease and of course, remove the black stigma of terrorism from Pakistan’s name.
The tale of Bhutto’s sacrifices did not end here, Begum Nusrat Bhutto the mother of democracy, after losing his husband, young daughter and two young sons, bid goodbye to this world. It was another set-back to the Pakistan Peoples Party that has not found a moment of solace during its long period of struggle. However, the man of solidarity Asif Ali Zardari, did not allow anyone to rock PPP’s boat and continued his struggle against those forces that are attempting to paralyze this country. In the visionary leadership of President Asif Ali Zardari liberal and democratic PPP government has once again taken the most well tread road. It has sought to fight against extremists trying to besiege this nation. In the process, the PPP has once again won the trust of those liberal and progressive sections of society that had voted for it.
There are many achievements to the credit of President Asif Ali Zardari and his administration. He is amicably fulfilling the mission of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto and Shaheed Z.A Bhutto. After the ruthless assassination of Benazir Bhutto Shaheed, President Asif Ali Zardari practically saved Pakistan. He saved the country from anarchy and chaos. He cooled down Sindh, and extinguished the flames of secession. President Asif Ali Zardari kept Pakistan integrated. The whole country was ablaze, from Karachi to Parachinar, and it was only President Zardari who refused to succumb to emotions and prioritized the interest of the country. The President Asif Ali Zardari brought an end to the long dark era of dictatorship by throwing out Musharaf from power through his political acumen and democratic manner in a very smart and intelligent fashion. As a result, now Musharraf is nowhere and cannot return. There is no chance that any dictator would dare hijack the mandate of the people. President Zardari has strengthened democracy through the 18th amendment. President Zardari also put himself in the line of fire and by holding his accountability. He did not confront the judiciary or opposition but religiously followed the policy for reconciliation. His nation-wide, national policy of reconciliation has paid off enormously and now there are no political arrests in the country and there is no political vendetta. In fact Zardari is doing his level best but has become a victim of hatred and negative propaganda aiming to tarnish his image.
The government has undertaken a number of steps to nullify the dictatorial measures and century old laws that has besieged the population of tribal areas. 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. On 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, centralization 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 in the form of the 18th Amendment as he himself claimed while addressing a ceremony after according assent to the 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.”
The autonomy package for Gilgit-Baltistan, introduced by the PPP government led by Zardari, is the accomplishment of Bhutto’s ideal to strengthen the federation and the most recent step of scraping FCR and allowing political activities in tribal areas is yet another step to realize the dream of Z.A Bhutto and Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed.
Amendment in FCR is another feather in the cap of Pakistan Peoples Party, following provincial autonomy, and giving Gilgit Baltistan status of a province, in addition to many others. The reforms in FCR carry immense importance for the people of FATA intending to bring tribal areas into the national mainstream. More than a century-old FCR is a remnant of the British Raj. Since then, the tribal areas have been administered through political agents (PAs). Amendments to the FCR have brought an end to the practice of collective responsibility and collective punishment for children, women and people over the age of 65. The people of FATA can now appeal against the decisions of the PAs. Under the old system, if an individual was accused of committing a crime, the entire tribe was penalized. It was, therefore, imperative to introduce political reforms in the tribal areas, as their people are very much Pakistani citizens and entitled to the same rights and privileges as enjoyed by those living in other parts of the country. The Political Parties Order 2002 will allow political parties to operate in FATA thus these amendments can be seen as a first step towards promoting moderate trends to prevail over extremism, the next step being the abolishment of this traditionally conservative system and if PPP clinches the next election this will no longer remain a dream. The current regime of PPP has set new precedents by defying centuries old customs and laws. Pakistan Peoples Party has made a welcome move that would bring political revolution in the Federally Administered Tribal areas.
A number of steps were taken for the Women rights and empowerment by the present government of Pakistan Peoples Party. All these achievements were made during a period of extreme hardships, leg pulling and mudslinging. Had we given PPP a chance to smoothly run the Government’s affairs, today Pakistan would have been one of the most developed countries of the world. Co-Chairman PPP President Asif Ali Zardari would continue working to materialize the dream of a democratic, secular and prosperous Pakistan.