What a happy coincidence. Launch of journalist Hassan Naqvi’s website Surkhiyan (Headlines) shares the historic event of Karawan-e-Bhutto led by Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari from Karachi to Larkana as part of his dedicated campaign to warn the people of the unfolding moves for wrapping up democracy, replacing 1973 Constitution with Presidential System and burying 18th amendment as the solid edifice for the foundation for raising up a sound and persevering democratic society to establish an egalitarian socio-economic order in keeping with the secular and progressive vision of the founding father Quaid-e-Aza Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Bilawal’s grandfather Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and his mother martyred Benazir Bhutto for the greatest good of the largest number.
Ever since Bilawal Bhutto made his debut as a parliamentarian, he has been riding the crest of increasing popularity and identifying the lethal threats to democracy in the process of being scuttled and engineered by the Establishment and its selected puppets assigned to dance to the tunes played by the master band piper to re-impose fascist authoritarian presidential system thrice failed in the country once resulting in its break up in 1971.
In his meaningful journey, symbolic of his grandfather SZAB and martyred Benazir Bhutto’s tireless struggle for restoration of democracy spread over a period of half a century, his Karawan-e-Bhutto had strong and firm message for the Establishment and its puppets that PPP would do and die for upholding the Bhutto’s democratic legacy, it won’t allow re-imposition of the scourge of Lahore-dominated one unit totally subservient to strong center or the Presidential form of government. The popular response to Bilawal Bhutto throughout his journey—was just a sample of future of things to come in defense of the 1973 Constitution and against the diktat of the Establishment.
Bilawal Bhutto declared amidst thundering cheers all the way on the Railway track from Karachi to Larkana that “We won’t allow treason against the Constitution, we won’t allow 1973 constitution to be pilfered, and we believe in above board accountability, we are opposed to political revenge”. He reminded his emotionally charged followers replicating the resounding 50-year old PPP’s Jiyala culture that NAB was introduced to prosecute his martyred mother Benazir Bhutto by implicating her in false and fabricated cases of alleged corruption.
Indeed, can anyone forget how PMLN Senator and Accountability Chief Saifur Rehman, federal law minister M. Anwar, CM Punjab and the Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court who retired in January last as CJP—ordered and arm twisted Senior Judge of the Lahore High Court as Head of the Accountability Court Justice Abdul Qayum and his colleague in the Ehtesab Bench to instantly convict former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and her husband without completing prosecution. The Supreme Court of Pakistan took no time in reversing the coerced Ehtesab judgment with severe strictures against Justice Malik Qayum and his brother judge.
Benazir Bhutto’s revengeful victimization did not end with the dismissal of the then PMLN-government. It became singularly more oppressive after October 1999 under Dictator General Pervez Musharraf. He used NAB for political engineering of support for his government by extensively using it against PPPP MNAs who had won elections in 2002. More than two dozen elected PPPP legislators were framed by NAB for alleged corruption and their cases consigned to NAB’s mortuary on their political support to General Musharraf for clobbering his own brand of Quaid-e-Azam Muslim League for the formation of the government.
It is regretfully noted that the conspirators wanting a revival of one unit, presidential system and Punjab dominated centralized government is violating the real spirit of federalism that led to the partition of India in 1947 and separation of East Pakistan in1971. When they ordered arrest of Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani from Islamabad on a case of alleged corruption in Sindh, they forgot that the province of Sindh was the only province in what is Pakistan today that voluntarily, through a vote in the Sindh provincial assembly, opted for joining Pakistan whereas its majority province and its Muslim leaders—mostly feudal class, remained loyal Unionists known popularly as toadies—or boot lickers to the Raj.
Bilawal Bhutto reiterated “we are not cowards, we are dauntless heirs to Bhutto’s grand democratic legacy, and we won’t surrender.’ He reminded his charged followers that SZAB had walked to the gallows head high so that people of Pakistan won’t ever have to bow themselves before any power or barrel of the gun. He assured ‘selected’ Prime Minister Khan that PPP is tied with umbilical cord to democracy and it won’t be a party to its wrapping up. It would do and die for it– come what may.
The writer is the former High Commissioner of Pakistan to UK and a veteran journalist.