PPP distanced itself from the grass-root
In an open letter to his party workers, the co-chairman of the Pakistan’s People’s Party, Mr. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, “apologised personally” to his party workers whom, he felt, he and his party had let down. Mr Zardari, also “appealed” to his party workers to stay within the ranks of the party to “bring change within the party and country.” He also exhorted them to “choose carefully before joining other parties.”
The party’s co-chairman has done the right thing but this is too little, too late. That no less than Mr Bilawal had to personally undertake such an exercise augments certain developments. Both of the country’s major political parties are facing the heat from Imran Khan and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, PTI’s emergence as a strong third force with impressive electoral performances, a message that increasingly resonates with the common man and lately an evolving but dedicated political cadre has posed a huge challenge to the order and the status quo parties. PPP workers are disgruntled, distanced from the leadership and demoralised, the latter is particularly true of the Punjab; the most significant reason, however, have been the transformation of the party from a genuine worker’s movement to the moneyed classes and it’s abysmal periods of governance, with memories of the last tenure still fresh in people’s minds.
Pakistan had never had free and fair elections, India bashing was fashion, the people had not been used to the kind of political participation and nor had they seen a more charismatic leader than Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
Let me elaborate on the last two points that I have made. Firstly, the formation of the Pakistan’s People’s Party was a popular response to the tyrannical and long drawn out Ayub years. It was a genuine movement enjoying support from all sections of the society, particularly the youth and the poor. Pakistan had never had free and fair elections, India bashing was fashion, the people had not been used to the kind of political participation and nor had they seen a more charismatic leader than Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. He awoke the populace with his cocktail of nationalism, anti-India rhetoric, his vitriolic diatribes against the people of the ‘system’ and slogans such as roti, kapra aur makaan. His antics, impersonations and style of oratory only endearing himself more to his people. His was a party of the peasants, the downtrodden, the ill paid workers and the middle classes. That the birth of the party was not at the mansions of a wadera or an industrialist but Dr Mubashir Hassan, a gainfully employed engineer in Lahore, that the manifesto of the party was not outsourced to some private PR firm but a man of the stature of JA Rahim, a distinguished diplomat and philosopher, that men like Hanif Ramay, a painter, Malik Meraj Khalid, a poor man struggling to make ends meet and stanch ideologues such as Sheikh Rasheed. That these men made the heart and soul of that formidable force is something for Mr Bilawal to remember. He must return to the roots.
Secondly, It may well serve the current co chairman to have re visited the period of governance of the People’s Party particularly in its last term. Such has been the rot that despite being in power more than four times in the centre, the first PPP government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, seems to have been the only one which could call itself a government of some vision, thought, policy, directives and some noteworthy achievements. We may not agree with his socialism, nationalisation and style of politics, mainly the treatment of political forces and its workers but above all, it was a government at work and did deliver and record some feats. This is in sharp contrast to the two Benazir governments, which were ineffective, indifferent and inefficient. The less said about the last PPP government, the better. It only built upon one legacy that successive PPP governments have come to be known for; corruption and sleaze. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari must realise that the drubbing the party received in the last general elections where it is even no longer in a position to win enough seats in the Punjab’s provincial assembly, had nearly all its candidates in third positions including some heavy weights and a wipe out in many areas of the country including by polls, is a stark and one of the last reminders to what would certainly be an inglorious end. From a party whose cadres came to symbolise resistance, sacrifice, devotion, allegiance and perseverance to all what plagues the system and the country is indeed a sad chapter in the turbulent democratic history of Pakistan. Mr Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s apology is in vain but if he were to mean what he says and to give it his all, he must return to the core, he must return to the roots.
He awoke the populace with his cocktail of nationalism, anti-India rhetoric, his vitriolic diatribes against the people of the ‘system’ and slogans such as roti, kapra aur makaan
As for Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, that giant of a man, the choice of the party for the office he once occupied and the chamber from where he practiced politics in the National Assembly, Yusuf Raza Gilani’s successor, would have been enough for him to turn in his grave. Shelly’s prophetic lines come to mind with much discomfort at this thought and Mr Bhutto’s ordeal, “I fall upon the thorns of life, I bleed!”