political party can revamp itself'
'PPP does not
believe in any kind of deal'
Demise of the
We know that people know why we've decided to do a Special Report on Pakistan People's Party now. To refresh it for those who've short memories, we'd like to list the reasons here - though they have all appeared as news items mostly in the form of statements by various leaders of PPP. But mind you they'll be only a few, not just because of space constraints but also because we too have a short memory.
'PPP is going to have a deal with President Musharraf'.
'It will be a pre-election deal about modalities of a free and fair election'.
'PPP may help re-elect Musharraf from the same assemblies'.
'PPP has only contacts with the government, not a deal yet'.
'We stand by the Charter of Democracy'.
'PPP cannot sign the APC charter because MMA is part of the government'.
'Extremism is the biggest challenge facing Pakistan'.
'Extremists should be rooted out by force'.
'Government had no option except launching Operation Lal Masjid'.
'We can support Musharraf'.
'We cannot support Musharraf'.
'Musharraf is part of the problem'.
'No he is part of the solution'.
'A, B, C... Z of PML-Q join PPP'.
(PPP's top leadership, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto that is, liked to keep mum on the reference against Chief Justice of Pakistan issue. She endorsed Aitzaz's candidature as his lawyer only secretly)
'PPP cannot have any deal with Musharraf because that is going to affect PPP's popularity'.
'Deal with Musharraf to damage PPP'.
Circumstances have once again confronted the PPP with a hard choice. Twice it has paid for its keenness to grab the trappings of power without its substance. It cannot afford to yield to such temptation a third time over
By I. A. Rehman
The Pakistan People's Party has never been out of news but, of late, quite a few factors have increased public attention to its affairs. If at one stage its ability to fight off criminal charges against the leadership was the main issue in the public debate over the party's future, for quite some time the discussion has centred on its 'deal' with General Musharraf.
The most important matter the high command and the rank and file both should be concerned with, however, is the urgency to regain their dynamism in the face of the severest challenge the party has ever faced.
The evolution of political parties in Pakistan has been arrested by a lack of consensus on the polity's foundations and frequent adventures into authoritarianism. The former factor has obliged political parties to attach priority to what are described, and not always correctly, as foundational issues, e.g., federalism versus unitary state structure, parliamentary system or the presidential one, dictatorship or democracy, planned economy or free for all. The latter factor has forced political elements to move from one loose, limited-objective common front to another, which must avoid, for the sake of unity, a detailed response to the ordinary people's over-riding concerns.
The PPP was born in days of extraordinary ferment. The people had become conscious of the state's need of new and clearly defined ideological moorings and, at the same time, they urgently needed relief from the process of their pauperisation under the veneer of Ayubian development. Besides, the world was in the grip of an anti-capitalist wave and an erroneous interpretation of the 1965 conflict had fortified a mood of confrontation with India. The PPP's founding fathers rode to success by deriving their political objectives and slogans from the people's feelings and aspirations. That was the last time they did so.
What happened between 1967 and 1977 is not the subject of this brief essay except for the fact that a large number of people realised that in 1977 the PPP was not the party they had rushed to embrace in 1969-70. The world had changed. Conflict with India had ceased to be an option. Within a few years radicalism in economic affairs would become irrelevant, in the short term at least. That the PPP survived a heavy erosion of its foundational assumptions is a tribute to the resilience of its original converts. The failure of the rival parties to address the misery of the poor and the marginalised helped.
It may not be fair to assume that the post-1977 (or post-1979) leadership of the party did not address the demands for change. The election manifestos from 1988 to 2002 do reveal a conscious attempt to adjust to the global shifts in political and economic thinking as also to the changing domestic reality. But the task of staying abreast of times has been done in patches and some political needs have remained unfulfilled.
For instance, despite the fact that the PPP was the first party, apart from the ideological formations (the Islamists and the Leftists) to have called for a new social contract between the people and the state, the contents of such a contract have not reached the common citizen. The leadership may have with it a federal scheme that could satisfy the thoroughly alienated populations of Balochistan, Sindh, Frontier, and the FATA, but it is doubtful if the message has reached the aggrieved people. And how could this happen in view of the non-emergence of a strong chain of party leaders and activists? One does see a crowd of fortune-hunters and job-seekers waving the party flag at their own convenience but not many of the dedicated workers (that one could see in the past) who would cultivate the masses without ever hoping to get a ticket for an elective office, and who could say what the party position on a particular issue was without asking their local 'handlers' to make a call to Dubai or London. The party is still trapped in its carnival culture; a ticket-seeker will spend lakhs of rupees (or is it crores now?) on feasts and won't spare a few thousand for the party's kitty.
The PPP is surely entitled to rely on the political capital it still possesses. In terms of its theoretical assumptions it perhaps remains quite close to the Quaid's ideals -- constitutional democracy, public welfare, rule of law, respect for religion without its role in state affairs, et al. It still has the image of a party friendly to the poor and the religious minorities, and one that has a capacity to appreciate women's concerns (though not necessarily the will to act on their behalf). And the party still has a vote bank, though much reduced than before and not as large as some professional sycophants might suggest.
However, it would be most dangerous to ignore the debit column. The party has suffered for lack of consistency on the choice between court rulings on a matter and the public perception. It gained by preferring public perception to the court ruling in the case of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and is paying for reversing its outlook on charges of corruption against the top leaders.
Some of the recent tactics of the party leadership have complicated matters for itself. The latest statement from London about the dangers in now having an understanding with General Musharraf has caused visible relief to many in the party but it is unlikely to undo the damage already done. It has not been possible to convince the people at large, of the fact that the General's need to get the PPP support is greater than the PPP's need to cohort with him.
The idea of PPP's deal or understanding or dialogue with the regime or compulsion to acknowledge a de facto authority makes little sense in the present situation because the General has little to offer by way of quid pro quo. The party's present posture makes its future dependent on its showing in the coming elections. But nothing can be taken for granted. In Frontier and Balochistan the regime has no galley-slaves that it can surrender to the PPP, and in Punjab and Sindh the provincial satraps are determined to block any challenge to their power and pelf by any means, however foul. In this situation those who confront the regime stand better chances of survival than those who appear to be amenable to compromise.
The PPP is on a strong ground when it firmly denounces terrorism but that is an extremely slippery domain. The people of Pakistan have no love for terrorists and realise the threat posed by them to everything that is precious in the country. But, they do not trust those engaged in fighting terror, neither the foreign cavaliers nor their local underlings. Thus, anybody who supports the anti-terrorism campaign without distinguishing himself from the elements at present conducting this campaign runs the risk of falling out of public favour.
The same applies to the PPP's hard-line attitude towards the MMA. The merit in challenging the MMA because of its threat to democracy is known. But the need to contend with MMA without allowing it to take the masses along with it, because of their vulnerability to the religious slogan, must not be ignored. The policy of staying away from the MMA will fail in the absence of a dialogue with the people on the satisfaction of their concerns and emotions related to belief.
The PPP has been in quite a few party alliances but has always lacked finesse in keeping its allies unembarrassed. The recent APC may have been a damp squib but we haven't had anything else for decades and those who advised the PPP to yield an advantage to PML-(N) -- not that the latter did not deserve it -- should be asking themselves quite a few questions.
Circumstances have once again confronted the PPP with a hard choice. Twice it has paid for its keenness to grab the trappings of power without its substance and regardless of the dictates of enlightened self-interest. It cannot afford to yield to such temptation a third time over. At the moment it seems those who do not appear to be keen to join the power game will outlive the others.
The News on Sunday: What is the more important issue Pakistan is facing today -- extremism or civil and military imbalance?
Dr Mubashir Hasan: I personally think that Pakistan suffers from three major crises. First is the threat from those who have taken guns in their own hands and are attacking the state structure. The second crisis is that of our defense, because of the growing unpopularity of our military. In the field of battle, a military that is unpopular cannot meet with success. So, the unpopularity of the military is a danger to Pakistan. Third crisis is the loss of credibility of political parties and political leaders. These crises cannot be tackled unless there is cooperation from the public.
TNS: How would you compare the present-day People's Party and the one you were a part of, in Bhutto days?
DMH: During the last six years or so, the problems of the people have not been articulated by any political party. The politicans are terribly worried about the constitution and the usurpers in the government. Or, they are worried about the illegitimacy of the government. But, they are not bothered about the people. Now, that is the difference between the present-day parties and the parties of 1967 or 68 -- chiefly Pakistan People's Party.
See, people are always prepared to respond, provided what the leadership says strikes a chord in their heart. In 1967, Mr Bhutto articulated what was in the bosom of the Pakistanis, mostly in Punjab -- their feelings against India. And, when he gave his programme for the people, they rallied behind him. Then, there were other things. You can't win the support of the people unless you point out to them their principal enemy. We became popular in '67 because our stance was anti-imperialist. We spoke about Vietnam, Palestine, and other countries that were the victims of Imperialism. And, the people realised that we were on the right lines, not only nationally, but internationally. Today, even though America is rated as an adversary and is very unpopular, yet the political parties are keeping mum. They aren't ready to say a word, except our party -- that is, the PP-Shaheed Bhutto.
In Bhutto's time, we were for state control of key industries and centres, such as energy and transport. When we came into government, we taxed the rich people heavily. Other parties, whenever they were in power -- Benazir, Nawaz Sharif, Junejo, Zia ul Haq and others -- all steadily decreased taxes on the rich. In fact, we introduced a tax called 'Death duty' which meant that when a rich man died, the government had a share in what he would leave behind. The idea was essentially taken from the pre-Partition British India. I was the finance minister at that time.
TNS: Your views on personality-driven politics and the Bhutto dynasty?
DMH: I think this whole dynasty business is central mainly to our feudal culture, and the culture of mizaars and piri fakiri.
See, earlier, a lot of people were in PPP because it was not possible for them to join another party; it would be considered betrayal. But, then, those generations are dying. Where are the people who remember Zulfikar Ali Bhutto? And, therefore, the number of those who would like to transfer the mantle from Z A Bhutto to Benazir or to Bhutto's grandson or grand daughter -- Fatima and Zulfikar junior, you know -- is reducing.
TNS: Do you think that political parties today need to revamp themselves?
DMH: No political party can revamp itself. Mao Tse-Tung, the great Chinese leader, once told Mr Bhutto that if your party is not performing, do not try to reform it; make a new party instead. I firmly believe that old parties cannot be reformed.
TNS: But, can a new party be born out of an old party, as in your case?
DMH: Not at all. A new party requires a new platform which is popular among the people. It requires an entire body of workers, cadre and intellectuals to elaborate and articulate its platform. It is not a one-time affair. It is a continuous process.
TNS: Who do you think is responsible for de-politicising the country?
DMH: First of all, the kind of politicisation that we had was wrong. It couldn't be sustained. So, it got de-politicised on its own. Of course, the real power in Pakistan, that is the combine of civil and military services, is always against the growth of political power and the politicians. But, then, I would not blame them. I would say that the political people did not understand then and they do not understand today the basic problems of governance and the people's participation in this.
TNS: What should be the agenda for a secular and democratic party?
DMH: The agenda has to be that there should be a state which is capable of performing its functions. Now, the foremost function of the state is the protection of life, property and dignity of individuals. We know that the present system has failed in this regard. The second most important function is the provision of justice. We know that our system of justice, our courts and kutcheris have miserably failed in this. So, unless these two things are re-modelled, there can be no successful State. Thirdly, the people of Pakistan, especially of Sindh, Balochistan and Frontier, yearn for their self-determination. But, it is wrong to assume that they want independence in the sense of a separate homeland. All they want is to settle their own affairs. They are against interference by the federal government.
Mubashir Hasan is now President Punjab Chapter, Pakistan People's Party-Shaheed
For most aspiring candidates in the next general elections, PPP seems to be one favourite destination
By Aoun Sahi
The main focus of the aspiring candidates for the next general elections is to secure seats in their favourite constituencies from the platform of one party or the other. And, that is one reason why a lot of defectors are to be seen around. PPP is one favourite destination for most of them, since its leadership has been giving the feelers that they have the support of the US as well as that of a major part of Pakistani establishment for the purpose of forming the next government. Such a perception always 'works' in winning elections, especially in Punjab, and that is why hundreds of office bearers of the ruling PML-Q, including four sitting MPAs (one each from district Vehari, Jaranwala, Chakwal and Mandi Bahauddin), a senator (from Bahawalnagar), and one MNA (from Sialkot) have joined PPP in the last two months. On the other hand, a ruling party MPA from Faisalabad has been given the portfolio of a minister to avert any chances of his defection.
On June 26, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, PPP Punjab President claimed that the new entrants were joining without the pre-condition of the party ticket. "But the process of distribution of tickets will be made flexible to accommodate some of them, particularly those with the potential to win," he said.
Qureshi also said that the politicians from different parts of the country were joining PPP because of the latter's policies and stance against extremism.
However, the on-ground situation is completely different. Most of the politicians, especially the parliamentarians from the ruling party are disgruntled already, and joining PPP for purely personal reasons, and with the promise of a PPP ticket from their respective constituencies.
Fazl Ahmad Ranjha, a ruling party MPA from Mandi Bahauddin, who joined PPP on June 26, is quoted as having said, "I and my family had stood by Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi since 1983, but he did not bother to address our genuine problems."
Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor, former federal minister, who has always been very critical of PPP, and his son, Senator Chaudhry Zafar Iqbal has joined PPP because of his fears that PML-Q will not give him ticket from his constituency in Bahawalnagar, as their political rival Imtiaz Mitana (who defeated Ch Ghafoor in 2002 elections on NA seat from PPP platform and in 2005 he joined PML-Q and became district Nazim Bahawalnagar) has more significance for PML-Q leadership in the district.
Firdous Aashiq Awan, selected MNA on reserved seats for women, also joined PPP because she hails from a constituency of Sialkot district that traditionally belongs to Chaudhry Amir Hussain, Speaker National Assembly, and a close aide of Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain. She has joined PPP after having been rejected a ticket by PML-Q.
Though the present PPP leadership in Punjab is jubilant over these defections and considers it a success for the party, some leaders -- especially those that have some ideological affiliation with PPP -- disapprove of the party's policy of inciting defections in the ruling party. They consider it a conspiracy against the party that will cause frustration among the loyal workers who have waged an unprecedented struggle for democracy and have paid the price for being loyal to the party for more than a decade.
PPP senior leader Ghulam Mustafa Khar tells TNS that the leaders who are involved in the whole 'process' are, in fact, towing the line of the establishment in the party. "Many of the leaders in PPP hail from the families that were traditionally considered the worst opponents of PPP. They have no respect for the workers and will never allow loyal party workers to occupy the top slots."
He further says that this type of "leaders planted by the establishment highjacked the party first time in the 1977 elections, tarnishing the image of the party.
"They did not even defend Bhutto during the opposition's movement against the government and were equally responsible for his martyrdom."
According to Khar, the situation today is almost the same, since Benazir Bhutto is not in the country and some of the leaders are not conveying to her the ground realities, especially related to Punjab. He thinks that the only ray of hope for the workers in the party's Punjab chapter is its general secretary Ghulam Abbas.
The two main leaders of PPP in Punjab -- President Shah Mahmood Qureshi, son of Sajjad Qureshi, former governor Punjab and opposition leader and PPP parliamentary leader in Punjab Assembly Qasim Zia close relative of Khawaja Tariq Rahim, former governor who was appointed by Farooq Leghari after the dismissal of the Benezir government in 1996 -- are considered to have a close relationship with the establishment. Khar, though he does not disclose any names, believes that it is because of the policies of some leaders who have no background in PPP that the party is welcoming its worst opponents and they are also promised tickets.
He adds that he has genuinely advised Benazir Bhutto to review the policy of certain provincial leaders of PPP for whom the workers' struggle is of no value.
Khar also recalls the good old days when PPP had more than two dozens of potential candidates in every constituency of Pakistan. But, the current situation is very disappointing. Let alone the constituencies, PPP has failed to get appropriate candidates for the upcoming elections in three districts, namely Mianwali, Khushab and Bakhar (of Punjab), while a number of constituencies in districts such as Attock, Chakwal, Jhelum and Sargodha have been left 'open', which means that PPP will welcome 'appropriate' candidates from other parties who would like to defect to PPP because of its 'people-friendly and anti-establishment policies'.
Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas, General Secretary PPP Punjab, who is in London presently and attending different party meetings to finalise candidates for upcoming elections confirms to TNS over the phone that the party has been facing problems in some districts regarding finding the right candidates, adding that it was because of the inefficiency of the party's district office bearers. "In fact, due to their personal grudges, the party office bearers in some districts have not allowed the candidates to apply. Otherwise we have no problem, and have received many applications in all constituencies of Punjab."
In reply to a query about the defectors from the ruling party, Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas says, "Suppose we have nominated 15 out of 17 constituency workers of PPP, and we think that on two other seats PPP is not in a winning position, including a defector can help improve our chances drastically."
Many leaders in PPP, though not ready to talk on record over the issue, are against any 'deal' with President Musharraf. They are of the view that in this way the party might come into power but would lose the support of the people of Pakistan.
There are others who are in favour of the deal, and think that if the party does not have its share in the next government, it will be very hard for it to sustain politically for the next five years.
Some political pundits think that Benazir is well aware of the situation and playing her cards smartly enough, while others believe that Benazir's only agenda is to become the next prime minister.
The best and the easiest way to achieve that goal, according to them, is by merging her party or joining PML-Q and becoming the next 'Shaukat Aziz'.
By Zeenia Shaukat
The News on Sunday: Over the past few years, your party has projected 'extremism versus moderation' as Pakistan's main challenge. Do you think working in tandem with him will lead to any solutions?
Makhdoom Amin Fahim: It is too early to talk about a working arrangement with General Musharraf. This is a hypothetical idea. And, it would be premature to talk about it.
We have maintained all along that if the country is to be brought out of the current mess, we need democracy. Army cannot run both the civilian and the military affairs. Military involved in civilian affairs leads to problems (extremism being one of them). The country needs professional armed forces and that is only possible if the military sticks to its original job of defending the borders. Return to democracy is the only way the army can be sent back to the barracks. Therefore, the PPP demands free and fair elections as that will facilitate a return to democracy.
TNS: Ms Bhutto's recent statement regarding the futility of a deal with a 'weaker Musharraf' appeared in the backdrop of the Supreme Court ruling in favour of the Chief Justice. Why did she have to wait this long to make up her mind about the 'deal'?
MAF: The PPP does not believe in any kind of deal. The only deal we have is with the people of Pakistan and that is to make way for democracy in the country. Mohtarma's statement has nothing to do with the post verdict scenario. There was a movement by the lawyers and the PPP supported it. At the start of the movement, we demanded restoration of democracy and we stick to our demand after last week's ruling in the Supreme Court.
TNS: As of today, what are your demands from the government?
MAF: We want a return to democracy. We demand that the country be run by civilians and not the military. Pakistan was created as a result of the struggles and sacrifices made by the civilians. No military played any role in the creation of the country. Therefore, it is the civilians, and not the military that should have the right to rule the country.
TNS: An increasing number of PML-Q members are joining the PPP. This is in addition to the thaw between the party and the current establishment. Does this not alienate the party loyalists who have selflessly fought all these years for the party's anti-military government stand?
MAF: We have started this exercise (of polls preparations) after thorough consultation with our party workers down to the grass roots level. Even now, when we are distributing party tickets, we are giving preference to our dedicated leadership and workers. So, we do enjoy the support of our party workers. As for the PML-Q members joining us, it is a sensible move on their part since it is obvious that the PPP is the only party that enjoys the public trust today.
TNS: There is a wide consensus that by refusing to join the All Pakistan Democratic Movement, the PPP has missed the opportunity of forming a pressure group that would have been more effective in ousting the military from the power?
MAF: Let me repeat our principled stance here. MMA is a party that has been a part of the government. It cannot become a part of the movement for the restoration of democracy till it withdraws from its position of power. MMA will first have to resign from the current setup, only then can they expect the PPP to work with them for the restoration of democracy.
TNS: Where does the ARD stand in the backdrop of the July events? What is the significance of the Charter of Democracy today and in case the PPP comes to power or otherwise?
MAF: ARD is very much intact, and we are all working under its umbrella. As far as the Charter of Democracy is concerned, it is a declaration and we abide by it, too. Let me also emphasise here that we are confident that the PPP will come to power this time.
TNS: One of the consistent demands made by your party is the withdrawal of cases against Ms Bhutto. Why would you not let the judiciary decide the cases against her? Why insist on having General Musharraf withdraw the cases, since that leads to credibility issues?
MAF: The PPP has been facing cases in the court for ten years now. During this time, three governments -- Mian Nawaz Sharif's and two governments under General Musharraf -- supervised the political victimisation of the party. We have no doubts about the independence of the judiciary, and we are not demanding General Musharraf to withdraw the cases against us. At the same time, these are fake and fabricated cases filed by the successive governments. Since it is the government that has instituted the false court cases, they should be the one to withdraw them.
By Shahzada Irfan Ahmed
"I have been a PPP worker since the party's inception, and will remain so till I die. But this does not mean that I approve of whatever the sitting leaders do. I will oppose them in their face whenever needed but won't quit the party," declares Afzal Ahmed, a die-hard PPP worker hailing from Lahore.
Afzal was roughed up by the police soon after the taking over of power by General Zia-ul-Haq in late 1970s and sent to jail.
Afzal's crime was that he, along with other party workers and the students of Dyal Singh College, Lahore, had built a mock grave of General Zia-ul-Haq at Lakshami Chowk and offered fateha there. The military establishment's hell was let loose on him that made his life miserable. Every time there was disturbance in the city the police would raid his house and put him behind bars. The excesses against him became so unbearable that he had to finally leave the country and take refuge in UK.
Almost 30 years later, Afzal is not sure whether the PPP workers would act similarly in case history repeats itself. He says it was the charisma of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto coupled with a feeling of empowerment among the common people that made them strong enough to face all atrocities with courage. These factors are totally extinct in today's politics. Why would anyone come out on the streets when their very leaders are reluctant to do so, he asks, adding that the days are gone when people were used as mere means to achieve certain ends, "We braved torture as we knew that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was in a much severer position than us."
Chaudhry Ejaz, an influential PPP worker in Gujrat, tells TNS that the 'jiala' culture, now defunct, had its roots in the populist movement that was launched against Field Marshal Ayub Khan in late 1960s. The working class and the students strengthened the movement towards the end of the year 1968. At that time, a strong need was felt to have a political movement that could involve the masses in stead of the elite or the selected few. The void was filled by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who founded PPP with a handful of people, Ejaz adds. He took advantage of the situation and transformed a socialist revolution into a political movement overnight.
Ejaz says that the main difference between Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and his daughter is that the former could relate with people easily while the latter cannot. Despite being a feudal lord himself and a former minister in General Ayub Khan's government, he would mingle with the masses and show intimacy to them, he says.
Being a woman it is definitely not possible for Benazir Bhutto to behave similarly, he adds.
Of late, there has been a popular conception that PPP is fast losing its popular support. Many believe that the priority given to the likes of Faisal Saleh Hayat, Qasim Zia and Shah Mehmood Qureshi over the seniors, mostly Bhutto's aides, had estranged the workers. The belief is strengthened by the fact that thousands of die-hard workers have left the party. The workers felt easier with leaders like Ghulam Mustafa Khar, Sheikh Rafiq Ahmed, Malik Miraj Khalid, and Sheikh Rasheed. To make matters worse, the Zardari factor emerged at a moment when the PPP could least afford it.
Fazl Elahi of Sultanpura, Lahore, however, has a soft corner for the sitting PPP leaders. He says that a lot of criticism directed against Benazir Bhutto is premature and aimed at stopping her from taking certain decisions. "I don't approve the idea of condemning her at the moment as she has not entered into any deal with the military ruler or taken back any of the 'Patriots' into party's fold. The day she does this I will be her biggest opponent," he says.
Fazl has the privilege of hosting Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1968 when he came to his neighbourhood to inaugurate the first field office of PPP in Lahore. There was one at 4-A Mozang Road but it worked as a secretariat.
Fazl tells TNS that many PPP leaders have switched parties only for the reason that they cannot help their workers while being in opposition. "11 years out of power, I think, is a long time for a party to survive and make its presence felt," he adds.
Due to this very reason, Benazir Bhutto allowed Makhdoom Amin Fahim to become Prime Minister of Pakistan and he enjoyed the official protocol for around two weeks, he says. This arrangement could not sustain as PPP defectors joined hands with PML-Q to form the government.
About the demise of the 'jiala' culture, he says that it has come to an end as the new leadership has stopped patronising ordinary workers. "Bureaucrats also don't like shabbily-clad common people enter their offices without permission and assert themselves," he adds.
He recalls how Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had once asked Baba Hara of Lahore to come on stage and sit right next to him. He was the same Baba Hara who moves around on a donkey cart hoisting PPP flag and the pictures of party leaders.
According to Fazl, Baba's donkey cart has been confiscated many a time but he is lucky enough to have sponsors who buy him a new one every time. Baba is an exception as he is as committed to PPP as he was decades ago, irrespective of the fact that he gets special treatment or not.
By Shahid Husain
Eminent anthropologist and historian Syed Sibte Hasan used to say that Pakistan was too small a country for Zulfikar Ali Bhutto since he was very ambitious. Inspired by Napoleon Bonaparte, Bhutto liked to compare himself with Jawahar Lal Nehru and fancied to become the saviour of the Third World or at least the Muslim Ummah.
While Bhutto mustered popular support in the Punjab through his jingoistic slogans, in the land of Marvi, the party garnered strength through left-wing National Students Federation (Rashid group) and erstwhile trade union leader Tufail Abbas. However, the euphoria of left-wing activists evaporated soon when the PPP joined hands with feudal lords such as Mir Rasool Bux Talpur, Ali Ahmed Talpur, Makhdoom Talibul Maula and Sardar Mumtaz Bhutto at the Hala Convention in Sindh. At a later stage, yet another feudal lord Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi joined the PPP, further strengthening its feudal hierarchy.
However, despite an accommodative stance towards feudal lords, the populist slogans of the PPP in its formative phase attracted large number of people in rural and urban Sindh and sidelined nationalist leaders such as G.M. Syed besides right-wing Pir Pagara who were deadly against Bhutto. The followers of Pir Pagara even attempted on the life of Bhutto in his stronghold Sanghar.
As the democratic upsurge of 1968-69 gained momentum compelling General Ayub Khan to announce he would not participate in the next elections, the PPP made inroads in rural and urban Sindh and the common man felt that his destiny was destined to change for the betterment.
But the gains of the mass movement were nullified when yet another military dictator General Yahya Khan usurped power in March 1969. However, he was forced to undo One Unit, a demand of smaller provinces, and announced that elections would be held in December 1970 on the basis of adult franchise.
It was in the aftermath of the 1970 elections that the PPP started collaborating with army generals; probably, because it concluded that without its support, it could never reach the corridors of power. The PPP bagged 81 seats in the National Assembly out of 300 in 1970 elections and emerged as the second largest party in Pakistan after Awami League led by Sheikh Mujibur Rehman who swept elections in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).
After Bangladesh came into being, Bhutto took over as Chief Martial Law Administrator and President of the 'new Pakistan' amid frustration among the masses who were kept in dark by the military rulers regarding the situation in East Pakistan.
The military dictator General Ziaul Haq was unable to sideline the PPP despite repression against its workers in Sindh as elsewhere in Pakistan. "In fact, the party consolidated itself after the Movement for Restoration of Democracy (MRD) in 1982, in which more than 250 people laid down their lives," says Taj Haider, coordinator, central secretariat, PPP while talking to TNS.
"The MRD movement weakened Zia and he had to have a civilian facade through establishing the so called Majlis-e-Shoora and thereafter the induction of Mohammad Khan Junejo as the prime minister," he says.
He also believes that during the era of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto the PPP was not able to organise itself because it came to power in a short span of time. However, after experiencing the taste of power and the opposition as well, it emerged as a stronger party during the era when Benazir Bhutto took hold of party leadership.
Leading political analyst and chairman, Pakistan Study Centre, University of Karachi, Dr. Syed Jaffar Ahmed explains the evolution of the PPP in more explicit terms: "The international environment has changed since the times of Bhutto. That was the period of idealism and ideologies all over the world... Ms Benazir Bhutto, on the other hand, is largely involved in pragmatic politics which can also be called the politics of power. She has tried to adjust herself with the Establishment and the American role in the world."
But Dr. Ahmed is pretty sure that the PPP will again emerge victorious. "If elections are fair it is certain that the PPP will emerge as the largest party at least in rural Sindh."