Thursday, June 21, 2018
Bilawal’s oblique criticism was directed at the powerful establishment which has been indirectly accused of stifling freedom of expression in the country.
“If pressure is applied on candidates of PPP or other democratic parties to join another party, then we will not accept such a puppet democracy,” said Bilawal while speaking at a ceremony in Larkana celebrating the 65th birth anniversary of his mother Benazir Bhutto. The scion of the Bhutto dynasty also fired a broadside at his key political rivals – PTI Chairman Imran Khan and PML-N founder Nawaz Sharif. “We have defeated them in the past and we will defeat them again in the 2018 elections,” he said.
He said the PPP was facing the remnants of military dictatorship. “The headquarters of one is in Jati Umra, while the other is based in Bani Gala,” he said while referring to Sharif and Imran.
“One has turned politics into a business while the other has turned it into a joke,” Bilawal said. “One [Nawaz] is on the warpath with the state institutions while the other [Imran] is using violence and abusive language as his weapon.”
Speaking of politics in Sindh, Bilawal said that “political mosquitoes” have once again attacked provincial politics. “These mosquitoes can be seen everywhere, but the people of Sindh recognize their true faces,” he added. The PPP chairman went on to claim that his party would teach its rivals a lesson they would not forget for the rest of their lives.
On Benazir’s birth anniversary, Bilawal wrote on Twitter:
My mother Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto would have been 65 today & Pakistan would have been on a different trajectory had she not been taken from us. As her son I remain forever committed to building a peaceful, prosperous, progressive Pakistan no matter the challenges.
By Senator Rehman Malik
I happened to see Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto for the first time when I was posted in Karachi in 1978 post-1977 coup at Karachi airport. I remained posted in Karachi during Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s government where I had ample chances to interact with senior leaders of PPP and close aides of ZAB, which included Hafeez Pirzada, Sattar Gabol, Qasim Patel, Pyar Ali Allana, Jam Sadiq, Hafeez Cheema, Habib Ullah, and Mustafa Jatoi. It was a great experience to work in this tenure of PPP.
Unfortunately, when ZAB became a victim of ‘judicial murder’ in the dictatorial regime of Ziaul Haq, most of the above mentioned close political aides switched their loyalties and left him. None of them was found leading resistance movement against the hanging of ZAB consequent to a controversial hearing of his case. The judicial murder of ZAB caused serious political damaged to his party, which took it decades to recover from the loss. Zia regime terrorised the PPP workers and leaders and hence mid-level leadership went into hiding.
Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto (Pinky as her father would affectionately call her) decided to struggle to save her papa. However, she was locked and her voice was suppressed behind high walls of Sukkur jail. Sometimes authorities would put her under house arrests to not let her carry out the struggle.
She once confided in me during an informal discussion that sometimes the food supply would not be allowed to enter the sub-jail and she had to cook the available piece of fish with lime and salt under sun heat using her bit of knowledge of cooking. Her locking up in jail and continuous persecution caused her loss of hearing of one ear but she was not allowed the treatment in time. Indeed, it was not easy to bear the heat of June and July in the shabby rooms of Pakistani jails. She continued her struggle but could not save her Papa from the powerful jaws of Gen Zia duly backed by a world power, which had claimed to teach a lesson to her Papa who declined to bow before their wish to roll back the nuclear development. The tree of nuclear planted by him not only survived but born fruit in the form of nuclear bomb and Pakistan became the first Islamic nuclear power. ZAB made it possible with sacrificing himself. He would, however, live forever in the minds and hearts of Pakistani nation. Pinky of Papa decided to take the responsibility of carrying the unfinished mission of ZAB. She started her campaign fearlessly and emerged a true leader of the people. She acted very maturely and played her political cards very wisely and free of mistakes. She went in exile as strategy and Zia regime continued chasing her and her brothers abroad. Eventually, Shah Nawaz Bhutto was killed through the influence of a world power. It was fact Gen Zia was too scared of determined Shah Nawaz Bhutto.
I investigated this matter post-murder in Cannes under the instructions of PM Benazir Bhutto. It was a tragic and heart-hitting moment when I briefed both Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and Begum Sahiba in the PM House. I am unable to express the feelings of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto as sister and Begum Sahiba as a mother how they were hurt while listening to the details of the investigation. The murder of her brother was yet another price for preservation and restoration of democracy in the country after hanging of his great father. The enemies of Bhutto made another hit by killing her elder brother, as planned murder and mystery of suicidal of SHO Mr Haq Nawaz Sial were not yet resolved. It is evident that killing of Murtaza Bhutto was part of a larger plan to oust her government. Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto continued to face tragedies all her life including the torture of her mother at Karachi airport by the police, which resulted in the memory loss of her mother. Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto continued to look after her mother under all odd circumstances till her death.
Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto always displayed bravery and did not succumb to the pressure of dictators as she continued to rise and rise and the world witnessed her rise when she landed in Lahore and millions of people received her at Lahore airport.
Like her father, during her second exile period, her 17 MNAs ditched her and sided with the dictator to join his government. One day prior to their change of hearts, all of them had a lunch with her and assured her of their loyalties but on very next day, they decided to leave her and join the establishment. I saw her very gloomy on that day and she used words for them, which I would not like to repeat.
She continued to face the cases where her own party men had become the most powerful ministers in the cabinet of Gen Musharraf.
She was a God fearing person and woman of character and she earned respect internationally. She emerged as a leader of the leaders. I remember when we were in Bangkok upon the invitation of Mr Thaksin Shinawatra, the then PM of Thailand and her speech was on the last day of the conference and many heads of the states had delayed their flights just to listen to her speech and she made a historic speech on democracy. While in exile she was always on the move and always projected Pakistan in a positive light but continued to struggle against the dictator. It was her thought that the mainstream political parties must work together rather against each other to strengthen democracy in the country, which ultimately culminated in the signing of Charter of Democracy (CoD) in 2006 between PPP and PML/N. Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and Mian Nawaz Sharif signed the CoD at my residence in London.
She did manage to oust dictator but in the struggle, she lost her life and on return from exile, Mian Nawaz Sharif forgot all the things he had committed in CoD as he was the first to lead anti- PPP campaign. She was born for Pakistan and democracy and she lost her life for Pakistan and democracy.
I had served with her as head of FIA and then assisted her while in exile and acted as her lead representative in almost all political dialogues with Gen. Pervez Musharraf, MQM and world leaders. It was a great experience to work under her guidance and she used to believe in flawless jobs.
I noticed a great level of creativity in Aseefa Bhutto Zardari and I am quoting an incident hereby:
It was mid-June when Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto had left for her lecture in the USA. All three children Bakhtawar, Bilawal and Aseefa stayed behind in their London flat with maid Sita. It was just before midnight of 20th that I got a call on my mobile by Aseefa saying: “Uncle I want to give birthday surprise to mum when she returns at 6.00 am in the morning and I need to decorate the house with something special to greet her.” I got it arranged pooling my efforts to convert the flat into truly welcoming atmosphere with all kind of fancy decoration. I went to receive Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto from terminal 4 of the airport in the morning and I was supposed to tell her that a birthday surprise was waiting for her at home arranged by Aseefa. The flight landed and I drove her to the flat, which was at the fourth floor. She entered and the greeting chanting of happy birthday to Mama by Aseefa and her bother Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and sister Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari welcomed her, which was very pleasant scene. She had deep love and affection for Aseefa and said that she knew that it would surely be Aseefa’s idea to greet her with warmth. I am witness to the love she had for her children.
The cruel game of politics and anti-Bhutto sentiments have snatched away a loving mother from the kids and her family is paying a heavy price to hold the flag of PPP and the mission of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto high. The family will never able to get the love and care of their mother and nothing can companionate the missing love of their mother. She was a great wife too who always used to pray for Asif Sahib and always used to recite Quranic verses on the telephone and pray for him.
She has gone through long duration of victimization especially when she and Mr Asif Ali Zardari were convicted under the direct instructions of the then PM Nawaz Sharif and Chief Justice of Lahore High Court Rashid Aziz. We received the conversation duly tapped by an official of the IB and entire planning and it was made public under the directions of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. It is now history how we got the shameful judgement overturned from the Supreme Court. But this is a separate story and needs a detailed account. This story has already appeared in Sunday Times, UK, exposing all the characters.
She used to pursue the trial of her cases in the court along with Mr Asif Ali Zardari. The trials further strengthened the bond of love between the couple. The children missed a part of their life without their father while they were growing, as he was put behind the bars. The story of Bhutto family is a tragedy but worth celebrating. The family was victimised because the family rendered unmatched services and a voice to the masses. Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, you must be proud of your children. I wish you could see the young Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, whom we drove once to Oxford, is a grown-up young man and leading the party. I remember you teaching him and I wish to see him the Prime Minister of Pakistan. I have great confidence in Bilawal Bhutto to carry the nation through the numerous challenges with his two sisters to his aide who are equally capable.
I firmly believe that had she been not victimized she would not have left the county and she would have alive today.
Although she has left us forever, however, her memories will always remain in our hearts as well as her political legacy and wisdom which will keep inspiring the masses and especially workers of PPP. She fought against two dictators and she defeated both of them and she continued to advocate for democracy till her last breath.
Let us pray May God bless her soul in peace.
The ceremony of the Socialist International took place in Portugal where people from various walks of life participated including politicians, pro-peace activists, writers and thinkers fighting against poverty and struggling for socio-economic justice. On this occasion of the commemoration, the delegation representing Pakistan People’s Party included me, Mian Misbah ur Rahman, Mr Zaka Ashraf, and two ladies.
Among various democracies of the world, BB Shaheed stands out as an unequivocal symbol of democracy. She is the person who spent her life fighting the dictatorship and even gave her life for democracy for the sake of the people of Pakistan. On the international level today, programmes have been introduced in Universities, and various seminars are organised to take advantage of the political wisdom and the legacy of Shaheed BB.
In April 1999, a conference was organised for women by the local mayor. I attended that conference along with Shaheed BB. At that time, Shaheed BB was touring America for lectures and sent me a message that I should reach Portugal and accompany her to the conference. The conference focused on the political and social role of women. Everyone greatly appreciated Shaheed BB’s speech. She answered all the questions in her signature way, and everyone wished to meet her. Therefore, during lunch, she mingled with the participants and discussed with them in a very amicable way. She was jubilant.
Upon our return to London, we saw the news that because of not appearing in the court, Shaheed BB was sentenced to three years in prison. She commented on this sad news by noticing the irony of how people in Europe appreciated her, but her own country continued to oppress her.
Apart from Europe, the Arab World also gave Shaheed BB immense respect, and she was known as the Daughter of Islam. Shaheed BB was a leader who represented a democratic and progressive Pakistan on the international level. She was the first woman Prime Minister of the Muslim World. She fought against the tyrannical rule of dictators who actively tried to oppress her and the workers of Pakistan People’s Party. However, Shaheed BB always stood side-by-side along with her people not only during her life but also in death.
While commenting on the false cases against her, Shaheed BB would say that such tactics can never break her resolve or dampen her spirits. On the contrary, challenges encouraged her to re-double her struggle for democracy with great fortitude. She believed that Allah tests His special and favourite subjects. During exile, Shaheed BB was fighting simultaneously on several fronts. She was a mother as well as a father to her children. She had a sense of loneliness; however, she utilised that time for party work and to keep an eye on the global politics. She used to work on her computer for 5 hours every day, writing articles and publishing her statements on various matters. Due to this reason, between 1999 and 2007, PPP stayed functional and united. A beautiful aspect of Shaheed BB’s personality is that she had a kind heart and cared for the poor. She used to feel the pain of others just like her own and used to consider it her duty to alleviate the suffering of the downtrodden. She worked towards this end when she became the Prime Minister and helped numerous families. She always supported her party workers when in need as well. She had a special fund that she utilised to help people associated with journalism and literature. She gave financial support to renowned journalist Hameed Akhtar, the progressive poet Zaheer Kashmiri, Hafeez Raqib, Asrar Zaidi, actress Sabeeha Khanum etc. Once, she gave a tip of Rs. 100,000 to the caretaker of Pak Tea House, bringing joy to his household. She helped scores of people through me. She gave employment opportunities to several people. A lot of people benefited from her generosity. Even today, the less fortunate ones remember the kindness and big-heartedness of Shaheed BB and keep her in their prayers.
After Shahadat, the entire World recognised BB as a great leader. Just like her parents, Shaheed BB had a lot of charisma. I witnessed all her traits and her personality first hand as I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to accompany her everywhere. For this reason, she referred to me as her shadow. She was very kind to me, and the trust she bestowed upon me is invaluable and an asset for me.
June 21, 2018, marks Shaheed Benazir Bhutto’s 65th birthday. In her life, she shone like a bright star in the hearts of the people, and in her death, the glow of the star continues to guide her people in the direction of democracy and peace.