Tag Archives: Pakistan

Jehangir Bader: An Encomium – By Saria Benazir

14 Nov

clip_image002He was beleaguered, whipped and incarcerated, but he never gave up on the doctrine, he so stalwartly believed in. His existence is an immaculate exemplar of audacity in times of adversity, and an unparalleled allegiance to the Bhutto family, and he has never desisted from any sacrifice to hold the red, green and black crest of his party too towering, as to pack the ambiance with its immenseness and distinctiveness. His parable is tear-jerking, but illustrates an unplumbed heroism and devotion to the cause of Pakistan Peoples’ Party. He signifies an indestructible bond with the party that is larger than life to him. Every time, he remembered his leader Shaheed Mohtarmah Benazir Bhutto, his eyes hazed and the wretchedness was perceptible in his words.

He was a fighter – warrior of democracy, who from his teenage years had undertaken to bring an alteration in Pakistan’s political scenario that had always encompassed of the autocrats and drawing room politicians, who had utterly no going into the masses. Jehangir Bader initiated his political activism as the President of his college’s student union and in the course of that, led the campaign to oust the military rule of General Ayub Khan, which was apathetic to the needs and demands of the commoners. Profoundly enthused by Quaid e Awaam Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, his relation with the party he established goes to the heart. As a fervent aficionado of the entrancing Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, he declined to be silenced, and persevered with the cause of an egalitarian Pakistan, in the face of getting tormented and locked up in the dictatorial regimes. He nevertheless set a history.

The cause of democracy was the dearest to his heart, and he always placed his own verve on peril to hold the pennants of the Pakistan Peoples’ Party lofty, in the eras of the atrocious of the despots. His ‘transgression’ of receiving his leader, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto at the Lahore Airport was castigated by a year term and battering in front of the Shaheed Bhutto Cell. But he was a man of iron: thirty – five lashes at one fell swoop could not shatter that idol, or crack his faithfulness to the PPP. He was apprehended in the Kot Lakhpat Jail (alongside his leader Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was also held a captive there) for touring Punjab with Madr e Jamhooriat Begum Nusrat Bhutto. In the same year, his son, Zulfikar Ali Bader was born – a child, named by and after Quaid e Awam, who depicts the indestructible bond that links him with the PPP. Every consequent affliction was ruthless than the prior. He also remained seized and tortured in the Shahi Qila of Lahore on the commands of zia ul haq.

His fortitude to expel the domineering regime of zia ul haq was unflinching. He led the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy despite being inflicted with imprisonments and appalling ordeals and as the President of the PPP for the Punjab province, in April 1986, organized the grand and historical reception for the Daughter of the East, Shaheed Mohtarmah Benazir Bhutto – homecoming, that altered the tide and culminated the tyrannical decade of zia ul haq’s rule. In the following elections, the Pakistan Peoples’ Party won a landslide victory in Pakistan, and the Bhutto’s daughter was sworn in as the first ever woman to head a Muslim state. Finally, there was democracy in Pakistan, but that was too short lived. Both terms of the PPP in power did not amount to barely five years, owing to the coups and the extremist lobby in Pakistan’s politics who were apprehensive of a moderate, enlightened and egalitarian Pakistan. Another epoch of torments began. Fictitious corruption incriminations were leveled against Shaheed Mohtarmah Benazir Bhutto, her husband and other PPP leaders, including Jehangir Bader, by Nawaz Sharif and Pervez Musharraf – accusations that were never proven but which landed him in jail for another long term.

Jehangir Bader was one of the closest companions of Shaheed Mohtarmah Benazir Bhutto and he has always stood dutiful to her, and the earth she was buried in. After her assassination, he began his doctorate in philosophy on his sister, and his leader he too dearly cherished – making him the first ever person to do so. This is a paradigm of his incomparable fidelity and adulation for his martyred Chairperson. Every time, he spoke about her, his tone carried mounds of tenderness, and his eyes, heaps of tears. His dedication to Bakhtawar, Aseefa and Bilawal is interminable, and he felt for them, like his own blood and flesh, and the same allegiance is reflected in his children, who have made the PPP the rationale of their existence.                                                                                                                              

Dear Uncle JB, you would be greeted by Shaheed Zulfikar, Nusrat and Benazir Bhutto and your comrade Amin Faheem in the heavens today, but you have left the PPP and Pakistan’s political landscape fatherless which in these tempestuous times required your wisdom more than ever.

 For Senator Bader,

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die. 

Mary Elizabeth Frye

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The ‘Osiris’ Of Hope – Ammar Akbar and Saria Benazir

4 Apr

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Five decades ago, a political party took birth in the blood and torment of the commoners of the land. From its heart, it oozed countrywide to suffuse life in an ailing nation. The promise of food, clothing and housing appealed to the dispossession of masses who in 1947 had only achieved freedom from the British Raj and not exclusion and bondage. The mesmeric and riveting Zulfi Bhutto was their messiah whose love affair with his soil is sentimental fiction. Brought up in manors and clad in silk, he declassified himself to take power to the mud-spattered sheds. Throngs gathered in millions in his support to depose an excessive dictatorial regime and reinstate the peoples’ rule in Pakistan that was theoretically designed to be a democratic state at inception but soon fell to the politics of narcissism and the khaki that led to the dismemberment of the federation. Hope was conked out in the home painstakingly founded by Jinnah, the Quaid-e-Azam. The road between survival and disintegration was captured by the Quaid-e-Awam who adroitly put together the trampled pieces of it and built a new Pakistan.

April 4, 1979 was the assassination of the Pakistani heartthrob and liberation of its civilians. Dimness of the night jostled the country into years of extreme viciousness and denial inflicting on it inerasable abrasions that our nation continues to bleed until this day. Pakistan’s first popularly elected Prime Minister was crucified ahead of schedule at three past two, contrary to the prison codes and his nearest deprived of his final sight and last rites. The stillness of grave was broken by hailstorm on the deserts of Sindh. ‘Finish it’ was the lion’s roar. ‘The bastard’s dead’ relief to zia was short-lived. The carcass of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto became the compass for the masses and a shrine to worship. He was an element of the folklore now, celebrated and undying.

Conspiracy to murder burgeoning social equality and say of the people was performed under the shroud of ‘conspiracy to murder’ a political adversary. The ‘booklet with ten or twelve pages’ dictating the law of the land was slit apart by zia ul haq whose longing for the Bhutto blood was no secreted detail. The seizure of government in a military coup on July 5, 1977 from the Prime Minister who capably bargained the honorable homecoming of 90,000 soldiers taken prisoners in the 1971 War by India verbalizes the ethical deficit of the general who abhorred the reputation of the ‘‘leader’ of the people’ Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the man who picked him for the position of the Chief, thus inviting his own demise. The trial was a charade. Personal ire prevailed over legal conventions. Courtroom comments emanating revulsion for the accused and rationale to put him to gibbet took no notice of law. The conjured offence in itself was not meriting of the death sentence which was acquired by a tinkered four – three ruling of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Justice was explicitly slaughtered at too grave a price. Clemency appeals from worldwide were discarded; Bhutto’s neck was the dictator’s diktat and he was unready to conciliation on this.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto saved his score on the leafs of history. He was murdered for the murder he did not commit. His family was locked up and his favorite child was also not allowed to hug him goodbye. ‘Keeping the head high’ in face of desolation was the legendary father’s lesson. Bhutto’s darling daughter, Benazir, who was in her early twenties, took the father’s fight for his people. She was the nightmarish renaissance zia had not envisaged. Sweltering prison cells and toxin bottles could not break Pakistan’s Joan of Arc. Fate has its own paybacks. The tormentor’s remains were scalded in the skies, a tooth manufactured for entombment and the Prime Minister House fell to Benazir’s feet.

The incongruity however is thunderous. Justice is the killer. The state’s history narrations are half truth. Fictitious corruption charges robbed Asif Ali Zardari of his freedom for eleven and half years and Benazir Bhutto of family. Images of a mother seated on a brick in the jails with adolescent children to meet with her besieged husband faint the tenor. Twenty-eight years later, on her return to her fatherland to battle zia ul haq’s scourge, the destiny’s daughter ornamented in her peoples’ love lost her life to a terrorist’s bullet and twinkled the books of eternity. As April 4 looms in 2016, her murderer’s cigar stays lit.

Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s Speech at the 2nd PakLOT Summit.

21 Nov

“Bismillah ir-Rahmanir-Rahim
Assalam Alaikum,

Welcome to Islamabad.
This is the 2nd ‘Leaders of tomorrow’s conference I have had the pleasure of attending.

I must say I take issue with your organization’s name ‘Leaders of tomorrow’. We keep hearing that the youth is 65 percent of the population. Youth is our future. All those auditioning to be leaders of the youth pander and tell us anything we want to hear. They pander and expect it to work. They throw concerts or sing songs at their jalsa so they’ll seem hip and cool. The problem is, this youth has been cut a rather raw deal. This is not only true for Pakistan.  From the Americas to the Himalayas, our furthers have been gambled away.
We have been burdened with the debts of our forefathers who have mortgage our futures to make their lives easier.

They have polluted our planet for their industrial revolutions and economic booms and left us to live with the consequences of climate change.
They have fought war after war and not only left us with the bill but have left the societies we are to inherit vulnerable to the menace of drugs, violence and division because they were not conscious of the consequences of their wars on our future.

This is why I take issue with the title ‘Leaders of tomorrow’. I am standing amongst the best and the brightest of the schools of Punjab have to offer. We can not wait for tomorrow. It is time to become leaders of today.
Look at the example set by our sister, Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s, Pakistan’s heroine; Malala Yousufzai.

At such a young age, her motherland was threatened. The Taliban had taken over Swat having remained unchecked by the dictatorship that governed this country for almost a decade. Our beautiful Swat valley ran red with blood. Innocent men, woman and children lived under the terror of the Taliban. The women would wake up in the morning to find the bodies of their loved ones hanging from lampposts. If people didn’t live up to Taliban’s standards or if the women were not imprisoned in their homes, if the men didn’t grow their beards but instead wanted to grow their mind or if they dared to seek the simple joys of music – they were killed. It was in the face of this brutality that the young Malala demanded her rights. She said “I have rights. I have the right to play. I have the right to sing. I have the right to talk. I have the right to go to market. I have the right to speak up.” For this she was shot.

If a 16-year-old girl can stand up to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, who continue to terrorize our country, what excuse do we have? When grown men are exposed as cowards and can’t even take the name of our sisters’ attackers, what excuse do we have? They are happy to lead peace marches in support of the Taliban, under the protection of the Taliban but when our sister is shot by the Taliban, they can’t bring themselves to condemn the Taliban. I thought they were meant to be the leader of the youth.
Well, if this is what the leader of the youth looks like, then it is time for us to give up on this sort of leadership, stand up, have our voices heard and fight for our own future. We don’t need others who claim to but fail to fight on our behalf.

We have a choice: We can either accept the status quo, we can wait and watch our futures gambled away, accept being pandered to, accept that others, our elders, our leaders will leave us a better Pakistan. Or we can be counted now. We don’t need to wait for a messiah. We will be our own leaders. We will not wait for tomorrow when we can start today. This is the beauty of democracy. The people can now be their own leaders, chose for themselves who they want to elect and de-iced their own destinies.

Our choice is simple; we can either be apathetic and content with being the Pakistan where Malala is shot, Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto is assassinated and Osama Bin Laden is caught on our doorstep. Or we can be the change we want to see in this country. I know, and I am sure you will all agree there is nothing wrong with Pakistan that cannot be fixed by what is great about Pakistan.

We must refuse to be branded as the country others want us to be, we must fight for the Pakistan we were meant to be. Jinnah’s Pakistan, Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan, Malala’s Pakistan.
Cowards try and muddy the waters. They want to keep us confused.  This must not be allowed. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts. Let’s get the facts straight.

Malala was not a drone strike. Malala was not a secret agent at age 11. Malala is a true Pakistani. A brave Pakistani. She refused to wait for her future to be stolen by bigots with beards who massacre innocent civilians, bomb their homes, bomb their schools until there is nothing left for young Malala to live for. But her voice was drowned out by so-called leaders who were too scared to stand by her in her struggle.

You will hear such cowards argue that our soldiers who risk their lives everyday fighting our war are fighting someone else’s war.  These cowards argue our brave soldiers are not fighting to protect their homes, they are not fighting to save their families and not fighting to save their country. These cowards argue that our soldiers are fighting for America. That is just not true.
It is our leaders who are killed. It is our mothers and fathers. our brothers and sisters. It is our cities and villages under attack. If this is America’s war why are the Taliban killing our civilians, destroying our homes, blowing up our schools, shooting children on our school buses, if this is a war against America they’d be fighting Americans.
There are thousands of American soldiers in Afghanistan they could be fighting. But they are not fighting American soldiers they are killing innocent Pakistanis. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan is not confused. They know who they are fighting. They admit to killing our soldiers, our civilians and even shooting Malala Yousufzai. There is no reason for us to be confused.

There is no reason for our leaders to be confused. Our country is under attack. Pakistan is under attack. You are either with us or against us it is that simple.
You will hear these cowards argue that if we could just talk to the Taliban we can have peace. That’s just not true. We’ve already talked to the Taliban. The PPP election manifesto clearly describes our counter-terrorism strategy. We made it really simple. The 3 Ds; dialogue, deterrence and development. We followed exactly that when we first came to power.

Despite the fact that we knew the TTP was involved in my mother’s assassination, a fact that both the UN report and the two investigations carried out by Pakistan confirm, we still agreed to negotiate with the Taliban in the larger national interest, because other members of parliament needed some convincing we agreed to hold talks with the Taliban. Parliament unanimously support our decision.  We were given authority to negotiate with the Taliban and if they did not live up to their end of the bargain, then we had parliamentary approval for a military operation.

We struck a deal with them, what I thought was a pretty fair deal, we compromised on our stance on Sharia law for the areas they controlled. This would be laws decided by parliament and not the Taliban, in exchange they were to lay down their arms and accept the constitution of Pakistan. These negotiations started in February 2009. On April 13th 2009, Pakistan kept its promise to the Taliban.  The President signed into specific laws for Swat in accordance with the Talibans’ demands. April 19th 2009, just 6 days later, not even one week had passed and the Taliban broke their side of the bargain.  They declared the constitution of Pakistan as un-Islamic, rejected our judicial system demanded the federal government call back all judges and that they would have their own legal system.

Then they broke the ceasefire first, marched into Bajaur and our army had no choice but to fight back. I know Imran Khan is getting old, but surely he’s not losing his memory already? This happened only 3 years ago. The whole world was watching. We were called all sorts of names by America for trying to ‘cut a deal with the Taliban’ which they are now seeking to do by the way. We had to do what was in the national interest and we did.

These are the people who murdered my mother. Who shot Malala. Who removed our flag from Swat, who attack us on a daily basis. Until today I still say we are willing to talk. Lay down your arms, stop attacking our country and our people, respect the constitution of Pakistan and we will not need to launch any military operations.  They are the ones who refuse.  Now why should we trust them? They have proven they cannot be trusted. When will our cowardly politicians wake up and fight back for sake of our country, for the sake of our solders and for sake of our innocent people, we are willing to negotiate but we are not willing to give up on Jinnah’s Pakistan, on Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan and on Malala’s Pakistan. Just because the terrorists are scary, just so some old fogies can yet again negotiate our future away so the short time they have left passes easily and by the time ‘our future leaders’ are ready to lead we are left to live in the Taliban’s Pakistan?

Another argument you will hear from the cowards is that this is all the fault of US drones strikes. That’s just not true. Read my lips.  Malala Yousufzai was not a US drone. We oppose US drone strikes. We have done what the military dictator with all his might could not.  We shut Shamsi air base. It was when the mullahs of the MMA were in power in KPK and Musharraf was in government that the drones strike first started not in our government. They weren’t blaming the drones then but now when they are in opposition suddenly its all the drones fault.

Tell me this. What started first? Drones strikes or terrorism. Since it is a indisputable fact that terrorism started first. Can we all agree that drones did not start terrorism.
Can we also all agree that we all oppose drone strikes? That they may not have started terrorism but they do indeed make things worse, the loss of civilian life as collateral damage is unacceptable. The United States violation of its own laws, our laws and international laws while dictating its agenda to the rest of the world is the height of hypocrisy.

The US is also smart. They play games with the world. Send out signals and pretend that the government of Pakistan has secretly given their blessing to drone strikes. That’s just not true. Let me make it absolutely clear. We oppose US drone strikes. I have sat in the room when President Zardari met with President Obama three years ago and opposed the use of drone strike. I’ve sat in the room when the President met with Hillary Clinton many times and each time he has opposed drone strikes. We’ve said it again and again at every forum from the United Nations to the streets of Pakistani we oppose drone strikes.
Parliament has ruled that we do not support US drone strikes. I can’t speak for any secret deal former general dictator Musharraf may have approved. He was a military dictator. He did not have the mandate of the people. It is the people’s parliament that has spoken and unanimously opposed US drone strikes. Any secret agreement made with America under the dictatorship of the Musharraf regime stands null and void. It has been superseded by the new terms of our foreign policy set by parliament and we have been clear we oppose US drone strikes. So now what is their excuse?

Yet the Americans still pretend that Oh we have to say that but actually we mean to give them approval. Let me make it absolutely clear, we are not responsible for what you think we mean to say we are only responsible for what say. We oppose drone strikes. If this misconception still exists and the Americans have wrongfully inferred from something our diplomats said, something our generals have said, something our foreign ministry have said, something the president may have said, if America has misunderstood us, I’m making it clear now, we oppose drone strikes, we demand they cease and deceits immediately. No one at any level of government has any authority to undermine parliament.

There is no other party that would do anything different to what we have done. Let’s take the PTI for example. You all know who Shah Mehmood Qureshi is? He is the vice-chairman of PTI. I have a lot of respect for Shah Mehmood Qureshi. He was our Foreign Minister for the first few years of our government. Do you think he would have approved drone strikes when he was our FM?  I’m sure he didn’t. I sat in many many meetings with Shah Mehmood Qureshi. I listened to many of his speeches. He never in private or in public disagreed with our stance, nor did he try and argue with the party leadership to change our stance because nothing needed changing. We never have and never will support  US drone strikes in Pakistan. period. If he was aware that the government, the president, the PM or anyone in this government approved drone strikes would he not have resigned immediately and cited drone strikes as the reason for his resignation? If he could stop drones strikes when he was our FM, why didn’t he? If he couldn’t what would he do differently as FM in a PTI government? We all oppose US drone strikes lets not pretend that this not the case.
After the OBL raid, the PPP and the President of Pakistan were one of the few political parties to stand by our generals and our soldiers.

Even Nawaz Sharif was calling for our military and intelligence leadership to be sacked. President Zardari was defending our military leadership and defending Pakistan. When the whole world wanted them gone, when the opposition wanted them gone, President Zardari stood by the armed forces of Pakistan and lived up to his title of Commander-in-Chief. Now even the Americans accept, that Pakistan did not know OBL was here and he was hiding in plane sight.  This has been admitted by US Admiral William McRaven.

We’ve presided over a fundamental transformation of Pakistani foreign policy when our Parliament decided what our relationship with America would be like on our own terms.  Unlike the military dictator before us, we did not base our whole country’s foreign policy on a single threatening phone call from an American president. Let me remind you. It was this Pakistan People Party government that made the United States of America apologize not on their terms but on our own terms.
No other government has done this. No other country could do this.  But when my Salala was attacked a superpower was made to apologize to Pakistan.

People confuse the PPP’s opposition to military dictatorships with some sort of animosity towards the army as an institution. This is not the case. The facts have proved us right once again. We never oppose any institution as a whole it is only when an individual usurps the power of the whole institution into a single person and imposes dictatorship then we have a problem. Then we will oppose in a way that only the PPP knows how and we will win. We always will win. We are committed to democracy in Pakistan. Our leaders have given their lives for democracy in Pakistan. If an individual takes over an institution then our fight has and always will be against the individual and not the institution as a whole. The same would apply to any other institution, if anyone considers using the judiciary for example to impose effective judicial martial law on this country we will never attack the institution, we will never ridicule the institution, our fight will only be with the individual who usurps powers that belong to the people of Pakistan and no one man alone.

Inter-institutional conflict and even inter-political party conflict, specially when it comes to our national counter terrorism policy is extremely counter productive. This is why the PPP has made a genuine push for reconciliation to unite political parties despite our difference. It is why despite being threatened by various quarters we’ve all ways pulled back from all out conflict between institutions.

When I discuss terrorism it is not just as some other politician.  I’m also speaking as a son whose mother has been assassinated, as a member of a family who are victims of terrorism. The pain of losing my mother Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto has been a fate worse than death. I was 19 years old when my mother was assassinated, my sister Bakhtawar was just 17, my youngest sister Aseefa was only 14.

It is a pain I would not wish on my worst enemies. When I call on all political parties to unite on this issue. I’m not asking for them to do this just for me and my sisters, I’m not even calling for this unity just to avenge the death of my mother and our leader but I plead for this unity so that we can stop ordinary Pakistanis from falling victims just as I have. Every single day innocent Pakistani civilian fall victim to this menace of terrorism. I feel their pain.  We owe them, ever single political party owes them the unity and leadership required to end their suffering.

I know this is possible. The Pakistan Peoples Party stands ready and willing to invite every single political party to join us in this fight. I know the ANP of Pakhtunkhwa have suffered like my party has suffered. Their leader Asfandayar Wali Khan stands shoulder to shoulder with President Asif Zardari in this fight.  Despite our past differences with the MQM, we have been willing to put these difference aside and unite against this common enemy. We have to protect Jinnah’s Pakistan from the threat of the Taliban so that there still is a Karachi tomorrow for us to address the various issues on which we do disagree.

PML(N) has been part of our coalition before and although it was short lived and we tend to focus on all of the reasons we disagreed.  Look at what we did achieve together. It was partly because of the support from the party in power in Punjab that we built the necessary consensus in the country that allowed us to end Taliban rule in Swat and raise the flag of Pakistan there once again. I hope this is a different PML(N) from the 1990s. I am certain Nawaz Sharif is genuinely an ally in supporting democracy in Pakistan. If he would just ignore the hawks in his party, show the leadership I know he is capable of, build census with the PPP on the threat of terrorism we can eradicate this menace together.

I even welcome Imran Khan’s decision to finally partake in the next general election. I am confident his inclusion will have a positive impact of politics of Pakistan. While there are major issues on which we disagree there is plenty of common ground for us to agree.  I know that much of his and other’s attacks on my party on the issue of corruption are actually a result of the propaganda campaign against my party and my mother in the 1990s. I know that just as the Asghar Khan case proved my mother correct when she said the 1990 elections were stolen from her. I am also certain history will also prove she was right when she said unelected people accuse elected politicians of corruption to discredit politicians and undermine democracy in Pakistan.

That said corruption is a serious and pressing issue that is eating away at the fabric of Pakistan. My mother Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto did not sacrifice her life for democracy in pakistan only for corrupt people to make money out of a democratic pakistan. I look forward to working with the PTI, PML(N), MMA or any party on this issue to ensure a transparent method of tackling corruption while ensuring it is not used as a weapon to demonize and victimize political opposition. In exchange however the PTI, PML(N) and other parties sympathetic to the Taliban would also have to agree to have a serious conversation on the issue of terrorism and accept that not only is it a real threat but it is a threat from within that needs to be address with unity in an apolitical manner.

I am even certain we can build consensus with the religious parties including Jamat-e-Islami. This political party has a long history of opposition to the PPP. However, I respect them for their willingness to engage in the democratic process and I know they have vigorous theological debates that includes Islamic scholars in formulating their political and theological philosophy. The TTP may sound like they propagate similar views even if they do so with violence. However, the religious parties should not be fooled. They are after your vote bank. You will be their targets. Time and time again they have mocked and ridiculed the work of Islamic scholars, they do not believe in our Islam  they do not agree with you, once they have rid the country of people like me they will, I guarantee you this, they will come after the leadership of religious parties. They are not fighting this war so that any other political force can rule Pakistan  They are fighting so that they can rule Pakistan. I appeal to the leadership of religious political parties, join us in this fight now or you will be their next victims.

All of you gathered hear today are the youth of Punjab. Your capital city of Lahore houses our great national monument marking the spot where the resolution of Pakistan was passed, Minar-e-Pakistan.  Punjab has also suffered at the hand of extremism. It may not have suffered as many attacks as other provinces but I promise you it will be next.

If we don’t want Minar-e-Pakistan to become Yaadgar-e-Pakistan, it is time for all political forces in this country to unite on the one point agenda of defeating the Taliban’s terrorism and saving Pakistan.

It is time for our leaders to get on board or get out of the way.  Don’t do it for me. Don’t even do it for the sake of my martyred mother. Do it for innocent men women and children who are falling victim everyday. Do it before this menace claims the lives of your children as well. Unite and save Pakistan for all of us. For all those auditioning to be leaders of the youth I’ve got some insider secrets I’d like to share with you. We want unity. We are not looking for old men to be our saviours. We are not waiting to be leaders of tomorrow.
If Malala can stand up now each and every youth in this country is ready to stand up now. Don’t be leaders of tomorrow. We are ready for you to be leaders of today.
Thank you.”

Empowering the masses …(Highlights of the President’s speech to the PPP Eid Milan gathering)

15 Nov

Deriving the insight from the party’s founders, President Asif Ali Zardari promised to tag along in their footsteps, and empower the underprivileged of Pakistan, and erect a better future for their future generations. On the occasion of his address to a PPP Eid Milan gathering in a sub urban section of Malikwal on November 14, 2012, the enormous reception offered to the President in a district of Punjab (a province, administered by an opposition political party) was in itself a testimony of the Pakistan Peoples Party, being the party of the masses, and the best choice of the people of Pakistan. President Asif Ali Zardari’s dedication to an egalitarian Pakistan is noticeable from his spending eleven and a half years of his life in the prison without a single conviction, and eschewing an easier approach to make a deal with the rulers, and betray the people of Pakistan, leaving them in suppression. The tri-color party flags and placards with pictures of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Mohtarmah Benazir Bhutto were seen in abundance, and the atmosphere echoed with the slogans of Jeay Bhutto, and “Agli Bari, Phir Zardari”, demonstrating the peoples’ trust in the policies of the current regime. President Asif Ali Zardari delivered the first half of his speech in Punjabi- a gesture which was greeted by the audience with huge applause. Following are a few highlights of the President’s address:-

  •  Our survival is deeply linked to the survival of the country. If someone thinks of destabilizing Pakistan, he has a wrong insight. Pakistan is democratic country and there is no threat to its stability. Solution to the problems of the country and its strength are in democracy. Strong democratic process, strong political forces are the real strength of the country and it will ensure strong future.
  • We respect mandate; don’t steal it. I will honour the mandate to be given by the people and hand over government to victorious political party. Preparation of voter lists and appointment of independent Chief Election Commissioner are examples in this regard. Every voter will be given his right of vote to strengthen democratic process.
  • The country needs reconciliation. Politicians should not go to extremes. Politics should remain politics and must not turn into enmity for the sake of the country and democracy. We took along people and other political parties so as to secure future of our children. I spent my young age in the jails of Punjab. After Benazir’s death, I had pledged to take the party forward and continue the “caravan of Garhi Khuda Bukhsh” ahead. Those who called themselves lion were of the opinion to boycott 2008 elections but we pursued them to take part in the election to get rid of Gen. Musharaf. They parted their ways after some time but we never closed our doors for them.
  • Politics is worship for us and whosoever will disturb us in worship, I will wage a war against him. Even a patwari would not be willing to share his powers but I have given executive powers to the Prime Minster.  The history will decide who was right, but at this point in time we stand successful. Even our rivals accept that we have strengthened the parliament and transferred powers to it. It is for the first time since early 70s that the country’s parliament was going to complete its tenure.
  • It was Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who gave power of vote to the poor and now every political force has to reach out to the masses to secure their favour and support. Benazir Bhutto had said that 1990s elections were snatched and today it has been proved. Democracy is not the expression of magnanimity with someone but it is the future of our young generation. I have been advancing the ideology of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto and want to be buried in Garhi Khuda Bukhsh Bhutto.
  • All the citizens are equal. I want that the child of a poor enjoys the same rights as the child of an industrialist. The government believes in providing equal educational opportunities to the under-privileged and talented youth of Punjab with an aim to bring them at par with the privileged. The attack on Malala is expression of a mindset and we have to cope with that mindset. It was an attack on the education of female folk.
  • Those who are hatching conspiracies against democracies will never succeed in their nefarious designs as the whole nation and political leadership stands united to save the country. The present government is being targeted through “TV politics” and some elements just criticize the government without any justification in the talk shows at the TV channels. The opponents of the party have panicked after seeing PPP’s popularity. We are satisfied with our performance and getting the support from the masses.
  • The country is now self-sufficient in food and exporting wheat as it was importing wheat when the PPP came into power four and half years ago. The Government is not only pursuing policy of reconciliation at home but also working hard to strengthen Pakistan s relations with other regional countries.
  • Law and order situation in Karachi is being deliberately created to divert our attention from war against terror. Karachi is not the failure of the state but some hidden powers are involved in destabilizing peace in the city under a planned strategy but their designs will be foiled with the power of the people.
  •  The PPP is working to turn Pakistan into state that can meet challenges of the twenty-first century. All political forces should join hands with the PPP to chalk out a 25-year or 50-year plan to make Pakistan a civilized and prosperous democratic nation because, five-year development programmes would not be able to steer the country out of the current situation. We want Pakistan to become a country which is not feared by any one.
  • We didn’t work for a single party; instead we worked for Pakistan, we will prosper if Pakistan will, we will drown if Pakistan sinks. The Pakistan Peoples Party has given sacrifices in the past & would continue to give sacrifice in future for the progress and prosperity of the country.

The unsung tale of our red…: No protest vigil? – By Saria Benazir.

9 Oct

Every month has a heart jerking fiction of its own – the morsels of red dominate the grime, and the cries of the crestfallen reach their peak: where blood of humankind gets easy on the pocket and the demolishers are offered sanctuaries… Pakistan’s soil – it has now become a parable of viciousness.

“Drone strikes are a desecration to Pakistan’s territorial integrity, and have killed hundreds of the guiltless tribesmen” – Khan’s scheme of the widely dubbed as “Peace March” on October 7, 2012 was to exhibit the discontentment of the Pakistani population to the American drone hits in the tribal belt of Pakistan. Draped in the swathe of compassion with the reason being political point scoring, using the naivety of the illiterate and deprived Pathan tribes, he declined to gaze into the tangible information.

 

  • No sane person can shore up the drone attacks, but is it not a hallowed certainty that thousands of our innocent civilians and soldiers (much bigger than the number killed in the drones) were botched by the terrorists, who engage safe refuges in the vicinity, Khan was marching towards, and perhaps, offered his procession protection as well. Can we plainly disclaim the blood of the Daughter of East, Benazir Bhutto, and thousands of our fearless warriors shielding our margins, who were martyred at the hands of these grotesque fanatics?
  • Is it bearable to ally with those, who detonate the girls’ schools and slay blameless children, thus, keeping Pakistan in the dim era of redundancy? Shall we exonerate those, who have hindered our country’s economic inkling and taken us decades back – for the misdeeds of those, who are not even us, our very people are disdained and a dire name is brought to our country? Should we give way to those who do not let our children to be inoculated against polio, leaving them crippled for life?
  • Are we still in a situation to supply them asylum in other parts of our country as well? Drones do no matter to the larger Pakistani population as much as the suicide bombings by these gruesome Taliban does – our children are not out of harm’s way to go to the schools, we cannot pray in the mosques, or go to a park or shopping on a weekend, because of the ambiance of trepidation fashioned by them. Our people do not get meals twice a day, and their stoves lie cold.

Does that call for a Peace March or a Protest Vigil? Should not Khan also be taking up on those themes, being very civilized and nationalistic? If this is the voice of all the citizens of Pakistan, then why a PTI flag – why not Pakistan’s for that matter?

On the very same day, a PPP rally that was supposed to be addressed by MNA and daughter of Chief Minister Sindh, Nafisa Shah was assailed. The firing episode that took place cost the lives of seven people including a ten year old child and a journalist, leaving many wounded, who will only endure with undeviating disabilities. A PPP worker cannot benefit from the same security as others do, because he signifies everything that the fundamentalists hate – the manifestation of a liberal, egalitarian and progressive Pakistan. Why is it only a humble PPP worker who has to forfeit? What was the felony of a 10 year old, who died to the pellets of those radicals?

I fully understand the men behind Al Qaeda. They have tried to assassinate me twice before. The Pakistan Peoples Party and I represent everything they fear the most — moderation, democracy, equality for women, information, and technology. We represent the future of a modern Pakistan, a future that has no place in it for ignorance, intolerance, and terrorism.

The forces of moderation and democracy must, and will, prevail against extremism and dictatorship. I will not be intimidated. I will step out on the tarmac in Karachi not to complete a journey, but to begin one. Despite threats of death, I will not acquiesce to tyranny, but rather lead the fight against it. – Shaheed Mohtarmah Benazir Bhutto.

An unsung tale of red it is – too sinister, too cavernous, yet not worthy of a protest vigil by the gentlemen in Pakistan’s politics!

 

The Jinnah’s Pakistan, embroiled in mayhem… – By Saria Benazir.

6 Sep

“There is no power on earth that can undo Pakistan”…, the founder’s words reverberate in my brain on the country’s Defence Day. I am engrossed in the paroxysm of decidedly treasured reminiscences of September 6, 1965, when Pakistanis from all fragments of topography, and perspective joined hands with their brave forces to guard their country’s dominion, thus wreaking a mortifying defeat on their opponent. The spirit of unanimity and jingoism made us impregnable and set an ineradicable history, we all are proud of, today. For a minute, I am constrained to interrogate the lack of the same buoyancy, conviction, glory and ardor that was once the hallmark of ours beloved nation? My heart thaws, and the blood simmers to see the nation embroiled in bedlam and consternation – Is it the Jinnah’s Pakistan? Or have we cherished the sacred blood of our martyrs, in its true essence? The rejoinder is an utter “No”, regrettably.

The point of Pakistan’s very establishment was a state where people could subsist and breathe free, and develop in accordance to their own belief, and customs. In his address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on August 11, 1947, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah made it palpable that the inhabitants of the country were free to perform their own manners of worship, and religion, caste and creed had nothing to do with the business of the state.

The present incidents are enough of a melancholy to me. We live in an “Islamic” republic which cannot even guarantee the wellbeing of its Muslim citizens at the first place, set aside the minorities for the while. Hundreds of Shias have been butchered, the stories make captions every second day, but we opt to be soundless onlookers to the carnage. We award the Nishan-e-Haider to those who sacrifice their lives for the country with remarkable audacity, but explore the national identity cards and backs for the Nishan-e-Haideri to execute the citizens of our own country.

We are the nation which killed their Governor for standing up for the rights of a Christian woman, and our lawyers showered the assassin with the rose petals. We killed our Minorities Minister, and expunged the reports from the spot. Very newly, we censured an innocent child, also the sufferer of Down syndrome, of profanity after ourselves, placing the Holy Scriptures in the trash burnt by her. Is that what Jinnah meant by religious freedom? We compel the Hindu population of the country to migrate to India, and grudgingly convert young girls to Islam.

Were it not the Shia Muslims and the minorities, who stood in conjunction with other citizens of the country to shield this patch of ours on September 6, 1965? But it is a caricature that we have become hardnosed enough to overlook these acts of sadism as of no concern to us.

According to Jinnah, no nation could be worthy of its existence that cannot take its women along with men. If that is right, is it not degrading that till the very day, the women in our society are treated as a chattel and the male’s choice imposed on her. Are we done away with of the so-called “honour” killings till the very day? There is a substantial augmentation in the rate of offenses against women every following year, but issues like marital rape and acid throwing are at times bagged as family matters. Our apex court sets the rapists of Mukhtara Mai free. Can we still visualize living up to the daybreak when our women will benefit from liberty of selection and financial security? We bombard the girls’ schools, so that our forthcoming generations remain unlettered as well.

Had it not been the women who fostered those brave heroes of the war of September 1965?

Jinnah conveyed us that we were all Pakistanis, and equal citizens of the state. He directed us to remain at peace with ourselves and with our neighbors. The national interest was more imperative than the territorial severances. It is exceedingly agonizing that even after losing our eastern wing; we remain unmindful to the most awful living conditions of the people of Balochistan, who have always been dispossessed of their essential human rights and unrestrained behavior committed against them. Are they not a part of us?

We are to the highest degree wounded by the menace of terrorism, but many of us still have a squashy corner for the fanatics and prolong to rebuff the fact that it is our war, despite the fact that it has cost us the lives of thousands of our countrymen and mired our economic progress. On the other hand, there are also those of us, who have brought us ignominy by carrying out terrorist actions in the neighbor countries. Wasn’t the dogma of Pakistan Islam which is a religion of harmony? Didn’t the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) assert the killing of a guiltless identical to murdering the entire human race?

Pakistan is the most perilous place for the journalists. It is one of those few countries on the globe where polio still exists. It is here that the children are made to read the fictional history, and the curriculum discourses dissections. It is Pakistan where a colossal amount is spent on the military hardware, but the education and health are largely disregarded. It is here that a Prime Minister is assassinated, but the perpetrators are not brought to justice. It is here that the courts place a Savior to gallows, and debar an elected Prime Minister. It is the Republic which is also dubbed in the press as a “failed” state. This is the Pakistan on September 6, 2012.

Army single-handedly cannot save us from this havoc. We, as a nation entail standing amalgamated with the spirit of September 1965 against the forces of chauvinism and radicalism. If we cannot adhere to and preserve the very underlying principle of our existence, I am chary if we truly deserve this land of pure.

 

 

 

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