Original Articles

Shaheed Benazir Bhutto: The Soul of PPP – by Aamir Hussaini

After the Judicial murder of ZAB, it was BB who was the life force for the young idealist activists of PPP. For these activists, often referred to as jiyalas, ZAB was a myth while BB was the current life force of the party. For the next 30 years after ZAB, it was BB who defined and lead the PPP.

Her journey starts under arrest by the Zia regime. The latter did his best to malign the young workers of the PPP who lead the MRD movement under the leadership of BB and Nusrat Bhutto. Towards this end, Zia used the political immaturity of the late Murtaza Bhutto and enlisted the help of ex-IJT activist, Salimullah Tipu in the staged hijacking of Peshawar-bound PIA plane from Karachi. The aim of this tyrant was to portray all jiyalas as terrorist and therefore de-legitimize the MRD movement and he used IJT activists like Tipu to penetrate the PSF.

Only Benazir stood in his way and exposed the dirty tactics of Zia and his coterie by ensuring that the MRD remained about democracy, federation and the aspirations of the masses. It was her genius to de-link the PPP/PSF and MRD from the staged hijacking master minded by Zia and it was this genious that allowed the party of young idealists to thrive.

After the MRD, Zia knew that the only way he could continue to take a hostage nation along his dark and bigoted path was to unleash the forces of fanaticism and fascism. He did the former by promoting sectarian elements starting from Jhang, Punjab. In Sindh, he cobbled together the MQM from prominent ex-IJT activists like Altaf Hussain and Farooq Satter.

Benazir is often accused of compromising on the ideology of the PPP; that much of this criticism comes from discredited traitor uncles who betrayed her father to the gallows speaks volumes. However, Benazir was a creative follower of her father and knew when to differentiate between relative and essential parts of Bhuttoism.

She proved herself on the Afghan issue where we can laud her creativity and foresight. The Afghan policy that she wanted was to respect the formation of an elected government and to end foreign interference in the affairs of Afghanistan. Even then, she could see the destructive effects of the Saudi Jihadism and wanted to save the youth from it. Benazir supported the UN peace initiatives in Afghanistan and in that regard; she ensured that the PPP would differentiate itself from the policies of the establishment.

Rare individuals have the ability to feel the pulse of emerging movements. Unlike many others on the Left, Benazir knew that the end of the Cold War would change the world radically. It was this ability that distinguished her from the rest of the civil society elites and other extensions of the Deep State. Similarly, it also distinguished her from compromised leftists like Tariq Ali whose support for the Taliban, Hamas and Hizbullah highlight that his thinking is still stuck in the Cold War while his purse is fed by the successors of Khomeini. Her education, travel and above all, her uncompromised intellect allowed her to see that the end of the Cold War dictated that a fresh political and economic approach was required. Liberal democracy, regional trade agreements and soft borders were the main features of this changed world and Benazir knew that Pakistan had to accept and adopt these new realities. When Benazir expressed that Pakistan needed a new political and economic vision, she was victimized by the PPP deserters and constrained by the perennial establishment after the 1988 elections.

The Presidency, Ministry of Finance and Foreign policy were off limits to her. Her efforts to initiate a lasting and transparent peace with India raised howls of protest from the Deep State; in their eyes this made her a traitor!

Nonetheless, Benazir realized that for Pakistan to emerge as a progressive, modern, enlightened and developed country, it had to be gently extricated from the clutches of the Deep State. Throughout her life, she actively and passively resisted the “Jihadi” adventurism of the security establishment, for whom this policy was a holy doctrine that the “bloody civilians” dare not change!

However, for Benazir, the end of the Cold War signaled the end of the “Crush India”, “Thousand Years War” and “Islamic Bloc” way of thinking. For her, it was about trade policies that would benefit the masses and not just the chattering elites. This was her vision when she presented the concept of Common Wealth of South Asian countries. Today, events have vindicated her progressive vision for which she was often derided as Pro West and Anti-Pakistan.

In espousing her progressive cause, she engaged in a decades-long struggle to campaign for the rights of women and minorities and provided tickets to minority members. Inspite of all the constraints placed on her by the establishment, she did her best to promote liberal change within the society and guide the electorate towards moderation and away from religious bigotry and fanaticism. She promoted the liberal and progressive sections within her party and did away with intransigent policies that alienated potential allies.

While the rest of Pakistan’s urban chattering elites are somnolent and awash in conspiracy theories, Benazir could see that 9/11 highlighted the growing cancer of extremism within the Muslims. Those who eulogize Hitler, Mawdodi and Khomeini can never be for peace and progress and Benazir did her best to promote a social justice agenda and guide people away from religious bigotry. In that regard, one can only appreciate the slogan:

“Bhutto-ism is our Destination and Benazir is our Leader”

Time has proved her right!

About the author

Ali Arqam

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  • The word Shaheed is a sole property of the following:

    Abu Jahl
    Ghazi Abdul Rasheed of Lal Masjid
    General Zia-ul-Haq of Jabra Chowk
    Azam Tariq
    Baitulah Mehsud

  • To Farrukh

    RTFQ
    Do you understand the meaning of the word Shaheed? If so penn your definition, otherwise keep your counsel.

  • BB assassination probe: ‘Murder plot hatched at brigadier’s home’

    The Express Tribune, December 31st, 2010.

    ISLAMABAD: A fresh probe has uncovered the role of nine men, including an army brigadier, in the December 27, 2007 assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. The assassination plot was hatched in the official residence of the army brigadier mentioned in the investigation report.
    The findings of the probe, conducted under the interior ministry’s supervision, have deliberately been kept under wraps — even from the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party’s leading lights. The report is in the possession of Interior Minister Rehman Malik and has only been seen by President Asif Ali Zardari in its entirety.
    Earlier this week, President Zardari temporarily shelved plans to share the contents of the inquiry report. The president was keen to first take the army leadership into confidence before ordering the arrest of certain uniformed personnel over their alleged involvement in Benazir’s assassination.
    Five of the nine co-conspirators are still alive, according to the inquiry report. They were the ones who hired the killers and gave them shelter and logistical support. The five men will now be formally charged-sheeted and put on trial. The remaining four men, including those sent to kill Benazir, are already dead.
    Both logistical support and rehearsals for the murder were arranged by uniformed persons, who were part of the plot. Militant groups, which were working closely with the nine plotters, provided the manpower.
    It has also been confirmed to The Express Tribune that the joint investigation team had traced two new mobile phone sims that were used to communicate on the day Benazir was assassinated.
    Sources said that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had drawn up a tough questionnaire for General Pervez Musharraf on the basis of investigations conducted by the joint investigation team. The questions were framed once the role of the nine plotters became clear and the inquiry team managed to lay its hands on the main accused who was part of the plot to eliminate Benazir.
    Sources said that Zardari was still undecided on how to handle the more explosive contents of the inquiry report. They claimed that President Zardari had deliberately withheld presentation of the inquiry report before the PPP central executive committee in Naudero.
    Although Zardari had agreed in principle to make the report public, he wanted to give it some more thought. The president and his party leaders are keen to fight off the somewhat popular impression that they are disinterested in tracking down Benazir’s killers.
    At one stage, President Zardari had made up his mind to unveil the inquiry report on Benazir’s third death anniversary, sources said. But he changed his mind at the eleventh hour and told the interior minister to drop the idea for the time being. The absence of Bilawal Bhutto from the CEC meeting was only used as a pretext to delay the presentation of the report. The president did not want the present army leadership to be caught off guard when the names of certain uniformed persons feature in the report.
    For their part, the military leadership signalled their willingness to cooperate with the civilian government and put any accused military officer on trial, sources said. Even when a cabinet inquiry team led by Rauf Chaudhry was constituted, the military leadership had backed the initiative to an extent that the director general of Military Intelligence, Nadeem Ejaz, was made available to a three-member inquiry committee.
    Sources said that the committee chairman was even told by the top military authorities that a serving lieutenant general would be available round the clock for as many days as they need for questioning, till they reached any conclusion about his innocence or guilt.
    The interior minister refused to comment on the inquiry report on the pretext that the matter was in a court of law. When asked whether he intended to share the findings of the probe with the PPP’s CEC members, the minister said he would definitely place the inquiry report before his party’s elders.

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