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PPP Government: A window of opportunity for Pakistan – by Junaid Qaiser

In the words of Benazir Bhutto, democracy: “… is a birth right too often snatched at the point of the gun from the citizens by the very men who are to guard and defend us. This can stop to enable the people and the country to march with confidence and courage, with pride and dignity, with progress and prosperity into the twenty first century.”

Pakistan is a great federation. Its multilingual, multicultural society is its strength. Its sons and daughters are its true assets, the bright face of its future, the promise of all our tomorrows.

The Pakistan Peoples Party is the only federal, democratic and equal opportunity party that can guarantee to our great people a great future. The PPP worker is selfless and committed to the values of Faith, freedom, fundamental human rights, family values and a wholesome society based on the rule of law and human dignity.

The first founding principle of the Party ‘Islam is our religion’ places a responsibility on each PPP supporter to reach out in a spirit of accommodation and tolerance to all faiths, to prevent the state from interfering in the religious rights of the citizens (which breeds sectarianism) and to treat people of all faiths with respect enabling them to enjoy religious freedom and equality before the law.

The second principle of the PPP ideology is that ‘democracy is our policy’. The PPP commitment to freedom and fundamental rights, including freedom from hunger and want, is written in the blood of its martyrs and in the red marks of lashes on the back of its workers. It is written in the suffering and sacrifice of its leaders the greatest of whom was Quaid e Awam. He faced the gallows refusing to bow before tyranny defending the human rights of our citizens to the last of his breath.”

“It’s essential that we should review and examine our overall condition, It is quite true that Pakistan today is facing critical questions related to its existence and progress. It is also a fact that Pakistan is standing at most critical juncture and cross road of it’s history and it has almost run out of options except continuation of democracy and strengthening of federation.It’s true fact that political parties are the main vehicle and essential elements of change and democracy,parties essentially not only provide people with a platform to voice their opinions but also give the people to voice.

There are tremendous dangers posed due to the current situations that demand a national policy with political will to navigate through the storm of depression, extremism and insecurity on the rise in Pakistan.
During General Musharraf’s regime Pakistan went through turbulent times,in terms of the social,economic,political and above all the terrorism menace. The country and nation had gone through multiple perplexing ordeals of economic blow, wheat shortage, energy crises,lawlessness and insecurity. This amalgamation of problems terroized the whole nation.

Bilal Qureshi wrote that “The rise of extreme religion is not on the rise because mullah is forcing everyone to embrace their version of religion, but the society is evolving and drifting towards hard core Wahabi school of thought. Everywhere in Pakistan you look, religious symbols have become the norm and it seems that pretty soon, every woman in Pakistan would be either in burqa or wearing a hijab and every man would be supporting long un-kept beard. And, not only is the society gravitating towards hard-core religion, but ‘I know what is right’ attitude has given a new dimension to religious bullying in Pakistan, which has forced moderate and sometime secular individuals and families to conform in order to avoid being a target or draw attention to themselves.Add to this volatile mix of lack of economic, social and cultural depression and shrinking energy reservoir the intense and unyielding anti American sentiment across Pakistan and it is a recipe for a complete catastrophe. Pakistan, in my opinion has become a ticking time bomb.”

In the absence of a guiding document (constitution) to run the state affairs shaped an alliance between civil and military bureaucracy.This alliance created right wing political parties of lackeys and sycophants especially Muslim League A to Z. Judiciary instead of playing as a justice provider became Partisan,it legitimized all military dictators,using doctrine of necessity. It’s quite tragic that our Judiciary always favorable for undemocratic forces. The history keeps repeating itself over and over again.

Due to the military coup and the toppled governments,reflected the military stands established as the true respiratory of true power in Pakistan.even after the lifting of the martial law in 1985,it is the military that calls the shots (weak Civilian Governments during 1988 to 1999 exercised responsibility without authority) the concept of troika sharing of powers between the president,the prime minister and the military command,though clearly an extra constitutional development become a fact of life in Pakistan.

During military regimes ,the number of religious extremists organizations had increased,religious practices have become more pronounced , extremism and intolerance are on the rise and the use of religious practices have become more pronounced reality of Pakistan’s reality. The extremist trends and intolerance are actually threating the existence of Pakistan. Due to this security related over centralized modal, extremism,attempts of depoliticize,curtailing civil political rights and imposing a unitary nationhood, while ignoring regional realities, resulted in nationalist arms movements and sense of alienation in Sindh, Baluchistan and the NWFP.

It is an established fact that undemocratic forces,hence from the beginning never allowed democratic political system to take roots in Pakistani polity.

Pakistani history has proven that General Ayub Khan, General Ziaul Haq and General Pervez Musharaf tried to undermine the party based political system,resulted in political disaster and contributed to much in instability and uncertainty. Although dictators organized elections but curbs were set on genuine political parties, especially on PPP,which is true symbol of democracy and federation in Pakistan.

It is hard perception that even political forces have to bow to authority, the permanent reality of the military dictate and refrain from challenging it.

Military dictators and their regimes legitimization by our apex courts have become a major cause of political instability and constitutional floundering in Pakistan.The will of people always come as an excuse, plea of the usurper or a doctrine of necessity by the judiciary after an unlawful or manipulative transition of the power from one ruler to other. General Ziaul Haq with the help of judiciary managed to get Quaid-e-Awam Zulifiqar Ali Bhutto, convicted on a false murder charge by manipulated the appointments of judges, first in the Lahore high court and later in the supreme court,Nation still remember Shaheed Z.A. Bhutto’s judicial murder.

Military dictators engineered political parties to undermine,Pakistan main federal democratic party,General Zia created PMLN and MQM and strengthen Jamaat-e-Islami and General Pervez Musharaf created PML-Q and MMA.The creation of artificial political parties and alliances became the domain of martial law regimes,thus kings political parties became instruments in the hands of manipulators who used them for their own self advancements and perpetuation.

Is Pakistan ready for democracy? In my understanding, it’s not an appropriate question. It has been floated by our elite ruling class to confuse people. As a state, have we failed to solve basic questions? First and foremost are we an ideological religious state or democratic state? aAd who’ll govern the state? an elected parliament or an usurper? And what’ll be the status of the national constitution?

Unfortunately, therefore we are facing lots of political,socio economic, cultural and constitutional problems. Religion is used by our unelected rulers to extend their rule for infinate time period,Gen Zia’s used it’s conservative interpertation and General Musharraf tried to use its liberal modern perspective. They used religion to undermine democratic federal realities and especialy questions related to democracy. Our elite ruling class presented religion as alternative of democracy and federation. The Objectives resolution weakened democratic culture here federal shariah court given overseight role,allowing unelected body to monitor elected parliament.

Another pertanient question is how we develop and strengthen democracy and Federation in Pakistan?

We have lots of questions and issues ranging from weak federation, provincial autonomy, even we do not seem to recognize federating unit’s traditions, culture and languages. This is further confounded by state patronage of extremism, state posture against liberalism, crises of democracy, unconstitutionalism, strong centre, powerful civil militry bureaucracy and widen gap between have and have nots. Until we solve these basic questions we are not able to generate deleivering democracy.

In my view democracy (pro people culture, mindset, values and traditions) is a process, which should evolve nationally and globally, especially in the third world. I beleive all societies and nations are ready for it. The real question is whether our eliete ruling class, military, bureaucracy and their junior partners feudels and religious tycoons are ready to surrender their positions and privileges?

Democracy stands on its pillars and the pillars of democracy are: sovereignty of the people, individual freedom with social responsibilities, government based upon consent of the governed, majority rule and protection and equal rights of minority,gurarentee of basic human rights,free and fair elections, independent judiciary and equality before the law, due process of law, constitutional limits on Government, social, economic and political pluralism, value of tolerance, pragmatism, cooperation and compromise, vibrant and responsible civil society based on vigilant citizenry, free and responsible media,access to information. We believe if democracy evolve than most of our problems will disappear.

If we resolve questions related to democracy and federation, with the help of foreign partners, then I don’t see Pakistan will collapse or disintegrate. We however need persistent foreign assistance for democracy in Pakistan.

In the current bleak situation,when Pakistan is facing worst sort of internal and external crises and chalenges, only Pakistan Peoples Party can save Pakistan,which is the only fedarl party in Pakistan.

Pakistan People’s Party is a symbol of Federation and democracy in Pakistan,we faced all dictators with great vision and zeal. Only PPP represents forces of change in society, therefore forces of status quo, also known as establishment, are against us.

We and our leadership follow Bhuttoism and Benazirism If we follow Shaukat Aziz and Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain’s pattern and leave our position on Balochistan, Pakistan-India relation, Pakistan-USA relations, liberal foreign policy and position on democratic institutions, then the hidden forces of establishment will be very happy.

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Abdul Nishapuri

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