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Bilawal: One Without an Equal


The day he was born, his father named him ‘Bilawal’, which means “one without an equal”. He seems to compliment the meaning of his name while getting nourished in the Petri dish of a ‘dynasty- based political culture’. Bilawal’s name, itself, has established a unique example in the naming-system of Pakistani society. Usually the child uses the name of his/her father as the sir name. However, on December 30, 2007, after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, Bilawal’s full name was revised as ‘Bilawal Bhutto Zardari‘ by his father Asif Ali Zardari. In his teenage he was granted the chairmanship of Pakistan’s largest political party, Pakistan People’s Party. At that time, young Bilawal supported ‘democracy’ as the ‘best revenge’.

On the fifth death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto, at the age of 24 (which is one year less than the age required to be a part of Pakistan’s Parliament), Bilawal Bhutto Zardari chose the mausoleum of Bhutto family in Gari Khuda Baksh as a launching pad for his political career. The very first political speech by the youngest ever chairman of Pakistan People’s Party, managed to gather 200,000 people from Pakistan. With his voice reflecting the tone of his slain mother, Bilawal registered a complaint in the court of the masses – why the judiciary can’t bring to book the assassins of my mother? The speech was delivered amidst an array of emotions, slogans recalling Benazir and Bhuttoism as an immortal ‘political thought’ in Pakistan.

Being a new entrant in politics, he has been active since the start of 2012. Earlier in May, in an interview given to CNN, Bilawal openly held former despot General Pervez Musharraf responsible for “murdering” his mother by providing her with insufficient security. On the other hand, the party has given illogical explanations over the assassination of Benzir Bhutto to the nation, the day it came into power. The level of bewilderment within the PPP circles can be judged from the contradictory statements given by the party members in one day. Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira (a credible member of PPP) said that one of Benazir Bhutto’s suspected killers was killed in a drone strike where as the remaining accused languish in jail. Bilawal either doesn’t know about it or Kaira forgot to tell him. Few months back, the print media of Pakistan, reported different sources of PPP, which signalled towards the revelation of a list that contained names of those behind the murder of Benazir. The Interior Minister Rehaman Malik stated that the list wasn’t revealed earlier as the permission to do so had to be granted by the Supreme Court. Contrary to Rehman’s argument, the Court ascertained that the government wasn’t duty-bound to seek the permission of any court in the country for revealing names of Benazir’s murderers.

Before launching a political career, the young chairman should be clear about those involved in silencing her mother. An emotionally charged population could always gather around him as the loss of Benazir Bhutto is an irrecoverable tragedy for even those who disagreed with her political notions. He surely is ‘without an equal’, no teenage boy in Pakistan can achieve what he did five years back. The Indian media has projected Bilawal Bhutto Zardari more than Pakistani media (before the official start of his career as a politician). He has been likened to Rajiv Gandhi, but even the Indians confessed his precedence. Both Rajiv and Bilawal, share the same political background with slight differences. However, the Oxford-educated Bilawal unlike the Cambridge-educated Rajiv hasn’t contested a single election till now. A common student in Pakistan opines that it is doubtful whether Bilawal even knows the name of the city that lies next to Goth Shah, in the southern province of Sindh, Pakistan.

bhuttos and GandhisPhoto courtesy: Outlook Magazine August 25, 2008- Weekly News magazine of India

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Posted by on December 28, 2012 in Political Ticker

 

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Remembering Daughter of the East


Remembering Daughter of the East

Benazir Bhutto D o E

Benazir Bhutto (21 June 1953 – 27 December 2007)

One might disagree with her political ideology, but she was a visionary and seasoned politician. Following the legacy of her charismatic father, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, she audaciously faced all perils. The father entered the gallows and the daughter intercepted the bullet. Historians will quote her as an example while discussing courage, valour and heroic stances adopted by firm fisted women around the world. During her last address to a public rally in Liaqat Baagh Rawalpindi, Benazir Bhutto seemed not less than a gallant warrior of democracy. Her resolve for rescuing the country from its ‘socio-political quagmire’ strengthened with each word that she delivered on December 27, 2007. Unfortunately, the nation didn’t get a chance to assess the mature political vibrancy of Benazir. The first woman premier of a Muslim country was shot dead soon after she bade farewell to her supporters at Liaqat Baagh. Pakistanis witnessed a second political assassination at the same place (first being that of Liaqat Ali Khan– first premier of Pakistan). The culprits are yet to be discovered and brought to book, for both the tragedies that befell the young nation. Her prognostication about the conditions following, in case of her assassination, turned into reality. ‘My death will serve as a catalyst for change’, said late Benazir.

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) won the general elections of 2008. The country got rid of Musharraf regime and the judiciary was restored after a long, monotonous struggle of coalition partners that joined the lawyers’ movement. Benazir’s widower, Asif Ali Zardari hailed the party as its vice-chairman and her son, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, embraced chairmanship at a young age. The next general elections are round the corner. It is for the first time in the political history of Pakistan that a democratically elected government is likely to complete its constitutional five-year tenure. As per prophecy, her assassination did mark a significant wave of democratic transition. Undoubtedly, Pakistan was enmeshed in innumerable problems like power crisis, faltering economy and the country’s steepening position into the abyss of extremism. The past five years weren’t easy for the subjects and the constituents. Governments’ clash with the judiciary, a chequered relation with the opposition factions and disgruntled allies like the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) accounted for a fragile democratic stature. What baffled the most was the considerable deviance of the incumbent government from Benazir Bhutto’s political conviction.

In her first political speech that she has narrated in her book, ‘Daughter of the East’, Benazir argued with Professor Michael Walzer on Pakistan’s inability to provide Bengalis with the right of self-determination. With her quivering lips, young Benazir, silenced an audience of 201 students (1 herself) as she opposed the Professor by stating that the right of self-determination was granted to Bengalis in 1947. It’s a lamentable fact that Pakistan People’s Party under President Zardari didn’t follow the vocal audacity of Benazir to improve Pakistan’s place on the international horizon. I doubt if Shaheed-e-Jamhooriyat (martyr of democracy- the title PPP ascribes with Benazir) would have sent an op-ed to Washington Post in the wake of Abbotabad raid by the US Navy SEALs. From the Movement to Restore Democracy (MRD) to her last publicly signed document, Charter of Democracy (CoD), her dissent for oppression, favour towards political liberty and commitment to democratic values was obvious. She was a confident leader who resisted subjugation and enslavement till her last breath. Another thing that goes to her credit is the way she reassembled the barracks of PPP to ensure that it remains a cohesive political force after Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s death.

The recent fragmentation of PPP with the exclusion of someone as important as Shah Mehmood Quraishi and thwarting echoes of members like Zulfiqar Mirza, depicts the inefficacy of today’s PPP to contain separatist divergence. A leadership which cannot serve as a unifier has a tendency to misgovern the country.
Although the post-Benazir PPP attempted to revive concepts of ‘political reconciliation’ and national integration through coalitions and National Finance Commission Award, respectively. It takes performance and administrative efficiency to reside in the hearts of the masses. Benazir Bhutto wasn’t an adept administrator as well, but a visionary leader who possessed political acumen. The ideological liberalism of the PPP requires a projection through governance strategies, articulation of public sentiments and clear political orientations. The nation poured in sympathy votes the last time as a token of homage to brave Benazir. Upcoming elections will conclude in accordance with the performance of Zardari-led PPP. The essential Bhuttoism isn’t that pure now as late Benazir mentions in Daughter of the East:

“My father’s imprint on me, however, keeps me going.
Endurance. Honour. Principle.
In the stories my father used to tell us as children, the Bhuttos always
won a moral fight.”

Benazir the lady

Benazir the lady (Photo credit: liber(the poet);)

This blog post has also been published as ‘Tribute to Benazir Bhutto’ in The News International Blog http://blogs.thenews.com.pk/blogs/2012/12/tribute-to-benazir-bhutto/

 

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2012 in Random Scape

 

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Why the General Elections of 2013 in Pakistan will be Unique?


This audio identifies the factors that make the general elections of Pakistan in 2013, unique and historic.

(Click the play button above to listen)

Editorial Content of the Audio

Pakistan’s road towards democracy has been full of hurdles. The incumbent ruling coalition of the Pakistan People’s Party ( also known as the PPP) is the first democratically elected government in the history of Pakistan to complete its five-year term. However, the nation paid a heavy price for this. PPP’s leader and former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto was assassinated after addressing a public rally in Liaqat Baagh Rawalpindi just when the elections of 2008 under General Musharraf were around the corner.

The dictator was ousted by the lawyers’ movement that supported the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. Pakistan People’s Party marked an important democratic transition under the leadership of Asif Ali Zardari (widower of late Benazir Bhutto). Despite heavy criticism from the opposition for PPP’s bad governance, ill-management of energy crisis and record levels of corruption, the party is moving towards the end of its complete term.

The general elections of 2013 will be unique for a number of reasons.

To name a major few;

  • it is for the first time that political parties got a time span of 5 years to engage with the local population.
  • Imran Khan, the cricketer-turned-politician has attracted a sizeable number of youth that constitutes more than half of the total population of Pakistan. Ascribing the word Tsunami with it, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf under the leadership of Imran Khan presents itself as a symbol for change in Pakistan.
  • It is for the first time that politicians are using social media, information networks like Twitter to reach the masses.
  • Public rallies were in full swing during the years 2011 and 2012. Including the historic public address of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Chief Imran Khan.
  • The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is constantly working to ensure that the elections in 2013 should be free and fair by all means.
  • The Supreme Court of Pakistan made some unprecedented verdicts on the socio-political issues of the country including reforms in the electoral process.
  • The upcoming general elections will be the most expensive ones in the history of Pakistan. The ECP has estimated that Rs 5.90 billion in expenses will be incurred during the election compared to Rs 1.45 billion spent in 2008. Moreover, the 180 million ballot papers printed for the election will be watermarked!
  • Last but not the least, ‘political songs’ echoed the most in rallies of Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf. Pop singer Abrar ul Haq sided with Imran Khan and Fakhir Mehmood, another singer of Pakistan, joined Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.pakistan_elections

 What is left to be seen is that how these factors will mould voting behaviour in Pakistan where most of the voters are ’emotionally-charged’ and literacy rate isn’t satisfactory.

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2012 in Audio

 

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