Articles of the year 2009

The Time to Sacrifice
Published on November 21st, 2009

The Pakistan Peoples Party has now entered the self-destruct mode. Once the champion of the poor people, of the underprivileged, founded by the charismatic and brilliant Zulfikar Ali Bhutto - it now faces a humiliating trust deficit, brought about by the leadership that was wrested in the aftermath of the tragic assassination of Mohtrama Benazir Bhutto. Events moved so quickly that all were left aghast at the emergence of Mr Asif Zardari as the new strongman of Pakistan. In our minds the result reflected the peoples' grief, and was acceptable to all. Notwithstanding the murky machinations of the US and British hands in the background. However, subsequent events have shown that the PPP chairman has chartered a course which is disastrous for the party and far worse, will damage the federation of Pakistan of which he is president.

The sycophancy syndrome that seems to afflict all Pakistani leadership has shown itself manifestly in the Zardari Cabinet, with equally disastrous results. From the Musharraf Cabinet, which included the 'slapper' and the 'liar', the mantle of the liar has shifted to the minister for water and power who has promised time and again to light up our lives, while we grope on in the dark. In reality these promises are promised delays. The basic flaw in the Cabinet as in Musharraf's is the inability to perform. This abysmal performance was the reason for Musharraf's ouster, and the incumbent government looks headed in the same direction - only faster. In Pakistan, crony cabinets are the norm, but it seems that the president may have scraped the barrel while picking his lot. Except for the prime minister, none of the insiders carries any weight other than scandals. The president has not sacked any of his cronies, which was done by the prime minister - full marks to him. The PM's steps have resulted in his wife's name appearing on the NRO list! Inaction on the part of the president smacks of complicity. With the large number of scandals surfacing in the press, if the Supreme Court were to take notice then a separate Accountability Court may have to be formed just for this regime alone - and that too in just over a year.

Having watched the PPP grow from a small group of people surrounding Mr Zulfikar Bhutto, a group consisting of outstanding intellectuals of the time, compared to this sad sorry lot. There is no shortage of brilliant honest people, who are competent, such as Aitzaz Ahsan - a qualifier in any Cabinet. Salman Taseer the only successful businessman in the PPP ambit who should have been minister finance - to make a meaningful contribution in his field, apart from adding lustre to the present incompetent bunch in the Cabinet. The Bhutto legacy and his dream of a Peoples Party is fading fast. At this rate the people may decide to eject the party members, even before the courts do so. After all the PPP dream belongs to all of Pakistan, and to sully the vision, and damage Pakistan in the process is something that cannot be allowed to continue.

Mr Altaf Hussain is right, Zardari must make the supreme sacrifice, for the party and for Pakistan. So that both may survive.

The Pakistan Peoples Party may soon have to decide their future course. For the rank and file have suffered more than any other party, and the time for prosperity is now being enjoyed by cronies who may be responsible for its premature demise. In an ideal, truly democratic society, the party must take stock of its position immediately and agitate for the removal of the corrupt cronies whose names are well known to the workers. If the chairman does not heed the call then the workers can agitate to bring pressure on him. If not then he can be forced to resign - by the workers. The workers are well aware of the bountiful rewards being reaped, without any crumbs going their way.

They also realise that under the crony culture, many rewards are being reaped, while industry and commerce is being ignored. The biggest demand of the workers are jobs. With the cronies concentrating on the short-term it is the party worker and others that suffers, for jobs are not the priority of the cronies.

The workers would do well to institute their own accountability - of the leadership. They are well aware of how much is going into whose pocket. They must raise their voices, for it is their strength that has brought the party to govern. To be squandered on cronies, putting their hard won victory at risk, and taking the long walk back to their poverty, marks the end of their current dream, and gives them more to mourn the passing of Benazir - who would not have allowed this to happen.