Resistance to pettiness of power
30 April, 2007
By Muhammad Ahsan Yatu
‘My father asked him why you made so many mistakes. His (Bhutto’s) reply was: I got so much so early’: Illahi Bkhash Somroo renowned Sindhi politician said while talking about Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto on TV
Is Benazir Bhutto too making mistakes one after another including the latest one the so-called deal with the General because she too got so much so early? Neither father nor daughter had attained anything at all if the talk is about the politics. So question of achieving some thing late or early is meaningless. Like the father the daughter too was picked by the army and promoted to a level of dummy prime minister. Yes, both enjoyed protocol and powers to shower favours on their favourites in the bureaucracy and also among their friends. It was nothing but demonstration of reciprocity to satisfy their feudal ego. The rest that is real politics, the budget making, was not in their control. Neither was foreign policy. Both kept on pleasing the generals, the Americans and the Arabs to remain in power.
All the civilian rulers except Liaqat Ali during his early years of rule did the same. Liaqat was busy in consolidating his ethnic constituency in Sindh and also in establishing an identity for his constituents. That is why Objectives Resolution was passed. He might not have known that through the Objectives Resolution he had also laid the foundation of Talbanisation of Pakistan. The military rulers did only one additional thing; they turned the military into a multi-trade and business organisation and the military bureaucracy into the feudal and wealth based nobility. These are the achievements of our rulers. What the nation attained is before all of us. The deal between the General and Benazir Bhutto is nothing but to continue with such achievements by keeping the circle of power or circus of power intact. Almost all of us know this, yet the deal has shaken the people.
‘We would be completely destroyed in elections, if the deal is a reality or becomes a reality, though Benazir’s statements have already done lot of damage.’ These are the comments of a PPP parliamentarian on the ‘deal’. ‘Why is she riding a dying horse’; so said a PPP office bearer in Islamabad. ‘Now the ‘uniform’ is a matter of pride and power also for you.’ It was a taunt from a lawyer affiliated with the PML (N). ‘What does Benazir Bhutto want? She has asked for her political death.’ This is what a shopkeeper of Rawalpindi said. He never voted for the PPP. But after every election he would say, we voted for Shiekh but yours’ is the only political party around. The above experiences were narrated by a PPP worker.
He said more: ‘I have no longer faith in the PPP and for that matter in any other political party. As a matter of fact in a country where making wealth has been the only obsession of the elite and that too either through misuse of authority or through the land holdings based slavery or through extortion hidden in indirect taxation or through mafias no genuine political party can emerge. The civil-military bureaucracy, the feudal, the urban race and wealth based fascists and the Islamists are in a grand compromise not to allow real politics to emerge and take roots. It is not out of so-called patriotism that the nationalists of Pakistan are abhorred by all of the constituents of this great compromise. So genuine politics wherever it was, was crushed by our circle of ruling elite, and that is enough proof of they being one and the same , no matter they are in the ‘uniform’ or in the shalwar kameez or in the jeans or in the Mao style suiting. My romance with the PPP was shaken when the Baloch were chased for a kill by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. It decreased considerably during the first tenure of Benazir, and it was completely finished during her second tenure. I am being warned and subjected to taunts because the people still take me as a PPP worker.’
During the last thirty years no political deal or dialogue has generated as much heat or hatred as the one between the PPP chairperson and the president. Earlier Rafique Bajwa of the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) destroyed his political career when he was accused of talking to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto without the consent of his comrades. Factually he had the consent, but the great ‘democrat’ Nawbzada Nassrullah stabbed him in the back.
The situation before the president’s reference against the chief justice was different. A deal between the PPP and the government would have benefited both. They would have won the election and ruled jointly for one or two years. Yes only for a short period. Neither the PPP leadership nor the president is aware of what is heating up in the minds of the people and a section of the elite. While the former stand crushed by the abject poverty, the latter has become restless with the awful money making business that has been going on for so many years. A part of this restless section of elite has acted out of sincerity. Its expression was first seen when the Chief justice declared the privatisation bid for the Steel Mill illegal. It has also acted out of the fear that nothing will remain with the Pakistanis and in Pakistan if the enrichment of the outsiders and of those insiders, who plunder Pakistan and keep their wealth in Dubai or elsewhere, continues. What is going on in the shape of the resistance shown by the judiciary and lawyers, and the support given to it by a section of the powerful elite and the sympathies won by it from the common people is what would have happened after the above said joint rule. It happened earlier because the situation had reached the boiling point.
Benazir Bhutto had tried for the deal from the day one of Musharraf’s rule. She had offered her services telling the coup makers that she knew much that would help them. She was not accommodated because everybody from Mian Azhar to Ch. Shujat to Iltaf Hussain to Farooq Laghari to Pir of Pagaro to almost all stalwarts was available. Moreover despite ousting Nawaz Sharif the establishment was sympathetic to him. If he was to be sent out, how Benazir could be brought in. Almost all the generals, the judges and the rich individuals and groups had benefited from Nawaz Sharif’s twenty year rule of generosity. That is why he was given the best of all deals. He was sent abroad with a clean chit. Imagine a person who raised his industrial empire from three factories to 23, made Motorway with thrice the routine cost and turned into a feudal owning thousands of acres of land was dry-cleaned for all times to come.
Benazir’s misuse of authority and mismanagement of things was also massive but it was far less than that of Nawaz Sharif. He escaped the accountability due to his connections and ethnic base. The present dispensation has surpassed both of them. What it did through privatisation, sugar scams, stock exchanges, property dealing, Banks etc. is unimaginable. It too will get a clean chit. In a country where national interest and accountability mean to keep Rawalpindi, Punjab and Karachi calm, if Benazir is making a deal, she is not committing a different ‘sin’. Deal or no deal, it is a non-issue. What would make the difference is the result of the efforts of our restless elite?