Sunday October 01, 2023

Impressive show

March 11, 2022

The long march led by PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has come to an end after demonstrating an impressive power show. For the last few days, vehicles decorated with PPP flags have been seen on the streets of Islamabad. On the roofs of big trucks and buses, a large number of PPP workers were raising slogans in support of PPP founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and his daughter Benazir Bhutto, both elected as prime ministers of Pakistan. The long march has also refreshed the memories of the PTI dharna in Islamabad.

When Bilawal Bhutto’s caravan entered Islamabad, a huge number of people were already present on roads to welcome him. I was earlier assuming that only people of Sindh would participate in the long march but the most astonishing fact is that people from different areas and diverse backgrounds came on roads in support of their favourite party.

Today, the PPP’s public march reminded me of my column published in April 2018 on the occasion of the death anniversary of Zulfikar Ali Bhuto , in which I wrote that regardless of the present policies of the PPP, Bhutto’s charismatic personality is still fascinating even after four decades. After Quaid-e-Azam, Bhutto emerged as a strong political personality in Pakistan. I believe that Bhutto’s name is among those few distinguished personalities of history that are remembered with devotion after death. “Bhutto will live forever in the hearts of people,”

As foreign minister, Bhutto earned a lot of respect in the eyes of the public. He initiated an independent foreign policy for Pakistan and during the Pakistan-India war of 1965, he convinced China, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Kuwait, Syria and many other countries to ensure financial, diplomatic and moral support.

Bhutto’s leading contributions also echo to my mind today in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The nuclear programme in Ukraine was in full swing during the Soviet era. The most horrific nuclear accident in history ever took place at the Chernobyl plant, located there. However, after independence from the USSR, Ukraine withdrew its nuclear programme at the behest of the US and the West. Thanks to Bhutto’s timely and far-sighted decision, our beloved homeland’s defence has become invincible. The drafting of Pakistan’s first ever consensus constitution to the country in 1973 is another remarkable achievement.

In my view, another great achievement of Bhutto was to ensure the inclusion of non-Muslim minorities in the journey of national development by ensuring their participation in jobs in national institutions. Even today the PPP takes the lead to ensure protection of minorities’ rights under its rule.

I believe that these are some significant steps taken for the welfare of the people that have kept Bhutto alive in the hearts of the people even after a long time. The PPP long march has also demonstrated that the PPP’s politics still revolve around Bhutto to seek public support in his name.

Today, in the context of the country’s politics, the opposition parties are once again in the news headlines. The high inflation rate, uncertainty due to Covid-19, price surges of petrol and dollar, IMF pressure and the FATF’s decision to keep Pakistan in the grey list have had a devastating effect on the people. However, the no-confidence motion is always like a T-20 cricket match and nobody is currently in a position to make an accurate analysis of what will happen next.

The writer is a member of the National Assembly and patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council.

He tweets @RVankwani