Dr Abdul Razak Shaikh
THE Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that his party leadership and father Asif Ali Zardari was not afraid of detentions and added that attempts were being made to suppress his party by instituting fake cases against them. He said that the masses gave a mandate to his party in Sindh and added that they would not allow anyone to topple down their government in the province. Pakistan Peoples Party rendered unmatched sacrifices for democracy in the country and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had given Pakistan a constitution and turned the country into a nuclear state. Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was the voice of the common man and a beacon of hope for the masses. Asif Ali Zardari had restored the constitution of 1973 and provided the provinces strong legislative and financial autonomy. PPP criticizing the government, especially Prime Minister Imran Khan, the arrest of Pakistan Peoples’ Party senior leader Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah was just a matter of time. This is the perception that the method of accountability has developed among people. The National Accountability Bureau arrested Shah in Islamabad in a case regarding assets beyond means. The most pressing charge against him is about an amenity plot in a housing society in Sukkur, which, as per NAB sources, the Shah converted it into a residential plot, besides stashing some Benami properties in the name of his front men or servants. Had the accountability watchdog been dead sure about the authenticity of the allegation, it would have instituted a reference against the vocal leader (Shah) months ago. Now, in days to come, we will see if Shah stands trial in Sukkur.
Shah is just an addition to the list of opposition leaders facing NAB trials, such as former Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Maryam Nawaz, former President, and PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur, former Finance Minister Miftah Ismail, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shahbaz. Of the long list of NAB suspects, only Shahbaz Sharif has secured bail. The fate of others seem uncertain too because the trial goes on at a snail’s pace. NAB authorities justify the arrest of suspects to accumulate tangible and intangible evidence against them and to grill them. At the end of the day, the exercise turns out to be a burden on NAB authorities. Several people picked by NAB for interrogation has later secured bail after courts see no meat in evidence in their cases. The arrest of Shah, a sitting MNA, at a time when the House is in session, points to the government’s disregard for the law of the land. The Assembly rules state that the Speaker’s permission is mandatory to arrest a parliamentarian during a session. The Speaker himself has undermined the sanctity of his office by refusing to issue production orders of detained parliamentarians. History is watching the actions of all actors. The National Accountability Bureau arrested PPP Senator Yousuf Baloch on corruption charges. Baloch was arrested outside his residence in Bhurban. He has been accused of owning illegal property in Karachi’s Clifton. News of the arrest came shortly after the arrest of PPP leader Khursheed Shah in Islamabad. The speculations are that sitting Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah might be arrested very soon. This type of politics will damage the real role of leadership and democracy will not flourish, corruption must be eradicated from country but arrested leaders given all facilities including proper defence in the court of law. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was the one to lay the foundation of true democracy and paid the price for it heavily. It was he who gave a unanimously approved Constitution to the country, which provided and ensured the autonomy to federating units of the country. In 1982, his daughter Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was elected as Peoples Party’s Chairperson. The Peoples Party started the Movement for Restoration of Democracy which was one of the greatest non-violent democratic movements in the world against the ruthless dictatorship of General Zia-ul-Haq.
After twelve long years, the Peoples Party returned to power after winning the general election in 1988 with Benazir Bhutto becoming the first female Prime minister of a Muslim country — Pakistan. In 1990, the Peoples Party’s government was dismissed. The Peoples Party later came into power after general election in 1993 with Bhuttoism becoming the most influential and powerful. Peoples Party government was dismissed by the Party’s own elected President Farooq Leghari in September 1996. After the assassination of Benazir Bhutto on 27 December 2007, 2008 parliamentary election was held on 18 February. The PPP won considerable victory among all political parties, gaining momentum of general seats 121 from all provinces in Parliament. On 28 March 2008, the People’s Party appointed Yousuf Raza Gillani for the office of the Prime Minister and latter on Asif Ali Zardari elected President of Pakistan and he surrenders all the powers for the cause of democracy through the 18th Amendment. Though PPP has lost major province Punjab in 2013 and 2018 elections, even then PPP has basic organization in every corner of country with a tricolour flag. PPP leadership and its workers must look retrospectively into what they need to do for further strengthening of Party in the whole of Pakistan. It must be in a position where Shaheed ZA Bhutto and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto made party powerful and still perception is that strong political future of PPP will remain. PPP is a Symbol of Federation and must be kept near, if we ignore the PPP, then the political future of the country will not be better.
— The writer is retired officer of Sindh Govt.