Another stroke of ‘genius’ - Ameer Bhutto - Thursday, May 05, 2011

Source :

“Fair is foul and foul is fair,

Hover through fog and filthy air.”

-- ‘Macbeth’ by Shakespeare

Zardari’s alliance with the PML-Q to get the budget passed, failing which his government would have been shown the door, will no doubt unleash a fresh round of applause from the usual bunch of starry-eyes, awe-struck so-called experts and analysts as yet another stroke of ‘genius’ on his part. It matters not that political and ethical principles as well as all important considerations of national and public interest are nowhere in sight, but as long as it produces the effect of rescuing the government from collapse, it is a stroke of ‘genius’ for some, even though the nation is already expressing revulsion at such a brazen sellout on both sides.

All we heard in the run-up to this unholy alliance was how many seats in cabinet will be awarded to the PML-Q, who will get the most lucrative and powerful portfolios and who will be deputy prime minister or senior minister.

With the crown prince of the PML-Q sitting in prison under charges of corruption, one could be forgiven for believing that there is a whole other aspect of this accord between the PPP and the PML-Q that public eyes are not privy to. But what will the country and the people get out of this alliance? If either side had even a trace of ideological foundations and commitments or even an iota of concern for the people they purport to represent, there would have been give and take on issues of public interest rather than wrangling over cabinet posts and portfolios.

Apart from a routine statement of demands for public consumption which nobody expects to be implemented, who actually believes that the PML-Q really pressed the government in earnest for meaningful measures to ensure the cessation of drone attacks, a crack down on corruption and stopping massive wastage of public funds, action in Karachi to stop the target-killing bloodbath and improvement of the law and order conditions generally?

All this alliance amounts to is a melee of ‘use and be used’ for both parties for personal and political benefits. Both sides know this and they do not mind being used by the other side as long as they too profit from it. No benefits whatsoever shall accrue to the nation. Still, some will rush to call this alliance a stroke of genius.

This government feels it is bestowing a great favour upon Zulfikar Ali Bhutto by filing a presidential reference in the Supreme Court to exonerate his name in the murder case for which he was hanged. The fact is that the people of Pakistan and history always held him to be innocent and his legacy has been repeatedly honoured by the people as his party has thrice been voted into power since his judicial murder. But while this government pays meaningless lip service to the Bhutto legacy, it has formed an alliance with those who played a key role in the PNA movement that toppled his government and put him in the gallows.

Furthermore, this government, which came into power only because of Benazir Bhutto’s murder, reportedly offered the post of deputy prime minister and now senior minister to the man Benazir herself named among those who should be held answerable if anything happened to her.

In a press conference in Karachi on the day after the attempt on her life upon her return from exile, the whole world saw Benazir Bhutto identify by name people who she believed wanted her dead and should be held accountable if she were to be harmed – this list included the name of a PML-Q leader who has now been inducted into the cabinet and will reportedly soon be appointed senior minister.

It is also public knowledge that in his first press conference after Benazir Bhutto’s funeral, Zardari referred to the PML-Q as the Qatil (murderers) League. Now, this sudden somersault in the name of preservation of power is sans principles, sans even a smidgen of honesty and morality, and sans any loyalty to the Bhuttos, in whose name this lot live, breathe and have prospered financially and politically beyond their wildest dreams.

What greater betrayal of the Bhuttos of Garhi Khuda Buksh can there be than their political successors forging an alliance with their mortal enemies? But some persist in calling such immoral maneuvering political ‘genius’.

The scent of the Bhuttos has disappeared from the Peoples Party. Truth be told, the process of jettisoning all traces of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto from his own party was initiated by Benazir Bhutto herself. She severed ties with the old guard, who created the party along with her father and who were senior and ideologically committed office bearers and workers on whose shoulders her father rose to power and acquired international fame, to make room for the very elements that her father struggled against and some of whom even celebrated and distributed sweets when he was hanged.

His vision and unbending principled stand was watered down and diluted in the name of political expediency. After Benazir Bhutto’s murder, the new leadership not only completed the elimination of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s aura from the party but embarked upon replacing Benazir’s influence with those whom she and her father bore contempt for and made it a point to keep at arms length.

Adherence to personality cults is an archaic concept and new leaders must evolve a new outlook and vision for the future based on sound morals and principles, but this lot has failed to do so simply because it has no vision, no fresh message of hope. The only crutch they have to lean on to survive in power is the Bhutto name and they cannot face the people without literally hiding behind the portraits of Bhuttos to conceal ugly realities. But now even that spell is wearing off. People demand results and solutions to their mounting problems which hollow old slogans and appeals to drained out emotions cannot provide.

In all this, the silence of the jiyalas is deafening. Is there no one left in the whole party with a conscience, if not at the ministerial or MNA/MPA/senator level, who have supped full at the banquet of power, then at the grassroots level? No one who still retains some vestige of commitment to the principles of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto and feels genuine pain in seeing their new party leaders embrace their mortal enemies? Where are all those who wailed and beat their chests hysterically when Benazir was murdered? Where are all those who make it a point to be photographed offering fateha and shedding crocodile tears at the tomb of the Bhuttos in Garhi Khuda Buksh every so often?

How can they watch in criminal silence as their party is mercilessly dismantled from within, something even military dictators failed to do? This poignant silence is a crushing indictment of our society as a whole; we have come to value personal gain more than principles and self-aggrandisement more than heeding our conscience.

But what will happen after all the ‘using’ and ‘being used’ is done? The PML-N, MQM and JUI-F know only too well how things unfold in alliances with this government. This new alliance is the most unnatural one yet in the last three years. Troubled times lie ahead, not just for this ill-fated alliance but for the whole nation, for we have forsaken principles and values based on honesty, truth and justice to pursue expediency and a quick buck. That is why, instead of opting for clean and capable leaders, we prefer dishonest and corrupt ones who loot public funds and throw a few scraps our way as well.

The writer is vice-chairman of the Sindh National Front and a former MPA from Ratodero. He has degrees from the University of Buckingham and Cambridge University.

No comments:

Post a Comment