The son also rises

Six years ago, Pakistan lost a brave – if not the bravest – leader, Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. Six years is a long time but every year on December 27, we mourn her martyrdom; we cry for a leader loved by millions of Pakistanis.

In an interview with the Herald in 2000, BB said: “Either the democratic forces win or the establishment wins. If the establishment wins, the past will be repeated and that is what has happened for 50 years. If the democratic forces win, maybe the 21st century will be different for Pakistan. It is a fight and we are unable to say who will be the winner. But then, democracy is also about evolution. And democracy is also about fighting for what you believe is right and not giving up.” Benazir Bhutto did not give up on her country, she did not give up on the people of Pakistan, she did not give up on democracy; she knew she could be, nay would be, killed but she came back to fight for a democratic and pluralistic Pakistan.

“2018 belongs to Bilawal,” said a senior journalist after hearing Pakistan People’s Party’s (PPP’s) patron-in-chief’s impassioned speech on BB Shaheed’s sixth death anniversary. Many people lost hope after her assassination but on December 27, 2013, their hopes were reignited by her son, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari. Nobody can ever replace BB Shaheed but in her son, her jiyalas see their new and true leader.

He may be a ‘kid’ but this 25-year-old boy has done what most men double his age are afraid to do. Not only did he openly challenge the Taliban and their sympathisers but his secular, progressive and pro-people vision was there for all to see. His courageous speech reminded one of BB Shaheed’s valour. When he said, “Dehshatgardon ke jo Yaar hain, Ghaddar hain, Ghaddar hain” [Friends of terrorists are traitors], Mr Bhutto-Zardari provided this country with a much-needed alternative to rightwing politics.

For far too long, Pakistani politics has been dominated by rightwing, centre-Right and extreme-Right political parties but now the PPP is trying to go back to its Left-of-Centre roots. Whether the young patron-in-chief can deliver on his promises or not remains to be seen but in a country where the most popular prime minister (Zulfikar Ali Bhutto) Pakistan has ever seen was hanged by a military dictator, where the most beloved leader (Benazir Bhutto) was assassinated in front of her followers, where the most populous province’s sitting Governor (Salmaan Taseer) was assassinated in broad daylight because he dared to defend an innocent Christian woman charged with alleged blasphemy, Bilawal’s clear vision against military dictatorship, terrorism, extremism and militancy must be lauded. One does not have to be a PPP supporter to know that it takes guts to say what he did. Pakistan can certainly become a truly democratic and strong country if we have more such youngsters amongst our midst. BB Shaheed, you must be proud of your children; so are we.

On another note, General (retd) Pervez Musharraf is on trial for treason. He may leave the country on one pretext or another to save his skin but a former army chief being tried for treason means Pakistan has come a long way. Long live democracy!

(Originally published in Mid-Day)


Manne said…
Amen to that.

In your opinion, will the current democratic gains sustain or will the new army chief do a Zia on Mian?

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