end of bhutto era in pakistan
Hyderabad (Pakistan): General elections in Pakistan are being held on May11 this year,only a day away. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPPs), which was founded four decates ago by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, is facing toughest times in its history as it braces to contnue clinging on to power.
Mr. Bhutto, a foreign minister in General Ayub’s cabinet and a Prime Minister of the country, founded PPP with slogans to fight with India for 1,000 years and “bread and home for all”. The party has been ruling Pakistan intemittently since 1971, but is no more a strong political force that it once used to be in deciding the fate of the country, and perhaps it is for this reason that it has no more Bhutto to lead it.
In December 2007 its leader and two time prime minister Ms. Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in a public meeting at Rawalpindi, only 80 days before the elections. Her assasination led to a sympathy wave resulting in winning the vote for her party which ruled along with other partners for a full term of five year, but its performace was rated as zero. Its (mis) rule had multiplied miseries and deprivation of people of Pakistan who are cursing party leadership for snatching from them the basic needs of electricity (there happens to be 12 out of 24 hours a day power outage), gas and petrol for vehicles, bread, healthcare, education and even 60% population living in rural areas have no access to clean drinking water. In December 2012 and January 2013 as many as 550 children under age of 9 died of measles, while ministers were not visibly moved to save innocent lives. In Sindh alone education was destroyed by continuous closure of 10,000 elementary schools as powerful feudal lords had turned school buildings in rural areas into their animal barns. Unemployment, price hike and poverty has touched the climax, and people are either committing suicide or selling their children.
In the last week of March when schedule of elections was announced PPP found itself running short of candidates and once again relied on poweful feudal lords despised by the poor who form 80 % of population. President Asif Ali Zardari took over the reins of the party after assassination of his wife Ms. Benazir Bhutto and turned PPP into his family cult. His sister Ms. Faryal Talpur was made as de facto ruler of Pakistan while his foster brother Awais Tapi was made in-charge of governmental affairs in Sindh where 20 million people were hit by three years of continuous floods in 2010, 2011 and 2013. The floods swept away their homes, animals, and even children, but the federal or state government in Sindh did not take any step to save affected people from dying or providing relief or rehabilitation. Millions are still passing nights under open sky. The relief aid coming from abroad was also pocketed by PPP leaders and workers.
Now when the candidates nominated by Zardari’s sister approach people for vote they are unwelcome and face hurdles placed by villagers who ask them what have they done for people while being five years in power. In one incident at Jamshoro the armed men of powerful feudal lord Sardar Malik Asad fired on villagers who blocked his entry into village for begging votes injuring seven person.
The fact is that Zardari has made party as his family affair with leadership in the hands of his son, two sisters and foster brother. People in general rate PPP as Zardari party and not that of Bhutto. Feeling ire of people the party has not held even one public meeting in Punjab, the biggest province with 148 national assembly seats out of 272. The PPP has also not held public meetings in Kyber Pukhtoonkwa and Balochistan out of rage, hate and anger, and has concentrated itself in one province of Sindh where there are only 61 NA seats. In 2008, when Benazir Bhutto’s assassination wave was running high PPP had hardly got 34 parliamentary seats in Sindh. This time foreseeing that it cannot come into power again the party was trying hard to at least win such number of seats as to form state government in Sindh in collaboration of Mutehida Qaumi Movement the Karachi based urban party its past govt partner. Reports are that PPP is using all methods of rigging in Sindh including distributing bikes among voters.
In the final analysis the Pakistan Peoples Party that was founded by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto has ended so abruptly that it has lost its charisma and as such it is end of Bhutto era in Pakistan. It is a forgone conclusion that the PPP is heading for a massive defeat in the general elections.
[Abbas Kassaris Bureau Chief of daily Messenger of Karachi and writes stories on human rights violations in Pakistan for Asian Human Rights Commission Hong Kong. He is member of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, European Journalism Center and Writers International Group. He can be reached at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and can also be contacted at +92 3453585137]