Another PPP rejoinder to Sehbai article in The News -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Another PPP rejoinder to Sehbai article in The News

Taj Haider

KARACHI: Washington based Shaheen Sehbai has once again written a most subjective and abusive piece “All gloves are off but time is running out” (The News, March 11, 2011). He has invited the imaginary army-judiciary nexus to rush to the aid of reactionaries and act against the democratically elected government in the country. Planted pieces like the one referred to bring both these institutions into disrepute and it is high time that these institutions that have time and again voiced their support for democracy took note of such insinuations.

Sehbai in his desperation has cried out that “time is running out”. The fact of the matter is that the era during which non-elected institutions of the state colluded together to undermine and dismiss the elected houses is long past. Some like Sehbai are still stuck with their bouts of nostalgia, ignoring the truth that the movement of time and history is always towards the future.

The era of dictatorships is gone because the leadership and workers of the Pakistan People’s Party and other progressive groups have rendered historic sacrifices in the path of freedom, rights and democracy. The supreme sacrifices of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Shaheed Bibi Sahiba, the Bhutto family as well as thousands of other silent soldiers of democracy have not been in vain. The era is gone because the present PPP Co-Chairman, President Asif Ali Zardari chose to bravely face the hardships of imprisonment and torture in police stations instead of signing deals with dictators and flying out of the country. Much more so, the dark era is gone for ever because of the great futuristic vision of Shaheed Bibi Sahiba, who made the right choices of supporting every move that brought democracy closer and did not allow narrow prejudices or political rivalries to obstruct the path to democracy. She supported the 13th and the 14th amendments to the constitution and saved the Nawaz Sharif government twice while herself running from one court to the next to defend trumped up charges against her and the imprisoned Zardari. She went out of her way to ignore past atrocities and took Nawaz Sharif on board first while forming the ARD and subsequently when concluding the Charter of Democracy. The PPP had to concede a lot of ground to reactionaries while taking these steps but her criteria remained that these steps were necessary for moving closer to the goal of bringing in an era of democracy.

Regardless of the colour in which the reactionaries have tried to paint the NRO it was this bold step of Shaheed Bibi Sahiba, that made it possible for the Sharif brothers, who had earlier signed not to take part in politics for 10 years and who had been returned to their safe haven abroad when they tried to enter Pakistan, to come back and organise their election campaign. Once again while they had decided to boycott the elections it was none else than the PPP Co- Chairman Asif Ali Zardari who persuaded them to be a part of the electoral process. All these steps by the PPP were aimed at brining the democratic goal nearer.

Shaheen Sehbai most unethically and with all the venom in his heart and pen has again and again chosen to sit in judgment and pronounce Zardari guilty on charges that could not be proved in any court in both the despotic eras, first of Nawaz Sharif and the second that of the dictator. It is unfortunate that PML-N has taken support of a temporary insertion made by General Musharraf in the 14th Amendment to break another political party and to indulge in blatant horse trading. This is a bad omen for democracy which has made “foul fair and fair foul” and shows how far PML-N can go to fortify its stranglehold on the only province where it has some existence, the Punjab. They are fully assured that others shall not respond in the same coins. Not because others cannot do the same but because their aim is to fortify democracy and not to destroy it.

Democracy is strengthened if people and their directly elected representative institutions are strengthened. What democracy destroyers like Sehbai don’t and can’t understand is why President Zardari is the first president to voluntarily surrender the powers of the Presidency to the directly elected houses of the parliament? Why powers hereto enjoyed by the Centre are being devolved to the provinces? Why the federal government substantially reduced its share in the NFC so that provinces get more resources to run their affairs and agree on an NFC award after a lapse of 17 years? Why is there a national consensus on the war against his dear religious extremists? Where from are resources coming to fight the war against terror and to get over natural calamities like the worst floods of our history?

If the fee for issuing a National Identity Card has been abolished and more than 16 million of the poorest Pakistanis have received their NICs and thus become voters then the fears of the rightists are genuine. They were winning their seats on the strength of the 46% “non-existent voters” in the electoral rolls which alas are now excluded. If privatisation and downsizing of workers has ended, if hundreds of thousands have been provided fresh employment, if wages and salaries have been doubled, if money is in circulation rather than being confined to a few, if the poorest of the poor are being provided support through BISP, if youth are learning new skills and are being provided stipends at the same time, if anti-people and anti worker laws have been consigned to dustbins, if workers are being given shares of the units they are working in, if land is being distributed to lady haris, if in spite of the war, the floods, the international recession, the spiralling oil prices our exports, foreign exchange reserves and stock markets are booming then the doors for adventurers to foil democracy once again are closed for ever. Democracy for which we have sacrificed the best and the noblest amongst us, for which countless have undergone untold sufferings, for which the millions of the wretched of the earth in our dear country hold dear, Sehbai is here to stay. It shall not be destroyed by a few columns written in desperation from very very far off.

The writer is Secretary General of Sindh PPP and a former senator

The News reserves the right to respond to this rejoinder at an appropriate time.
Source: The News