Reconciliation be the tribute to Benazir’s memory
By Wajid Shamsul Hasan
Just when the nation fondly remembers with passionate devotion its beloved martyred leader Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s 59th birth anniversary (June 21), Pakistan finds itself once again at a crossroad. Following the recent developments it is confronted with ominous signs. Dark clouds of uncertainty have once again lent credence to the doomsayers.
The country that was saved from disintegration by President Zardari when he defused the violent masses — irrespective of their provincial or ethnic affiliations — by calling upon them that Benazir Bhutto had laid her life for saving Pakistan and not destroying it.
It was the most challenging and arduous responsibility taken upon himself by President Zardari then chosen by PPP as its co-chairperson in keeping with the wishes of the assassinated leader — to steer the country to safer shores. He launched the emotionally charged nation back onto a course that was to culminate in the achievement of the cherished destiny of democracy as envisioned by Shaheed Benazir Bhutto who had lived and died for the empowerment of the people.
President Zardari translated into a practical programme the essence of the Charter of Democracy by acting upon the legacy of national reconciliation bequeathed as Benazir’s legacy and panacea to all our national ills by Bhutto. Just when she had blossomed into a world leader and a stateswoman par excellence her life was cut short by those anti-democratic forces who were opposed to her return home and lead Pakistan out of the dictatorial morass back to democracy.
After having suffered long period of trials and tribulations, persecution, incarceration and exile Bhutto had arrived at the conclusion that Pakistan could only survive as an undiluted democracy ensuring just resolution of the thorny issue of provincial autonomy that had been responsible for the division of the Subcontinent in 1947 and break up of Pakistan in 1971. She had also opted for pursuing politics of national reconciliation and sharing power with all the stakeholders so that there is no room for discontent that provides opportunities for extra-constitutional forces to intervene.
Ever since her assassination and restoration of genuine electoral system anti-people forces got into action to derail the nascent democratic dispensation in the period onward from the day an elected government took over in 2008. It had a unanimously elected prime minister who survived a roller-coaster existence with parliament reposing confidence in him on several occasions, including passage of five budgets as well as standing by him through thick and thin.
Not only that he stood aloft in defence of the supremacy of parliament and viability of all state institutions, including the Presidency, despite deadlines by some biased anchors and analysts who kept on orchestrating threats of extra-constitutional interventions and a possible judicial coup.
These threats were countered effectively by democratic forces who made it clear that they would not be a party to any extra-constitutional intervention nor would they accept a judicial coup. After all Pakistan had suffered an irreparable loss by the judicial murder of a prime minister and Praetorian coups in the past. They were opposed tooth and nail to repetition of the previous mistakes to avoid being condemned by history.
Although the nation is at a crossroad it expects its political leadership not to allow wasting in vain their untold sacrifices in blood in thousands at the hands of dictatorial forces. It believes that it has had enough of extra-constitutional interventions and machinations of the Praetorian, civilian and judicial bureaucratic troika that had constantly played foul with Quaid’s vision of a democratic and egalitarian Pakistan since the inception of the country. The best tribute to martyred Benazir Bhutto’s legacy on her birth anniversary would be for the democratic forces to continue her mission of national reconciliation, remain united to oppose anti-democratic forces challenging the supremacy and sovereignty of parliament.
The writer is the high commissioner of Pakistan to the UK