No Turning back for the PPP
By Anwer Mooraj
Karachi, Pakistan

A photograph of outgoing President Asif Ali Zardari on August 27 showed a smug, smiling, sated, satisfied man. On the same page was a news item that stated that the Muslim League government was going to play dominos by creating another debt by borrowing $12 billion to retire previous debts. Mr Zardari, who will be leaving his highly barricaded fortress on September 10, may believe he has done a good job, in spite of allowing the terrorists a free hand to strike at will. But he will be leaving behind him a questionable legacy, a trail of gross mismanagement, of controversy and unanswered questions. Recently, he unveiled his triptych of what he believed were singular triumphs. In my opinion, his only enduring achievement was ensuring that the PPP government, headed by him, successfully completed its five-year term. He may leave the presidency a satisfied man, but he will never be able to shake off the nickname of Mr 10 per cent, which he acquired during his wife’s first stint as prime minister, or the Swiss Bank scandal, which hangs like a millstone around his neck. From time to time, the PPP came out with full page advertisements at the taxpayer’s expense, lauding its many achievements. It would, therefore, be grossly unfair to maintain that the party didn’t accomplish any worthwhile undertakings. In fact, though it was operating in what is probably the world’s most misogynistic, testosterone fuelled male chauvinist society, the PPP did manage to push through certain reforms designed to treat women as human beings rather than cattle to be bought and sold in the market place. This resulted in the establishment of a women’s bank run exclusively by women and also a police station manned exclusively by them. Of course, it is quite another thing that the government didn’t receive any cooperation from the police and retrogressive sections of society that condoned prehistoric customs like vani. But at least, they made the gesture. The more intelligent members of the party point to the constitutional reforms carried out by their lawyers, particularly the Eighteenth, Nineteenth and Twentieth Amendments, which provided for provincial autonomy, the transfer of presidential power to parliament, the smooth installation of caretaker governments and most important of all, the striking down of the president’s power to dissolve the assemblies. There is also a whole string of other accomplishments, as long as my arm, which the provincial governments trumpeted from time to time, like lifting the ban on trade union activities, reinstating workers previously sacked, increasing the wages of workers on two occasions and giving labor the right of pension after retirement. However, in spite of all this, voters rejected the party at the national elections. I have always found a contradiction in the original manifesto of the Pakistan Peoples’ Party. The creed was quite straight forward. “Islam is our religion/ Democracy is our politics/ Socialism is our economy/ All power to the People.” The party also promised the elimination of feudalism in accordance with the established principles of socialism. We still had intellectuals in those days who argued that Islamic Socialism was a contradiction in terms. Either you had Islam, or you had Socialism. You couldn’t have both. And then there was this business of abolishing feudalism. While the slogan shone with a copywriter’s burnish, it didn’t really make any sense, especially as among the founding fathers of the party were quite a few feudal chieftains. In fact, the first line of the manifesto destroyed the myth that the PPP


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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