MPA Asif Ali Shah Speaks at PPP California Event
By Ras H. Siddiqui


Left to right: Asif Ali Shah, K. B. Bhutto, Bhatti, M. R. Khan and T. Khan

Antioch/Pittsburg, CA: Pakistan Peoples Party MPA (Sindh) Asif Ali Shah was the chief guest recently at a birthday celebration for Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto arranged by the California Chapter of her party in Antioch/Pittsburg, California on June 10th. The PPP is still considered the largest civilian political force in Pakistan and it would be difficult to deny the fact that it has quite a number of followers worldwide, as this meeting was attended by close to 200 men, women and children (from various Pakistani ethnic backgrounds). Kashmiris, Mohajirs, Pathans, Punjabis and Sindhis, gathered together to reflect on Pakistan’s well-being and to give credit to Z. A. Bhutto, his daughter Benazir, and the political party that refuses to go away even 27 years after the execution of its founder. For a political leader Benazir Bhutto is still quite young as her 53rd birthday was celebrated here (with a cake in PPP colors).


Above: Two groups of PPP supporters

She is probably the most wellknown civilian political personality from Pakistan in the world today, but events have swept her to the sidelines as 9/11 brought a changed environment where some may argue that General Pervez Musharraf was just what the doctor ordered after the crisis created by the terror attacks on America. But the question raised at this meeting was whether the Mohtarma is destined to make a comeback especially after the Charter of Democracy signed with Mian Nawaz Sharif in London recently.


Left to right: Malik Awan, Mirza Jawed, Najma Bhutto, Sabra Farooq and Zahid saif

A number of local and state PPP leaders spoke on this occasion. Qirat was presented by Altaf Bhatti. Speaking on the occasion amidst slogans from “jiyalas,” were Khuda Bux Bhutto, Najma Bhutto, Malik Awan, Zahid Saif, Sabra Faroof, M. Rehmat Khan, Tariq Khan, Mirza Javed. They all, in their own way, congratulated Mohtarma Bhutto on her birthday and wished her a long life. But in the process none of them forgot the PPP founder Z.A. Bhutto as some had even had the opportunity to meet him when he was widely considered Pakistan’s savior. MPA Asif Ali Shah in his keynote speech welcomed all attendees to the gathering. He said that the “Declaration of Democracy” is a historic event, the significance of which will be felt for some time. He said that in times like these, you cannot help but remember Z.A. Bhutto and that every PPP gathering must not forget his outstanding contribution to Pakistan.

Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto gave Pakistan a constitution in 1973, was instrumental in making the country a nuclear power, and organized the first Islamic Summit Conference in Lahore. He said that it is strange that the voice of the people is suppressed even today, and that the Establishment once thought that they had eliminated the PPP after eliminating ZAB. But they were wrong. Any visit to Garhi Khuda Bux around April and the huge gatherings there are proof that neither the leader nor the party is forgotten. The PPP is the party of the poor, he said.

We have Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto today, and we cannot forget her contributions either. She has faced so many tragic events in her life. He said that it is unfortunate that people who support democracy and Benazir are considered sinners. Shah explained and found it strange that Benazir Sahiba can give lectures and is invited to talk about Pakistan all over the world, but she cannot talk in her own country. He also commented o n h ow P P P workers and party members face intimidation and are offered incentives to leave their leader. Asif Ali Shah concluded his speech by making a call for a return to democracy in Pakistan and said that both Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and Mian Nawaz Sharif would receive a rousing welcome when they return to their country. A cake-cutting ceremony and singing of “Happy Birthday to Benazir Bhutto” ended the formal program, followed by dinner and music.


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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