MPA Asif Ali Shah Speaks
at PPP California Event
By Ras H. Siddiqui
to right: Asif Ali Shah, K. B. Bhutto, Bhatti, M.
R. Khan and T. Khan
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
Above: Two groups of PPP supporters
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.
to right: Malik Awan, Mirza Jawed, Najma Bhutto, Sabra
Farooq and Zahid saif
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.
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.