Celebrated in North California
A Pakistan Link Report
Amin Fahim (third from left) and PPP S. California stalwarts
at the ceremony
54th birthday of Chairperson Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was celebrated
with much fanfare by the Pakistan Peoples Party (California)
on Monday, July 2nd, 2007 at the Mehran Restaurant in Pittsburg,
Present on the occasion to add color to the festivities was
Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Vice Chairman of the PPP, who flew in
from New York just for this event at the tail end of his American
tour (after which he headed to London for the APC meeting).
Close to 300 people attended this birthday gathering at which
the enthusiasm of participating women and children was vividly
PPP jiyalas welcomed the Chief Guest raising slogans of Jiyay
Bhutto and Jiyay Benazir and thus raised the level of excitement
for everyone present.
Quite a few people took the opportunity to speak after Mrs.
Najma Bhutto welcomed Makhdoom Amin Fahim. Mrs. Bhutto expressed
her sense of satisfaction and pride on the occasion: she was
happy that both the party and the Pakistani people availed
themselves of the opportunity to celebrate Mohtarma Benazir
Bhutto’s birthday in California.
program started with Qirat and prayers for a long life for
Benazir Bhutto and for the recent flood victims of Pakistan.
A Naat was presented by a young girl and a couple of Pakistani-American
youth offered their felicitations (in English) on the party
leader’s birthday. Since no California PPP event is
complete without the ceremonial presentation of the Sindhi
ajrak to out-of-town guests, California PPP President Mr.
Khuda Bux Bhutto (KB) started things off by presenting the
traditional cloth to Makhdoom Sahib as a gesture of goodwill
and respect. And pretty soon there were many ajraks being
presented all around amidst slogans of Jiyay Bhutto after
which Senior Party Member Malik Qayyum Awan started the speeches
segment of the program.
Visiting PPP dignitaries from New York and Los Angeles also
took the opportunity to speak at this event. Zahid Saif’s
speech stood out as the most passionate amongst the people
who made use of the microphone. He called for the return of
Mohtarma Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif to Pakistan and for the democratic
process to commence in the country.
Khuda Bux Bhutto in his speech in Urdu said that the gathering
was witness to a celebration of a dual nature. First was the
fact that we were celebrating the birthday of the
next Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto and second
was the presence of a great party leader Makhdoom Amin Fahim
here. He also offered a prayer for Mohtarma’s future
Makhdoom Amin Fahim in his speech said that only Benazir Bhutto
could pull Pakistan out of the current predicament and offered
his congratulations on her on her birthday. He stated that
the people of Pakistan need to speak with one voice today
to help the country and that it was not good for one person
to speak for the entire country as is currently the case.
He lamented the fact that the Constitution of Pakistan had
been amended by various ordinances. He said that Pakistanis
need to make the country truly democratic again. He said that
the military is supposed to defend the constitution and not
change it and interfere in Pakistan ’s internal politics.
He said that people in power forget their promises after a
while. He said that General Musharraf wanted to get re-elected
by the current assemblies and that the PPP does not support
Makhdoom Amin Fahim spoke of the refusal of the Chief Justice
to resign under pressure and the support that he received
from the lawyers in the country as a positive sign and
that the PPP and the opposition had supported them. He also
said that the APC conference in London would call for the
restoration of the 1973 Constitution in Pakistan.
He added that previous military regimes had received a stamp
of approval from the courts due to the “Doctrine of
Necessity” but from now on the judiciary is not likely
to continue that practice. He said that Pakistan’s future
lies in democracy and that its hard working and intelligent
people are aware of that. He said that he only thought of
himself as a PPP worker and that the PPP is led by Mohtarma
Benazir Bhutto, and the foundation which was laid by Z.A.
Bhutto, who did not bow in front of a tyrant, could not be
erased. He said that Benazir was pulled into politics and
spent years in General Zia’s jails for the ideals that
the PPP stood for and that it was the duty of PPP workers
and the people of Pakistan to bring her back and see her become
Prime Minister again; the 17th Amendment which prevents her
from being the PM again could be erased by a 2/3rd majority
in a future parliament.
The Makhdoom spoke of past differences with the PML (Nawaz)
as unfortunate but highlighted the new Charter of Democracy
which closes the chapter on past mistakes. He spoke of the
alienation present in the provinces of Baluchistan and the
NWFP and described the situation as grim in both the provinces
He asked that dialog and not bullets be given a chance and
added that a democratic change could certainly improve the
situation. He stated that free and fair elections (held under
a government of national consensus to prevent rigging) were
the best option. He also stressed the need for non-violence
to bring about any change in Pakistan because a destructive
political movement will not benefit anyone in the country
and could bring back another military regime. He said that
Benazir Bhutto was skillfully making Pakistanis aware of the
need for such a democratic non-violent change.
The event officially ended with the 300 people present singing
“Happy Birthday to Benazir Bhutto” as more than
one cake was cut with the help of the Chief Guest and PPP
officials present and turned into a colorful dinner.