Benazir’s Birthday Celebrated in North California
A Pakistan Link Report

Makhdoom Amin Fahim (third from left) and PPP S. California stalwarts at the ceremony

The 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, California.
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 evident.
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.
The official 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 success.
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 that move.
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.


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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