GARHI KHUDA BAKHSH: Recounting all the times it had ‘victimised’ the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) — from the execution of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to the acquittal of Benazir’s killers — Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Wednesday vowed to continue his mother’s struggle for an independent judiciary.
Addressing the multitudes that had gathered at the Bhutto mausoleum to mark the 10th death anniversary of his mother, the PPP co-chairperson railed against the government, accusing the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) of weakening parliament.
Recalling how Benazir was sick of self-proclaimed guardians of the faith, he opposed the nexus between religion and politics
“From the missing persons to the innocents of Kasur, the courts have failed us all, even me,” he said, referring to the recent acquittal of several Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan suspects in the Benazir Bhutto murder case.
However, Mr Bhutto-Zardari assured the judiciary that “we will not block your path... we will continue fighting for [the courts’] independence”.
Blames Musharraf for Benazir’s murder; Zardari vows not to support ‘back-stabbers’
In keeping with Benazir’s legacy, he vowed to continue her struggle for the supremacy of parliament and democracy. “You adopted the dream of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, now I promise to realise it. I commit to the fight against terrorism, to the welfare and prosperity of our people, to eradicating poverty, to ending unemployment and giving homes to the shelter-less. [Benazir Bhutto] is still the chain of all four provinces,” he said, recalling the iconic slogan from his mother’s election campaigns.
Listing the failures of the current government, he said the provinces were drifting apart and the country was being strangled by foreign loans, while the economy revolved around the rich at the cost of the poor.
Farmers are not getting suitable prices for their produce, he said, terming the ruling party “a killer government”. “Blood is cheaper than roti today,” he said, pointedly.
During his speech, as the crowd chanted “Ya Allah Ya Rasool Benazir Beqasoor,” Mr Bhutto-Zardari interjected with the slogan “Qatil Qatil Musharraf Qatil,” calling him the murderer of Benazir Bhutto.
“Those who compelled [Benazir] to appear in court were now in despair and are trying to portray themselves as innocent. Those who stood by the killers of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto are the real thieves,” he said.
Mr Bhutto-Zardari said his mother was punished for fighting against dictators and her deep love for the people. “You were punished for advocating the rights of farmers, youth, women, and demanding equal rights for minorities,” he said.
He also referenced his mother’s diplomatic acumen, saying that today’s world could use a Benazir to address the injustices being perpetrated in Palestine, Myanmar and India-held Kashmir. “The world is burning in the fire of terrorism and we are merely silent spectators. There is no leader who can come to our rescue,” he said.
He gave Benazir credit for her concern for the environment, which led her to initiate wind and solar energy projects in Sindh and build small dams to store water. Following in her footsteps, he said, the party had initiated the Benazir Income Support Programme to help underprivileged women, allotted them land and opened liver, kidney and heart hospitals in Sindh to provide free treatment to deserving patients.
His father, PPP Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari warned rivals to only ‘bite off what you can chew’. In his speech at Garhi Khuda Bakhsh, he cautioned those who were trying to bring a new National Reconciliation Ordinance and declared that the PPP would reject any such move.
He claimed that double standards in justice would not be allowed, adding that the party would not stand by those who had “always stabbed us in the back”.
He said a conspiracy had been hatched against Benazir, and it still continued to this day. He boasted that the party would emerge victorious in the coming elections, from Kashmir to Gilgit-Baltistan.
The former president said the party was committed to fulfilling Benazir’s mission, recalling how his government had made the historic 18th amendment to the Constitution and given Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit Baltistan their identity.
“Leaders like me will come and go, but the name of Bhutto will remain etched in history,” he concluded.
Published in Dawn, December 28th, 2017