Wednesday, December 26, 2012
bY:FARZANA RAJAEvery moment of incessant struggle of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, her speeches as a source of strength for the people, her expression of sheer courage on the face of every threat and depiction of the inspiration of people have always remained a source of strength for me. Her great struggle and services for her beloved country could inspire any an individual in the world and her sacrifice and laying down her life is being termed a guarantee for the sustainability of the democracy in Pakistan. This great leader of us who had persuaded the golden principles of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Quaid-e-Awam Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto ought to be remembered as Quaid-e-Jamooriat (Leader of Democracy) as its merely a result of her great struggle that the democracy in Pakistan is fully vibrant and functional and striving to improve the lot of the nation with full zest and vigor. All the spectacular moments I was privileged are a precious asset for me to spend with my Quaid-e-Jamooriat and it's not enough to whatever extent I may talk and mention about it. While writing this article, all these moments begin flashing before my eyes and it's truly provide the very basis of my life as all these moments provided me a great opportunity to enhance my learning and this could be ascribed to a remarkable asset. The unprecedented leadership and epic struggle of Shaheed Mohtarma would always remain imprinted on my kind. It is a matter of immense honour to me to be able to observe her endeavours. The level of her commitment and perseverance always provide me a source of continued guidance. The conversations with Shaheed BB during the struggle for democracy and her persistent guidance have become part of my personality. The overall welfare of people of Pakistan, empowerment of women folks of the society and creation of new economic opportunities for the youth of the country remained her major concerns. Her reason behind the decision of coming back to Pakistan was out of deep affection for the people. She was aware of the fact that the rights of the people are not being provided in the absence of genuine democracy and hence, the integrity of federation had become under dire jeopardy. The sheer courage and bravery of my Shaheed BB could be ascertained from the fact that she had spent many of precious years of her life either under house arrest, in the various prisons of the country or in the exile but still kept voicing her truthful stance firmly. The last return of Shaheed Mahtarma to homeland infused a great spirit in the struggle for establishing a genuine democracy in the country. While working with our great leader, we were enthused with great deal of passion and enthusiasm for the people by taking great deal of inspiration from her courage and commitment. The cruelty and barbarian had snatched this great gift to nation from us in the tragic incident of 27th December but she would also remain a beacon of the light of democracy. The enemies of the country targeted Shaheed BB to thwart the rule of people of Pakistan while she laid her life to save the Federation of Pakistan and to safeguard the rights of the people of the country. There is no denying the fact that today the sun of truthfulness has pushed the darkness of the lies forever. During her last and historic and heroic speech, Quaid-e-Jamooriat expressed her uncompromised stance about the democratic future of Pakistan where there was no room for the forces representing obscurantist mindset and having anti-people agenda. This was indeed a commitment to the restoration of true democracy in the country and thus creation of a social welfare state where the socio-economic rights of every citizen are provided and protected through the high values of democracy. Being leader of the masses, Shaheed BB was most effective and forceful advocate of the democratic and human rights of all the citizens of Pakistan including vulnerable and marginalized segments of society. Her murderers in fact attempted to exterminate the hopes and aspirations of the people but they are bound to fail as Quaid-e-Jamhooriat has become a symbol of hope and resistance and thus an invigorating factor for them to pursue their dreams of getting rid of poverty. Thanks God, today, by virtue of the visionary leadership of President Asif Ali Zardari, we are on the road to achieve a preposterous and stronger Pakistan as per the aspirations of Shaheed BB. Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) can be termed the practical manifestation of our great leader's vision highlighted in slogan of "Roti, Kapra aor Makan - Elm, Roshni, Sab ko kaam". We can rightly claim that BISP is playing a vital role in improving the socio-economic conditions of underprivileged segment of the country. The trust of the people and unprecedented service is a reality that has received the acknowledgement and endorsement from entire word. It would worth mention here on her Yaum-e-Shahadat of Shaheed BB that the democracy in Pakistan today is truly a gift of Quaid-e-Jamooriat to us and it's a success of the people who have secured democracy out of dictatorship through the vision of our great leader.
BY: Sharmila FaruquiToday Pakistanis pay tribute to the inimitable combination of courage, charisma and defiance. The December 27 is a tragic day not only for Pakistan and its people but for all those across the world who truly believe in the ideals of democracy.
By: Munir Ahmed Khan
My father always would say: “My daughter will go into politics? My daughter will become Prime Minister”, but it’s not what I wanted to do. I would say: “No, Papa, I will never go into politics.” As I’ve said before, this is not the life I chose; it chose me…….But I accepted the responsibility and I’ve never wavered in my commitment. – Benazir Bhuttoit is the fifth death anniversary of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. She spent 30 years of her life in prison or exile, in the opposition when in Parliament and as the first woman Prime Minister of Pakistan. Despite the fact that she had no plans to join politics, Benazir bravely laid down her life for the sake of her country. Being a woman, she had many other responsibilities like marriage, children and their career, but, more than anything else, she preferred to serve the people of Pakistan. That she had learnt from her father Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Her charismatic leadership was a reflection of the powerful image of her father, who was loved by people because he understood their sufferings and made endless efforts to alleviate them. Nevertheless, Bhutto paid a heavy price for standing up to his principles, not bowing down in front of manipulative forces and keeping his head high during times of adversity. Benazir was also gifted with these qualities; and it seems that Bhutto had noticed it long before anyone else. Indeed, she was blessed with an extraordinary intellect and leadership qualities. Ever since she became the PPP’s Chairperson at the age of 29, Benazir ventured the path her father had taken - brittle and rough, yet compassionate and humane. With the passage of time, she earned the titled of the “Iron Lady” from her Indian counterparts mainly when against all odds, she decided to return to Pakistan putting her trust in people whom she cared for most. Benazir was a visionary leader. She compromised for the sake of the country. She forgave her opponents and raised slogans of reconciliation in its interest. For instance, her struggle against General (retd) Pervez Musharraf was difficult because Mian Sharif and his party, the PML-N, had opposed Benazir and the PPP from 1985 to 1999. Yet, she did not accept the dictator and instead opted to engage with her political rivals. She surprised the world by making a political alliance with the PML-N, which was named as the Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy (ARD) that led to the signing of the Charter of Democracy. She was a courageous lady and believed that Pakistanis should face the threats posed to their country without fear. Indeed, Shaheed BB was an optimistic leader, who firmly believed in people’s power. When she came to Pakistan just before her sad demise, she maintained: “I’ve been having a party meeting and, believe me, the spirit amongst the party is one that I’m so proud of because they say we can’t let the militants dictate to us what’s going to happen, and that we have to try and save Pakistan by saving democracy. So my supporters are ready.” Her cavalcade upon her arrival in Pakistan was not even a day old when it was hit by a bomb that killed hundreds of people. But those who wanted to see Benazir’s death failed to see one thing - and that was the consistent, persistent and stoic belief of the party followers whose trust in their leader did not go through as much as an inch away. Benazir once said: “We are prepared to risk our lives. But we’re not prepared to surrender this great nation to militants. The attack was on what I represent. The attack was on democracy and very unity and integrity of Pakistan.” She firmly believed in democracy, openness and freedom. She made incomparable efforts to strengthen democracy in Pakistan. She took several initiatives for the revival of democratic institutions in order to preserve the unity and solidarity of the country. She said: “You can imprison a man, but not an idea. You can exile a man, but not an idea. You can kill a man, but not an idea.“ Having said that, the PPP is not merely the name of a political party. It is a never-ending struggle for truth and justice; a gallant tale of the forfeitures of blood - young blood; a vision that bestowed people with the strength they were deprived of – the strength to stand on their own feet against all odds; and the biggest democratic power to fight all evil mindsets that have been destroying the system. Founded by the son of the soil, Bhutto, the PPP gave the concept of “One Man One Vote” and taught the people to unite under this platform. Be it any dictatorial regime, the PPP and the Bhuttos have remained loyal and determined to the cause of empowering the masses and getting the country out of the bog of dictatorship. The PPP has made numerous sacrifices to make Pakistan a civilised and legitimate country. But for those who think that the PPP, under the leadership of President Asif Zardari, has changed; I would like to remind them that it is the same PPP that restored democracy and sent Musharraf home. It is the same party that despite several conspiracies has kept democracy alive under the slogan of “Pakistan khappey”. It is the same PPP that has initiated several programmes for the welfare of the poor such as the Benazir Income Support Programme. On Benazir’s 5th death anniversary, her son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is beginning his political career to advance the vision of his grandfather Shaheed Bhutto and mother Shaheed Benazir. We whole-heartedly welcome him in the best interest of Pakistan and its people. The writer is PPP leader and former secretary information of ARD.
Egyptian president, Muslim Brotherhood conduct illegal campaign that sets the stage for new confrontations.Without bothering to wait for official results, the Muslim Brotherhood hastened to declare itself the victor in the referendum on a constitution solidly grounded in Shari’a and Islamic values. The Brothers can now boast of having conquered the allegedly “democratic” elections – the last bastion in their steady takeover of all power points in Egypt. The problem, of course, is that there was nothing democratic about the process. The constitution was drafted in a matter of days by order of President Mohamed Morsi, after six months of endless bickering in the constitutional assembly composed mainly of the Brotherhood and Salafists – in blatant violation of the transitional constitution. Most non-Islamist members and delegates of the Coptic minority had resigned in protest. Furthermore, according to the new constitutional declaration issued on December 9, there could be no recourse against the text of the constitution until after the referendum, a somewhat bizarre decision since there is no point in appealing to the courts once the constitution is approved. According to unofficial results, a mere 32 percent of the electorate took part in the referendum, with 64% approving the constitution and 36% opposing it. Even if these highly dubious returns turn out to be true, it would mean that only 20% of all eligible voters said yes to the new constitution: in absolute numbers, 10.5 million out of the 51 million Egyptians eligible to vote. This is a far cry from the wide consensus needed to launch the country on its post-revolutionary path. This is a minority constitution for a minority of Islamist extremists, with the overwhelming majority voting against it or staying home. The National Salvation Front, the main opposition group, refuses to accept these results. Set up to fight the draft constitution, it is led by Mohamed ElBaradei, Amr Moussa and Hamdeen Sabahi, as well as other political figures. They all claim that fraud was rampant, with minor and major violations in all voting districts, and that judicial supervision was partial at best since most judges went on strike to protest Morsi’s measures. These violations included bulletins saying “no” to the constitution were allegedly found thrown in public toilets or in ditches; others were marked “yes” before the vote. A number of polling stations opened late as officials deliberately worked slowly, in order to discourage voters in districts where the opposition was strong. Roadblocks prevented Coptic villagers – who were obviously going to vote against the Islamic constitution – from reaching polling stations. ElBaradei himself stayed home, having been warned that his voting station was surrounded by young toughs from the Brotherhood. Needless to say, the Brotherhood conducted a perfectly illegal campaign by using religion as the persuading factor: Religious leaders issued fatwas saying that voting “no” was a grievous sin and an insult to Islam; preachers in mosques warned that Allah would punish those who dared oppose the constitution. Israel, it was also said, was subverting naïve people and bribing them to vote against the constitution. And as if this was not enough, the Brotherhood and their supporters were overwhelmingly present inside the polling stations, exerting pressure until the last minute. They, and they only, had enough people to cover every single station. They could be seen everywhere taking advantage of the fact that many poor Egyptians are illiterate or barely educated and place their trust blindly in Islam. So far, hundreds of complaints have been lodged with the courts for these and other violations. Though the constitution was adopted, this was not a victory for democracy or for Egypt, and there was little rejoicing at the victory of political Islam. The country is deeply divided. The National Salvation Front has issued a call to continue the fight against the imposition of Shari’a and for the adoption of a constitution that takes all citizens into consideration. Protesters were told to remain in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and around the presidential palace to maintain pressure. Morsi had gambled – and lost. He had thought that once the constitution was accepted he would regain the legitimacy he had lost because of widespread opposition, ongoing demonstrations and the growing number of resignations among his close aides. At times the sheer number of protesters in the streets was reminiscent of the popular groundswell that toppled Hosni Mubarak. Slogans called for the president’s resignation and spoke out against the domination of the Brotherhood. Vice President Mahmoud Mekki, a respected member of the judiciary, resigned even before the results of the referendum were announced, saying that “politics were incompatible with the values he defended as a judge.” Rumor had it that the governor of the central bank had tendered his resignation. The new attorney-general appointed by Morsi resigned, but was “persuaded” to change his mind. The regime is trying to stay the course throughout the country, and is in for another lengthy period of confrontations. The Brotherhood will not budge in spite of the opposition; they will not deviate from their avowed aim: imposing Shari’a in Egypt, then in Islamic countries and finally in the whole world. Their claim of victory at the polls is hotly disputed by a powerful opposition representing a significant number of Egyptians and nearly all the educated elite. Can that opposition remain united? Will it be able to coordinate the fight against the Muslim Brotherhood? Because that fight is far from over. Elections to parliament have to be held two months after the constitution has been approved. Can opposition forces win these elections and demonstrate that the Brotherhood has lost its popular support? Or will the Brotherhood, controlling the country, muster all their supporters to once again frighten and cheat their way to a majority in parliament? It might not be so easy, with the ever deepening economic crisis and overall lack of security. Poverty and hunger may drive millions of people to the streets. Furthermore, it seems that at long last the West is beginning to understand that there is nothing “pragmatic” about Morsi’s policies and nothing “moderate” about the Brotherhood. The first to speak openly on the subject was the German foreign minister, who voiced his doubts about the the referendum. And the long awaited loan from the International Monetary Fund, which Egypt desperately needs, is apparently on hold.
The writer, a fellow of The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is a former ambassador to Romania, Egypt and Sweden.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/India – Stung by the realization that it faced a child malnutrition crisis worse than in most African countries, India is finally waking to the scale of the problem.
The Express Tribune
By: Rafia Zakaria
http://www.indianexpress.comPakistan People's Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari
Daily TimesPresident Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday said the PPP was ready to go to the court of the people, saying they were the real judge of the performance of the government. Addressing briefly the notables from the area at the Makhdoom House, the president said that the vision of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and the legacy of Benazir Bhutto were being followed by the present leadership. He said Benazir Bhutto was a symbol of democracy and had left behind a legacy which is a source of inspiration for the present leadership to improve the socio-economic condition of the people of the country. “We have gathered here to pay tribute to an indomitable fighter for the rights of poor and marginalised,” the president said, adding that ZAB and Benazir Bhutto gave voice to the downtrodden people of the country and even laid down their lives while fighting for the cause of the people of the country. “We will continue to follow their footsteps and will never hesitate in offering any sacrifice in pursuing the noble mission of our great leaders,” the president said in his remarks. The president said the leadership will not be deterred by the negative propaganda by its detractors and would continue serving the masses. “We believe in making our enemies our friends,” he said. Zardari said that the next elections would be held in a free, fair and transparent manner and the people of the country would give their verdict. He said that the leadership was ready to go to the court of the people who were the real judge for measuring the performance of the government “We will never leave the poor, marginalised and vulnerable people alone in their fight for their rights,” the president said while reiterating the resolve of the PPP leadership. He said the leadership fully believes in addressing the issues of the masses who, he said, are the real source of power. President Zardari also visited the mausoleum of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah on his birthday to pay tribute to him. He laid a floral wreath on the Mazar-e-Quaid and offered Fateha.
Radio PakistanInformation and Broadcasting Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira has said the process of sacrifices by the PPP leaders and workers would continue till the realization of the dream of a stable Pakistan. Addressing the People's Workers Convention in Rahim Yar Khan today he said that Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will deliver his first address to the nation tomorrow on the eve of anniversary of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. He said that Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto are ever alive in the hearts and minds of the people following their sacrifices for the cause of democracy and public rights. He asked the workers to listen carefully the address of PPP Chairman. The Minister added tomorrow all the convoys will proceed to Garhi Khuda Bux to pay homage to their Shaheed leaders. He said our leaders had chosen which path we have to adopt that which was for the glory and stability of Pakistan. He said our leaders did not work for any personnel gains‚ this is why they are living in our hearts and minds. Mr. Kaira said that the elections are coming nearer and are at a distance of few months‚ while our opponents and media has raised a barrage of opposition. He said the main accusation being levelled on PPP led government that what they have delivered to the people in the last five years. He said they also blame the coalition government for price hike‚ joblessness and massive scale corruption. He said the painting of events by media and opposition is not a new one for PPP workers. He reminded the audience that it was Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who revived the feelings of a living nation among the demoralized nation at that time. They also blamed him and martyr him on fake facts which have now proved to be only allegations. Information Minister said when NAB said that there is corruption from 7 to 8 Billion rupees daily‚ then the media and opposition made hue and cry that all the resources were plundered by the government. But he questioned that on such a scale the corruption volume goes to 3000 billion rupees annually which is equal to our budget. Thus we are paying pay and pensions‚ serving foreign debts and are meeting defense expenses‚ than how it would be possible to make such huge plundering of resources. He said when NAB Chairman clarified that 65 per cent of corruption is being grabbed in Punjab province only‚ than these opposition leaders said that Chairman has gone out of his mind. Earlier Special prayers were offered for the departed soul of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto at the Peoples Workers Convention.