By By Asad Rahim Khan
This is a public service message in light of recent, shocking events. It occurred to one that the people may have been less than convinced, over the past few days, to vote for the PPP chairman in the next elections. The people are, as always, mistaken. Even in days as discouraging as these, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari represents the only sunlight to break through these ever-darkening clouds. It has also come to one’s attention that people are/were demonstrating — in Quetta, Islamabad and Peshawar. They staged sit-ins outside the governor’s house in Lahore, as well as the boy-king’s palace in Karachi. They were woefully misled but, if our fragile democratic project is to succeed, they have a right to express themselves. These aren’t the days of the 111 Brigade; hardly anyone gets tried for treason anymore or tried properly for anything at all for that matter.
The government will continue its noble enterprises and the literal enterprises of its leaders. It has staked itself on Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s immortal address, or at least, a gentle derivative of it: “You are free; you are free to go to your redundant temples and bombed mosques. You may belong to Balochistan’s massacred Hazaras, or the dead from Fata’s drone strikes, or the victims of Karachi’s inter-warring ethnic parties — that has nothing to do with the business of the state.”
Don’t take my word for it. Hours after 102 people were murdered in Quetta, the president and prime minister held an emergency huddle … to discuss Tahirul Qadri. That’s not to say our representatives lack empathy. The prime minister finally did forsake his weighty ribbon-cutting engagements to ‘include himself in Quetta’s mourning’ three days later. No doubt this democracy, having been equated with governance for five years, is a work-in-progress. It’s only human for freezing protesters to want to pounce on well-fed ministers. But the most important fact remains: the people are free, just like the Quaid wanted so many years ago. Free to choose between Raisanis and Magsis, between schizoid chief ministers and bloodshot governors, between FC rule and more FC rule. A fresh mandate refreshes the Bhutto-Zardari brand in a way that most hyphenated brands can only dream of. Gone is that awkward phase when bygone PPP chairmen hawked land reform, Islamic socialism, and other oxymorons. Its current leader is a 24-year-old with a talent for issuing sound bites about little girls the state watched getting hit with bullets.
If you’re voting PPP again, chances are you don’t vote according to performance anyway. Let me say without any pretense that the most wracking feeling to be had is to have to comprehend an en masse refusal to bury dead loved ones. That is what happened in Quetta and it is the furthest point from human dignity imaginable. Some decades down, they’ll be unveiling this latest Zardari’s bronze likeness to the public. And when your grandchildren fall to the ground in veneration, or are thrown to the ground in the latest sectarian bloodletting, please know you read it here first.