PAKISTAN Peoples Party was founded on 30th of November 1967 to challenge the Ayubian dictatorship. Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the first chairman of the party, took the responsibility to free the masses from the clutches of the dictatorial regime. The basic principle of the party was 'Islam is our religion, Democracy is our politics and Socialism is our economy. The party vowed to provide Roti, Kapra and Makan to all the people.
Since then, the leadership of the party is working hard to live up to that principle. The PPP commits itself to religious tolerance embodied in its principle. Religious beliefs of individual citizens have little to do with the business of the state. The PPPs commitment to freedom and fundamental rights, including freedom from hunger and want, is written in the blood of its martyrs and in the marks of lashes on the back of its workers. Living up to this principle, Quaid-e-Awam, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto faced the gallows refusing to bow before tyranny, defending the rights of the people to the last breath.
The PPP aims at creating a just and equitable society with equal opportunity for all its citizens. The PPP is proud of being the voice of the poor, the working classes and the middle classes. Pakistan Peoples Partys policies, which are dedicated to the underprivileged and the downtrodden, have created conditions that enabled the business and trading classes to compete in the open market. PPP aims at providing full employment, national health, universal education, water supply and sanitation. The party reiterates its firm commitment to provide food, clothing and shelter to every citizen of Pakistan through its emphasis of full employment. PPP believes in protecting, supporting the disadvantaged, the vulnerable, providing quality education and making Pakistan a business-friendly country. The party gives higher priority to empowerment of women ensuring their equal rights. It believes in provincial autonomy and citizen-centric government.
Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, as Prime Minister of Pakistan and Chairman of the party, created an enabling environment for these principles. Pakistan was unfortunate that a leader like Bhutto, who believed in peoples rights, was sent to the gallows by a dictator. Now the responsibility fell on his heirs. Benazir Bhutto challenged the forces of dictatorship and extremism. All hopes of the dictators to bury Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhuttos ideals were smashed when Benazir Bhutto became the Prime Minister of Pakistan in 1988. The restoration of democracy and ridding the country from the clutches of democracy were her articles of faith. She was the hope of masses, the downtrodden and the marginalized. She continued the policies bestowed upon her by her late father Benazir was martyred on December 27, 2007, while she was leading a political rally in Rawalpindi. Asif Ali Zardari, Benazirs husband and now the president of Pakistan, has assumed Shaheed Zulfiqar AIi Bhuttos role to accomplish his ideals. He has an unshakable belief that Pakistan should embrace the modern world with the same confidence and courage that Zulfiqar AIi Bhutto had. Zardari believes in democracy, freedom and openness-not as a slogan but as a way of life.
President Zardaris two years in office are marked by the accomplishment of Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhuttos mission and ideals. Since assuming office, Zardari has used conciliatory approach towards his political opponents to get their support on important national issues. It is easy to develop a new structure, but extremely difficult to reform the existing one. Zardari did the latter in the form of the 18th Amendment, a milestone in Pakistans constitutional history.
The govt has undertaken a number of steps to nullify the dictatorial measures. These achievements stand out as a testimony to the accomplishment of Bhuttos mission. It includes 7th NFC Award, Aghaz-i-Haqooq-e-Balochistan, political reforms in Gilgit-Baltistan and FATA, 18th Amendment, reconstruction of the Council of Common Interests, allocation of Rs120b to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as net hydel profit, launching of Benazir Income Support Programme to alleviate poverty and increasing gas development surcharge for Balochistan.
At the international front, Zardari has followed in the footsteps of Zulfiqar AIi Bhutto. He has stressed the need to further strengthen Pakistans relations with China. Spirit of participation, consultation and equal opportunity are the guiding principles for the formulation of Zardaris policy at strategic and implementation levels.
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had said that the fruits of democracy could not reach the common person until and unless powers rest with the representatives of the people. Zardari made history by signing the landmark constitutional reforms bill into law in the form of 18th Amend. 'It is indeed a great honour for me to have signed into law this bill that seeks to undo the undemocratic clauses introduced in the constitution by undemocratic leaders. 'The doors of dictatorship have been closed forever, said Zardari while addressing the ceremony after according assent to the amendment.
The autonomy package for Gilgit-Baltistan introduced by the PPP Govt led by Zardari is the accomplishment of Bhuttos ideal to strengthen the federation. The area has now an autonomous status with a chief minister and a governor.
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had promised to make Balochistan an equal partner in the federation. Balochistan package is the fulfillment of that promise. Zardari made a departure from the past practice of training guns on those demanding their rights. He made a public apology for all the wrongs done to the people of Balochistan in the past and pledged to make the province an equal partner in the federation.
Bhutto vowed to safeguard the rights of the workers and women. The Zardari-Ied peoples government has passed a number of laws to accomplish this ideal. It includes the Industrial Relations Act 2008, the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, 2008, The Protection Against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2009, the Removal from Service(Special Powers) Ordinance 2000 (Repeal) Act, 2010, the Services Tribunal (Amendment) Act, 2010 etc. In order to uphold the dignity of labour the peoples government passed the Industrial Relations Act, 2008. It regulates the governments vision on labour. The protection Against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act is a modern legal instrument to provide protection to women.
The Musharraf regime had targeted the Civil Servants by introducing the black law of 'Removal from Service Ordinance 2000. Realising the negative impact of this black law on the performance of the civil servants, the Peoples government passed the Removal from Service (Special Powers) Ordinance 2000 (Repeal) Act, 2010. Now the Civil Servants can work according to their conscience.
The peoples government is following its motto 'Roti, Kapra aur Makan as the government has initiated the construction of 300,000 low-cost houses for the poor under Benazir Behan Basti scheme.
PPP believes in creating one nation from Khyber to Karachi, under the banner of Pakistan with one leader, one mission, one programme, one destination, and one voice reflecting the hopes, the desires, the wishes and the aspirations of the people of Pakistan. However, the party and its leadership have been labelled as anti-establishment by those elements which do not stomach its peoples-centric policies. President Asif Ali Zardari has foiled the malicious designs of these forces to accomplish Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhuttos and Shaheed Benazir Bhuttos mission.
(The writer is advisor to Chief Minister Sindh on Information & Archives and Secretary Information PPP Women Wing Sindh)