Sunday, December 9, 2007

Grandchildren of Z.A. Bhutto & Zia-ul-Haq Speak Out

Omar-ul-Haq, grandson of Zia-ul-Haq and Fatima Bhutto, granddaughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto have both written for the op-ed pages of The News, a widely read newspaper in Pakistan. Both of these young people appear to be quite interested, intelligent and articulate, and quite pessimistic about the future of democracy in Pakistan. I can understand their lack of idealism, given the fact that 50% of Pakistan's children are not in schools, but it is a sad state of affairs when the next generation seems ready to throw in the towel. Let's hope the two are not representative of the mainstream of our next generation. Following are the excerpts from their pieces:

Writing for Sunday, Dec 9 issue of the News in Pakistan, Gen Zia's grandson Omar-ul-Haq says:
"I confess that I am torn between the merits of military and democratic
regimes. While I've never been one to stand on the streets and protest
for leaders who are apparently going to save our country, I'm
definitely not in favour of seeing President Musharaff rule our nation
for much longer either. I have also given a lot of thought to
democracy in Pakistan and while it is the ideal solution, I'm still
not sure if I can see an effective democratic government in Pakistan;
a relatively new and developing nation. While I am not necessarily in
favour of a military regime, the question I pose is whether Pakistan
is ready for yet another democratic government or are we Pakistanis
just simply imagining and hoping for the next democratically elected
political figure to come and perform miracles for our nation? As
tragic as it is, most Pakistanis, including the educated elite, are
unaware of the definition of "democracy". Although we understand the
basics -- that officials must be elected by citizens and must gain the
support of the majority of the population -- do we exactly understand
how these officials get the majority of votes? Do the masses even
consider what the past leaders have given them (or should I say have
not given them) before running out on the streets and risking their
lives for them?"

Murtaza Bhutto's daughter Fatima Bhutto writes in the same issue for the News as follows:
"The Sharifs struck a separate deal with El Presidente, so there goes
the PML (the Daughter of the West might also want to explain to her
chums the Sharif brothers why their election papers were rejected on
the grounds that they had been convicted in courts of law, while hers
were accepted-- even though she was convicted by Swiss courts in the
Cotecna corruption case.) The MMA is pretty cosy with the government.
The JUI has survived this whole spell of 'emergency' rule quite well,
they may not have a working deal with the army, but they certainly
have an understanding. So who is opposition exactly? The MQM is allied
with El Presidente. Imran Khan was, and then he wasn't. Then he hated
Nawaz, now he doesn't. Then he called Benazir a crook, now he's told
the Lahore Bar Association that he's super willing to help her drop
her myriad corruption cases if only she'll be a sport and join his
boycott. So, yes, the opposition-- or rather those commonly accepted
as the opposition-- are a morally bankrupt lot of puppeticians. They
go which ever way leads them to power; they're not opposite to
anything-- except ethics and principles. They're not even anti El
Presidente. They're enablers, the lot of them."


Omar said...

I hope you are well and having a great week. Thank you for your compliment about being intelligent, articulate, and interested in Pakistan. I just wanted to clarify that I am pessimistic about the present situation and not the future. You're right, I am a bit nervous about the next democratic government in Pakistan but then again, who isn't? Like many Pakistanis from my generation, I am hopeful and excited about the future but definately hesitant about the current leaders who are actively campaigning for the elections. Let's see what's in store for all of us. At the end of the day, all of us want the best for Pakistan.

Anonymous said...

Nice to hear from grandchildren of two past leaders of the country. Given the fact that both Zia and Bhutto were saboteurs of democratic rule in our country, it is a laughing stock of the political world that their grandchildren are speculating about the future political scenario in such a pessimistic and crude manner. Anyway every rich man or woman in our country has a right to express himself the way he wants (drinking finest class coffee and sitting in cosy palaces which their forefathers created out of extorted public money and writing about the future of country which is determined by equally corrupt and selected group of aristocrats and generals).
Let's wait for some people's leader like Khomeni or Mao Ze Tung to come to power by mobilizing the Pakistani nation and then the country will InshaALLAH start the true progress and way to prosperity. Leaders like Sharif, BB, or anyone else can't do any good because they are totally corrupted in each and every manner.
As for me, I am a firm believer in Pakistani Republic and Pakistani Republic was founded by people.Neither corrupt aristocrats like Bhutto nor overly ambitious army generals like Ayub,Zia had endured any hardships for the making of the country but sick-minded leaders like them enjoyed the 100% benefits of this country. Pakistan can afford a poorly managed democratic government under the republic ideals but cannot afford to have aristocrats and generals like Bhutto and Zia who have created unending problems for a country whose sole aim had to be the welfare of poor Muslims of subcontinent.
Restoration of Republic, Republic and only Pakistani Republic will be a sign of relief for totally oppressed Pakistani People. We want a liberal-minded "Islamic Republic of Pakistan" not a backward and extremist "Army Republic of Pakistan" which people like Ayub, Zia created and paved way for more and more fascist dictators like themselves.

Anonymous said...

The fact that Omar Ul Haq and Fatima Bhutto come from political
backgrounds does not mean they are any less Pakistani or have less of
a right to state their opinions. I believe this is the 1st article
written by Omar and I found it to be quite a good read; he expressed
his opinions well. If anything, he might have an upper hand in writing
about such a topic since he has been in politics and around
politicians all his life. If the article was written Omar Khan, would
that have made you feel better? Last names do not impact or should not
impact a persons own identity. He is just as Pakistani as you and just
as concerned about the future of his country.

As for Fatima Bhutto, I have read several articles written by her and
she proves to be an individual, regardless of what her last name is.
She has been openly critical of her family and has written articles
based on facts rather than emotions.

It doesn't matter if these two wrote their articles sitting in their
cozy living rooms in front of the fire place or along the side of the
street where the dirty water runs; all that matters is they have shown
interest in the future of Pakistani politics. Perhaps young Pakistanis should learn from these two and actually express interest like they have in the future of Pakistan rather than dwelling over the past like you have because although you can learn from the past, it cannot be changed, the future, however, can.

Anonymous said...

Voicing one's opinion instead of sitting back and enjoying one's comfortable life is the first step towards bringing about a change. Writing about the issues facing Pakistan today means that these two individuals obviously care.

I find it odd that the "revolutionary republic" seems to have a problem with them enjoying coffee while he himself prefers to fantasize about the magical emergence of Mao Ze Tung.

Wake up and smell the "finest class coffee."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Daily Telegraph story on Bhutto vs Sharif, the next generation of Pak politicians:

ONE studied at Oxford, the other at Cambridge. Their family rivalry dates back almost 40 years, to when the family of one saw their business empire ravaged by the nationalisation policy of the other.

But what Maryam Nawaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari have in common is being young, glamorous and heirs to Pakistan's two leading political dynasties. Both will be prominent voices due in general elections due in May.

The poetry-loving Ms Sharif is the daughter of Nawaz Sharif, a wealthy industrialist from the Punjabi city of Lahore, who fell out with Bilawal's late grandfather, Zulfiqar Bhutto, after he nationalised the Sharif businesses as Pakistan's socialist leader in the 1970s.

Himself a two-time prime minister, Mr Sharif is frontrunner to emerge with the largest party and the first crack at forming a coalition after the polls of Pakistan's 80 million voters.

During the campaign, his daughter is acting as one of his chief campaigners and mouthpieces - particularly on women's rights - and is expected to eventually succeed him one day.

"His legacy is beautiful," she told an interviewer last year. "Who would not want to step into those shoes?"

A party insider added: "She has grown very close to her father and you can see her learning from him."

Already on a similar path is Oxford-educated Bilawal, 24, who became the third generation of Bhuttos to lead the Pakistan People's Party after his mother, Benazir, was assassinated in December 2007.

Pakistan's national assembly had only a scattering of members present on Thursday when it quietly dissolved itself at the end of its five-year term. It was a historic moment. If elections go to plan then Pakistan will see the first democratic transition of power in its 65-year history, a period marked by political instability and three military coups.

Bilawal's father, Asif Ali Zardari, has been president of Pakistan since 2008, when he was catapulted into the political limelight after the assassination of his wife, Benazir. She was killed in a suicide attack as she campaigned for a third stint as prime minister.

At 24, he is still too young to stand in elections, but a constituency is waiting for him, reportedly the troubled neighbourhood of Lyari in Karachi, as a twenty-fifth birthday present.
Last year, Hina Rabbani Khar, the country's glamorous foreign minister, was forced to deny she was having an affair with the president's son, a rumour that some claimed was part of a smear campaign run by the military.

Bilawal's fans hope he will restore his mother's party to its traditional compassionate, leftist position, but fear his privileged upbringing and foreign education have disconnected him from ordinary voters. His late mother, they say, would also have made sure he had a firmer grasp of Urdu.

Naheed Khan, who was close to Mrs Bhutto, said Bilawal risked being exposed too early if he was expected to defend his father's unpopular government.

"He has to take a very clear decision, whether he wants to carry his grandfather and grandmother's legacy or he wants to go along with his father and what his father has done in five years," she said.

Whoever wins in elections, one thing seems certain: Pakistan's political dynasties show few signs of fading away.