The PPP is not a liberal party, and never has been

Published: January 1, 2013

PPP is the one party that was not based on religious claptrap or stifling ideological premises. Yet, it has failed to deliver what many had hoped it would. PHOTO: REUTERS

Most of the time when I read op-eds about the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in the English dailies, they’re almost bilious – especially if they’re meant to eulogise the party.

Normally this is how the course of such articles go:

High words fly, lofty ideals are cited, arbitrary versions of historic incidents are recounted with more than a tinge of bias, grand titles and appellations are quietly slipped into what is pitched as a balanced opinion piece and the masses are told, yet again, that in the PPP is embodied the ultimate saviour of this nation.

I have often read such pieces and tolerated them, hoping year after year that the party that is so revered by the liberals of this country may perhaps someday live up to those expectations. But the last five years have been an abysmal disappointment, even when I know well the adage about history repeating itself.

Let’s, for once, be honest.

The PPP is not a liberal party.

It has never been a liberal party.

It is a political party that is as opportunist as PML-N, ANP, MQM, PTI or JI.

From Zulfiqar Bhutto’s decision to render Ahmadis infidels to PPP’s cowardly silence over Salman Taseer’s murder, I utterly fail to see how this party is any different from others who play to the gallery and use populist rhetoric to score points.

The PPP has proved liberal at times, yes, but only when it was most convenient. The same goes for all other political parties. I simply fail to see how one is any better than the other.

The liberal coterie has long lambasted the PML-N for its electoral alliance with extremist organisations such as the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan in the guise of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat. However, I don’t hear any caustic words from the jiyalas-in-guise over the PPP’s decision to form an electoral alliance with the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC). Let me remind those with poor memory retention powers that SIC is the same party which openly hailed and eulogised Salman Taseer’s murderer, Mumtaz Qadri, and campaigned for him all over the country.

What is even worse is that the fiercest apologies for the PPP emanate from those who profess in being rationalists and unbiased analysts. Time after time, they would defend the feudal culture that breeds in the very lap of the PPP; the dynastic politics that is the hallmark of the party and the other follies that are silently glossed over with what can best be termed as intellectual dishonesty.

They would tell you how the PPP has passed a bill in the assembly which will finally bring deliverance to such women who are victims of domestic abuse – yet they wouldn’t tell you how the bill has zero practical value due to an utter lack of implementation and serves merely to earn the PPP precious political points.

They would tell you how the PPP is committed to the elimination of all kinds of religious extremists – yet won’t say as to why the party would take the likes of Maulana Fazlur Rehman under its fold every now and then.

Recently, many of these ‘intellectuals’ have taken to defending the up and coming ‘heir’ to the party’s ‘throne’ – Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

I have nothing against Bilawal – he may be a bright, young man for all I know. But what I do know for certain is the fact that to this day, he hasn’t played any political role in Pakistan, has spent little time in his homeland, and feels a lot more comfortable speaking English than Urdu.

The primary, and sole, merit for a politician is the work he has done, or not done, for the people – not the family he hails from.

How does one pre-qualify Bilawal as a great politician when he doesn’t have a day’s worth of actual political experience?

If he contests the elections, enters practical politics, bags some worthy achievements, I’d be more than happy to vote a youthful leader. But until he has done that, I fail to see how one can extol him without being dishonest.

I have no grudges against the PPP except that it is the one party that was not based on religious claptrap or stifling ideological premises. Yet, it has failed to deliver what many had hoped it would. In doing so, it has stooped to the prevalent mediocrity of the political arena.

This post originally appeared here.

Read more by Salman here or follow him on Twitter @SalmanLateef

salman.latif

Salman Latif

A blogger who blogs at salmanlatif.wordpress.com/ and tweets @salmanlateef

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Ovais

    its a dynasty not a political party Recommend

  • Hassaan

    Good read. PPP, indeed, isn’t a political party AT ALL. They have bedeviled us right throughout these 5 yeas. Needed plethora of courage and tolerance to handle Zardari and finally, nation has done it. Recommend

  • http://hamzanama.wordpress.com/ Hamza Baloch

    Imran Khan did not support Qadri..
    Imran Khan visited Qadyanis home, after Lahore attack.
    Imran Khan do not support WOT or “army operation” in Fata/Balochistan and Karachi,because of collateral damage.
    Imran Khan against WOT,which increase extremism in Pakistan and in the world.
    Imran Khan support Women empowerment from village level(intra party election and local body system have procedure of “election” for women reserve seat)
    Imran Khan visited Shia Victims of terrorism.
    Imran Khan gave Polio drop by himself to child.

    He is one of the best example of “liberal” in Pakistan!!

    Although, this blog is not about Imran Khan. But about Liberalism in Pakistani politics, that is why comment is about Pakistani-Liberal.Recommend

  • Mohammad Assad

    Well said.
    .
    .
    All the vile hatred and disgust directed at Imran Khan and PTI, the sole party that has never been in power is justified according to some ‘liberal’ critics, but say ONE word about PPP and you are playing the establishments game and destroying democracy.
    .
    .
    PPP can make alliances with Sunni Ittehad Council that is fine. PML N can make alliances with ASWJ. That is not an issue. But ‘liberal’ critics start whining when PTI sends a rep to the DPC.
    .
    .
    Saroop Ijaz the other day compared Bilawal to Bhagat Singh. I wonder how Bhagat Singh would have felt about that. Hehehehhe.Recommend

  • http://facebook.com/azhar.mushtaq Azhar Mushtaq

    In fact PPP was made to diffuse a revolution in Pakistan. There was a glance of and inclination towards left wing by manipulating Socialism as a systematic approach for economy. PPP is a typical traditional and conventional party with the ideology, deeds, policies and actions of a typical right wing.Recommend

  • http://syedaabidabokhari.wordpress.com The Only Normal Person Here.

    PPP is a cult and well, their ideology IS liberal. However, what you said is correct. Recommend

  • De

    None of these parties are secular or Islamic. They call Pakistan an Islamic republic but there is nothing Islamic about the country’s government and the politicians, their justice, their corruption, their rules and laws. They are all hypocritical thugs, some of them use religion for their corrupted goals some use secularism for their corrupted goals. None of them work for the people. People blame Islam for the country’s problems which is HILARIOUS because no one follows Islam’s teachings! Just praying 5 times a day and saying the kalimah doesn’t mean this country is Islamic or if not praying means it’s secular. Pakistan is nothing except a banana republic with shameless citizensRecommend

  • Naveed Javed

    A totally biased piece of writingRecommend

  • http://uth-oye.com Brand Manager of Uth Oye

    now that’s not fair. They say babies can hear music in the womb, so its clear that 9 months with BB gave him all the experience he needs.Recommend

  • Salma

    @Author, It’s understandable but the reasons u have given 4 not supporting ppp r ridiculous. Leave bilawal alone. He doesn’ t need the approval of ppl like u to be the leader of pakistan’s largest political party. He spoke far better Urdu than most of the young pakistanis of his age. Bhutto’s dynasty z that of blood. PPP leaders , workers donot flee to England or Saudi Arabia. They fight against the forces of extremism, dictatorship and their cronies. And give their lives while fighting 4 the noble cause. All anti ppp , GHQ ppl should better vote 4 mullah military alliance that is MQM, Qadri , PTI and PML – N/ Q etc. PPP z better of without u. Recommend

  • Hataf Shahab

    he doesnt have any other nationality of any other country, he is been advocating pakistan’s case since two years, holding meeting in Naudero and adjacent areas. he is conducting public meetings in his hometown and even over the world. can u ppl correct facts, watch YouTube videos and then comment!

    Politics started the day he became chairman of the single biggest party of pakistan which is the PPP and no one can reject it. Do watch the videos where he REJECTED OUTRIGHTLY Mumtaz Qadri. He will help bring the true PP back. So before commenting, take a look at history. the five years that just passed, in which maybe the ppl were sleeping, should check how he has been advocating Pakistan’s case to the intl community especially when everyone in world said we are a terrorist nation!Recommend

  • Ali S

    PPP wasn’t exactly meant to be a liberal party even in its heyday. It was a populist one, with a dynastic slant in its leadership as proven lately. Anyway, these days it’s performing as well as a trainwreck. Only textbook-liberal clowns (ET’s very own Saroop Ejaz pops in mind) and PPP jiyalas (who share more in common psychologically with brainwashed madressa alumni than they’d like to admit) still swear by it.Recommend

  • aaaaa

    I didn’t read all of this. A few things.

    The PPP has proved liberal at times, yes, but only when it was most convenient.

    Examples? And please don’t say Malala Yousafzai. That was common sense, not liberalism.

    the dynastic politics that is the hallmark of the party

    Between 1988-2008, the US was ruled by two families. Hillary will probably win if she runs in 2016, which she will. If she’s a two term president, the US will have been ruled by two families from 1988-2024 except Obama’s 8 years. So what’s your point?

    Your article has no practical value, because nobody votes for the PPP because it’s liberal. You really think people in Naudero, Larkana, and rural Sindh think along these lines?

    For what its worth, Sherry Rehman did introduce a bill aimed at scaling back the blasphemy law. It’s understandable that you wouldn’t remember that. Raza Rabbani and Aitzaz Ahsan are members of the PPP. Even Asma Jehangir leans that way. It may not be a liberal party, but all the recognizable liberals are in it. Or they are party less. So clearly, these people don’t agree with you.Recommend

  • http://rizwanyahya.blogspot.co.uk/ Rizwan Yahya

    After agreeing to everything you said about PPP i fail to understand why you have thrown PTI in the same line as PPP PMLN ANP MQM etc. in ‘Opportunists’?

    My questions are:
    Have they ruled the country?
    Have they been in any PUBLIC office?
    Have they lied, cheated, deceived, or even killed people of Pakistan like all others??

    If your answer is NO, then please do tell me why you have placed them in the same category?
    Isn’t it an attempt to ‘suggest’ that even though PPP PMLN ANP and MQM are all the things you called them, people should also consider PTI as one too?

    You, My friend, are trying to deceive people by ‘implying’ that PTI is same and don’t trust them!

    This piece might be written on behalf of and with consent of PPP to bring everyone to shame!

    Just my two cents..Recommend

  • http://www.salmanlatif.wordpress.com Salman Latif

    Ok. For the PPP apologists, this is how it does: anyone who opposes PPP is either a mullah or a stooge of the establishment, an opponent of democracy, essentially a ring-wing nut etc etc. Got to say I’m amazed at having amassed so many apellations merely by criticizing PPP.
    Also, yes, PPP has been saying it opposes extremists and terrorists, so do Bilawal Bhutto – but that’s what PPP has been saying for the last four years – why did all sorry PPP apologists conveniently glide over the mention of PPP’s political alliance with SIC? Fighting extremists or forging alliances with them?Recommend

  • suraj

    How come PPP is secular.. This is the party instrumental to declare Shias non-muslims and responsible for the current elimination of Shias across PakistanRecommend

  • Parvez

    Calling it like it is……………….well written.Recommend

  • Midhat

    @Salma:
    Leave bilawal alone. He doesn’ t need the approval of ppl like u to be the leader of pakistan’s largest political party. He spoke far better Urdu than most of the young pakistanis of his age. Bhutto’s dynasty z that of blood.

    Was that sarcasm!? because you see democratic parities, that PPP claims to be, actually DO NEED APPROVAL of the the people they represent, leadership of a country cannot be gifted in a “Will”.
    Bilawal should Contest elections, prove his credibility and justify the leadership. This is a country not your parent’s looted money resting in swiss banks that can be gifted to you as inheritance.

    And while your memory is weak, let me remind you that Your beloved leaders did flee the country! it was only after their cases got absolved through NRO, they returned to further loot the Country! Pakistan’s current condition is clear and open proof of PPP’s hopeless inefficiency and corruption.Recommend

  • Salman Elahi

    If you lookup the underlying characteristics of a religious sect, you’ll find all of those and some more in PPP. It is in essence a political sect capable of thriving under the guise of a political party. It masquerades political vision with tales or martyrdom. It uses fear of the unknown to propagate itself. The sooner it is democratically marginalized, the better it is for this country.Recommend

  • http://- Abid P Khan

    Someone finally said it. It won’t however make even the slightest bit of difference.Recommend

  • http://hammadsiddiquiblog.com Hammad Siddiqui

    Are you surprised? I am not, because I have seen many democratically elected governments in my age, all are the same. When politics is about compromises and these compromises are called democracy savers, such things will keep happening!Recommend

  • faraz

    SIC is not a banned terrorist organizationRecommend

  • TrueLiberal

    Yes. Liberal party is Tehreek-e-Taleban Pakistan and Jamat-e-Islami by your defination.Recommend

  • Uzma

    @Hamza Baloch:
    Imran Khan believes in empowering women, so long as it is not in a “western sense”
    Imran Khan believes there is no need to repeal blasphemy laws in Pakistan
    Imran Khan has never once condemned the Taliban’s actions or stopped apologizing for them
    Imran Khan criticizes all and sundry about this country, he may have visited the Ahmadis’ homes, but he has never spoken about repealing laws so as to call themselves Muslims
    Imran Khan supports parallel legal systems such as jirgas and panchayats
    Imran Khan may have given polio drops to a child for the sake of a photo-op but he has not condemned the attacks on polio workers

    Imran Khan is anything but a liberal. He is as much an opportunist as every pother politician, and he is simply an old wine in a flashy new bottleRecommend

  • Javed Muneer

    I think voting a corrupt politician and choosing a leader for your personal benefits will definitely hurt you somehow in future. people here caste vote based on their caste and family background. Even I don’t want to vote here in Pakistan because don’t know what will they done to this country in next few years. I don’t know about any law or rule but there should be one rule in this country that is cancel the election if a specific amount of vote hasn’t been cast out and bring army inn. Because people here only knows the language of “danda”Recommend

  • Sane

    @suraj:

    How come PPP is secular.. This is the party instrumental to declare Shias non-muslims and responsible for the current elimination of Shias across Pakistan

    In which world you live? In what part of the world Shias are declared non-muslims? Very pathetic knowledge. Although I am against PPP, but can not stand with lies or ill knowledge.Recommend

  • http://- Abid P Khan

    @Salma:
    “….PPP leaders , workers donot flee to England or Saudi Arabia.”

    .
    I would love to agree with you, but I keep hearing that a person called Benazir who probably had something to do with PPP, exiled herself to live in the Gulf and in England for decades and loved to buy properties there.
    .
    On the other hand one should not believe in everything one hears.Recommend

  • mee

    Excellent article……………spot onRecommend

  • Salma

    @abid, benazir didn’t fled to UAE . Court give her permission 2 go out . She was hounded by nawaz govt and as a mother of 3 young kids she had to leave. Donot need to remind Bhutto/ppp haters that it was benazir who fought the brutal zia regime unlike many fake liberals these days. Moreover, bibi came back, Knowing the dangers , only to fell to an assassin’s Bullet. Those who donot want to vote ppp must not b allowed to do such negative propaganda against them. And tribune should avoid becoming a party to it Recommend

  • ahhozaree

    The PPP has been in the embrace of the feudal lords. One of the most conspicuous things it has done is to not only protect but entrench feudalism, which was prominently based in West Pakistan. This was also a contributing factor when in 1971 it failed to agree to majority rule since that could have ended the power, pelf, and privilege of the feudal “aristocrats,” as the Awami League was neither feudal nor would it let feudalism continue. Unfortunately, this also was a major cause of the break-up of Pakistan which no report would ever admit. Recommend

  • abhi

    I guess all parties in pakistan are liberal in their own way as long as the liberty is not at odds with islamic values (as per the sect their leaders belong to). Recommend

  • Ah_ho Zaree

    How can the PPP be a liberal party when the PPP has been in the embrace of the feudal lords? One of the most conspicuous things it has done is to not only protect but entrench feudalism, which was prominently based in West Pakistan. This was also a contributing factor when in 1971 it failed to agree to majority rule since that could have ended the power, pelf, and privilege of the feudal “aristocrats,” as the Awami League was neither feudal nor would it let feudalism continue. Unfortunately, this also was a major cause of the break-up of Pakistan which no report would ever admit. Recommend

  • Midhat

    @Salma:

    How is it a negative propoganda? The author has very eloquently articulated his points with reasons to back them up. Blind following leads us no where.. There are scores of documented proofs of PPP corruption.

    If you think all PPP’s critics have personal grudge against PPP, Paksitan’s current conditions are just an illusion in haters minds and the Country is doing great under your extremly ept and efficient government of PPP, then you really deserve Zaradari. But please spare us, we dont need a president whose only prominent credentials are 10 years of experience in Jail on corruption charges, laundering cases in courts, looted money in swiss banks and desires to Hug Sarah Palin in front of the media!Recommend

  • http://caramelizedonion.wordpress.com Usman

    @Salma: Umm, leave Bilalwal alone? He was left alone until he left Pakistan alone. If we wants to be a leader, he shouldn’t hide behind women to put up a defense for him. Recommend

  • megamind

    Hmmn…. Bilawal phobia.
    Something brought to my mind the green eyed monster of……Recommend

  • http://habloid.wordpress.com Habiba Younis

    a very balanced post.Recommend

  • Resham Shahzad

    The concept of ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ political parties is alien to pakistani politics. Politics here is merely a family business run on inheritance with the sole goal of maximising their self interests. The stance of all the parties are almost the same leaving the ‘center-left’ ‘center-right’ theories flawed. Whatever decision is made, there is a party’s own interests behind it rather than the public’s.Recommend