How is Abdul Qadir Gilani's win a victory for democracy?
Family politics has become a sad norm within PPP. This is far from democracy.
Yesterday the by-elections on NA-151 were held in Multan. This was the very seat from which Yousaf Raza Gilani was removed as the Prime Minister. Ever since PPP was elected and Gilani was appointed as the Prime Minister, Gilani's sons, Abdul Qadir Gilani and Ali Musa Gilani have been doing exceptionally well. We found a few hints of this in the ephedrine case in which Musa Gilani is currently implicated.
But I digress.
So, in the by-elections Abdul Qadir Gilani scored a win. No surprises there - the Gilanis are a Pir family with a huge number of followers and a lot of influence in Multan.
What was surprising for me was that our very dear Twitter liberatti started cheering for PPP the instant news came in of AQ Gilani's success! They started hailing this as the victory of democracy, the voice of the masses, the apt answer to the judiciary's 'aggression' and what not. Naturally I was amused, but not so much at the hollow grandeur of these words as at the very stance taken by many friends and colleagues.
As it is, a lot from our liberal coterie tend to support PPP for some very obscure reasons. They term it the 'true face of democracy', the party which has sacrificed a lot for the sake of democracy, the only party with a liberal manifesto and the list goes on.
I personally hold most of this to be plain untrue.
Whereas PPP may have made a lot of efforts towards the restoration of democracy and for its continuity, for which I sincerely commend the party, it is still far from being a truly democratic party.
Abdul Qadir Gilani's win is case in point.
Hereditary and family politics has become a sad norm within PPP. With is shocking is that this is getting support from people rather than critique.
Log on to Twitter for a second and you'd see hoards of tweets stating how AQ Gilani has proved democracy is the true winner. Really? The son of a Pir (a religious equivalent of a typical feudal) who was able to swoop the seat of the Pir once he was disposed, is a victory of democracy? Either there's something very wrong with this argument or I've had all my definitions wrong.
My only contention in all this is that many liberals - some of whom I deeply revere and respect - have become more of a reactionary force. In trying to belittle PTI, oppose Imran Khan and somehow ridicule the party, they are trying to justify a whole lot of equally despicable evils. For instance, a gentleman on Twitter was found stating something like:
Since grapes are sour, PTI fans would now say that voters in NA-151 were illiterate.
Through such sarcastic remarks, he thus effectively discarded what is a very valid argument. You can take that from someone who has lived in Multan for the last 15 years.
AQ Gilani's vote bank indeed comprises of a lot of tenants and such people who are directly favoured, affected or controlled by his family. This has been true for feudals and for Pirs, but suddenly it's no longer true for Gilani because, well, he is opposing PTI and his win could be rubbed into the judiciary's face.
Then there is the regular argument of putting PPP's (on-paper) liberal stance against PTI, PML-N and others. My question to all of those who do this is:
Wasn't Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto the one who branded Ahmedis as non-Muslims and initiated a vicious cycle that still continues to this day?
And exactly what liberal policies have PPP been able to enact practically throughout its three governments? Merely passing bills in the parliament is barely an achievement.
Moreover, the way our present government has handled all issues, from the energy crisis to inflation, I have absolutely no love lost for this government, but yes I would really want to see it complete its term and continue the democratic process.
Having said as much, I would also want others to justify the rhetoric of PPP being the best ever political party. This is a claim which needs to be propped up on facts and achievements and not mere words.
Read more by Salman here or follow him on Twitter @SalmanLateef