The PPP is not the victim

Published: May 8, 2012
The author is a Lincoln’s Inn barrister practising in Islamabad and holds a degree in Economics and Literature from Bryn Mawr College, US

The author is a Lincoln’s Inn barrister practising in Islamabad and holds a degree in Economics and Literature from Bryn Mawr College, US

What do Isreali Jews, black South Africans, proverbial South Asian mothers-in-law and the PPP, have in common? Do I hear a resounding  “Nothing”? Or are there some of you who realise instantly that these ostensibly disparate groups share with one another, an acute sense of victimhood that has become a defining feature of their identity and discourse and the motivation behind their actions. Interestingly, however, whilst for the Israeli Jews, black South Africans and even the South Asian mothers-in-law, this sense of victimhood is based on reality, for the PPP, its existence is largely imaginary.

Let’s examine this more closely: Israeli Jews are inheritors of discrimination as old as Christianity, primarily because the Christians believed that had it not been for the Jews, Christ would not have died on the cross. During the Holocaust years, this discrimination exploded into a full-scale genocide, which only exacerbated Jewish insecurity. The black South Africans had, until very recently, suffered under apartheid, which not only classified society along racial lines but also relegated blacks to its lowest rungs. As for the South Asian mother-in-law, she is a creature brewed in the cauldron of age-old South Asian tradition, which typically allowed women very limited and disguised power, and that too, within the confines of the home.

However, unlike each of these underdogs, the PPP in its early years rode in on the wave of the brilliance and charisma of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and found its way, very quickly, into the halls of power, albeit not before ZAB had served as a minister in a martial law regime and not without further interesting arrangements, which gave ZAB the dubious distinction of being Pakistan’s first Civilian Martial Law Administrator whilst also being its first civilian president. The PPP’s star was once again ascendant under the leadership of Benazir Bhutto who occupied the office of the prime minister twice and has seen yet another resurgence under President Asif Ali Zardari’s present government.

The purpose of recounting the history of the PPP’s glory days rather than bemoaning the tragic deaths of ZAB and Benazir, is not to discount either these losses or the role of the PPP in mobilising democracy at the grass roots in Pakistan. It is rather to question its blanket claims to martyrdom, and to recognise that its path has been as much of expediency and compromise as it may have been of sacrifice. It is also to recall that the PPP’s most recent incarnation has only been made possible due to the NRO, which was in truth, nothing more than a bargain between a military dictator keen to perpetuate his authority and a political party equally eager to return to centre stage.

Despite all this, the sheer stubbornness of the PPP’s response to the Supreme Court’s decision in the contempt proceedings, its determination to make a mockery of the rule of law that it likes to pay lip service to, and its insistence on casting itself in the role of the victim rather than the aggressor, reminds me of the well-established psychological theory, that victims of abuse usually become its worst perpetrators the moment they find themselves in positions of authority. This theory may, in fact, be one underlying explanation of the persecution of the Palestinians at the hands of Israeli Jews, the chauvinism of the predominantly black African National Congress towards South Africa’s minority whites and the treatment of the unwitting daughter-in-law at the hands of the stereotypical mother-in-law.

The only problem in our scenario is, however, that given the PPP’s reality, its assumed victimhood is inappropriate, if not downright absurd. The PPP is not a victim. It is a political party that once stood for principles, which resounded with the people of this country, and that took risks and made expedient compromises to ensure that it remained a player in Pakistan’s political arena. Over time, however, the party appears to have lost its way. Instead of safeguarding the rights of the common man, it now appears to protect the selfish interests of its self-styled leaders, who because they lack the talent or the vision to inspire people — as indeed ZAB had — have decided simply to manipulate and hoodwink them. They may do well to remember, however, that all personas are ultimately shattered and victims are at best pitied, never admired or respected.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 9th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (26)

  • Sarfraz khan
    May 8, 2012 - 11:42PM

    Playing the sindh card or the shaheed card is all that the ppp has got left.Emotionally blackmailing the public so that the people don’t ask the govt. why their lives are getting worse each day.This distracting the voters with emotional appeals and diverting attention away from the subject at hand is an old tactic used by political parties to divert people’s focus away from the corruption and incompetence.Now,the ppp is threatening to divide up pakistan and break it into smaller pieces if their corruption is stopped by the judiciarty.The prime minister after learning of the detailed verdict threatened to launch an aggressive campaign for the breaking up of punjab.
    In what civilised country does a prime minister threaten his own people with the prospect of breaking up their country if his corruption is stopped.


  • Arif Amjad
    May 8, 2012 - 11:46PM

    Time to play the sindh card again by the ruling party.This ppp regime has shown time and again over the last four years that whenever the judgements in corruption cases haven’t come according to their liking,they immediately start implementing the policy of divide and rule and they are doing it again by making threats of dividing up punjab.This racist attitude and ethnic mentality must be condemned.The prime minister should act as the leader of all of pakistan and not act as an ethnic leader.


  • Muhammad Ali
    May 8, 2012 - 11:46PM

    The ppp has been working hard over the decades to perpetuate this cult of victimhood.They love to play the bichara,masoom victim all the time.Whenever their corruption is caught they play the role of the siyasi shaheed so that the people will show sympathy towards them.But the level to which this govt. has gone in exploiting the cult of victimhood is too much even by ppp standards.
    Whenever they get into trouble they immediately start reminding everyone to think of them as the poor innocent victims so people will forget all about the corruption and misgovernace.
    It’s time the pakistani public stopped being fooled by emotional slogans and started thinking with their brains.


  • Falcon
    May 8, 2012 - 11:54PM

    Amber – Good article and analogies. However, I feel you have invited wrath of PPP jiyalas by being honest. Good luck with all the angry comments on the way.


  • May 8, 2012 - 11:58PM

    We all should remember that the even the legalities have limitations but, illegalities not ! What can we expect from the corrupts, crooks. Their limit is the sky may be even higher than that. They will go further than we expect.


  • John B
    May 9, 2012 - 12:44AM

    While the author may be correct in her analysis of PPP, she is ignorant of the facts of analogies.

    1: “Israeli Jews are inheritors of discrimination as old as Christianity, primarily because the Christians believed that had it not been for the Jews, Christ would not have died on the cross” – Christ by his own admission came to die for mankind and Christians never blamed Jews for his crucification. Perhaps the author should understand this before equating persecution of Jews to Christianity.

    2: The racist white apartheid S. Africa was an abomination to mankind and it is painful to read that the author subscribes to the notion that the ANC is chauvinistic towards white S. Africans. The reality is actually different.

    3: The persecution of Palestinians by Israeli Jews of today-if only the matter is that simple.

    4: South Asian mothers in law are no different from mothers in law of the rest of the world. All mothers in law despise their daughters in law who have come to take up their matriarchal position in the family. Age old conflict and S. Asian mothers in law are no different.

    So, since the initial key of article starts with the wrong tune, the conclusion of the article ends in a wrong note as well. “victims are at best pitied, never admired or respected”- if only that were true the world would have long forgotten Christ, Jews, Black South Africans, Palestinians, Kosovo Muslims, Afghanistan women and children and countless other victims of the past and the present.

    This article becomes a classical case study of how the past educational credentials have no influence of one’s present thinking.


  • Tariq Khan Niazi
    May 9, 2012 - 1:10AM

    Please read my intermittently displayed historical facts as being very close to PPP’s ZAB from 1967 onward as being special Correspondent of The Pakistan Times,Rawalpindi(1967)I am witness to ZAB’z links and close consultation with the then Indian PM Indira Gandhi who has brain washed ZAB to work with assistance of Indian Intelligence Agencies and govt to dismember Pakistan and ruin its integrity,independence and soverignity,later After becoming Civilian Martial Law Administrator ZAB assured US to financially erode Pakistan and to further disintegrate Pakistan.But later with the close ties with Islamic world leaders like Col Moamer Gadafi he turned his eyes on US and took refuge in the camp of Islamic world. He with a unforeseen agenda of US he guided Arab Leadership to stand adversly against US and Jews.The Henery Kissinger US Secretary of state threatend his to make him a worst example.Zia ul Haq accomplished American desire. You will be surprised to note that BB also followed her father’s political track and first made a secret accord with Gen Musharaf and got NRO then she approached through one of PPP stalwart …and via satellite to Beit ullah Masud and assured him that if you support me to get power I shall with your network oust US and its NATO component out of Kabul..the she became tuff with musharaf and Zardari apporached Musharaf and through him to US and assured them that he will implement leftover american agenda in pakistan and Kabul…this is the real story of PPP and its leader ZAB


  • Salma
    May 9, 2012 - 1:10AM

    the writer is a PTI or PMLN worker


  • Ahsan
    May 9, 2012 - 1:21AM

    The ISI continuously flouts the Supreme Court directives, but no contempt of court proceedings are brought against it. Isn’t this hypocrisy ?


  • Ahsan
    May 9, 2012 - 1:29AM

    The ISI continues to flout the Supreme Court directives and yet no contempt of court proceedings are brought against it. Isn’t this hypocrisy ?


  • OS
    May 9, 2012 - 5:59AM

    If our unelected bodies continue unseating elected governments then this is inevitable. Granted, this PPP government has not been a success from any angle. But lets take a step back and think of all the heinous our military dictators and their collaborators have commited. Lets think of all the terrorists planted by our establishment who roam our streets waiting for their next innocent victims. Lets think of Saleem Shahzad and Umer Cheema, journalists murdered by the same establishment who questioned this India centric policy. A policy that has turned us into bankrupt pariahs not worthy of being considered anything other than a terrorist nation.

    Why arent they facing the full force of the law the same? Why arent military dictators and generals in the same room facing the same punishment as PM Gillani?


  • Ali
    May 9, 2012 - 6:26AM

    common sense on express tribune. I’m shocked.


  • OS
    May 9, 2012 - 7:15AM

    @Mr Tariq Khan Niazi

    It was ZAB’s charisma and relationship with Indira Gandhi that brought our 90,000 POW’s back home. It was a broken and battered army in 1971, and Pakistan was a dishonored nation. ZAB gave us back that honour. He lifted the army from its own ashes. And this is how you (and your uniformed bosses) brainwash people to remember him?

    Why are spreading lies and propoganda? Recommend

  • Mirza
    May 9, 2012 - 7:19AM

    @Tariq Khan Niazi:
    Any relationship with Tiger Niazi?


  • Hassan Bokhari
    May 9, 2012 - 11:41AM

    @OS… totally agree with you.


  • Parvez
    May 9, 2012 - 1:06PM

    Sometimes simple logic is all it takes to explain a situation and you have done it beautifully.


  • Meekal Ahmed
    May 9, 2012 - 2:01PM

    He has a right of appeal so let him appeal. Till then, I suggest we all calm down.


  • sars
    May 9, 2012 - 3:01PM

    Absolutely true, but to equate the current lot heading the PPP and their loyal henchmen with ZAB would be wrong. These guys are only here to fight for the power to loot the people , not give anything least of all honour to them. The situation in Lyari being a case in point which is nothing better than a turf war with collateral damage.


  • T Khan
    May 9, 2012 - 4:06PM

    The analogies, Jews and Black South Africans, were indeed in a bad taste. Echoing John B, anyone slightly familiar with history would understand the absurdness of the argument. I am deeply socked and disappointed.


  • May 9, 2012 - 5:10PM

    Madam, may have written with common sense. We can go on quoting myriads of examples of PPP failing the people, but which political party of the country hasn’t. The lack of not good governance in the Punjab is also an example of political parties fail in Pakistan. They came in in sweeps of votes, and forget the manifesto they published r any other tried parties who have come to power or are associated in alliance with bigger parties..However, the reason stated for not trusting PPP as victim would remain identical in the case of bigger parties who have made compromises al the way.Recommend

  • anonymus
    May 9, 2012 - 5:54PM

    @John B:
    I agree with you wisdom does not come with degrees.
    ” NRO was for reincarnation of PPP”
    Author is tryig to say if their was no NRO, people would have voted for her beloved Mushraf.With NRO people,at the orderof Musharaf forgave PPP everything, and at his orders voted for PPP!
    With NO NRO Nawaz Sharif has been still out of country, but with NRO NS was able to come to Pakistan. remeber he was reloaded on plane, in violation of then impotent SC orders. Again Mush ordered them to vote for NS in Punjab!
    All these burgers still dreaming of direct of military intevention for obvious reason.
    Please don’t insult mandate of people, right or wrong, it is people’s right to choose any one according to law of land.
    Remeber every elction PPP has particiapted since 70 has ,except one,even Mush elections. where PPP votes MNAs and MPAs bought after waiving the law for one day for floor crossing.


  • Pro Bono Publico
    May 9, 2012 - 7:19PM

    No mention of role military’s child ZAB in breaking up Pakistan — in collaboration with Gen Yahya and India. No mention of ZAB destroying Pakistan industrial and economic base.Recommend

  • Abid P Khan
    May 9, 2012 - 9:45PM

    @Pro Bono Publico:

    No mention of role military’s child ZAB in breaking up Pakistan — in collaboration with Gen Yahya and India. No mention of ZAB destroying Pakistan industrial and economic base.”

    It is a common malady, also known as selective memory.


  • salman
    May 9, 2012 - 11:58PM

    PPP good or bad is history now


  • Khalq e Khuda
    May 10, 2012 - 5:32AM

    All this yet you would not allow the people to be the real judge of the party’s performance in upcoming elections? So the real question is indeed not whether it is victim or not but whether the educated middle classes of Pakistan are willing to accept the verdict of the masses and not their own liking?


  • Humaira
    May 10, 2012 - 5:37AM

    In good old days those who praised judges and their judgments were held as much guilty of contempt as those who criticized them. But now the judiciary is politicized, even made controversial, by partisans of one cause or another. The partisan judges, politicians, media people and lawyers are at the forefronts of this but hardly anyone is taking notice of it. All those belonging to the anti civilian set up class have found a new love in form of the Supreme Court. Imran Khan and Nawaz Shairf are doing processions to demonize their political opponents in the name of the Supreme Court. The judges in their self righteousness have taken it on themselves to humiliate the civilian government. They have themselves become a party in the political arena and look too keen to be figured in the cover stories of the newspapers and to be the most talked about people on the TV.
    What sort of judiciary is this and what sort of supporters it has, which are negating the very fundamental principles of this institution more than Zardari and Gilani can even think of?


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