KARACHI: The slogans that Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari raised during his recent visit to flood-hit areas of Punjab not only reverberated across the country but also reached the political centres of India.
“We will die but will not give Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa. We will die but will take back Kashmir and South Punjab,” he chanted.
During a function organised at the Sindh Chief Minister House to distribute job letters to over 24,000 health workers, he raised another slogan: “BB’s son will come and bring employment”.
The slogans stirred a new enthusiasm and a new bond between the masses and the party as they reflect a philosophy which can only be understood in the political backdrop of the country. Once we understand this philosophy, it will be easier for us to have an idea about the politics the PPP chairman intends to carry on in the future.
There has always been a political narrative which says that the native ethnicities of the country have been discriminated against on the basis of their culture, civilisation and historical identities.
It claims that the progress of languages and culture of local people was hindered, and cites the examples of Bengalis, who raised voiced for their mother tongue but the state used oppression against them.
It claims that the state used same tactics when Sindhi Language Bill was passed in Sindh. None of the federal units was allowed to promote their language and culture, including the Punjab. Most importantly, the political thoughts of almost all the ethnicities were not appreciated and a thought was imposed on them that did not match their mentality, the narrative runs.
The people subscribing to this view call for a change on ‘Qaumi Jamhoori (Ethnic-democratic)’ basis so that ethnicities get their cultural rights in a democratic system close to their natural evolution.
On the other hand, another political school of thought wants to end class division – the difference between haves and have-nots – and want to carry out ‘Awami Jamhoori (Peoples-democratic)’ struggle.
However, the problem is that there is a gulf between both the political ideologies.
The people, who have faith in ‘Qaumi Jamhoori’ struggle have always kept a distance with the PPP as it emphasises class equality and ignores ethic identities.
However, Bilawal seems to have tried to bridge the gap and bring both the ideologies together. The youthful chairman of the party apparently intends to turn the PPP into a ‘Qaumi Awami Jamhoori’ party – which will help all ethnicities get their rights and create opportunities for the labour class so that they can lead dignified lives.
The PPP chairman now wants all the ethnicities to revive their cultural identities and has supported the creation of Saraiki province – which means the Saraikis are considered a separate cultural and national unit. However, his party has got a resolution passed against the division of the Sindh.
Bilawal’s stance on Sindh and other provinces of the country is according to the Constitution of Pakistan, which protects the borders of four provinces and says that no changes can be made to these borders unless 2/3 of the provinces’ assembly decides to change it.
It means that if the federal units are willing to change their borders then they need to get a resolution passed in their respective assemblies by bringing 2/3 majority for the creation of a new province and making changes in the Constitution.
However, it appears that people of the country will not let this happen as the 1973 Constitution is a collective agreement among all the ethnicities and federal units.
The PPP chairman wants to eradicate poverty and joblessness from the country and this is the main philosophy of his slogans. Now he is going to address a rally at Mazar-e-Quaid on October 18 to determine his new path in politics.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 6th, 2014.