ABBOTABAD/ PESHAWAR/ BANNU:
Pakistan Peoples Party’s provincial leadership was much too caught up with internal differences to observe July 5 as a black day on Sunday with full gusto and enthusiasm. Only a tiny pocket of party activists, supporters and district leaders commemorated the occasion.
On this day, 38 years ago, General Ziaul Haq toppled the elected government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and enforced martial law in the country. The military dictator had taken over with the promise that elections would be held within 90 days.
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However, an event which represents one of the darkest moments in the party’s history—and some would say the country—received a fairly lukewarm response from PPP’s K-P leadership.
No meetings and gatherings were organised to commemorate the occasion. Most party leaders remained largely inaccessible.
According to insiders, the party’s provincial leadership is currently facing immense pressure to stay afloat. Some of its stalwart leaders such as former provincial president Zahir Ali Shah have voiced intentions to join Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.
The party’s K-P chapter has been rife with disagreement for a long time after a group of influential leaders stood up against provincial president Khanzada Khan and demanded intra-party polls. They call themselves the ‘likeminded’ faction.
It is believed the growing lack of unity in PPP might have swept preparations for July 5 under the rug.
When contacted, PPP leader Najmuddin Khan said no events had been planned on the occasion in view of the ongoing heatwave and Ramazan.
He said the party would renew its pledge to support Bhutto’s vision of democracy and development in Pakistan.
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“Pakistan would be a developed country if Bhutto was still alive and the army had played its constitutional rule,” he added.
Nevertheless, tiny pockets of activists and supporters wore black armbands, paid rich tributes to Bhutto and condemned Zia’s decision to overthrow his government.
“July 5 was the day when a military dictator attacked democracy and laid the foundation of extremism and Kalashnikov culture in the country,” said an 85-year-old PPP supporter in Qissa Khwani Bazaar who wore a black armband to commemorate the occasion. “General Zia managed to sow the seed of intolerance and poverty,” he added
Usman Ali, a PPP worker, said Pakistan was still grappling with the aftermath of the General Zia’s regime.
Outside the mainstream
In Bannu district, the PPP’s district leadership observed a black day to commemorate the occasion.
Addressing a gathering of party workers, PPP leader Sher Azam said Bhutto’s memory was forever etched in the hearts and minds of his supporters.
“Two years after his government was overthrown, Bhutto was hanged for his commitment to unite the Muslim world,” he said. “He gave our country a constitution. July 5 will always be remembered as one of the darkest chapters in the history of Pakistan – a day when democracy was overthrown and a dictatorship was imposed on the people of Pakistan.”
In Abbottabad, members of the doctors’ fraternity also observed July 5 as a black day.
The provincial chapter of the Peoples Doctors Forum arranged a meeting. Speaking to participants, PDF member Dr Nisar Khan said July 5, 1977 was one of the “bleakest days” in Pakistan’s political history.
“Bhutto was a visionary who always stood up for the rights of the people,” he said
Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2015.