Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) member’s thronged the courthouse when the Panama verdict was being announced, even more showed up to escort Dr Asim Hussain during his protracted trips from the jail to his hearings, yet when the 10 year long murder case of Benazir Bhutto concluded, no one – no leader, no party worker – showed up to hear the judge pronounce the verdict. Even after that, only the children of the slain Prime Minister seemed to care about the acquittals of the main accused.
For the party who features the image of Benazir Bhutto on every single party poster, and which rolls out chants of “BB is still alive” on every single political meeting, this lack of interest in the verdict that is so central to the party’s identity is shocking to say the least.
It is hard to believe that that Benazir Bhutto is alive, even metaphorically, when her party doesn’t seem to believe it themselves.
If anything, it goes to show how little the PPP expected from the Rawalpindi anti-terrorism court (ATC); having been harassed, intimidated and eventually subdued; it seems that the party had given up on the case.
It also goes to show the evolution of the PPP’s politics – from a national party chasing civilian supremacy and military accountability in 2008 to a Sindh based party protecting the interests of the province and forming coalitions at the centre.
The fate of the Bhuttos – and their socialist policies – may still be a rallying call, but it does not seem to be reflected in its actions – it certainly didn’t on Thursday.
Which only goes to highlight the irony of Bilawal’s comments – what was unacceptable and disappointing was PPP’s behavior throughout this verdict.
Daily crowds at hearings, prominent leaders making speeches on the court steps and cable news debates do not affect the judge’s verdict, but they do create visibility and pressure for the case among the general public.
Contrast PPP’s showing with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf’s (PTI) during the Panama verdict.
The timescale was vastly different, as were the stakes; but the PTI went to the court, in force, on every hearing and keeping the issue alive in the minds of the public at every political gathering.
Had the PPP done that, perhaps it could have prevented the kind of machinations that went on in the background of the decade log case, perhaps the public pressure could have prompted the judges to make difference decisions.
At the very least, they should have been there to hear the verdict of their slain leader; it was the right thing to do.
Nation, September 2, 2017