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Bibi hum sharminda hain

Pakistan People’s Party outspokenly extended its support in favor of the 21st constitutional amendment which was necessary to establish military courts. When the bill came up in the senate, PPP stalwart Raza Rabbani was unable to confine his emotions. He burst into tears and stated that he was acting against his conscious while voting on the bill and was ashamed of himself. He, however, said that the vote was on behalf of the party. I fail to understand this, if Mr. Rabbani wanted to take the moral high ground why did he not deliver a fiery speech against the proposed amendment, vote against it and resign from his senate seat? Is seat in parliament more valuable than conscience?

Anyone who supported PPP, is in a state of shock today. Originally PPP took a principled official stance that it is against any amendment to the constitution which is against the constitution’s basic structure.(1) This was appropriately in line with its ideological foundations. The PPP had long stood for the cause of democracy, and one major part of it was to push the military out of the political arena back into the barracks. It is ironic indeed that the same PPP has now voted on a constitutional amendment that gives the armed forces a judicial role. It is unfortunate, to the say the very least, that the same PPP has voted on the amendment with full vigor when it’s martyred leaders always stood in the way of such developments and paid with their lives in the ensuing struggle. Pakistan People’s party then changed its stance , this time stating that even though the party had reservations over military courts but that the legal team was working on it.(2) This was of course confusing to those who thought that the PPP would only take a upright decision on the issue which would not violate its ideological roots. Finally, and extremely unexpectedly, PPP came to the conclusion that it will support the constitutional amendment. It was an appalling decision for its ideological workers and was not met with a buoyant response.(3) Most of the PPP members didn’t found such a course of action to be satisfactory, but they had to swallow the bitter pill because the leadership had decided on the issue already.

The anguish is not limited to those who hold seats for PPP in parliament or its members; this extends itself to supporters of the party like me. I was always on the side of PPP because of its democratic, secular and liberal role in Pakistan’s politics. I was always of the opinion that the leaders of  PPP had sacrificed their lives for the rule of democracy and always went on to defend PPP, going to extraordinary lengths in hailing them for their democratic credentials. I will never be able to do that again. PPP has crossed the Rubicon and burned the ship; they have destroyed the very ideological foundations on which they stood. Asif Ali Zardari has done what Zia-ul-Haq could not do, created abhorrence for the PPP in the hearts of those who supported the party in its rough and tough merely on ideological grounds.

What profoundly disappoints me though is the inaction of the senior members of the party. The party is full of competent lawyers. Nobody spoke up, no one dissented. Not even Aitzaz Ahsan who always used rhetoric in the form of the supremacy of the constitution and the rule of law to undermine his political opponents. Where is his love for constitutional principles now? The parliamentarians can cry inside parliament’s premises, but none of them could oppose it enough to force the PPP to reconsider its position? Why? Because it might have gone against their political interests?

If I was Raza Rabanni, I would have taken an upright and honorable stand and resigned instead of having to vote for the amendment if it was against my conscious. People will not remember him for crying, people will remember him for his self-confessed vote against the voice of his conscience.

As an ex PPP supporter, I’m disheartened at this point in Pakistan’s constitutional history and the role of PPP in it. I can just express my remorse by uttering Bibi hum sharminda hain, bibi hum sharminda hain

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