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Piece of Furniture

January 24, 2008 by  


By Mahvish Akhtar, MMNS

“It wasn’t handed on like some piece of family furniture. They asked me to do it and I did,” these are the words of Bilawal Zardari. But the question still remains why he was even asked to fill a position he has no experience in handling whatsoever?

Amidst all the chaos and uncertainty another Bhutto was born, a Bhutto none of us ever knew existed. Of course we knew about Bilawal Zardari the eldest offspring of Benazir Bhutto and Asif Zardari. We knew that he is an important person and even realized that he would have some role to play in the politics of the future Pakistan. However, the future came too soon and too sudden along with it the role of Bilawal who was turned into something he technically is not.

We talk about democracy in Pakistan, we say that free and fair elections are the only way towards a more developed and progressive Pakistan. But do we as a nation even understand what it means to uphold democracy? Do we even know what fair and free means? Democracy does not start from the presidents and Prime Ministers. Democracy has to be deep rooted. And the characteristics our political parties are exhibiting today are far from anything that can be called democracy. Pakistan Peoples Party needs to explain to the people of Pakistan exactly how they will uphold democracy if they come into power since they themselves are under the leadership of a person who was not elected rather was selected by a few elite.

This is precisely the reason the phrase ‘piece of furniture’ stuck with me because we are working according to this formula inside and out. Our politicians are not in the lime light because they have done something worth praising for the country and the public. They are in the spotlight because they have a name that people have been hearing for generations. Many times it is so because loyalties to that political family has been carried on within the family for generations and changing those would be a disgrace to the elders.

Looking at this same concept in the global perspective where have we stood in the global world politics and what importance we have had is pretty shameful. Less than a 100 years a go we were a commodity of the British which they took advantage of in the way that they found best for their nations. We fueled them and provided them the means to replenish the entire European world. Today because of that history the United States is in the position to take us back to where we began from. We are again pawns in the hands of others who are squeezing us for all we have left.

I am not blaming anyone but the people of my own country. I heard people shouting slogans in favor of Bilawal Zardari (he is not the carrier of the Bhutto line by any means so I will not refer to him as that) and wondered if they realized they were favoring someone who could barely speak the language they speak. Actually I shouldn’t even say barely because I have not heard him speak Urdu or any other native Pakistani language and chances are he does now know any. But the public still favored him. Why? I don’t know all I know is that this is not how democracies are created. Bilawal Zardari is a person not a thing. It seems his father took off the label of Zardari and put on the Bhutto label on his son because he knew this is what would work.

And the people shouting in appreciation didn’t stop to think for a moment if this young man has the credentials or capabilities to do the job he has been assigned to do. It was almost a slap on the faces of people who were sitting on his left and right who have served that organization for decades they were bypassed only because they didn’t carry the label he did. If I was them I would be insulted. I wonder if they are thinking what I am thinking for them. I wonder if they are saying we have served this country and organization our entire lives and now we will be taking orders from a boy who can’t even pronounce our names correctly.

If this is not a case of dynasty I don’t know what is. PPP is not the only organization showing this kind of behavior. Does anyone know who Monis Ilahi is? Yes he is Pervez Ilahi’s son. Anything else? No that’s about it. That’s all he needs to be in order to make a place in the politics of Pakistan. He does not have to be a qualified person. He does not even have to be a good person. He just needs a known and recognized last name. If we had this exact same person running in the elections for the same position only with a different last name he would mean nothing. No one would even consider him worthy of any attention. In fact maybe people would even laugh at him and say young man before you ask people to vote for you at least show them that you have done something for them how do you expect to get votes for doing absolutely nothing. It is a fact that just 6 months a go no one knew who he was and now his name is every where.

Sadly there is no such thing as free and fair in our country. We are a victim of the plague of treating people like kings and queens. We give them a holy place thinking if the mother did it so can the son or if the father is saying vote for my son we should. What I have written here today might cost me a whole lot. People might dislike me for this. But I am writing because I don’t know what else I can do to make people realize that we are going down a road which has no place in the democracy we all want in our country. I am writing because I love my country and I love that we are so different and diverse but I hate that we are so close minded and emotional that we don’t see that there is no progress attached to any name.

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