aaye haath uthaaye hum bhii
hum jinhe rasm-e-dua yaad nahin
– Faiz Ahmed Faiz
Writing for The Jang, Raza Rumi explains the popular sentiments demonstrated in the reception to Benazir Bhutto on her return, something that has got overshadowed by the subsequent bombings.
The foreign media, usually proficient in the rant on Talibanisation, gun-totting radicals and burqas were also at a loss on how to comment on this day. The castle of stereotypes on Pakistan had fallen: men and women were dancing spontaneously, often together on the loud, tacky party songs. There were very few burqas, no guns and no favourite signs of a west-hating native populace. This was a day heralded as a watershed in our recent times, from the left to the right and from the khaki to the mufti. Not because there was a revolution in order but that the real face of the many millions, who aspire for better livelihoods in a secular framework, had been rediscovered.
In the same newspaper, Imtiaz Alam, points to the support that BB has mobilized among the younger generation of Pakistanis (though I wonder how he got to that 85% figure when he states that “above 85 per cent of those present at the rally were below the age group of 25 years”)
Both the hearty welcome along with the bloody tragedy make the October 18, 2007, a unique day in our political calendar: the magic of the majority support of the people that vindicated one of its most popular leaders yet the even more widespread anguish the nation expressed over the tragedy during the three-day mourning period declared by the steadfastly liberal PPP. Due to a focus on comparison of numbers between this rally and the one in 1986, which Ms Bhutto has exceeded far above her own record of 1986. It is important to note that in comparison to the participation of youth in 1986 rally — above 85 per cent of those present at the rally were below the age group of 25 years.
They even lack a sense of what they are in fact endorsing or strengthening, by vilifying Ms Bhutto. On the other hand, the masses are pragmatic and learn their lessons or form views through their own experience. Their cognitive process perceives the Bhuttos to have been persecuted from the start from the hanging of the elder Bhutto to two brothers’ being murdered, a mother’s loss of memory ending with Benazir’s vilification and dismissal of two governments resulting in her husband’s incarceration for eight long years leaving her to single-handedly raise parent her children.