Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah has rightly said, “Democracy is in the blood of the Muslims, who look upon complete equality of mankind, and believe in fraternity, equality, and liberty.” Elections are going to be held on July 25, and we need to take stock of the current situation while keeping Jinnah’s words in mind. Which party truly believes in democracy, complete equality of mankind, fraternity, equality and liberty? A bird’s eye view upon the past would help us in understanding today’s Pakistan. Ironically, Pakistan came into being in 1947, but could not hold direct elections until 1970. At that time, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) got a clear-cut majority in the areas comprising present day Pakistan. However, the dream for a better tomorrow was shattered by General Zia in 1977. His coup gave a severe blow to state institutions and inflicted an irreparable loss to the state itself. Zia conquered his own country by force against the people’s will, held the constitution in abeyance and suspended civil liberties. In one stroke, he was able to dethrone an elected government and hang an elected prime minister. Change is coming, and its name is Bilawal. With PPP’s latest party manifesto, the grandson of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and son of Benazir Bhutto has shown his commitment to introducing Jinnah’s vision far and wide in the country Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was the one who had managed to reclaim 5,000 miles worth of area from the enemy’s occupation. He was the one to get 90,000 soldiers released from enemy prisons. It was Bhutto who helped establish the nuclear program to make the country impregnable. And he was the one to give the country its first consensual constitution. Bhutto was the man who inspired the people of Pakistan to live respectably in the comity of nations and laid the first brick for a welfare state in Pakistan. Jinnah wanted Pakistan to be a republic, but that did not happen due to his untimely demise. It was Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who managed to pick up the pieces. In 1970, general elections were held on the basis of one person one vote. However, General Yahya delayed transfer of power, hatched conspiracies and used violence as a tool. It led to the dismemberment of Pakistan. Yahya Khan had to hand over the government to Bhutto Sahib who started his journey of progress step by step. During his rule, the war torn country got on its feet within years. When the 1977 general elections were held, invisible hands helped form the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) but in vain. They were swept away by Bhutto’s wave of popularity; however, the PNA blamed rigging when it faced defeat. At a time when negotiations between the government and the opposition were about to take a positive turn, martial law was imposed. The problems which we witness today are the direct result of that martial law. The seeds of intolerance, sectarianism, extremism, terrorism, Kalashnikov culture, ethnicity-based politics, corruption and load shedding were sown in the country. Our centuries old social values saw a decline during Zia’s rule. Hypocrisy, double dealing, selfishness, greed and violence penetrated the society and swelled unchecked. The present Pakistan is the perfect place for the rich and mighty. However, this elite group is just a minority in this country and PPP wants to ensure that it is the majority that begins to think of Pakistan as the perfect place to live During Zia’s time, when someone asked for their rights they were instead given imprisonment — many were beaten to death in dark jail cells. Those who weren’t crushed were exiled. Conservative and extremist forces were used to destroy people and run society into the ground with extremism. Later, these extremists became the breeding ground for terrorism in the country. Despite all efforts, PPP was not destroyed and its workers did not surrender. Owing to their struggle and sacrifices, the country is on the track towards democracy today. The constitution of 1973 has been restored in its true form. For this act, the former president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari’s role is laudable. As July 25 approaches, I advise my readers to look at the PPP manifesto, which covers all aspects of state and society. The 10th manifesto is called “BB ka waada nibhana hai, Pakistan bachana hai,” which translate to: “We have to fulfil our promise to Benazir and save Pakistan”. The vision mentioned in the preamble makes clear that PPP wants to make Pakistan a peaceful, prosperous and progressive country. The present Pakistan is the perfect place for the rich and mighty. However, this elite group is just a minority in this country and PPP wants to ensure that it is the majority that begins to think of Pakistan as the perfect place to live. While unveiling the manifesto, Chairman Bilawal Bhutto made a commitment that PPP’s main concern is human rights and they would criminalise enforced disappearances and torture, and ensure that Pakistan as a state honours international treaties and covenants. He resolved to give rights to women; history is a witness that no other party has empowered women more than the PPP. With this manifesto, the grandson of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and son of Benazir Bhutto has shown his commitment to introduing Jinnah’s vision (picked by his grandfather and bequeathed to his mother) far and wide in the country. Each word of this manifesto is soaked with the resolves of martyrs who have sacrificed their lives for the sake of democracy as well as for the betterment of Pakistan itself. The PPP has focused on resolving the issues relating to education, health and other basic necessities. The party will also resolve two major issues distressing the youth — unemployment and lack of opportunities. The next election is going to be PPP’s chance to bring Pakistan glory. The writer is a Lahore-based barrister, politician, writer, political analyst and social worker Published in Daily Times, July 5th 2018.