Founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah, despite being an elitist in his lifestyle, strongly believed in people’s power. Once, he said, “If we want to make this great State of Pakistan happy and prosperous, we should wholly and solely concentrate on the well-being of the people, and especially of the masses and the poor.”
After Jinnah, Pakistan saw various aristocrats, feudal lords and generals ruling the country. They did talk of people’s welfare and some of them took measures too, but they had a very little faith in the power of the masses.
It was the hanged premier, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who truly understood that power in democracies lies with people and voters. When he founded Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) in 1967, his key slogan was ‘People are the source of power’. He would exhibit his love for the poor masses by mixing with them in public gatherings and tours to various places in Pakistan.
His philosophy about people’s power is reflected in his letters, written to daughter Benazir Bhutto from the jail’s cell. “If things do not change, there will be nothing left to change,” he wrote. “Either power must pass to the people or everything will perish.”
He also wrote, “What gift can I give you from this cell out of which my hand cannot pass? I give you the hand of the people.”
His daughter tried to continue with her father’s philosophy and was assassinated in a public gathering in 2007, just moments after saying in her last speech, “I have to live with the people of Pakistan and die with them.”
Sadly, her spouse and former President of Pakistan Asif Zardari could not maintain contact with the masses. Now, son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has stepped into politics and makes many public appearances despite serious security concerns.
Disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif says that time and circumstances have made him insistent upon rule of law and constitution and continuity of democracy. After being disqualified by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on corruption charges, Sharif decided to go to the people of his stronghold Punjab province by road from Islamabad and finished his travel of 300 kilometers in three days.
Ironically, he is a little late. Before being disqualified, he would not go to the parliament, would seldom hold cabinet meetings and would only occasionally address public meetings. He has not made a single visit to NA-120, his home constituency, during the last four years.
Now, the constituency is vacant after his disqualification and acutely ill spouse Kulsoom is contesting for it. The whole family is abroad for Kulsoom’s treatment. But their daughter Maryam Nawaz is here. She has spent a luxurious and royal life. Now, probably, she has sensed that people and voters are the real power. She is running her mother’s campaign day and night and is interacting with people personally, which is a good omen.
All democratic leaders of Pakistan must remember U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt’s words, “Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.”