Nadeem Farooq Paracha , popularly known as NFP is the closest to “Hippie,socialist,anarchist” Youth icon Pakistani Left wing youth will ever had. He is perhaps the only journalist in Pakistan who i respect unconditionally these days. NFP calls himself a old fashioned “socialist”.His political positions on issues are far more advance than the traditional Left of Pakistan. Apart from politics NFP is the most original cultural theorist. I have seen his work on development of “Pop music” in Pakistan and read his articles on issues of culture and have been impressed. NFP has also done a great work on history of Youth politics in Pakistan and its one of his most important contribution. PPP is one strange phenomenon for Pakistani Left, their relationship with PPP is either scarred by Ultra-Leftism or sheer Oppertunism and class-colaboration.What needs to be understood is that PPP is the traditional mother party of Pakistani working class but it neither was nor will ever be a revolutionary Party. NFP speaks about Benazir Bhutto. An emotional subject for most of Us. The article was taken from “Dawn” with Thanks.SA
By Nadeem F. Paracha
In 1986 when Benazir Bhutto arrived to the thunderous cheers of a mammoth gathering in Lahore, I too travelled by train with a dozen fellow students from my college to witness the spectacle.
The late Benazir Bhutto’s first death anniversary was observed on Dec 27, 2008. I decided to follow it on the news channels. The moving programmes left an emotional lump in my throat.
But the emotion was not of sadness alone. It was also of resigned pessimism and a bit of anger. As the channels paid glowing tributes to Benazir, and anchormen and even politicians from the right-wing parties unloaded long speeches about how she was being so dearly missed, I couldn’t help let out a cynical chuckle. Because I am convinced, had the woman been alive today, the same media would have been smearing her with all kinds of taunts.
I remember how awfully she was treated by the media in the 1990s, but more so, I also remember the squarely reactionary and snide remarks by anchormen about her when she returned to Pakistan last year with the help of a “deal” with Musharraf.
Thinking this I boycotted the viewing of television for the rest of the day, and instead decided to have a chat with my chawkidar whose late father was a big Bhutto supporter in Bahawalpur. After all, Benazir’s legend was born in the struggle, passion and love of the common man, and not in the seasonal studios of television talk shows.
Benazir Bhutto was a vital figure for my generation. In the 1980s, she was to us what her father had been to the youth in the late 1960s. Our romance with Benazirism reached a milestone when she arrived in Lahore in April 1986 from London where she had been forced into exile by the Ziaul Haq dictatorship. He had failed to implicate her in the 1981 plane hijacking case undertaken at the behest of her brothers, Mir Murtaza and Shanawaz Bhutto.
The hijacking of the PIA plane, pulled off in the name of Al Zulfikar, involved a group of militant youth belonging to the PPP’s student wing, the People’s Students Federation (PSF). As a reaction, by 1985, a number of PSF members, all belonging to the poor, downtrodden families, were eliminated. The oldest of them was in his 20s and the youngest was said to be only 17. None of them had been part of the hijacking drama.
Hundreds of PSF cadres and youth belonging to other progressive student groups were hauled up, severely tortured and humiliated. I am an eyewitness to a spat of disappearances from the college where I studied between 1984 and 1988, and from where I too was picked up in 1985.
I was taken to the then notorious “555 thana,” in Karachi’s Saddar area. I was grabbed by my unruly Che Guevara hair, kicked, punched and abused, then taken on a tour of the thana’s “special rooms” where two cops showed me the sight of a college comrade hanging upside down from the roof and bleeding from the nose. “See,” shouted a cop. “This is what we do to anti-Islam dogs and communist agents like you!”
I was lucky because at the investiture of the first Benazir Bhutto government in 1988, we saw the sudden scenes of young men (and some women) exiting from jails, looking twice their age and both physically and psychologically tortured. Most of them had been kept in torture cells for more than six years! Their parents had given up on them, and thought they were dead.
In 1986 when Benazir arrived to the thunderous cheers of the mammoth gathering in Lahore, I too travelled by train with a dozen fellow students from my college to witness the spectacle. It was a scene legends are made of, as we struggled in the thronging milieu of simple, emotional, working class Pakistanis, to catch a glimpse of a frail young woman shouting out rhetorical challenges at the dictator and his army of Maududi-quoting officers and people-bashing mujahids.
Her father’s populism and oratory had bagged him his share of what are called jiyalas, the highly emotional men and women, mostly from the downtrodden classes, to whom the PPP is almost like a religion. That great April 1986 rally saw the birth of the Benazir jiyalas. And I have no problem in confessing that as a volatile intermediate college lad I became one as well. Especially after the day of the rally when PPP activists came together in the streets of Lahore and four young PSF members were shot dead by the cops.
Our group was chased all the way to the Lahore Railway Station, and we had to literally jump inside a moving Karachi-bound train from the train’s windows! Many of us carried these memories well into the 1990s. During the tumultuous “decade of democracy” in which Benazir became a favourite target of the official desk-top jihadis (such as former ISI bigwigs), and their religious and industrialist lackeys; my generation of Benazir sympathisers became awkward PPP apologists.
But never once did we doubt the astute political and intellectual acumen and the promise Benazir symbolised. A promise I saw being celebrated on Dec 27, 2008, but unfortunately, many years too late.