Sharjeel Inam Memon

Pakistan is under a relentless onslaught and vigorous assault from religious extremism. This religious fundamentalism has penetrated into every institution of the country. The worst affected of these is politics in the country.
The majority of Pakistan’s political parties, either because of ideology or out of fear, have surrendered, and fallen under the influence of religious extremism. Thinking it better to yield rather than stand up for a moderate Pakistan , these parties have developed direct and indirect working relationships with orthodox and extremist religious outfits to find their way into the corridors of power. This trend was further strengthened in the last general election when obscurantist religious elements eroding the writ of the state terrorised and ousted all secular forces from the election arena through acts of violence and sabotage in which countless political workers and scores of political leaders voicing moderation lost their lives.
In this suffocating political atmosphere the minorities are finding it well nigh impossible to survive and are only allowed a narrow space to breathe, where all the moderate and enlightened people have also started losing hope of living with dignity and peace in the dream that was the Quaid-e-Azam's Pakistan .
What is all the more surprising is that all those political forces who have come onto the streets and protesting vociferously against rigging in the election are none other than those who greatly benefitted from religious extremism and are the by-product of religious-fanatic sentiments. Their indignation is actually a covert protest against their 'masters and mentors', criticizing them for failing to get them the required majority so that they could capture power and rule the country. In other words the ongoing fight is actually between two factions of the same school of thought, both of which are protected and promoted by religious extremism. Therefore, whoever wins or who loses in this contest, the ultimate losers will still be the moderates as they will still be given no quarter and allowed no breathing space.
Moderation and liberal values is a virtue and instinct that PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has inherited from his grandfather Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and mother Benazir Bhutto. The father and daughter duo were sterling leaders of Pakistan . Both leaders believed in humanity and co-existence. Their commitment with the people of Pakistan was above all such prejudices. Bilawal Bhutto being highly educated and trained by Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari has the capacity to steer the country out of fundamentalism and to lead it according to the vision and injunction of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
Pakistan is beset with ceaseless internal challenges like poverty, illiteracy, energy, unemployment, crime against women etc. However, the most pervasive challenge is to free society from the malevolent religiosity nurtured under the dictatorship of General Ziaul Haq and his proteges. This extremism has poisoned the new generation and given further fillip to the clandestine internal and external support being given to the remnants of General Zia, whether they are sitting in the corridors of powers or out protesting on the streets of Islamabad. This nexus will do nothing but further destroy the young generation by extending support to them in the name of laptops or `reforms' or `Naya Pakistan '.
The nation needs the Pakistan that the Quaid-i-Azam Mohammmad Ali Jinnah founded in 1947 and which was strengthened by Quaid-i-Awam Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto by giving it a consensus constitution in 1973 and the democratic Pakistan which Mohtarma Shaheed Benazir Bhutto founded on the basis of reconciliation and also laid down her life for sake of democracy.
Bilawal Bhutto has the capacity and the vision to lead the nation particularly the young generation to make a modern and moderate Pakistan where equal opportunities would be available for everyone. The Pakistan of Mr Jinnah in which all religious minorities would enjoy equal rights. The Pakistan of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, in which rapid and massive industrialisation would create job opportunities, and boost the crippled economy of the country which is presently heading towards collapse. The Pakistan of Mohtarma Benazir in which women empowerment would end discrimination against women and enhance their role in nation building.
The Pakistan of Bilawal Bhutto would be purged of religious bigotry and fanaticism. The nation particularly the young generation which constitutes 60 percent population of the country cannot be misguided by giving them mere slogans. They know the sanctimonious protesting forces in collaboration with extremists have a clandestine agenda to impose their autocratic extremist views in the country. Their agenda is destined to destroy the system and mentally paralyse and enslave the young generation. This is a part of international conspiracy which they want to implement.
The appearance of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is a clarion call against the extremist forces. The moderate citizens of Pakistan need to strengthen Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to cleanse society of the bigots who want to destroy this beautiful country with their orthodoxy and enslave it with their obsolete ways.
On October 18 Bilawal Bhutto Zardari following in the footsteps of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto will make history by addressing the largest public meeting ever held in the political history of Pakistan . The PPP believes in the peoples’ power and Bilawal wants to reaffirm this pledge and further strengthen and enhance his bond with the people of Pakistan at the Mazar-i-Quaid public meeting. This rally is not simply a show of political strength but a commitment to the selfless service to Pakistan , its people. It is also a commitment with the Father of the nation to restore and reclaim his Pakistan , the one that he had founded in 1947.
The writer is Sindh Minister for Information.