I am tired of listening to Zardari and Gilani eulogizing Benazir’s policy of reconciliation. The reconciliation they keep harping on was on the part of Musharraf who was persuaded by the US to shake hands with Benazir, having earlier maintained that she had no role in Pakistan politics. Also it was reconciliation on the part of Nawaz Sharif who persuaded her to sign the Charter of Democracy. The Charter specifically forbade seeking any help from the army but while signing the Charter she was busy hobnobbing with the military dictator to get back into power.

Benazir’s record of the two times while she was in opposition to Nawaz Sharif’s government is ample testimony of her policy of confrontation which is the opposite of reconciliation. She would start off by calling the elections rigged, also reject any court orders, start clamouring for a national government, hold out threats of a long march, ask the army to intervene, ask the US not to support the undemocratic government of her rival. Even she would write letters to US Senators to that effect.

To her convoluted way of thinking it was democracy only when she was in power. Even her struggle to get back into power which cost her, her life was seen by her as a struggle for democracy. To her way of thinking Nawaz Sharif winning the election would not have meant return to democratic rule. On one occasion she even asked the president to use 58(2)b against the sitting government, having earlier protested vehemently against the use of 58(2)b against her own government. Is this the policy of reconciliation of Benazir Bhutto which Zardari and Gilani are trying to sell to us? No one other than a devotee would buy it. Unfortunately there are too many of the latter species.


Lahore, April 7.