It's a bloody battle you are bound to lose. A Bhutto shall march out of every home. How many of them can you eliminate?
The Urdu couplet pinned on the pullover of a PPP supporter couldn't have conveyed with greater poignancy the sorrow, the sense of loss and the outrage that overwhelmed Benazir Bhutto's orphaned cadres. Nicknamed
, they have always celebrated in prose what they perceived as their country's first family.
Old timers recall the chorus that clogged Pakistan's airwaves when the
lobby sought to put Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto on the mat for his sundowners. Long live Bhutto, the crowd chanted, advising him to shun the local stuff for the finer variety:
Jeevey Bhutto jee, desi chhadh vilati pee
Not that the PPP worker who made it to the front page of the
this morning had any premonition of destiny's cruel hand. The slogan that sounded so heartrending is a recollection of the many tragedies that have befallen the Bhuttos: ZAB, his sons Shahnawaz and Murtaza and now, Benazir. All died prematurely. Violently.
In fact, the post-Benazir democratic rump in Pakistan needs to build on the sentiment the couplet encapsulates to build a popular movement against terrorism.
And whether he likes it or not, the task has to be carried forward by Nawaz Sharif, arguably the best among the rest who wrested the rebel's role from Benazir in the run up to the 1993 polls caused by his rift with then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan.
By refusing to take "dictation" from him, Sharif, till then a mere businessman-politico, rose to steal the thunder of Benazir, who fished in troubled waters to secure an early poll at the former's expense.
Sharif indeed has an opportunity to regain his lost glory. He has plenty of guts. What he needs is more of the political savvy he demonstrated by reaching out to the grieving PPP parivar. For now, one can only ask whether
Mian de narey vajjan gey, mian de dushman bhajjan gey?
This slogan was first heard in the polls that gave Sharif his maiden stint as PM.