I am often led to recall a quote from Lord Armstrong that my mentor and boss the late Enayatullah had prominently displayed in his office on Nisbet Road Lahore. This was year 1968. I had just quit as Editor Mashriq Karachi and returned to Lahore to launch an entertainment-cum-cultural weekly ‘Musswar’ in collaboration with a team Enayat Sahib, Daily Marshriq’s boss, had assembled to assist me financially.
The ‘quote’ was:
“There is no standstill in newspapers. They ‘either progress or die.”
It is so true—not just in case of newspapers but also political parties and leaders.
I remember the first week of September 1993. I was in a meeting with Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto in Gulzar House Lahore.
“Madam— the PPP has lost some of its strongholds in central and northern Punjab. This I believe is a direct consequence of Zardari Sahib’s image in the public.”
She looked at me a bit apologetically and said: “We are going to form the government any way in league with PML (J). I have met Hamid Nasir Chatha and got his firm commitment.”
I had spoken a truth. Since then Zardari Sahib has accelerated the pace of the PPP’s journey to decline with masterly accuracy. He was helped a great deal by BB’s exit in December 2007. Today I feel genuine pity at some ‘certainly reasonable’ leaders in the PPP ranks who have to appear on TV screen to defend the indefensible Mr Asif Ali Zardari. The PPP vote bank in Punjab, Baluchistan and KPK has shrunk with progressive speed, and Mr Asif Ali Zardari is making sure that ‘once the most popular party of the country’ gets closer and closer to its burial.
What Zardari has done to the PPP is being simulated by Mian Nawaz Sharif in the case of the PML (N).
Nawaz sincerely believes he himself is the PML (N).
He has fielded his daughter Maryam Nawaz to make sure that if he goes, the PML (N) goes too.
I believe the PML (N) has no core vote bank. It was a party founded on the tidal wave of anti-Bhutto sentiment. (more within the Establishment and less among the masses.)
The dynamics and ground realities have changed. The erosion of the PML (N) will occur more rapidly than the PPP.