Thursday, 4 September 2014
The Imran Qadri headache, Dr Qaisar Rashid
The Imran Qadri headache,
The press conference by Javed Hashmi, the president of the PTI, on August 31 should be an eye opener for all those who still believe in the illusion that cricketing leadership is equal to, if not better than, political leadership
The political horizon of Pakistan has finally witnessed the emergence of a new pressure group comprising the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) led by Imran Khan and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) led by Dr Tahirul Qadri. The other day, the latter called both parties political cousins hell bent on altering the political trajectory of Pakistan. Perhaps these parties could not be political brothers because one had a legitimate (electoral) representation in parliament whereas the other was deprived of that privilege. By not countering Dr Qadri’s claim, Khan tacitly accepted it and thereby reduced the status of PTI to that of PAT. Their synchronisation in several aspects showed that both parties share a common agenda in intent and action. One of the more dangerous common tactics adopted by these political cousins was inciting their followers to break the law. Unfortunately, on August 31, 2014 a press release issued by the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) at the conclusion of a hurriedly convened corps commanders’ conference, fell short of identifying or showing concern about the incitement, if the ISPR was keen to issue any such statement at all.
There are a few other injustices the press release conveyed. For instance, it said, “While reaffirming support to democracy, the conference reviewed with [a] serious concern the existing political crisis and the violent turn it has taken, resulting in large scale injuries and [the] loss of lives.” The question is, why did the conference reaffirm its support to democracy only, why not to the constitution as well? Similarly, why was no support to parliament extended by the conference? Do the corps commanders think that Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif should resign on the demand of Khan for the sake of democracy even if the constitution does not demand it? Do the corps commanders think that parliament and all the provincial assemblies should be dissolved to meet the wishes of Dr Qadri to realise his revolution?
The press release went on to say: “Further [the] use of force will only aggravate the problem.” The question is, how have the corps commanders assumed the role of advisors to the elected government? Even if the corps commanders assumed such a role, they should also have given suggestions to the government about how to refrain the unruly and fully provoked mob from crossing the red line of storming buildings. The aggravation of the problem may be important but the question is: who created the problem? The activities of Sheikh Rasheed, exchanging messages between people, indicate something. If not the army, which institution of state does Rasheed claim his public association with? If not something suspicious, what does the meeting of PTI Vice President Shah Mehmood Qureshi with General (retired) Pervez Musharraf in Karachi a few days ago indicate?
If this was to be the quality of the press release, what was the hurry in calling the corps commanders’ conference? In principle, the press release should have mentioned that the corps commanders would not support any unconstitutional act by any party. Second, the press release should have mentioned that the corps commanders would not support any agitation or protest that could undermine parliament. In fact, instead of leaving ambiguities in the press release, the corps commanders should have been clear on their stance on both the constitution and parliament. This was important because the means adopted by the followers of both the PTI and the PAT to access their ostensible rights cannot be confined to them. Furthermore, in the electoral rebound of the PPP and PML-N and in the electoral rejection of pro-Musharraf parties in the past two general elections, there is a point of caution for all those thinking of the introduction of any version of martial law.
The press conference by Javed Hashmi, the president of the PTI, on August 31 should be an eye opener for all those who still believe in the illusion that cricketing leadership is equal to, if not better than, political leadership, that a good cricketing sense can also do wonders in politics and that a cricketing hero can be a political hero. From the top of his container, Khan kept on exposing his political naivety and stubbornness. Khan’s words and acts were a blessing in disguise for the political system of Pakistan. One can imagine what would have happened if Khan’s party had secured an overwhelming majority in parliament. The tendency in Khan to listen to no one could have put the whole region in crisis. Did the corps commanders think about that?
It is understandable that the youth living in the homes of corps commanders consider Khan their hero but it is not understandable how the same youth (and their parents) are blind to the repercussions of the success of Dr Qadri’s revolution, in whatever form. Khan did an unpardonable act of injustice to the political system by providing the cover of his party to the PAT. Alone, Dr Qadri could not have gone to the extent he has and his followers would not have resorted to breaking the law as they did on August 30. Khan failed to realise that the political treasure he gathered over the past 18 years has been lost in the past 18 days. Many people lament the procrastination of the government in meeting the demands of both the PTI and the PAT. On the contrary, the present indicates that even if Khan’s initial demand (of recounting votes in four national electoral constituencies) were met, August 30 was bound to visit Pakistan. Now, Pakistan must be ready to embrace a new kind of politics, the one originated by the political cousins, the intent and actions of whom were overlooked by the corps commanders.