First off, belated felicitations to the army command for returning with speed and alacrity the Indian helicopter that strayed across the ceasefire line into our territory. For those who criticised this, I can only point out that satellite maps have become so advanced and detailed that let alone well-defined defensive lines consisting of watchtowers and bunkers, you can pick up your own house in, say, Shadman, Lahore. I certainly can see my own in Wah Village, complete with the present state of the little land attached to it i.e., ploughed or planted: my lychee tree standing out from the lime. The Indians would scarcely be spying on us, that is!
Now that we have behaved with grace in this matter, is it too much to ask that the ridiculous tamasha that takes place every evening at Wagah be toned down too, as another indicator of our growing maturity and confidence? The preening and the exaggerated drill movements are childish, indeed utterly cretinous. This is not the way self-assured nations behave towards their neighbours. I say to our generals that if the Indians do not want to tone down this needless show of fake and laughable bravado, we should do it unilaterally. Let them get cheap kicks if they want; let us do the right thing.
It’s been said before but needs to be said over and over again: it is rather rich of Imran Khan to ask for politicians’ assets to be made public with accountability to follow, and say nothing about others in our country whose assets need to be scrutinised too: senior military officers and judges.
He should know too, that politicians have to declare their assets to the Election Commission. Indeed, the last time that this happened, an Islamabad NGO quite cavalierly propagated these declarations (that it obtained from sources in the Election Commission) in a report that was made public through the media. I might add that this NGO, let us not be afraid to name it, PILDAT, like Imran, also failed to demand the disclosure of the assets of senior military officers i.e., brigadiers and above, and equivalent ranks in the navy and air force.
Incidentally, all army (and, I suppose, other services) officers have to declare their moveable and immoveable property on Form PAFY 1975 — if memory serves — annually, from the day they are commissioned, to retirement, so that an ‘improvement’ in their fortunes can be noted, and if need be, investigated in cases where there is a sudden increase in their wealth. But, whilst they demand and carry out so-called ‘accountability’ of others when they seize power, God forbid that the brass hats would ever allow their own assets to be known to the general public aka ‘bloody civilians’.
Imran should also know, and if he doesn’t remember, his handlers should remind him, that politicians have always been held ‘accountable’ in this country, one of them, an elected prime minister, even hanged on a trumped-up murder charge by an army dictator. That man’s name was Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, which name, incidentally, Imran invoked several times during his Lahore rally as a great nationalist and a great leader.
So then, the anti-politician politician is getting set to welcome into his party’s fold at least ‘12 former ministers’ alongside several ‘heavyweights’, whatever that means. Does Imran understand that accepting these much-travelled lotas and turncoats who have changed political parties like one would change clothes will do him no credit at all? That lotaism is the worst corruption in politics, for you change loyalties to get rewards: from sitting government’s jobs and patronage, from what are believed to be up and coming political parties such as the PTI, getting on to the bandwagon? Or was it always the case that he said one thing but meant entirely another?
Imran should also stop knocking the democratic system no matter how much he craves quick power… this talk about a civil disobedience movement is silly and should be stopped immediately if not sooner. He should realise that he does not possess a magic wand that he will wave Harry Potter style and Pakistan will begin to fly; that if he does get elected with enough seats to lead the country he will not be able to do it alone. He should realise that if his party gives grief to others, they will give grief to him.
Imran and his brave new ‘politicians’ should thank their lucky stars that they are playing politics in a democratic environment. I mean, all they have to do is look back to the years when army dictators were lording it over us and see how difficult it was for political leaders and workers then, enduring as they had to, imprisonments, and beatings, and exile, and yes, even death by execution.
More than anything else, he should do something about the fact that the allegation that he is the Deep State’s frontman does not pass the smell test. I know for a fact that some senior journalists were approached by the media managers of the Deep State (yes the very same who told Saleem Shahzad that they would inform him in case his name was among those on a terrorist hit list) and asked to write in favour of Imran.
This is wrong, ab initio. Imran should send out the signal that he is no one’s man and ask his ‘well-wishers’ to desist from such blatant and harmful ‘support’.
Poor old Saleem Shahzad’s mention reminds me: could one ask the honourable commission investigating his brutal murder just what is happening on that front? When do we expect the findings? Who are the people who have been interviewed by the commission? Saleem’s dastardly murder was a very cruel blow against Pakistani civil society in general, and crueller still against journalists in particular. As I have said before, My Lord Saqib Nisar has a daunting task indeed. May the Almighty grant him the strength to do right.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 11th, 2011.