Why, near the ending of last month, did this government (yet to be worked out is whether it is in or out of the closet) allow the chehlum of a convicted and lawfully executed murderer to be held on one of the more famous national public places? Just why? Was it that the honourable inside coterie of loyal adherents to the prime minister considered the criminals to be a public figure of immense importance and popularity? Were their sympathetic feelings lying where they should not be lying? Having taken the rather bold decision, in light of current circumstances, to punish the man according to the law, were their doubts and regrets in their muddled minds? Or was it a ‘democratic right’?
So, when the holy horde marched and invaded the sacrosanct parliamentary precincts the democratic government could have had no objections, it should have been no surprise to anyone, not to those who sit in the normally quorumless assembly visited for half-an-hour every six months by its ruling party leader. The horde was exercising another ‘democratic right’, as they were when from the sewage pond they had created over a four-day period they presented their ‘demands’ to the representatives of the leadership.
Those most useful and convenient tools, the blasphemy laws, being the root cause of the long saga that led to the protest, topped the list. Which government dare touch them? They were reinforced by the maker of our third-time prime minister whose government is on record as having guaranteed that they will stay, so that they can be flung by those who wish to rid themselves for reasons of gain or sheer vindictiveness of a fellow citizen, be he or she a fellow Muslim or one of the despised minorities.
One who made a promise to do so, General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, wrongly dubbed a dictator (he succumbed to clerics and politicians), backed down within months when chided by the religious right. And he was thought to be all-powerful. The gentlemen of the cloth may do badly in our fixed elections, unless installed in minor power seats by a government who need them as a prop. But behind the scenes they have substantial influence on our heavy or light ‘mundaytes’, and on our Generals.
Demanded also is that all those convicted (how many are there?) under these blessed laws be dealt with as was Mumtaz Qadri. Our government and establishment are on a hanging spree, but hopefully this may be too tough a call — and internationally disastrous. As for the imposition of Shariah laws, that’s easy. Nawaz Sharif has but to revive his 1998 15th Amendment (passed by the National Assembly in double quick time) which laid down the “Supremacy of the Quran and Sunnah” (rendering himself as Commander of the Faithful), but which, sadly, for him never made it to the Senate as the ‘massive mundayte’ did not extend that far, and Musharraf intervened before that honourable house could be sorted out.
Relative to all this, and a new low in the aim of our home-grown terrorists was a statement made by the Jamatul Ahrar after the Lahore park suicide bombing (by now just a part of the national complacency): “Now the Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians living in Pakistan have neither converted nor are they paying Jizyah. Under these circumstances Christians, Hindus etc., are not at peace, nor are their place of worship safe.” Chilling, but then how many are perturbed? (One question: in the case of the rare female suicide bomber, what are the guarantees given of the rewards of paradise?)
On a less morose note, another bit of international acclaim has come the Republic’s way. Our democratic prime minister ranks amongst the 12 world leaders who have made it to the Panama list. He cries out to the world to invest in the haven that is Pakistan. His family pays no heed. Poor chap. But then, sob stories do not really wash.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 9th, 2016.
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