Whether or not they agree, reporters always feel compelled to pay attention to Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s speeches in parliament. Only he can present a deep analysis of politics in chaste Urdu.
But on Wednesday, the JUI-F cheif’s 40-minute speech did not convey anything significant.
Prime Minister Gilani made it a point to enter while Fazl was speaking. At one point, Gilani also endorsed the JUI-F chief’s position on US actions on Pakistani territory with spirited desk thumping.
But both Fazl and Gilani seem oblivious to the fact that despite repeated denials by Pakistan’s political and military leaders, terror kingpin Osama bin Laden was eventually found hiding in Abbotabad. After surrendering huge spaces to jihadis from all over the world, the state of Pakistan has no grounds left to protest over US-led operations on its territory.
However, Gilani’s appreciation for Fazl might be for an altogether different reason: Maulana Ghafoor Haideri, a staunch Fazl loyalist, is now opposition leader in the Senate. And since he assumed office, the upper house of parliament has been unable to function. Eventually, Senate Chairperson Farooq H Naek has had to concede and ‘review’ his decision.
Even if Naek decides to change his decision, President Zardari and his operators have achieved the target: pre-emption of the possibility of all non-government parties ganging up against them as ‘combined opposition’. Obviously, a bitterly-divided opposition makes things more manageable for the Zardari-Gilani government.
Former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi was another disappointment. Most journalists were anxiously waiting for his speech but he began by praising the ‘talent and integrity’ of Hafeez Shaikh and expressing sympathy for him because: “how can a finance minister give you a development-driven budget in this country, where 52% of the revenue is eaten up by defence and debt payments?”
Although an accomplished columnist with a unique style, Ayaz Amir never claimed to be an engaging orator. Yet, he made many in the press gallery seriously ponder over a few points that he touched upon in his speech. One even wonders whether some of the issues that Amir expressed unease on were approved by his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and its leader. For example, without naming names, Amir scathingly talked of the “higher judiciary’s interest” in a peculiar case where a particular “showbiz person” was found carrying some “banned stuff” while taking a plane for Karachi.
He also sounded too passionate while suggesting that while drafting the 18th amendment, which presumably cleansed our constitution of all “bad and regressive amendments” that successive military dictators had injected into our system, our elected representatives did not “touch a few areas”.
As a reporter, I am seriously interested in finding out whether Nawaz Sharif was told what his MNA from Chakwal will say in the National Assembly on Wednesday. I would love to know what his reaction was if he were, indeed, told.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 9th, 2011.
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