Ostensibly, the ongoing session of the National Assembly has been forced upon the government by the PML-N led opposition. Its main purpose was to furnish the political and moral support for the Chief Justice of Pakistan, if he really wanted to reprimand the prime minister and his government for not obeying the apex court’s orders.
Hours before the commencement of its first sitting, however, the government notified the posting of Sohail Ahmed as Secretary Narcotics Division reciprocating the CJ‘s amended orders sans the condition to take him back as Establishment Secretary. After ordering the same, Yousaf Raza Gilani came to the House and delivered a long speech putting to rest all talk of an executive-judiciary clash.
That baffled the opposition. It should have gone home to observe Ramazan. But habits die hard, though. Both the PML-N and the MQM believed that the recent spate of violence in Karachi could still provide them with some room to score points against the government. Their vocal members ganged up Tuesday morning. With rowdy sloganeering and threats of sitting out of the assembly, they compelled the government to discuss the chaos in Karachi and since then we have been suffering speech after speech from both sides of the House with hardly a member coming up with something new and worth serious consideration.
Abdul Qadir Patel proved an exception, though. Taking the floor yesterday, he made the MQM benches visibly uncomfortable. Although a low profile backbencher of the PPP, he sounded somewhat blunt in bravely admitting that all political forces, competing for the political space in Karachi, were recklessly indulging in violence. The MQM, he said, set the trend, however, after successfully projecting itself as the one and only voice of that metropolis thanks to selective and calculated use of violence since 1986.
The MQM might have ignored his speech, but he really provoked its leaders by repeatedly asserting through his speech that the Haqqiqi faction of the MQM was a ‘formidable stakeholder’ in Karachi. At one point in time, it cultivated areas where the MQM cadres could not dare enter. After coming under the protective wings of General Musharraf, the Altaf-loyalists reclaimed those areas and maintained their hold over them, until joining the PPP-led coalition. The Haqqiqi is now viciously fighting to get back into the game almost with a vengeance.
Although sounding soft and dispassionate, Patel’s speech Tuesday intelligently demolished the MQM-promoted perception that the PPP and the ANP were mostly responsible for instigating and perpetuating the chaos with relentless efforts to encroach into MQM territory. His speech made many wonder whether the recent spate of incessant violence was the result of ‘in-house fighting within the so-called Urdu-speaking community.’
Little wonder then that none other than Quaid-e-Tehrik Altaf Hussein was provoked to issue a frightening statement late Tuesday night. It sounded doubly ominous as he asked his followers to store at least a month’s ration at their home and get ready for a final showdown. His late night statement should have set some sense of panic amongst the caring hearts of ‘our representatives.’ They, however, appeared behaving as if everything remains normal and hunky-dory.
Since all of them love pretending that they observe Ramazan as devout Muslims, the sitting was set to start at 1:00 on Wednesday and finish at four to ensure enough rest for them after Sehri and more time to prepare for Iftar. Despite this arrangement, they were late to assemble and could hardly speak on Karachi for less than 80 minutes.
The yawning press gallery turned somewhat attentive when Javed Hashmi was given the floor. Instead of discussing Karachi in specific terms, yesterday’s rebel-turned-philosopher projected the perennial violence in that metropolis as a bloody finale of multiple battles for more and more control that “incompetent politicians of Pakistan” continue waging due to their obsession for absolute power. Talking of power-driven streaks, he did not spare even his own leaders and clearly blamed the Chief Minister of Punjab for appointing those bureaucrats in Multan, who wouldn’t listen to Hashmi.
Very subtly he also forewarned the peculiar set of pro-independent-judiciary journalists and civil society activists that after assuming power in Islamabad, Sharifs would also find it difficult to submit before the hyper-active judiciary. In the same vein, he also talked of a ‘supreme leader’ without naming him and stunned us by claiming: “I myself heard him saying that after reaching Islamabad, he might be tempted to hang the present Chief Justice and his loyal judges.”
Hashmi is a dear friend of mine since our college days. I tried to contact him to find out the name of this ‘supreme leader.’ He remained untraceable until the writing of this column. That would still not stop me from guessing.
Without being sure, I could also not name the said person. As a hint-hint, though, I will urge my readers to strain their brains to short list the names of our would-be-Hitlers, loudly drumming the honour-based ‘final solution’ these days.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th, 2011.