Call them raw or refined, yet the fact remains that Captain (retd) Safdar is full of ideas and he also has developed the habit of telling them in-your-face style. Doing so, he often forgets that he happens to be the son-in-law of Nawaz Sharif as well. The PML-N leader may feel shy expressing many of his ideas in public.
Safdar took the mike on Friday to speak on Karachi violence. At that time, Nadeem Afzal Chan, a diehard PPP loyalist, was chairing the National Assembly proceedings. Instead of focusing on the Karachi issue, Safdar kept drifting to irrelevant subjects, but Chan never tried to check him.
Chan did not intervene even when Safdar turned his attention towards Allama Saeed Kazmi, once the minister of religious affairs. Allama Sahib is being put in the cage these days. Only the other day, the Supreme Court rejected a petition for his bail; the deputy attorney-general had named Kazmi for promoting and protecting a particular bureaucrat, still at large, who is accused of hiring inadequate residential places for Hujjaj last year.
Kazmi has the right to attend assembly proceedings, even when spending time in jail. Since the denial of bail by the Supreme Court, he had often been trying to speak on ‘point of personal explanation’. The chair keeps denying him the chance, on the ground that the matter Kazmi wanted to speak about was ‘sub judice.’ Safdar sounded very upset about it.
“Why don’t you let this respected religious scholar (Kazmi) speak and tell us what really happened and who made millions in the end through the Hajj scam?” Safdar roared. The son-in-law seemed to have forgotten that none other than his own father-in-law was taking on the Zardari-Gilani government for allegedly not implementing Supreme Court decisions. The PML-N leader would surely not have approved, if Kazmi was given the floor to question the apex court’s wisdom.
I would still not blame the naivete of Safdar. After all, all politics in the end is local. Safdar is from Mansehra. This important town of Hazara remained an invincible citadel of Nawaz Sharif for many decades. But things are no longer the same since the PML-N signed the 18th Amendment, which also gave us Khyber-Pukhtoonkhawa (KPK) province.
This also triggered a movement for the creation of a Hazara province, splitting the PML-N’s vote bank. The PPP, however, is in no position to take advantage of the situation. All political mileage is being milked by JUI-F’s Azam Swati. We must also not forget that being a minister of the Zardari-Gilani coalition, Swati took the lead in turning Hajj-related problems into a huge scandal. This eventually led to his being sacked from the cabinet and the JUI-F quitting the coalition.
The story does not end there. Some months ago, there was a bye-election for a seat of the National Assembly in Mansehra. Swati put his younger brother in the fray; Safdar preferred fielding his own brother. In the end, Swati’s nominee made it to the assembly and Safdar’s brother was placed third, exposing the PML-N ‘actual strength’ in Hazara. No wonder, Safdar stood for his enemy’s enemy in the assembly Friday. Let’s see, if his love for Kazmi also convinces Nawaz Sharif to award the Allama Sahib a PML-N ticket to contest in the next election.
Seriously, instead of burning his heart for the Allama, Safdar should instead be looking for the seat he would want to get elected to the National Assembly from in the next election. For the moment, he represents NA-52 of Rawalpindi.
This constituency is made up of areas near Islamabad. Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan was elected from here in 2002 and 2008. Nisar vacated the NA-52, for he was also elected from his ancestral Chakri, the village which connects rural Rawalpindi areas with non-urban sectors of Taxila.
In the next elections, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan wants to establish his hold in rural areas of Rawalpindi district, by again contesting and winning from both Chakri and NA-52.
Haji Nawaz Khokar, once deputy speaker of the National Assembly, has also expressed his resolve to contest from NA-52. Nisar may not have been pushed, if the fight had stayed between him and Khokar. But Nisar has already lost his sleep. The reason: a real estate tycoon has put all his resources at Khokar’s disposal. This may also help you to understand why Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan is missing from the National Assembly these days.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2011.