Expediency is a compulsory part of politics and so is posturing. By habitually resorting to them, however, politicians lose their credibility. Although “the first prime minister of Pakistan, unanimously endorsed by an elected parliament”, Yousaf Raza Gilani has been moving fast towards the camp of such losers.
One is not saying this, simply for the fact that the PML-N no more trusts and respects him like a good cop. Far more important is the laughable eagerness, with which he pounces at each opportunity that appears to him as if, having the potential of making him look like a ‘statesman with vision and ideas.’
There is no doubt that the founder of Pakistan delivered a historic speech before the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947. To a great extent, it sort of furnished a guideline for the new state to follow. In the same speech, our Quaid passed a few remarks, “you are free to go to the mosque or…” etc that intellectually barren and pathetically non-creative ‘liberals’ of Pakistan keep quoting ad nauseam. They do so for asserting that Quaid-e-Azam wanted Pakistan to be a ‘secular’ state. Doing so, they often forget that the broader projection of these remarks was aggressively discouraged by thought controllers of the new ‘ideological state.’
The story does not end there. Liaqut Ali Khan, the first Prime Minister, had closely worked with Jinnah. He was far more familiar with political choices and preferences of his leader than our self-proclaimed ‘liberals,’ most of whom have honed their ‘communication skills’ by attending various workshops that this or that donor agency keeps organizing at conference rooms of various five-star hotels.
Liaqut Ali Khan was very much in command and control, when the August 11 speech of his Quaid was subjected to bureaucratic scrutiny. Despite the said speech, the same Liaqut Ali Khan agreed to follow the ‘objective resolution’ that religious scholars had provided for drafting a constitution for Pakistan.
This resolution was adopted as ‘the preamble’ of a unanimously passed constitution of 1973. General Zia ‘upgraded’ the status of this preamble by declaring it as the opening (thus functional and obligatory) chapter of the same constitution.
While cleansing our constitution of “deviations enforced by military dictators”, by passing the 18th amendment, none of our representatives dared to even discuss the said ‘digression.’
Notwithstanding my cynicism, the fact remains that since elected as the Speaker in 2008, Dr Fehmida Mirza has been obsessively trying to remember the August 11 speech of Quaid-e-Azam. If the assembly were in session on this day, she would send flowers to minority-representing legislators and specifically recall the significance of that speech by passing some remarks during the sitting. This time around, she was able to convince the Prime Minister to ‘own’ the said day and speech as well.
But, look at the audacity of our Prime Minister. A smart Aleck from amongst his image-handlers told him that while recalling the Quaid’s speech of August 11, this day should be observed as “the minorities’ day” and the whole propaganda machinery of our state took no time to hype a labored observance of it.
At the outset of Thursday’s proceedings, the national anthem was played. After this, the prime minister was given the mike to passionately remember the August 11 speech of Quaid-e-Azam. If he was really sincere, he should at least have asked for playing a recording of that speech.
My sources, however, claim that the Speaker had asked for a playable copy of that speech by the founder of our country. But her staff failed to get one. My friend, Murtaza Solangi, is Director General Radio Pakistan these days. For months, he has been madly working, almost overtime, to digitalize the archival trove in possession of the outfit he heads. I refuse to believe that Murtaza has not been able to produce a clean and state-of-the-art copy of that speech and prefer to wonder whether anyone from the national assembly secretariat ever cared to approach him.
Anyway, Gilani’s pretense for building a tolerant and minority-friendly Pakistan might have looked more credible, if during his speech he had announced sending a summary to the President, recommending the pardon of Aasia Bibi.
Well, if that sounds too much for asking, he could have announced finding and nabbing of the people, who had planned and executed the broad daylight murder of none other than this government’s minister of minority affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti, early this year. Without committing some tangible steps, the Prime Minister’s speech on a hastily conceived ‘minority-day’ sounded nothing more than empty pathetic “words, words, words.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2011.