Our politicians, at least those sitting in the National Assembly, are indeed audaciously thick-skinned. They are still not able to fathom the reality that by enthusiastically attending the Imran Khan rally in Lahore, the desperate yet dynamic youth of Pakistan has expressed its impatience with the status-quo.
In a business-as-usual manner, a small number of parliamentarians returned to the house on Tuesday morning to conduct business on a day that is reserved for private bills. Sherry Rehman timely referred to the brutal murder of three Hindu doctors in Shikarpur during Eid.
Sadly, instead of extracting any firm commitments from the government, a truckload of members decided to deliver speeches on the killings after Sherry raised the issue. One after another, parliamentarians from various parties expressed their solidarity with minorities via cliché-laden rhetoric. Often, Quaid-e-Azam’s maiden speech to the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947 was also quoted with hypocritical shrieking.
After a long gap, Dr Fehmida Mirza has returned to the House. Taking advantage of the speaker’s presence, members from both sides took the government to task on the withdrawal of security from her official residence in Karachi. The speaker reminded the MNAs that both the president and the prime minister took notice of the development and ensured the corrective revision “within 24 hours.” Still, most members kept feigning concern with the clear objective of embarrassing Rehman Malik.
In the rush to score points, no member dared to inform the house that the Indian High Commission is taking a long time in issuing visas to Pakistani Hindus since the Shikarpur killings. Officials seem to fear that after reaching India, every Hindu from Pakistan may seek asylum, eventually leading to complications in bilateral relations.
While the rhetorical doublespeak was in full-swing, some members were found huddled in ministerial chambers. “What next?” was the question they asked, while recalling Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s announcement on Monday of quitting both the PPP and the National Assembly.
After Qureshi’s resignation, Imran Khan had clearly said on a popular talk show that the former foreign minister resigned to join his party. He rather asserted that the public meeting that SMQ intended to address in Ghotki will also be a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf show.
Despite the unambiguous announcement made by none other than Imran Khan regarding Qureshi’s next step, most ruling party legislators kept insisting that the potential replacement of Gilani from his hometown, Multan, was in no haste to join Imran Khan.
One experienced PPP MNA from the Seraiki belt took me aside to sell the story that SMQ did not like Imran Khan’s “telling it all too soon” attitude. SMQ, he claimed, had a clearly chalked out plan. The first step is to hold a public rally on the border of Punjab and Sindh to prove his support in the Seraiki belt and Sindh. Only after showing his popularity, does Qureshi want to negotiate the terms for joining either Nawaz or Imran Khan.
Before the intended negotiations, however, he also wants to pretend as if trying to revive “the PPP of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir,” the MNA said. He added that Qureshi is discreetly talking to Mumtaz Bhutto. With the help of the patriarch Bhutto, SMQ desires to persuade Ghinwa, the widow of slain Murtaza Bhutto, that she should either send Fatima or Zulfikar Junior to the rally he plans to hold at Ghotki. “Imran Khan has subverted his whole game,” claimed the MNA, “and being a Makhdoom of elitist pedigree, SMQ might find it hard to swallow.”
To me, the story is a little too difficult to digest.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 16th, 2011.
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