With or against

Published: November 16, 2011

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You are either with us or against humanity, peace, Islam and cute babies. That is the only level of debate we seem capable of. There can be no reasonable reaction to differences of opinion anymore. Maybe it is because of the growing instability in the days ahead and the anxiety this creates. Maybe it is because we hate your stupid face and wish we could punch it. Regardless, the entirety of Pakistani politics seems now to have subscribed to the George W Bush school of debating. Any dissent is seen as offence and if you don’t agree with the opinion being stated then may the suffering of future generations be your fault.

The PPP has been hurling this rhetoric about with machine gun-rapidity, putting both Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Zulfiqar Mirza in their cross hairs. The former was our foreign minister once, who developed a conscience during the fiasco involving Raymond Davis, and resigned. Davis was released and can now be found wandering the streets of America, punching people for their parking spots and bagels. What it was particularly about this one event that pushed him over the edge, we can never know. I rubbish all claims about his realisation that this was no longer the PPP that Benazir Bhutto had once led and how he could no longer reconcile himself with what it had become. The PPP always has been and always will be a party dedicated to corruption and illegal accumulation of wealth. The fact that it is doing so with more abandon and success now is not because the PPP of the past was better, it just didn’t have the kind of focus that it has now. Zardari has successfully removed all barriers that could have impeded the efficiency of the corruption. Indeed, Qamar Zaman Kaira has recently been quoted as saying that “the PPP was following the vision of Benazir Bhutto with full devotion under the guidance of President Asif Ali Zardari”. Indeed.

However, even more ridiculous than Qureshi’s claims, indeed even more trying than his current teasing performance as an Indian movie heroine trying to choose between her portly but well meaning ex-boyfriend and the handsome neighbour she just met, is the PPP’s reaction to him. Kaira also claimed that Shah Mehmood only got recognition and respect because of the PPP, which makes you wonder what kind of unknown scoundrel he was before and why they welcomed him to the fold back then. Firdous Ashiq Awan, meanwhile, has claimed that whenever anyone leaves the PPP they are “humiliated in the world and the hereafter”. I am open to that theory being scientifically tested by using as many PPP party members as possible.

The same kind of intensity of anger is being focused on Zulfiqar Mirza, with Zardari supporters attacking his supporters and the PPP threatening to do something strict about him. Which is quite amazing when you consider that they have not done anything yet. How is a party so tolerant of dissent with him and yet so intolerant with others?

The PTI, currently enjoying their first taste of political legitimacy, have also gotten into the habit of slinging rhetoric around. Convinced that backing someone who has been in politics long enough to be a politician while claiming to not be one is awesome, they have decided that anyone who hates Imran Khan hates Pakistan. Every supporter has declared that not automatically prostrating oneself before the Khan’s rippling upper body and pledging allegiance means you want to have Nawaz Sharif’s babies while wooing Zardari.

Choosing to leave the PPP is allowed, as is choosing to not vote for the PTI. The vilification of all who do not agree simply proves that the narrative of the next few years will be loud and monosyllabic. Just don’t expect any nuance.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 17th,  2011.

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Reader Comments (31)

  • Mirza
    Nov 16, 2011 - 11:37PM

    Shah Qureshi said “no longer the PPP that Benazir Bhutto had once led” and that is why he is leaving PPP. Does it mean that PML-N and PTI are the parties that BB once lead and that is why he was friends with both? This religous Pir has found a novel and truthful way to pay homage to Bhuttos by joining their enemies! What a fair and honest man he is?


  • Reasonable
    Nov 17, 2011 - 12:17AM

    Mirza there are no friends or foes in politics. Only interests.

    Both Sharif and Bhutto were at loggerheads at a time. But they sat together for the CoD. PPP and MQM were bitter rivals but they compromised for their power. So stop acting all ‘good’ ‘bad’.

    As for SMQureshi. Well he’s a very smart guy and one of the most season politicians. One thing to his credit is that he has not one single allegation of corruption on him. So he has his leverage. And given the murky mess and band of thieves that PPP has become under Mr. Z; he is naturally disassociating himself from them to protect his image like any other rational man would do. PTI therefore seems to be the perfect destination for person of his stature and credibility.Recommend

  • Adeel
    Nov 17, 2011 - 12:34AM

    Great article, but I am afraid Imrans net warriors will take no notice and attack the author instead because if someone criticizes Imran it means he/she is not loyal to country and they are not Pakistani anymore, simply immature attitude just like their leader


  • Pro Bono Publico
    Nov 17, 2011 - 12:59AM

    Shah Mehmood himself has been a member of PML (1986-88), then PML faction under Nawaz Sharif (1988-90) followed by PML faction under Manzoor Wattoo (1990-93) followed by PPP (1993-2011). Next it will probably be the PTI for him.
    Maybe he can setup his own Qalabaaz-e-Millat Party …


  • Urooj Hussein
    Nov 17, 2011 - 1:36AM

    Couldn’t agree with you more @Pro Bono Publico ! Great comments – totally agree !!


  • salman
    Nov 17, 2011 - 1:53AM

    Being a PTI supporter, I don’t believe that anyone not supporting PTI should be vilified. And I suspect that many other supporters feel the same way. I don’t think you can generalize based on a few people who may have wound you up with their feedback to your articles. Sorry to break your stereotype.


  • someone
    Nov 17, 2011 - 1:58AM

    An excellent, to-the-point, genuinely unbiased, reality based article as ever. You speak our mind, Mr. Sami.


  • fahim
    Nov 17, 2011 - 2:43AM

    Unless you are prepared to give up something valuable you will never be able to truly change at all, because you’ll be forever in the control of things you can’t give up,Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change.Every generation needs a new revolution and this is the process of democratic evolution. Imran may not be Angel but surely he will be less Evil.


  • Mudassar.R
    Nov 17, 2011 - 4:29AM

    I agree with the stuff or not, but for a change, very well written article in TRIBUNE after many days….
    but yes, I dont like you for unliking Imran khan :P


  • Asad
    Nov 17, 2011 - 4:34AM

    Hey guys, seems pakis are so democratic that if one tries to write in favour of IK they become his net warriors. Adeel this is www not your back yard – everyone is entitled to an opinoion.


  • Ali
    Nov 17, 2011 - 4:37AM

    The PPP led by Benazir Bhutto was pretty bad.


  • Majid
    Nov 17, 2011 - 5:20AM

    @Mirza, get your facts right. Shah Mahmood is not leaving because it’s not a BB’s ppp anymore but it is being run by corrupt persons and criminals. Try to differentiate between these two sides of the same coin. BTW I am a pmln voter and would not mind if shah go to pti.


  • Haroon Khan
    Nov 17, 2011 - 6:03AM

    Great article, had me in stiches (especially ” am open to that theory being scientifically tested by using as many PPP party members as possible.”). Ironically, a very nuanced piece about Pakistani politics


  • zalim singh
    Nov 17, 2011 - 8:28AM

    grt article.


  • Truth Seeker
    Nov 17, 2011 - 9:41AM

    You mean that till last week PPP was run by angles, saints, righteous and cherubic persons.
    And now suddenly it has dawned on Mr. Qureshi that all his colleagues were corrupt.
    Even great IK has acknowleged that he can’t import CLEAN PERSONS from Sweden and Switzerland, so the poor Pakistanis have to live with the available stock.


  • Mirza
    Nov 17, 2011 - 10:09AM

    Sir, I am quoting his own words, and how can “I” be wrong? Please care to read the first line.


  • The Reader
    Nov 17, 2011 - 10:19AM


    Actually when a thing is said as beautifully and convincingly as Sami Shah just did, it is bound to positively affect everyone, even PTI Net Warriors. I, for one, am convinced.

    @Writer, I must not forget to praise your subtle but awesome sense of humor. With your well-meaning opinions, you always manage to amuse us. Convincing read. You have me converted.


  • Ali Hasan
    Nov 17, 2011 - 10:26AM

    “Imran Khan’s Net Warriors” is the most apt title for them since the great Khan joined politics.


  • Taimoor
    Nov 17, 2011 - 11:14AM

    @Ali Hasan:
    Better than being sell-outs.


  • The Reader
    Nov 17, 2011 - 11:17AM

    Ali Hasan,
    everyone has right to express their opinion. So what if PTI supporters are exuberant? Can’t you respect this simple fact that most of them will vote for the first time in their life and therefore very excited at having found their right leader? Enough of PTI Troll and Net Warrior labels.


  • Saladin
    Nov 17, 2011 - 11:22AM

    I guess I am a net warrior but still like your article. When IK doesn’t have heavy weights, you journalists advise him to go find some, when he does find one who is relatively clean, you call PTI a turncoat dump.

    come on guys… let him be a politician who is doing politics for the betterment of
    Pakistan not for his own self.


  • Ansari
    Nov 17, 2011 - 12:28PM

    The You-tube-youth and Face-book-teenagers are roaring :) :)


  • "Pakistan-a nation in denial"
    Nov 17, 2011 - 2:54PM

    Imran khan lovers are just blind … with the idea of ” if one hates imran khan ‘s politics one hates Pakistan”
    … their Pakistan is around imran khan
    But they are not willing to accept the fact human are different and can have different point of view about any thing…. and politics is just one of these things… some people wrong or right support AZ, some NS some MQM… this is what democracy is…..
    most of the times the arguments given by imran’s lover are same given by JI, emotional and without any logic.
    therefore in many respect more dangerous for Pakistan than Talibans


  • Adeel
    Nov 17, 2011 - 3:09PM

    @ Truth Seeker

    Even great IK has acknowleged that he can’t import CLEAN PERSONS from Sweden and Switzerland, so the poor Pakistanis have to live with the available stock.

    so you are saying that out of 180 million people Imran cant find 1000 people who are clean to contest election, well that says enough about his qualities as a leader


  • h
    Nov 17, 2011 - 4:42PM

    haha great article!! i am a pti supporter, adore imran khan but no, do not worship him, nor am i blind to his faults and neither do i consider anyone with a differing point of view as wrong.
    i just support studying, reading, researching, analyzing, using your own mind and judgement to decide whats best for you and for Pakistan. because this is not about a trend or herd mentality, this is about pakistan. Recommend

  • Sultan Mehmood
    Nov 17, 2011 - 5:52PM

    It is not only a good piece, it is educating; one needs to revisit their positions based on this.


  • MA
    Nov 17, 2011 - 6:44PM

    Fantastic article. Recommend

  • the khan
    Nov 17, 2011 - 8:08PM

    well…i think the same goes for every one…no one is telling anyone to vote for imran khan….but non stop people are coming and criticising PTI..if u don’t want to be told who to vote for than don’t write…simple as that…don’t tell us not vote for PTI…that’s what all u writer are talking about..the argument goes both ways…don’t vote for PTI if u don’t want to…don’t tell us not to…simple


  • Truth Seeker
    Nov 17, 2011 - 9:09PM

    This is IK’s headache, not mine to search for and embrace righteous kind of candidates.


  • Nov 17, 2011 - 9:59PM

    As always, spot on and hella funny.

    Don’t stop writing.


  • Nov 19, 2011 - 8:14PM

    If Criticism of PTI and Imran Khan is legitimate form of discourse, then Criticism of Criticism of PTI should also be taken in the same veign. It cannot be that when I criticize its OK, but when others criticize me they are:

    A) Trolling
    B) Cant take a joke

    Just as it is my right to disagree, other people have the same right to disagree with me too.

    Now having gotten that out of the way, certain ‘naujawan’ in PTI are going overboard, and instead of disagreeing with logic, they are making ad hominem attacks. That is wrong, and I condemn it.


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