Dr Fehmida Mirza had to wait for more than seventy minutes Wednesday evening for a respectable number of MNAs to assemble before calling the session to order. With more than half the seats empty and the house giving a forlorn look the legislators dealt with the day’s business half-heartedly. But Allama Hamid Saeed Kazmi fully used the lull before the session to tell his side of the story before an unprecedented crowd of journalists sitting in the press lounge.
Kazmi Sahib has made history in a way by being a minister going straight to the jail from an office under the government of his own party. As a sitting member of the national assembly, he enjoys the privilege of attending the assembly sittings while in detention and he has been doing the same for the past many weeks. So far, he would quietly sneak into the house and leave for jail without much ado. He never made any serious attempt to speak to media and always evaded them if chased.
Wednesday was different. Kazmi Sahib kept speaking nonstop and aggressively employed his rhetorical skills for building the narrative that the real culprits behind the Hajj scam were promoted and protected by none other than the Prime Minister. He also kept referring to a “documentary evidence, duly admitted by the trial court,” wherein one culprit had apparently confessed “gifting” a luxury car to Prime Minister’s son. Since a competent court is already dealing with Allama Sahib, reporters like me have no right to comment upon the veracity of the tale told by him.
As an enthusiastic kibitzer of Pakistan’s political scene, one was still keen to know as to why Allama Sahib decided to speak NOW. Does it have anything to do with Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s coming out into the open? The question has to be put because Allama Sahib is backed by strong pockets of devotees all across the Seraiki belt. Thanks to his father’s clout, he also commands respect amongst ferocious activists of Sunni Tehrik. Throughout his address to the press Wednesday, he kept insisting that he was “maligned by a deeper conspiracy hatched by known opponents of my MASLAK (the school of religious practices.)” Also intriguing was another comment that he kept repeating, almost like a refrain: “I wish to be as powerful as Rana Sanaullah (the vocal law minister of Punjab) surely seems to be these days.” No one in parliament house could answer my questions and Kazmi Sahib had no time to speak with a reporter one on one.
Besides Kazmi, I also worked very hard to get the rumour confirmed or denied that after playing a dazzling innings as Pakistan’s ambassador to the US, Hussain Haqqani was finally being ejected from the scene. After a whole day of chase, I could finally get a source, known for his active contact with the presidency these days. He took my call while travelling to Lahore and only said ‘yes’ to my question in this regard. When pressed for a bit more information he only said: “Such questions are not asked on phone.”
Another reliable source also gave me an affirmative answer, but seriously believed that instead of being “sacked, Haqqani might be kicked upwards. He can still be KEPT in Islamabad as National Security Adviser under watchful eyes to eventually be pushed to oblivion a la Mehmud Ali Durrani.”
The fate, this source suggested for Haqqani, seemed plausible, although knowing him a bit I would still prefer wondering as to why he should land in Islamabad, if things here do not look promising and cheerful to him. He is a full tenure professor of the prestigious Boston University and capable of authoring a stunning bestseller while relying on material he had active access to during the highs and lows of Pak-US relations since March 2008.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 17th, 2011.