Perhaps the easiest thing in our politics is to call someone ‘ghaddar’ or ‘kafir’. These two words are frequently used by the self-proclaimed custodians of the ideology of Pakistan and of Islam, against those who they think are less patriotic or less of a Muslim than them.
In the past, mostly those people were labelled as ghaddar who used to have a soft corner for India, while those opposing the jihadist policies of the state used to be dubbed as kafirs. Since no one likes to be called a ghaddar or a kafir, the jihadist-propagandists thrived to the level where we saw provincial governors being murdered by their own guards, ministers killed on streets and people in strong positions of authority refraining from issuing even a word of condemnation, lest that might anger the zealots in the country.
The late Benazir Bhutto was deemed a ‘security risk’ by the very people who are now thinking of bringing charges of treason against the elected prime minister and president on the basis of a memo that the government says it has no connection with.
From the founder of the nation Muhammad Ali Jinnah to the Awami National Party leadership (both ghaddars and kafirs) to Imran Khan — who is out to bring a tsunami of change with unchanged faces — everyone has experienced the wrath of the so-called patriots and custodians of faith.
Most recently, it is the elected prime minister who needed to get a ‘no-objection certificate’ to prove his patriotism. And the call for treason charges to be put against Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani came from Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. The Sharif brothers need to recall their post-Kargil days before pointing fingers at any of the names attached to the dubious memo issue raised by an American citizen Mansoor Ijaz.
It could be argued that the PML-N’s motive behind taking the memo issue to the Supreme Court is to kill two birds with one stone — i.e., to get rid of the present government and clip the wings of the military as well as the ISI, before taking the reins of power in Islamabad.
Looking at the rush of seat-winners to Imran Khan’s (so far) one-man show, can someone say for sure that Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N will be able to win a majority even if the current government is sent home before the end of its constitutionally-mandated tenure on the charge of being behind the dubious memo?
Javed Hashmi has already left while several PML-N stalwarts are on their way out. It would be a blessing in disguise for Imran Khan and his well-wishers if the court’s ruling in the memo case goes against the government.
The upcoming Senate election might be disturbing for the PML-N leadership, but the idea of midterm polls will be even more worrying mainly because: a) politicians from all parties are jumping on to Imran’s bandwagon; b) Imran is more acceptable, to say the least, to the establishment; c) Nawaz’s party is certainly not in the establishment’s good books; d) The PPP will again become a martyr and may get the sympathy vote, and e) religious parties like the JUI-F and the JI (which boycotted the last election) and whose agenda is to get close to the PTI, are likely to get more seats in parliament.
In such a situation, the PML-N is unlikely to retain even the position of opposition leader in the National Assembly, let alone form a government or acquire a winning majority in the Senate. To save the day for the PML-N, the only viable option is to observe the Charter of Democracy which will ensure that the main parties stay away from a collision course, while denying space to planted elements in parliament.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 30th, 2011.