The twitterverse is outraged at Dr Babar Awan, not because he had one of his usual bouts of tweeting with caps lock on, but because he was awarded the post of vice-president of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). Not only is he an educated man, he is also an astute lawyer, a good orator, a TV presenter par excellence, a writer and a man who speaks the language of our masters (no silly, everyone speaks English, he is fluent in Arabic). Seriously — what’s not to like?
One can be a little perturbed at this development because how can a political party have a vice- president when it does not have a president? Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and his father share the chairmanship of the party — but this much anger is a little misplaced.
The appointment of the good doctor is quite befitting; after all, who else could have matched his towering personality and his innumerable accomplishments. The cynics think that the party has other stalwarts who are better suited for the job, but no one comes even close. Named after the Mughal king, Zaheeruddin Babar, the new vice-president is a man amongst men. Aitzaz Ahsan and Sherry Rehman may have written an odd book or two about the Indus River and Kashmiri shawls, but the esteemed barrister has authored several books. It is besides the point that no one seems to know the titles of these books and what they are on. Unfortunately, a hurried Google search about his penmanship yielded no conclusive results.
Rehman Malik may have been awarded an honourary doctorate degree from Karachi University, but Dr Babar Awan is heads and shoulders above his fellow party man. He does not wait for local universities to confer doctorates upon him, he gets them from a university as delicately named as Monticello — which perhaps reminds one of a high-end spaghetti sauce or Thomas Jefferson.
Dr Babar Awan is also not a serial party-hopper like some other dudes whose final destination seems to be the PTI these days. He only jumped ship once and has since been with the PPP. Wikipedia reports that his brother is a member of the Muttahidda Qaumi Movement in Punjab, but that is only to spread brotherhood and good cheer.
Not just politicians, Dr Babar Awan can give TV personalities like Aamir Liaquat and Sahir Lodhi a run for their money. Unlike Aamir Liaquat, who carries the show on the basis of sheer verbosity, and Sahir Lodhi, who only moonlights as a religious presenter in Ramazan and is known more for his dance moves and questionable wardrobe, Dr Awan is a genuine bona fide religious scholar who used to present a show on religious laws on a local TV channel. The ratings of his show, however, were not available to be compared with those of the other two gentlemen.
What the naysayers do not get is that vice-presidentship of a party is a very significant post. The reason this important post was given to Dr Babar Awan, is that if there ever was a declamation or an oration contest between the vice-chairmen and presidents of various Pakistani political parties, the PPP would not want to lose it to its erstwhile member and the new and very senior vice-chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 31st, 2011.