The temptation to ignore Sheikh Rasheed is a strong one for the reason that he is a clown who thrives on cheap publicity and takes pride in his crudeness. Yet, the temptation should be fought off since he has now completed the transition from being a third-rate comedian to more like a roving, blood-seeking individual. Equally significantly, Sheikh Rasheed now deserves our contempt and attention not only for himself but also for those he seeks to associate with. He called for the Chief Justice to act like a common murderer and kill the president of the country, asked the Chief of Army Staff to intervene and take over and implored Mullah Omar (who he also termed Ameer-ul-Momineen) to be benevolent enough to allow Imran Khan to make his expedition into Waziristan in one speech. This is quite unbelievable even by the low and vulgar standards of the Sheikh. He should be locked up (for good, if possible) for incitement to murder and subversion of the Constitution and treason and not be allowed to pollute our airwaves unnecessarily while the process is being conducted. No elaborate case needs to be made against him and the video clip of his speech at Rawalpindi should be sufficient to send him away.
The really distressing part is not the conduct of the Sheikh since he was always on the fringe of descending into complete madness; it is the conduct of Imran Khan. Mr Khan was present on the stage when this nonsense was being carried out. He did not deem it fit to say anything to condemn or more mildly disassociate with the murderous chant. Even afterwards, there is no clear condemnation from the PTI and only apologetic, throat-clearing mumbo jumbo. If we start at the beginning, Imran Khan walking to Sheikh Rasheed’s Lal Haveli and making an “alliance” is either plainly dumb or is under GHQ directives and that’s that. The supporters of the Mighty Khan are offended when proper deference is not accorded to the “dear leader”; well if he decides to sit mute when calls for murder of the president to be conducted by the Chief Justice are being raised by one of his allies, then I am afraid that he will have to be treated as big boy. The suggestion that Mr Khan is either not very sharp in political decision-making or a military stooge are gentle and more significantly based on reason as compared with the language that was used in his presence for the co-chairperson of the ruling party by one of his allies. Any claim for a special privilege for Mr Khan or the heightened sensitivities of his supporters should be brushed aside as the nonsense that it is.
It is quite befitting that Sheikh ‘Tulli’ did what he did with Imran Khan on stage. The supporters (particularly the younger cadre) of Mr Khan have heralded a new phase of ‘fascism’ in Pakistan where anyone not agreeing with Mr Khan is a paid agent of another party/country or a liberal fascist/fake liberal (the terms are meant to be abusive and hence nobody has put much thought in defining them). Mr Khan has confused and dangerous views on the Taliban and that is not to ascribe any malice to him and just that his strategy is a dangerous one (which incidentally puts higher onus on him to clarify if he also considers Mullah Omar as Ameer-ul-Momineen and requires his approval for his march into Waziristan). However, to say that means that you are an agent of imperialism drawing a weekly cheque from the US embassy and also be the recipient of other assorted abuse. Many young soldiers of Mr Khan give the distinct impression and, perhaps, would fall under the definition of a ‘cult’ (think less Jim Morrison and more KKK).
They could benefit from reading Leon Trotsky’s essay The Struggle for Cultured Speech and the role of speech and language in revolutions. However, it seems that many of his supporters having access to Wikipedia already have a favourite quotation from Arthur Schopenhaur of first they will laugh at you, etc and then you win. How appropriate that they resort frequently to Hitler’s favourite philosopher.
Mr Khan’s supporters want us take him more seriously than he apparently takes himself. His representatives find themselves delivering his messages on stage with the Difa-e-Pakistan Council fanatics, whereas he decides to bestow that honour upon Sheikh Rasheed. His explanation on the “benami” issue is as good as the next politician. There is nothing inherently unusual about this conduct in politics except for Mr Khan who insists upon using lofty, arrogant and morally stern rhetoric for all politics and politicians, and then it is not unreasonable to judge him by the standards he insists others be judged by.
Finally, I await a Suo Motu by My Lord, the Chief Justice. Surely, My Lord will not stand to be treated as a hired gun and a murderer by Sheikh Rasheed. Faisal Raza Abidi’s hysteria cannot be condoned, yet he is making allegations that he claims that he has documentary proof of and should be investigated even if he is to be sentenced for contempt for his tone and manner. In contrast, the Sheikh, who in the past has said quite disobliging things about My Lord, has addressed him and asked him to commit murder. This is an attempt to dent the perception of neutrality of the Supreme Court and one hopes that the Court will not allow a huckster like Sheikh Rasheed to manipulate and compromise its objectivity. I say it with utmost of reverence that the public perception is that had such a speech involving the Chief Justice and the Chief of Army Staff been made by the Prime Minister or a cabinet member it would only have been a matter of hours before suo-motu notice was taken and a ‘Special’ bench constituted and the offending person summoned. Mr Khan and My Lords should remember that friends and sympathisers such as Sheikh Rasheed are ones that nobody needs.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 19th, 2012.