Since the election of 2008, the party founded by a consummate politician seems living in a reality-eluding bubble.
Delivering his maiden speech after taking oath as member of the National Assembly, Abdul Qadir Gilani clearly reflected a self-assuaging narrative.
This young looking son of Yousaf Raza Gilani had returned to the house from a seat that was vacated after sacking of the former prime minister by the Supreme Court.
There is no doubt that all anti-PPP forces joined hands to defeat him through a vicious campaign. Yet, in the end Abdul Qadir retained the family seat. After reaching the National Assembly, however, he didn’t appear very concerned regarding the narrow margin of his victory. He rather asserted that the “larger bench of the people of Pakistan” had in effect vindicated his father by electing him.
Qadir worked hard to project his father as a committed democrat who worked overtime to furnish ‘sovereignty’ to an elected parliament. Doing so, the scion of Gilanis conveniently forgot that a ruling by “the custodian” of the same parliament could not protect his father. Forget the non-PPP politicians, even the ruling party and its allies miserably failed to capitalise on sacking of a prime minister over and above the Election Commission and the process of empowering it when it comes to disqualifying a parliamentarian.
While profusely praising his father, Qadir also tried to score a point against the apex court. The interim bails of his brother, Ali Musa Gilani, also a member of the National Assembly, and Makhdom Shahabuddin were canceled by a bench of the Lahore high court in the morning. Both of them did not come to the house to evade their possible nabbing by the ANF personnel. “Mr Speaker, I insist that Ali Musa and Makhdom Shahab would have been sitting amongst us if they were sons of high-profile judges,” he tauntingly remarked.
Ironically, the ruling party members endorsed most of his remarks with casual and light-hearted desk thumping. Far fiercer sounded the claps which came from the gallery reserved for general public. Some diehard loyalists sitting in the same gallery also tried to invoke the memory of ZAB by chanting slogans. A stern warning from the chair silenced them instantly.
Concluding his speech, Abdul Qadir was too explicit in forewarning that his family and party were determined to contest the next election with the demand of carving a separate province for Seraiki speakers. I have developed serious doubts that PPP-connected candidates in Seraiki Wassaib will have the chance of contesting the next election with a narrative that portrays Yousaf Raza as a ‘victim.’
Gilani’s successor, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, continues to endure the dilemma to write or not to write “the letter” to the Swiss government.
Much before his appearance before the Supreme Court on September 18, Farooq H Naek, the law minister, has been spinning the feel-good stories. To a very select group of weighty journalists and op-ed piece writers, he continues to share his win-win solution to the letter-related quandary.
Naik strongly feels that Honorable Justice Khosa who authored the passionate, pity-the-nation-driven judgment that punished Gilani for the contempt of court, does not want to punish another elected prime minister.
The government must help him by a creative draft of the letter that can be sent to the Swiss government. Naik has almost completed the draft of the said letter that is being actively considered and vetted by Asif Ali Zardari. I am not qualified to find out whether the letter written on the proposed grounds prepared by Naik can help Raja Pervaiz Ashraf in the end. As a hardened reporter of our vicious politics, however, I have every reason to believe that Yousaf Raza Gilani and his supporters will not feel good, if Raja saves himself by abandoning the position that the PPP had been maintaining over the issue of writing a letter to the Swiss government.
Raja’s agreeing to write the letter will rather provide solid content to wagging tongues, peddling the conspiracy theory that Yousaf Raza Gilani had to go; primarily, because Asif Ali Zardari had “had enough of him” and he didn’t want to see him occupying the prime minister’s office until fresh elections. By writing the letter, on lines suggested by Naik, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf will draw a clear line between the hawks and doves of his party.
Heading towards the next election, the possible division within the Pakistan Peoples Party can prove doubly suicidal, if it also gets perceived as if treating a prime minister from “the soldier-producing Potowhar” in more accommodating a manner than someone hailing from the “Seraiki Wassaib.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 4th, 2012.