Can our elected representatives risk staying silent now?

Politicians cannot afford to show indifference to mass killings of Hazara, as elections draw closer.


Nusrat Javeed February 20, 2013
Nusrat Javeed

Khawaja Asif does not need a tutor to be told that no one from our national security elite will care to answer questions that members of the National Assembly have been pressing for non-stop since Monday evening over the frightening happenings in Quetta. After all, only three weeks are left in the constitutional life of this House. And as the next election draws close, our “representatives” cannot afford to appear to behave callously indifferent to the mass killings of the Hazaras and the fury they have unleashed all over the country.

Delivering an impassioned speech in the house Tuesday, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz member from Sialkot thus seemed justified in demanding a joint parliamentary session be summoned. He strongly believed that elected houses could still prove their worth and relevance by putting the heads of the national security outfits in the dock through proceedings of the proposed session.

An experienced player of power politics from Bahawalnagar, Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor, was presiding over the sitting in which Asif pressed for a joint parliamentary session. Ghafoor sounded cool but deadly when he cynically wondered whether such a sitting, exclusively focusing on the startling killings of the Hazaras in Quetta, would produce anything substantive.

The ever-alert Asif took no time to concede that perhaps another ‘in-camera’ session to discuss another national security issue would lead to nothing. It was time that the heads of our intelligence and security outfits were made to answer questions “with people and media representatives sitting in the galleries reserved for them”. Waseem Akhtar of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement forcefully endorsed the demand, but the wily Khursheed Shah knew his limits. He only promised that as Chief Whip of the ruling coalition, he would convey the desire to summon a joint parliamentary sitting on the Quetta carnage to the leader of the house, and “hopefully” the prime minister would decide to summon it within the week.

Without wasting time weighing the possibilities of a joint sitting in search of viable options to provide the Hazaras of Quetta some sense of security, I prefer to report the fact that with his Tuesday speech Asif had made startling confessions.

He also said many things which his party and leader may find hard to swallow.

With the full force of his lungs, for example, he declared that ‘the jihad’ Pakistan had been waging in Afghanistan since the 1980s was a “fraudulent project”. It empowered a peculiar creed of greedy mullahs, “who now encourage and protect the killers of Shias in Pakistan”. All of this is happening despite the fact that the father of the nation, himself was Shia.

Despite ferociously taking on the self-declared custodians of Pakistan’s ideology and security, Asif also remained bluntly honest by repeatedly admitting that mainstream politicians like himself had miserably failed to act responsibly and deliver. “Rather, we have become the willing tools and facilitators of various money-amassing mafias, who have also turned the military elite and big media houses into active partners in their crimes.”

Asif’s impassioned speech was heard in pin-drop silence, which strongly hinted a collective sense of guilt. While returning to their homes with heavy hearts, though, most legislators were stunned to find out that Dr Hafeez Shaikh had finally resigned. They appeared gripped with the fear that his resignation had provided solid content to an insidious rumour.

For the past six months, I have been repeatedly reporting in this column that the scheming drawing rooms of Islamabad were not waiting for fresh elections after completion of this government’s term.

Rather, they keep preparing us for a caretaker government of “able, honest, and patriotic technocrats”. This government, they claim, would work for at least three years to turn the economy around and address the backlog of issues that have been plaguing this country by taking “tough but unpopular decisions”. Hafeez Shaikh had always been considered tailor-made for the post of heading the interim government given the absolute trust he inspires from our military elite and many of its friends sitting in some powerful offices in Washington.

Even after getting confirmation of Hafeez Shaikh’s resignation from reliable quarters, I am still not willing to see him smoothly head towards the next destination he has doggedly set for him. Nawaz Sharif and his party is bound to resist him, but far more shocking will be the resistance he may see coming from a political heavyweight and personal friend of President Zardari, Asfandyar Wali. The Awami National Party has already conveyed its preference for the caretaker prime minister, both to the government and the opposition, and he is a retired judge from Balochistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 20th, 2013.

COMMENTS (4)

asif | 8 years ago | Reply

Nawaz Sharif, Shabaz Sharif, Rana Sanaullah

Ahmed | 8 years ago | Reply This writer bring such a negative attitude on television its painful to watch him.. he is so negative.. also saw his pics partying in US like crazy
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