Before moving to the ritual of discussing the performance of selected ministries through cut motions, the national assembly passed a strong-worded resolution concerning the shocking incident in Diamer on Saturday night. The unanimously approved resolution expressed grief and concern over the killing of climbers in Gilgit. Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had come to the house with a preliminary report on the tragic incident, which revealed that other than the three Chinese most climbers had come from various Central Asian states and Ukraine. He also made the usual vow of arresting the killers, ASAP.
To me it looked slightly ironic when Shah Mahmood Qureshi was given the honour of reading the condemning resolution. He is deputy parliamentary leader of a political party that singularly simplified the complex issue of recklessly killing people in the name of Islam. Instead of forcing people to fathom and confront this menace with a deeper understanding of sectarian and jihadist narratives, the PTI and its charismatic founder wanted us to link the whole issue with drone attacks. Things would turn smooth and peaceful, he always insisted, once the Americans left Afghanistan and stopped violating Pakistan’s “sovereign space” by killing people in FATA.
To be fair, the PTI is not the one and only political party promoting a frighteningly simplistic thinking on this issue. Since the Afghan Jihad of the 1980s, the majority of mainstream academics and journalists zealously spread a fictional history of Islam and prepared most of our people to pine for an idyllic Islamic State.
Poet of the East, Iqbal, they often recalled, wanted all Muslims to unite from the banks of the Nile to the soil of Kashghir. The unity of Muslim Ummah that he desired clearly demands waging Jihad against non-Muslim occupiers. In the excited state of praising the Taliban-led war of national liberation against the Americans in Afghanistan, therefore, we often forget that for diehard jihadists of the world our deeper than seas and taller than Himalaya friend, China, is also an occupier of the Muslim-majority Xinjiang and we must view the brutal killing of Chinese climbers in this context. It is time to wake up and boldly admit that passing the blame to “anti-Pakistan agencies like RAW and MOSSAD etc” for staging nonstop incidents of mass terror to give a bad name to our country would not help.
Similarly, if you want to enforce Islam in every sphere of life and adopt it as a state religion then the need to find out the “true Islam” and imposing it upon others, by all means, would always stay intact and vibrant. Resolutions, drafted in a bombastic language, rather sound sickeningly shallow and attention diverting in this regard and we have had enough of them.
The celebrity opposition members like Sheikh Rashid Ahmad did try to ignite explosive scandals regarding the conduct of various ministries through their speeches on cut motions. In less than two weeks of discussions on the budgetary proposals by third government of Nawaz Sharif, this assembly has lost its steam. Cutting across the party divide, an overwhelming majority of members want to go home after passing the budget in haste. The opposition members do not have any juicy stuff to embarrass the government.
In populist terms, the Supreme Court has already proved far more active than all opposition members put together by taking the suo motu notice of one per cent increase in the General Sales Tax and scrapping it on a day when the Finance Minister might have withdrawn it on his own. The crusaders in black coats have also forced Zahid Hamid to leave the ministry of law and parliamentary affairs for his real or alleged role in helping General Musharraf to enforce “the second martial law” on November 3, 2007. Speculations are rife that Nawaz could now try Anushai Rehman, currently heading the ministry of information technology. As an active member of the previous national assembly, Ms Rehman established herself as a hard working and studious parliamentarian. Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan is not very fond of her, though, and suspects her to be in league with the “Kashmiri camp” of his rivals in the ruling party, Khawaja Asif and Ishaq Dar. Nawaz Sharif needs a formidable law minister anyway who can work overtime to please and appease the hyperactive Supreme Court. Raja Zafarul Haq, the soft-speaking veteran can get the job in the end, unless Nawaz Sharif decides to assert “supremacy of an elected parliament and government” on lines diligently promoted by Mehmood Khan Achakzai since returning to the national assembly.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 24th, 2013.
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