KARACHI: The grand iftar party at CM House upheld its tradition of bringing together political arch rivals to share a meal with a few laughs.
The same politicians that harshly criticise each other on television shows could be seen hugging each other and making jokes on Monday when they were invited by the chief minister for an iftar party. Awami National Party’s (ANP) Shahi Syed and Bashir Jan sat at the same table and broke the bread with their political foes: Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) leaders Faisal Subzwari and Khawaja Izharul Hasan, and Jamaat-e-Islami’s (JI) Muhammad Husain Mehnti.
Even after the iftar, the sight of ANP’s Bashir Jan whispering and laughing with MQM’s Izharul Hasan shocked several other guests who pointed fingers at them as they recalled their exchanges on television that were fiery to say the least. “I am really surprised to see both the leaders in such a jolly mood,” admitted a civil society leader, recalling a TV show where the two men blamed each other for Karachi violence and became quite emotional holding the other party responsible for the killing spree. “I thought they would kill each other after the show but it seems like they made up.”
The guests arriving at the iftar were greeted by the CM’s special assistants, Waqar Mehdi and Rashid Rabbani, at the main gate of the lawn. They shook hands as leaders of the MQM, ANP, JI, Pakistan Muslim League – Functional, Sunni Tehreek, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam and a large number of lawmakers from the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party made their way to the tables laden with the usual samosas, jalebis and khajoors, but also chicken karhai, mutton curry, various kinds of daal and vegetables. The menu also included chicken tikka, chicken boti and seekh kebabs. For dessert, the guests were served mango ice cream and soft drinks made the rounds.
The lavish food triggered the small debate inside. “Sindh government is facing a financial crunch,” pointed out one journalist. “Where people have no food, the government is organising such a lavish dinner. This kind of money should be diverted to the poor.” There were a few nods in response.
As soon as the chief minister entered the venue flanked by more than two dozen leaders of his party on both sides, all the cameramen and photographers ran towards them. Once he was out of the limelight, Qaim Ali Shah made his way to the guests.
The female MPAs of the outgoing assembly were sitting at the one table – perhaps discussing how the government has ignored them after their tenure ended because, as soon as Shah neared their table, Shama Arif Mithani – who has served as a Sindh Assembly MPA twice – called out for his attention. “Sir, we are also sitting here.” Turning around to the group, Shah immediately told them not to feel bad. “Don’t say it like that. You people are equally honourable to us,” he said, as patted her head.
Different than last year
Only three MQM leaders attended this year’s iftar party when nearly a dozen of them came to the one last year. There wasn’t any prominent leader from Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz either. Even Imtiaz Shaikh, the only PML-F leader who participated on behalf of his party, came only for a few minutes.
Of Wassan’s dreams
PPP minister Manzoor Wassan, who is popular because of his dreams, told the media of his latest one. “I have dreamt that the people of Karachi may face a worsening law and order situation before August 14.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2013.