Interpreting Javed Hashmi’s double-edged remarks

Published: May 8, 2014

Thanks to explosively divided political scene of these days, passionate supporters of the PML-N and the PTI are flooding the social network sites with partisan interpretations of Javed Hashmi’s speech in the national assembly Wednesday. Their obsession to promote subjective versions has certainly killed the fundamental message that the born rebel in Hashmi wanted to convey through his 40-minute speech.

Primarily, this top ranking leader of the PTI conveyed two things in his speech: a) the movement his party is launching on May 11 does not aim at forcing mid-term elections; and b) although after accumulating much bitterness against a particular media group, the PTI and its leaders do not want to see the forced banning of this group. The party is rather firmly committed to defending freedom of press while strongly wishing that journalists should also abide by a voluntarily defined code of conduct.

No doubt, Hashmi took a sane and mature position. But, true to his emotion-driven nature he often drifted to niggardly discuss a definite columnist. The columnist he took on was once known as the most passionate promoter of Imran Khan. He also had been an old friend of Javed Hashmi. Many readers do not feel too comfortable with the contemptuous language that the same columnist recklessly uses in self-righteous deliriums.

Hashmi felt doubly hurt for one of his columns, however, for it appeared precisely on the morning after a core committee meeting of the PTI. In this meeting, Imran Khan and his comrades had thoroughly discussed the aims and objectives of the movement they planned to launch on May 11. Hashmi had remained too vocal in this meeting while pressing the point that his leader and party must go an extra mile to assure its supporters and opponents that they do not want to enforce midterm elections by destabilizing the current parliament by street agitation. He also urged them to refute the feeling that the PTI wanted to see forced closing of a particular media group.

His personal hurt is understandable, if you also know that exactly the morning after the said meeting, the columnist in question penned a poisonous column for an Urdu publication of the media group seemingly under clouds these days.

This column arrogantly sneered at a remark made by Javed Hashmi some days back. Through this remark, the PTI leader vowed to stand by Nawaz Sharif “if someone tried to weaken democracy in Pakistan.” Venomously laughing at his vow, the columnist even went to the extent of condescendingly wondering as to how an “old and paralyzed Hashmi” could furnish any strength to Nawaz Sharif and democracy in trouble. Hashmi had no choice but to react while speaking in the national assembly Wednesday.

Although by naming me, Javed Hashmi also complained against some of my remarks in a TV show. But he did that for a legitimate reason, on which I had no control. Still, I have no sound argument to suspect the message he wanted to convey through his speech Wednesday. One sincerely prefers believing that Hashmi and his leader simply want setting up of a system that ensures free, fair and transparent elections in times to come. As a veteran of political games, however, Hashmi needs no tutor to fathom the “unintended consequences” of the street agitation launched with noble intents. And the glimpses of such consequences should be obvious to all by recalling as to what had been happening in the Lahore High Court Wednesday, when Imran Khan went there to pursue an election-related petition.

As a mere reporter, however, I have to be far more concerned regarding apparently a “hailing speech” that Rana Tanvir Hussein delivered from the ministerial benches immediately after Hashmi. After duly acknowledging Javed Hashmi’s “lifelong commitment to the cause of democracy,” the federal minister for defense production quickly switched to affirm the accusation that some “celebrity media persons have begun behaving as movers and shakers of the political scene. The time has thus come for a code of conduct that journalists must follow, come what may.”

In short, cutting across the party divide, “our representatives” in the national assembly are heading fast to gang up against “libelous practices that some of our journalists have adopted to command and control the political scene, which should be left to its real players.” Wonder if many of my colleagues are willing to consider ‘the message’ that I have drawn from the speeches of Javed Hashmi and Rana Tanvir.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2014.

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