Let the Dharnas begin

Yes, let the fun begin in the lovely weather of mid-May and let us all pray the dharna lasts for some days.

Kamran Shafi May 08, 2014
The writer is a columnist, a former major of the Pakistan Army and served as press secretary to Benazir Bhutto [email protected]

Imran Khan has really upped the ante hasn’t he, not only accusing the former chief justice (CJ) of rigging the election but also demanding his trial. Quite a U-turn from saying that if the then government did not heed the CJ’s orders which were coming every second week, mark, he and his party would come out on to the streets to ensure it did follow them. That is, the PTI would be the enforcer of the supreme court’s (SC) orders. And now this.

That is not all. When summoned by the SC for making the ‘Sharamnaak’ remarks against the judiciary, he said he had in no way meant the superior judiciary, but only junior judges who were the returning officers. And now this. U-turn upon U-turn, surely leaving his own supporters flummoxed, and fearful I suppose, as to what he might do next.

Indeed, when he was summoned he should have stood his ground and gone down a hero. It was highly unlikely that the SC would have convicted him, being the leader of an important political force. At most he would have got a rap on the knuckles, and possibly an inquiry into his charges. To hit a man when he is down, well not down but in no position to hit back, just does not look nice.

Neither is this all in his present defiance of the superior judiciary. Just two days ago, when he appeared in the Lahore High Court, his raucous supporters tried to barge their way into the Chief Justice’s court, breaking the door of the courtroom and also smashing some flower pots lying on the steps to the verandah of that hallowed building. There was such a fracas that the Chief Justice left his court in disgust and also asked for an explanation from the PTI chief.

One has to ask, what is making Imran Khan go over the top at this time? For it is his example that his young supporters emulate. This is most unfortunate, and we have seen this loutishness on the social media where PTI trolls are abusive in the extreme, proving themselves as downright rude and discourteous.

However, time for some fun after all these tamashas, such as Imran Khan’s judiciary-baiting and all those demonstrations on all sorts of matters by all sorts of folk, some, believe it or not, by proscribed and banned organisations. Absurd, no doubt, but I am not in the least surprised being a long-time believer in the assertion that Pakistan is a unique country.

So, let the dharnas begin, the PTI being allowed to do as it wants: if it wants to protest in D-Chowk, let it protest in D-Chowk, which is in Blue Area. The government has only one responsibility in this matter, and that is a clear notice/warning to the shopkeepers and the owners of the ‘plazas’ (some of the ugliest buildings in all the world, do please note!) that they will be responsible for the safety of their establishments, and that the only police presence will be on the parliament side of D-Chowk to prevent any serious, and misguided mischief.

Yes, let the fun begin in the lovely weather of mid-May and let us all pray the dharna lasts for some days, effectively stopping all commercial activity in Blue Area. Which brings to mind the Long March on Islamabad called by the late and much lamented Benazir Bhutto in 1992. My cousin and course-mate, and nearest neighbour in Wah the late Major Farooq Ali Khan (RIP) said at the time that while it was possible 50,000 people would turn up in, you guessed it, Blue Area; that degs of pulao and sweet rice could also be brought in; but where in heavens name would they relieve themselves the next morning?

I couldn’t stop laughing thinking about the spectacle of thousands of Long Marchers running hither and yon looking for suitable bushes, and other such camouflage behind which they could do their business. So, I say let the fun begin, and the longer the duration the better. For there are no bushes in Blue Area. Imagine the fury of the residents/shopkeepers when they see needy ‘protesters’ squatting outside their homes/shops.

And now to the ‘wow’ election in Afghanistan. The brilliant (Dr) Omar Ali, son of my long-time friend, the peerless Colonel Nadir Ali, called the recent presidential elections the ‘Wow’ Election in one of his postings on his blog: “Brown Pundits”. And how right he was. Fifty-seven per cent men and 33 per cent women turned out to vote despite threats by the Taliban to bomb polling stations and cause general mayhem during the election. Wow!

Warm congratulations to the brave Afghans who have proved by turning out in such numbers that the space for the Taliban has shrunk greatly in Afghanistan. It is also good to hear that Pakistan helped by choking off entry points into Afghanistan by terrorists of all stripes, helping the electoral exercise to be concluded peacefully. Let us now wait for the result after the run-off.

It is also heartening to hear our prime minister repeatedly say that Pakistan will not interfere in the affairs of other countries and that Pakistan will be a good and helpful neighbour to Afghanistan. One hopes that India will also realise that its aggressive posturing in Afghanistan does not help matters and that it must exercise restraint.

India has to realise that an unstable Pakistan is not in its interest at all. It is high time that both countries scaled down the rhetoric, but the news is not good. Just a day ago there was word that our High Commission in Delhi had received threatening letters. Not good at all.

To end, a word about the American arrested carrying several pistol bullets in his hand baggage as he was boarding a flight from Karachi to Islamabad. It turns out that he is from the FBI, purportedly here to train our police. But how dumb could this chap get? If a Pakistani was arrested in the US for this offence he would be in for life, in a Supermax facility!

Published in The Express Tribune, May 9th, 2014.

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K B Kale | 7 years ago | Reply @Razi The name 'Kandahar' has its origins in Indian name 'Gandhar'! The wife of Dhritrashtra, father of all Kauravas of 'Mahabharat' (our epic), was from Gandhar and hence her name was 'Gandhari'!! The relations between Afghanistan and India are that old and that close!
Gp65 | 7 years ago | Reply

EC mods-please allowme to respond to someone who has written to me directly


To the limited extent that India does not want Pakistani non-state actors to hijack Imdian planes to free other Pakistani non-state actors from Indian jail by finding a safe haven in Afghan Taliban (who were usurpers by the way) controlled Afghanistan- you are correct that there is a Pakistan angle. Please google IC 814.

But the relations between Afghanistan and India are not new. Both Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah had studied in India as have thousands of Afghans. There have been historic relations between the 2 countries and India is doing its part as a good neighbour by helping to strengthen democracy in Afghanistan..

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