Let the Dharnas begin

Published: May 9, 2014
The writer is a columnist, a former major of the Pakistan Army and served as press secretary to Benazir Bhutto

The writer is a columnist, a former major of the Pakistan Army and served as press secretary to Benazir Bhutto kamran.shafi@tribune.com.pk

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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Reader Comments (24)

  • May 9, 2014 - 12:36AM

    The Cricketer will be in London, soon. For the High Season.
    Eating cucumber sandwiches, hobnobbing with the Duchess
    of Manchester,…Duke of Chantilly…etc. The author, temporarily
    forgot about Musharraf bashing. Here is a new target for him…
    Baby Bhutto,..as in Zardari.


  • SGN
    May 9, 2014 - 1:37AM

    An article from Mr. Shafi without the word “Commando” in it. Shocking!


  • gp65
    May 9, 2014 - 1:59AM

    “One hopes that India will also realise that its aggressive posturing in Afghanistan does not help matters and that it must exercise restraint.”

    India is in Afghanistan at the request of Afghan government. Besides building schools, hospitals and roads, it is teaching election commission on how to conduct elections and training the Afghan national army – so that it can protect Afghans against violence inflicted by Afghan Taliban.

    Which of this amounts to aggressive posturing?Recommend

  • Cool Henry
    May 9, 2014 - 2:30AM

    Shafi Ji

    Fully agreed with your comment on FBI rungroot…Pakistanis really have it bad all over the world…for very good reason – which you have expounded in many different columns.

    You also mentioned that India should realize that unstable Pakistan is not in India’s best interest. My question to you is – when will Pakistan realize that unstable Pakistan is not in Pakistan’s best interest?

    The only option for normalcy is for trade, commerce, travel and tourism to flourish freely between India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. That’s how the geography is – of the region. And that will result an unprecedented peace and development.

    The only – and I mean the only – hindrance is Pakistani military. Imagine the billions emerging out of poverty when the govts spend more on civilians and cooperate instead of constantly bicker and fight. The subcontinent can be the focal point of global economy.


  • Yasser
    May 9, 2014 - 2:35AM

    Nice article… “that degs of pulao and sweet rice”, of course only baba with his seemingly gentle yet caustic wit cut through the humbugs. Love you.


  • kafka
    May 9, 2014 - 12:39PM

    @gp65: All the good work that India is doing in Afghanistan is needed by its own citizen. Why is India so much interested in Afghanistan with which it does not share boarders, culture or religion?


  • Arsalan
    May 9, 2014 - 1:30PM

    Kamran Shafi’s obsession with Imran Khan will never end.


  • fawad
    May 9, 2014 - 2:03PM

    Peaceful Protest against injustice is a democratic right. Why dont you write anything against MQM who forces shopkeepers to close their shops by using ammunition.


  • the eddy
    May 9, 2014 - 3:22PM

    @kafka: For the same reason that during anti-LTTE war along with other nations Pakistan too helped Sri Lanka militarilly , why did it do when it does not share these factors-borders, culture or religion with it………….So if Afghan Gov. insists , we must say NO . Why?? B’coz Pakistans don’t like it…..Common Growup…..Then ask why are China & Russia involving..


  • Old Policeman
    May 9, 2014 - 4:11PM

    People sometimes forget …and make mistakes …The FBI instructor probably forgot to take the magazine out of the bag …its no threat ..magazine and bullets can shoot themselves without the pistol …Give the guy a break ,his career is probably already over …


  • May 9, 2014 - 4:57PM


    “Why is India so much interested in Afghanistan with which it does not share boarders, culture or religion?”

    So when Pakistan created the “Friends of Pakistan” group when Zardari Govt was in power, only Muslim countries/Pakistan’s neighbours were present?

    Why did Pakistan then receive American aid worth $50 Billion since 1947, since America doesn’t qualify? When is Pakistan giving back its F16s?

    EU countries have also given Pakistan Aid.

    Pakistan has helped Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is not a Muslim country nor is it next to Pakistan.

    Pakistan can interact with Sri Lanka, US, EU countries, Australia, Japan, whoever, but Afghanistan should not interact with India?

    Did you just make up these rules? Should have given some thought.


  • Ahmed
    May 9, 2014 - 5:19PM

    The authors love for all think PMLN knows no bounds….


  • nizamuddin khan
    May 9, 2014 - 5:22PM

    Mr.Shafi has to go after Commando or IK…everyone else is forgiven.

    The point that was missed is that IK needs to be viewed as a credible leader worldwide and the path that he is on will make him weaker in the next elections. The chances are IK will be viewed as a trouble maker as not as an astute politician.

    Worldwide the opinion about Pakistan is getting worse with each new day. This will weaken Pakistan’s standing in even further and yes the neighbors will care less about Pakistan.
    The treatment that Pakistan and its citizens are getting worldwide is noteworthy since it will
    not improve anytime soon.

    Watch out…Afghanistan will get ahead of Pakistan and will have a much better economy in the coming years.


  • antanu
    May 9, 2014 - 5:26PM

    don’t worry. ..KS has included the name of Imran Khan in his obsession list.


  • Muslim Leaguer
    May 9, 2014 - 8:01PM

    This is a nice piece of writing from Mr Shafi… I wonder why I don’t see much sarcasm from the Burger Kids in the readers comments section?
    Perhaps the Burger Kids are following their godfather in shutting the businesses and other shops in Blue Area, Islamabad.


  • gp65
    May 9, 2014 - 8:31PM

    @kafka: “@gp65: All the good work that India is doing in Afghanistan is needed by its own citizen. Why is India so much interested in Afghanistan with which it does not share boarders, culture or religion”

    You say that we do not share culture with the Afghans but India and Afghanistan have had relations from centuries. Religion maybe a big deal for Pakistan but India does not consider that in foreign relations. Thousands of Afghans come to India to study. If India is okay, Afghans are okay – what is your problem?

    In any case India does have interest in ensuring that Afghan Taliban do not come to power in Afghanistan because we have not forgotten how they facilitated release of terrorists in Indian jail through the hijacking of an Indian plane. So therefore it would like to support any effort at strengthening a duly elected civilian government in power.Recommend

  • Abid P. Khan
    May 9, 2014 - 8:43PM

    @Old Policeman:
    “…Give the guy a break ,his career is probably already over …”

    What about a scenario, where he is called to the White House and thanked personally by Der Boss. Besides he is handed over an envelop that carries a thank you note from the Pakistani PM?


  • Zen
    May 9, 2014 - 9:55PM

    Is Afghanistan a satellite of Pakistan? Who are you to decide for them, a country that lives by handouts.


  • Parvez
    May 9, 2014 - 11:15PM

    Imran Khan is playing politics to remain relevant on the national stage.
    Why bother with India……..let them try their luck in Afghanistan. Britain did, Russia did and America did, so why not India.
    The American FBI agent must be one of many…….only he was bit of a klutz.

  • Razi
    May 10, 2014 - 1:14PM

    @gp65, BrutrForce, the eddy

    India is in Afghanistan because of Pakistan, and if you guys want to either delude yourself otherwise or be downright dishonest, that’s your choice. And stop reacting like a child to any mention of ‘saint’ India in an unfavourable context.


  • Aamm wala
    May 10, 2014 - 2:39PM

    @Abid P. Khan:
    Thanked by the” Prez” himself for making the security agency of the USA look like a bunch of Boy Scouts ?…I don’t think so .


  • May 10, 2014 - 6:41PM


    Sure. The Hospitals and Schools we have built in Afghanistan is for the benefit of Pakistanis!

    We are in Afghanistan, because we want to be. Afghans, whose country it is, want us there.

    The next President of Afghanistan studied in India!

    How is it Pakistani business what India does in Afghanistan and vice versa?

    We’ll arm Afghanistan to the teeth and make sure Pakistan is kept busy. India needs to grow and remind a few people of their true status in the world. Afghanistan is perfect ally for that!

    China has its Pakistan, India has its Afghanistan.Recommend

  • Gp65
    May 11, 2014 - 11:19PM

    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..


  • K B Kale
    May 23, 2014 - 10:04PM

    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!Recommend

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