Meanwhile, back at the ranch

Published: March 13, 2015
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

I wonder if the civic authority responsible for Lahore’s infrastructure — the Lahore Development Authority? — has carried out an assessment of four much-used bridges in that mega-city: the Ravi Bridge; the Mian Mir Bridge; the Sherpao Bridge and the Cavalry Ground Bridge.

Let me explain: whilst I do not know the year that the Mian Mir Bridge connecting the Upper Mall with the Cantonment was built, it is far older than the Sherpao Bridge, which was constructed in 1975-76. At that time, at most 10 or 15 vehicles would be crossing them (in both directions) at any given time.

As we well know, the number of private motor transport, including motor cycles carrying up to four people at times, has gone up many thousand-fold increasing the weight carried by the bridges many thousand-fold too. Additionally, there weren’t the check posts on the Cantonment side after you cross the bridges, necessitated by the war on terror.

This necessary checking of motor vehicles results in long queues forming on the side carrying traffic towards the Cantonment, many times in the case of the Sherpao and Cavalry Ground bridges extending all the way to the Gulberg side. The Mian Mir Bridge, too, has traffic jams sometimes with cars and other vehicles waiting many minutes on the bridge itself.

The very same goes for the Ravi Bridge, which was built in 1961: I remember the year, for my family lived on Baradari Road, Shahdara, whenever in Lahore from Wah. Incidentally, and in passing, I might point out to my Twitter friends that this is the same Shahdara property, which a powerful qabza group has been gobbling up, and about which I have tweeted often!

The traffic on the Ravi Bridge has to be seen to be believed. At any given time, there are hundreds of buses, trucks, cars, rehras, donkey carts and motor cycles crossing the bridge/stuck on it for long periods of time. We must remember, too, that Metro Buses use the same bridge.

I write the above to ask if the bridges named here (there must be many more across the country), have been tested for their weight-carrying capacity given the vast increase in the number of vehicles using them. Surely, engineers must design bridges bearing in mind the increase in traffic over the coming years and during the life of the bridges, but could they have foreseen the explosion in the numbers of cars especially, given Pervez Musharraf’s and Shaukat Aziz’s liberal policies of easy leasing? Add to that the population explosion in our country and you have the problem well in hand: more people, more transport.

If the testing has not been done, I urge that it be done now: hundreds of bridges have collapsed all over the world, even in countries where the contractors are nowhere near as corrupt as many of ours. Hundreds of people have been killed in these preventable accidents.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Musharraf is holding almost daily press briefings/political meetings with his friends and admirers. The latest to join the list is Maulana Ehteramul Haq Thanvi at, wait for it, the Creek Club! A political meeting attended by ‘senior lawyers (I can guess who they are!); politicians and journalists’ including, I suppose, some who call themselves ‘Musharraf Lovers’, at the DHA’s Creek CLUB? Hello!

Since when have political meetings been allowed in clubs for heaven’s sake? Specially one that belongs to the DEFENCE Housing Authority? I mean I do know that many of us are not ‘clubbable people’, but have we stooped this low? By the by, since the meeting was hosted by the venerable Maulana, is he a member of the Creek Club? Or did Musharraf arrange the meeting there?

Let us now go to what he said. Variously, that there should be more provinces in the country; there is a great need for a third political force; Imran Khan’s dharnas ‘weakened’ the government; Karachi’s targeted killings, and that the country is more important than the Constitution (this last as a means of justifying his own act of violating the Constitution, and forgetting quite conveniently that it is ONLY that document that enshrines within it the rules by which a country will be run).

For someone who has read his puerile ‘book’ (stand up, Humayun Gauhar), I am not surprised at his self-indulgent ranting. To take what he said one by one: why did he not create more provinces when he was Lord over all he surveyed for nine, repeat nine years, with able people like Mushahid ‘Mandela’ Hussain aiding him? As to the third political force, could he please exclude himself, unless he is completely delusional? He pretends to be a democrat: so did the dharnas weaken the present government, or democracy itself? And last but not least, when he talks of targeted killings does he not also speak about one of the political parties accused of such killings, and between which and his APML there is a revolving door? Witness his staunch supporter and spokesman Barrister Saif’s joining the MQM and being elected a senator.

Really! Musharraf has become quite tiresome. Is this the same man who cheated in the nine-mile run while a ‘Gentleman’ Cadet at the PMA (read his ‘book’)? Is this the same man who wrote in his ‘book’ how terrorism suspects were sold at $5,000 apiece? Is this the same man who gifted us the MMA by clamping down on other political parties, and therefore giving the brutal Taliban a fillip? He has become very tiresome and it is high time that the country saw the last of him.

I have been saying for almost two years now, let the man go abroad after giving him a date on which to return to appear before the courts. Give wide coverage to this through our missions abroad. I’ll bet a hundred rupees Musharraf will do a runner. And good riddance, I say.

Let me end by congratulating the PML-N for not putting up a candidate for the post of Senate chairman: all it would need to have done is to distribute a few cabinet posts and have its own man win. Raza Rabbani is a sterling man and will serve democracy well.

Published in The Express Tribune, March  13th,  2015.

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Reader Comments (22)

  • Rex Minor
    Mar 13, 2015 - 1:38AM

    Really! Musharraf has become quite tiresome. Is this the same man who cheated in the nine-mile run while a ‘Gentleman’ Cadet at the PMA (read his ‘book’)? Is this the same man who wrote in his ‘book’ how terrorism suspects were sold at $5,000 apiece? Is this the same man who gifted us the MMA by clamping down on other political parties, and therefore giving the brutal Taliban a fillip? He has become very tiresome and it is high time that the country saw the last of him.

    Yes Major, he is the same person whom you always addressed as a comondo, but forgot to tell your readers what the “commando trainig” entails, namely to operate in the enemy territory behind the battle lines and to protect ones self at all costs without the assistance of the base. This he has been following as a religion!!

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Green
    Mar 13, 2015 - 1:51AM

    Kamran sahib what absolute rubbish – as we say in Urdu (I’ll translate into English for you), this piece had no head or foot.Recommend

  • sabi
    Mar 13, 2015 - 2:36AM

    Musharaff is the biggest hypocrite and usurper on whose hands blood of thousands of innocent Pakistanis can be clearly seen.He came from back doors in the darkness of night (Coward!) and plunged the country in blood and utter darkness in his nine years of rule.In his long rule nothing flourished but extremism and hypocrisy.This man must be brought to justice he must not be allowed to escape.Nawaz Sharif are you listening?.
    Raza Rabbani is a mediocre politician if not why didn’t he recommend repealing of anti human clauses in constitution when chairing committees for amendments in law of the land. Recommend

  • Toticallling
    Mar 13, 2015 - 2:40AM

    Musharraf had all the power and sympathies from so many and yet failed miserably. Belonging to middle class, he could have introduced land reforms to get rid of the menace of a class which has money, treats it farmers like slaves and have the means to get elected and carry on spreading their interests. He was also responsible for messing up the constitution to stabalise his power. He did some good things as well, but a guy with absolute powers stretching more than 10 years, had to deliver a lot more. Recommend

  • Fazal Dad
    Mar 13, 2015 - 3:10AM

    Well! Once out of country, he will join hands and obviously head with Altaf Hussain, create fuss in Karachi by instigating the so-called muhajirs of sixty-eight years. A friend call them Delhi mafia. Recommend

  • Zulfiqar
    Mar 13, 2015 - 3:29AM

    Oh Really ! He cheated during 9 mile at PMA ? Still PMA appointed him BJUO ? Second best appointment in the Battalion ? Either assertion u are making is incorrect or PMA assessment system is doubtful. Here let me mention that PMA had appointed Shabbir Shareef as BSUO of same course, same battalion and he is the most decorated soldier of this army with a NH & SJ in his credit.
    Truth be told this Army gives you what u deserve. Recommend

  • Mar 13, 2015 - 5:19AM

    Looks like your hate for Musharraf is still blazing, alive and well.
    You can hold Musharraf responsible for ALL the bridges in Punjabistan.
    why draw the line at four. And there is just one teeny weeny question :-
    When will you wax eloquent on Shahbaz Sharif [CM of Punjabistan ]
    making deals with extremist and terrorist outfits ? You know,….about
    keeping Punjabistan safe and sound while the rest of the country goes
    over the abyss in a hand basket.
    Hopefully you will enlighten us soon. We are all NOT tenterhooks !

    ET moderators we all know you love the author, but he has an abiding
    hate for Musharraf and is biased. Please print.Recommend

  • Salman
    Mar 13, 2015 - 5:45AM

    Mr. Shafi: Your rants are becoming quite redundant to say the least. Specially about Musharraf. That he was a military dictator is a given in a land ruled by the establishment for a better part of its’ existence, and you honorably served in the same military too. Also, most of the civilian leaders of the country, whether it is Mian Nawaz Sharif or Z A Bhutto served military dictators faithfully as cabinet ministers for quite an extended period of time before their conversion to champions of democracy. So these sanctimonious lectures from you fail to spark an interest in us, the readers. Recommend

    Mar 13, 2015 - 6:41AM

    And i do not understand why ET publish this type of hateful articles.Recommend

  • Author
    Mar 13, 2015 - 11:02AM

    @Zulfiqar: 1. Read his ‘book’!! 2. How does Shabbir Sharif being a great soldier mean that the Commando was one too?Recommend

  • salim
    Mar 13, 2015 - 11:35AM

    ‘Mr. Know it All’ you are obsessive compulsive as far as the former President and COAS is concerned! Is there any history or is this purely ethnic dislike?Recommend

  • Toticalling
    Mar 13, 2015 - 1:06PM

    @salim: This bit about ethnic dislike is off the mark.
    Nobody denies that he is a Pakistani patriot, only he did not deliver what we expected from him. I like him because he is a liberal leader, which is rare these days. Recommend

  • Waqas
    Mar 13, 2015 - 1:50PM

    Dear Major sb,

    Sick & tired of reading same thing again & again. Wish army promotion board had not superseded you. Recommend

  • Waqas
    Mar 13, 2015 - 1:53PM

    Dear Major sb, Sick & tired of reading same thing again & again. Wish army promotion board had not superseded you. Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Mar 13, 2015 - 2:08PM

    The author should take some time out and educate us about the 5 brilliant years of PPP government and the ever admirable Sindh government!Recommend

  • MI
    Mar 13, 2015 - 2:32PM

    Musharraf is the best leader Pakistan ever had.Recommend

  • Zulfiqar
    Mar 13, 2015 - 3:10PM

    With due respect Major Sb !
    He was a better soldier than You alteast thats why he went through SSG and rose to the rank of three star General. Had he been a pathatic soldier, Army would have thrown him also at rank of Major.
    Stop challenging assessment n promotion system of Army. Recommend

  • Analyzer
    Mar 13, 2015 - 3:25PM

    I must confess that I don’t really like this haughty self-righteous brown Sahib Kamran Shafi.

    More importantly, I must then admit that I don’t like Musharraf even more, for the damage he did to the country in the past and the way he is shamelessly prancing about like Pakistan owes him something. The sooner Pakistan is rid of Musharraf the better it will be, before he comes up with another hare-brained scheme to “save” Pakistan.

    Wish the wise guys running the country were on the same page.Recommend

  • Mar 13, 2015 - 4:35PM

    There is someone running the country? Who? Where? How?
    You mean the Sharif Brothers duo? In Raiwind.? Well,….they
    are busy negotiating with terrorists to keep their mills, factories
    and other assets safe. They pay the extremist ‘bhatta’ in billions
    of Rupees. Straight from the National Treasury. No cost to them.Recommend

  • Parvez
    Mar 14, 2015 - 12:08AM

    Second attempt at a comment.
    I expect you must be right about the bridges of Lahore and I know you’re right about Musharraf.
    I also know you are completely off the mark as far as Raza Rabbani is concerned.Recommend

  • Bewildered
    Mar 14, 2015 - 2:25AM

    “Raza Rabbani is a sterling man and will serve democracy well.”

    A sterling man? Really? Wow! So what exactly this sterling man is doing in a sterling party owned by another sterling man named Zar-dari? And watch his luck, he also possesses the confidence of yet another sterling man named Nawaz Sharif (whose own Sterlings grew exponenetially since he happyly chose to serve the worst dictator Pakistan ever saw as Finance Minister). And yet of another sterling man, Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman. And yet another sterling man, Altaf Bhai London walay (found with 400,000 Sterlings of laundered money). And by “democracy” you certainly meant the system that allows these sterling men take alternate turns uninterrupted for looting and plunder of Pakistan’s resources and transferring them to their Swiss accounts. I am sure you will let my comment go through as you are quite a sterling man yourslef.

    P.S. I myself live a few hundered yards away both from Mian Mir and Sherpao bridges, and am a first hand observer of the worsening traffic situation over the years. My solution is to avoid crossing these bridges during peak hours. The Sherpao bridge is a real bad design and there is a very dangerous turn in the middle when entering the Cantonment. Every other day some speeding vehicle turn upside down, even fell down from the bridge once killing the driver and a passer by, just because no one has bothered to put a “Dangerous Turn” warrning sign there in the last 10 whole years, and you are expecting re-examining of design safety.Recommend

  • Humza
    Mar 15, 2015 - 7:18PM

    @Toticalling: A man who takes over illegally is never a liberal ruler – by definition he is an unjust ruler since being a dictator is predicated on breaking the law and ruling in absolute fashion. His near decade of dictatorship is responsible for most of the nation’s current problems, especially terrorism. Musharraf is an embarrassment and the sooner he leaves the country and lives quietly abroad the better.Recommend

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