Twenty crore Pakistanis also deserve some consideration


    Comment by S.R.H. Hashmi

    This is a fact that beyond the founding leaders, we did not have any leader in Pakistan worth the name. Unfortunately for us, the founding leaders did not stay with us for long and after their demise, natural of forced, we ended up with various clowns who were not even funny, and some of them positively harmful, who damaged Pakistan substantially, even to the extent of breaking it up. And this goes for those both in and out of uniform.

    And of course the one who started it all was Ayub Khan whose derailed the democratic process. Als, his hatred and mistreatment of Bengalis created circumstances for the separation of East Pakistan, and his nominee General Yahya Khan managed to accomplish the mission with the greatest of damage, bringing to Pakistan the dubious distinction of staging the largest surrender in the Muslim history. And again, it was Ayub Khan - and his son - whose victimization of Urdu-speaking people created ethnic problems in Karachi which, in time, gave rise to APMSO and MQM, nearly three decades after the partition, during which period Urdu-speaking community had displayed no ethnic sentiments.

    And while Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto made a deal with the Indian authorities - by agreeing to relax Pakistan's stand on Kashmir - to bring to Pakistan the armed forces personnel and others who had gone there from West Pakistan. However, others who had migrated from India and went to East Pakistan because of its close proximity, were abandoned to be massacred or forced to languish in subhuman conditions in Bangladeshi refugee camps. The fact is that these people were as much Pakistanis as those from the western wing. In fact, some of them were even brought to West Pakistan and accommodated in Punjab - which means the government accepted their right to come here - but the process was discontinued later even though Rabita Alam-e-Islami had offered to provide funds and other facilities for bringing them to West Pakistan. And some of these stranded Pakistanis who managed to come to Pakistan through their own arrangements, are facing all sorts of difficulties even today, including non-issuance of national identity cards for self and children and other problems that the absence of these basic document creates.

    Coming back to the main topic, which is the leadership in Pakistan, instead of just accepting our misfortune of not having any leader worth the name after the departure of the founding ones, the writer has managed to invent some, even though at his age, he ought to have known better than that.

    The writer claims "Benazir was the only politician who did not seek revenge".

    However, I remember that one of the operations against MQM was started by her government during which all that was needed was someone to be young and Urdu-speaking to be picked up, even demanded ransom and tortured and implicated in criminal cases if the relatives were unable to pay up. "Cheera" was the most popular means of torture and even killings during fake encounters were quite common. And referring to these staged encounter during those days, Benazir Bhutto claimed proudly in her imperfect Urdu "Hum unsay maqablay kareen gay aur unko marain gay" and happiness on her face while uttering these words left one in no doubt as to how much she enjoyed it.

    And if Benazir was not vengeful towards rivals like her father was, it could be because of multiple factors, one being the plight of her father, and the other the writer identified as her being 'pragmatic enough to realize it was better to have foes enter the PPP tent, rather than sniping at her from outside'.

    Also, Benazir wanted power at all costs and for her, all other things were secondary and of no significance, making perhaps apathy the main cause of the lack of sentiments for revenge within her in certain cases. I remember her joint press conference with the then Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. During the press conference, someone asked the question "What about Kashmir problem?". And Rajiv Gandhi retorted "What problem, I don't see any problem". And then Rajiv Ghandhi looked around, smiling, and no further question was raised on the topic. And together with Rajiv, Benazir also looked around, smiling just as beautifully, saying nothing.

    Where I mainly disagree with the writer is his discrimination even among scoundrels. He is real heavy-handed with the uniformed ones, and blames them even for the crimes they did not commit. As opposed to that, he tries to make light of the grave crimes of others, making them look more like innocent victims. To prove my point, I quote the following paragraph from his article:

    "Thus, anyone confused and angered by the military’s recent intervention on the side of the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah should see this shocking snub to the elected government in the light of recent events. I can imagine the security establishment’s anger at having been all but named by PML-N leaders as the prime mover behind Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification and his family’s humiliation. It would not surprise me at all if it decided to cut the Sharifs down to size".

    So, the astronomic corruption by Sharifs is forgotten and forgiven and Panama papers trial is presented as armed forces setting scores with them. This is really the limit.

    As for 'Labbbaik' tehreek, well, it was not the military which 'forced' Sharif government to fiddle around with the Khatm-e-Nabuyat belief, and to mishandle the issue when it was found out. And with Sharifs ruling both in Punjab and and at the federal level, how come around 1,500 protesters managed to travel all the way from Punjab to Islamabad and paralyze the capital for over three weeks, despite Federal Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal claiming that he could finish it in two hours. And only some days back, Ahsan Iqbal had thundered, calling the presence of military-officered Rangers at the accountability court a challenge to state's writ.

    And while Gen. Musharraf's treatment of Nawaz Sharif could not be termed to be exactly the last word in courtesy and good manners, it was definitely better than what Gen. Zia did to Bhutto. And the way Nawaz Sharif dismissed Gen. Musharraf, and refused landing permission to the scheduled flight carrying him was definitely much more than clumsy'.

    The real masterpiece is the paragraph where Irfan Husain says "While the reason for his anti-PPP animus is unclear, it is a fact that large numbers of the elites across the country loathe the party for its secular, pro-poor rhetoric."

    While elites may loathe the Peoples Party for its secular rhetoric, their loathing of the party for pro-poor rhetoric doesn't make sense because every one with a functioning brain knows just how sympathetic the party is towards the poor. The stately feast that the Peoples Party state delegation had at Thar where it had gone to investigate the famine conditions there does not exactly establish its pro-poor credentials. Stories about a third of population lacking sufficient food intake, and children having stunted physical and mental growth because of lack of sufficient food, people dying of starvation, absence of even the basic health and education facilities, and courts pressuring Peoples Party to provide clean drinking water, and its corruption which eats up to seventy-five percent of the project cost could hardly establish Peoples Party reputation as pro-poor.

    Irfan Husain really grieves at, and mourns the suffering of Sharifs, Bhuttos and the like. However, he does not show the same degree of concern for the above twenty crore people of Pakistan who suffer, and suffer badly due to the insatiable greed, corruption and bad governance of these 'elites'.