Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Riff-raff Politicians of Pakistan

The Riff-raff Politicians of Pakistan
By Saeed Qureshi
Pakistan is once again in the eye of a gathering political storm. The PPP in power and the PMLN as the runner-up in the political arena are poised against each other, girding up their loins for a big fight. In the meantime the poor Pakistanis, women, men and children alike, are spending their days in long queues for cheaper flour and other essential items of daily use. Such is the abysmal state of affairs in Pakistan.
Concurrently, a whole lot of politicians mostly from PMLN and others in the opposition have been labeled as the recipients of graft money sent to them by the presidency and delivered to them some 17 years ago by moles of the ISI and DIB to join IJI a right bulwark against the PPP’s left leaning government. These high profile but now retired officials from both the dreaded, king maker intelligence agencies are brazenly spilling the beans on the electronic media and making thumping claims for the dirty work they did at the behest of certain forces, including president Ishaq Khan or who knows on their own volition.
Although this much belated disclosures are tendentious and politically motivated, yet these candidly bring home the point that if Zardari and his colleagues are corrupt who is not. It looks like a massive move that unfolds the unholy alliance of Pakistan army generals, intelligence agencies bosses, and corrupt politicians to dislodge a democratically elected government. And that was not the only event. There has been a trail of palace intrigues to derail the popularly elected dispensations. It is this double-faced role of our depraved elitist classes that deprived Pakistan from being a stable, democratic and institutional based country. Will these politicians be prosecuted despite the lapse of time?
Pakistan is rife with a potpourri of multiple problems that are being compounded by the unworthy conduct of the leaders in power. These leaders have adopted a course of puerile, undignified political theatrics and jingoism. They seem to be impervious to the fact that by doing so they are driving their desperate nation to a breaking point. The semblance of unity that was rarely visible after the arrival, two years ago, of both Nawaz Sharif and late Benazir Bhutto has been thrown to the winds. That unity augmented by the massive agitation of lawyers and civil society has melted away like the flakes of snow in the light of the blazing sun. The political adversaries are aggressively engaged in browbeating and downgrading each other for unedifying reasons. Their mutual bickering is making a mess of a democratic system that was installed with the common consent of all the political players then challenging the autocracy of Pervez Mushrraf and his ill conceived decisions such as the imposition of emergency and sacking of the un-obliging members of judiciary.
After assuming power, the Pakistan People’s Party has been dragging its feet on certain issues settled with PMLN: the second place winner in the last general elections. The several accords reached and inked between them have been ruefully put on the back burner by PPP. Queer and flimsy excuses are being put forward to stall and reinterpret these agreements. The London Agreement between Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, the Murree Declaration between Mian Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari are the two most notable documents that were supposed to be translated into concrete implementation after the PPP’s advent into power. The PMLN that was initially part of the coalition government headed by PPP had to take leave because of the delay and dithering of the principal signatory in honoring those agreements.
So much so that a categorical public pledge of Asif Zardari that his foremost act, after becoming the president, would be to rescind the 17th amendment and restore the true parliamentary democracy by expunging the notorious clause 58-2 B from the constitution is yet to make any headway. That public pledge was later ridiculed by president Zardari himself as merely a paper undertaking and not a divine or religious edict to be taken seriously. Such is the slippery character of our political stalwarts.
And more grievous and mind boggling is the probe into the murder of Benazir Bhutto which has been relegated to a snail-paced process that is as retarding and fuzzy as it is reflective of the ill intentions of PPP leaders to propel it. The PPP leaders talk of the democracy as the revenge for Benazir’s murder. But don’t they realize that by fomenting a game of castigating and cornering their political contenders they are actually undermining the splendid cause of democracy? Is it fair and honorable on their part to scuttle the investigation of the assassination of their chairperson who paved way for these power-drunk minions of today to ride the power band wagons with pomp and show?
PPP is fast eroding its credibility as a redeemer or people’s friendly party that it was known to be in the past. While the foreign junkets of the president, not to mention of ministers and bureaucrats, cost millions of dollars, the distressed people of Pakistan are not being given relief to make their both ends meet. In blistering sun and rough weather they sweat and fatigue the whole day to get a sack of Atta. The government, instead, is busy in dirty intriguing as if the people were a stack of hay to be burnt and the ashes blown away. What a display of heartless apathy towards the woes of the poor and helpless masses! What a shameful and studied disregard of the people’s trust reposed in these junkies.
So let us wait for the army as to how it looks at this most agonizing situation and a heart gripping spectacle of despondency, degeneracy and downright murder of public trust. To add insult to injury, the ministers are unabashedly taking sides of the hoarders, the profiteers and enemies of public from top to bottom.
The PPP that was committed to allow the rule of law to take its course is creating unwanted and illegitimate road-blocks in the way of a fair judicial process against former president and his ilk. The fear is that if Musharraf can be prosecuted, Zardari cannot be spared.The PPP government, initially, tried to block the reinstatement of the judges. Now they are trying to hinder and oppose the trial of Musharraf by offering untenable, evasive and funny arguments that instead of improving their image, is besmirching their faces. Now with the addition of several corrupt politicians in the list, the courts should take suo-motto action against all these felons including Zardari, Musharraf and rest till they clear themselves. If the courts are not allowed to freely operate, the civil society, the lawyers and the people must again raise hell a la French Revolution. Let the people take their revenge from those who built their majestic castles upon the miseries of a whole nation.
Let us also watch how long America can contend and go along with a government fast sliding down in the public esteem. Its popularity is plummeting because it is impervious to people’s suffering and the countless problems they are faced with. It is a government that is being propped and run on broken promises and betrayal of people’s trust. It is watching with folded hands the public woes, the breakdown of civic amenities, the spiraling crimes and the stark poverty. In a year of its being in power, nepotism, corruption, illicit money making, witch-hunting of the opposition parties, dependence on foreign costly loans, the disconnect between the leaders and the people, adhocism, deception and political shortsightedness and so on, have engulfed the country. The vital decisions such as the latest decision about Gilgit and Baltistan are being made without parliament or consulting the other political forces or even the concerned parties. The country’s viability is once again at the stake.
The country is reeling under an exceptionally self serving, directionless and corrupt riff raff coterie of individuals who neither posses vision nor the sincerity to rebuild the country and make it a viable state. The government is a replica of that of Pervez Musharraf but perhaps worse that that. At least Musharraf had the moral courage to admit his mistakes although he was under no obligation like a political government to be answerable to the people.
The Pakistan Muslim League (N)’ ultimatum to the government to set its house in order and stop slander against the PMLN bigwigs is ominous and might lead to a national upsurge for a change. It is also a self destructive call for the Muslim League as well. May be it becomes the first drop of a thunderstorm that cleans the earth from the scum accumulated over the years. May be the people come out like a raging deluge and knock down the exploitative system nurtured and fomented by a combine of anti people forces such as feudalism, civil and military bureaucracy, the mercantile robber barons, the corrupt politicians and the thugs in all forms. May be it is just a wishful thinking.

Of All the Persons Jaswant Singh!

Of All the Persons Jaswant Singh!
By Saeed Qureshi
Isn’t it amazing, that out of blue, Jaswant Singh belonging to a race steeped up to neck in hate against the Muslims and more pointedly against the founder of Pakistan showers accolades on Quaid-e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the father of Pakistani nation? By winning Pakistan in the face of the combined hostility of British and Hindus, not only that Quaid-i-Azam earned the abiding gratitude of his nation, but also created for him a glorious niche in the gallery of the legendary figures who shaped and crafted history by performing amazing and impossible feats. Quaid-e-Azam remains as the tallest and an imposing statesman when judged in the light of the epic and relentless struggle for independence from the British imperial yoke of slavery.

If someone receives aplomb and admiration from one’s own clan or nation, it might look less edifying or credible. But if the praise comes from a high profile political opponent such as Jaswant Singh then it becomes a veritable and self evident truth. That is what Jaswant Singh has done. With Jaswant Singh’s bold narration of the division of the sub-continent and apportioning blame for this to the Congress leaders’ shortsightedness, the character bashing and vilification of Quaid orchestrated by both British and Hindus before and after partition stands nailed and checkmated for future. A top notch Hindu leader who is also a member of an anti Muslim extremist political party would never spew out truth unless his conscience awakens to compel him not to deviate from the facts.

While the Hindus have had only one contender to deal with, i.e., the British; Quaid-e-Azam had to fight on two fronts: one against the British colonial masters and the other, the inveterate anti-Muslim chauvinism of Hindus. The great leader as he is fondly called, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah waged his resolute struggle under the banner of the Muslim League to wrest an exclusive homeland for the Muslims of the subcontinent. With his god gifted tools of unimpeachable character, unwavering convictions, immaculate honesty, bounteous talent for advocacy and deep legal knowledge, he surmounted all the hurdles in his way of achieving the goal of Pakistan. If any leader in the Sub-Continent is, adored, revered and acclaimed for his impeccable character, his lofty and sublime principles, it was Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The Quaid was above petty politicking, base intriguing and sleazy wheeling dealing and similar shady norms that are considered as raison d’ĂȘtre in politics.

The back door compromises and underhand deals were far from the clean and unsullied character of Quad-e-Azam. He was cast in a mould of disarming his rivals with the weapon of irresistible logic and veracity of his views and ideals. He knew not what hypocrisy was. His personality was free from murky shades of cant, deceit, duplicity, dodge or cunning. Perched on the lofty throne of righteousness, rectitude and moral glory, he reigned supreme over others in the field of politics. The friends and foes alike entirely believed in the nobility of his character and the supremacy of his intellect.

By holding responsible the Indian leaders more conspicuously Nehru and Patel, for partition of India, Jaswant Singh didn’t do any favor to Quaid-i-Azam nor has he become a supporter or friend of Pakistan. He has simply tried to state the bare facts and remove the vicious propaganda about Quaid Azam. But it also doesn’t mean, which Jaswant Singh might have cleverly tried to convey that Quaid-i-Azam did not want partition of India and Pakistan because he accepted the Cabinet Mission Plan to live with Hindus within a federation. Yet Jaswant Singh should be appreciated as a courageous man, who though belatedly, could not suppress the truth in regards the Indian Independence Movement and has put it in correct historical perspective.
But Jaswant Singh is not alone in his truthful portrayal of the personality and character of a great Muslim icon. There is a trail of such writers, historians and commentators who paid tributes to Quaid-i-Azam for his charismatic leadership and for the nobility of his character and clean principled politics.

Sarojini Naidu, a freedom fighter, poet and the first woman President of the Indian National Congress and the first woman Governor of Uttar Pradesh, thus eulogized Quaid e Azam, “The true greatness of Quaid- i-Azam lies not in the range and variety of his knowledge but in the faultless perfection of his subtle mind and spirit; not in the diversity of aims and the challenge of a towering personality but rather in the singleness and sincerity of purpose and the lasting charm of a character animated by a brave conception of duty and the austere and lovely code of private honor and public integrity.”

Mr. R. G. Casey the Governor of Bengal writes about Quaid, "Mr. Jinnah is the only outstanding Muslim of all India stature in Indian politics today. He is a man of iron discipline and has denied himself the luxury of any qualities that might loosen his concentration upon his purpose.”

Indeed Quaid was known as the ambassador of the Muslim-Hindu unity, a conviction to which he remained wedded till the rejection by the Indian leaders of the power transfer plan presented by the Cabinet Mission sent by the British government in 1946 to India. Quaid-i- Azam accepted the Cabinet Mission Plan which meant to remain with Hindus in a federation or in an undivided India. But the acceptance of Cabinet Plan was a masterly stroke by Quaid to call the bluff of the Indian leaders that they did not want a separate Muslim land. Quaid knew that the biased and hate filled Indian leaders would reject the plan. It happened exactly and thus the British were convinced that the partition of India in two independent states was the only option left out.

Jaswant Singh’s book, “Jinnah - India, Partition, and Independence” is selling like hot cakes in Pakistan which in fact demonstrates the deep love and respect of Pakistanis for their great leader. Although Jaswant Singh is known as a liberal democrat, yet the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), from which he has-been expelled for favoring Jinnah, is a right-wing nationalist political party. By hastily expelling one of their distinguished leaders who has been twice the finance minister, one time each the External Affairs minister and Defence minister of India, the BJP has brazenly exposed the anti Quaid and for that matter the anti Pakistan animus and bias that still linger on in the minds of Indian fanatical leaders. It was the same anti Muslim mindset that convinced and impelled Quaid-i-Azam to demand a separate homeland for the Indian Muslims so as to live in peace without the oppressive lordship from a biased and hostile Hindu majority.

Also by not allowing Jaswant Singh to travel to Pakistan in connection with the sale and promotion of his book, the Indian government has shown the hate and venom that their forbearers had towards the creation of an independent Muslim country and its illustrious founder. Does it not quite candidly and irrefutably establish that the creation of Pakistan was a genuine and indispensible demand of the Quaid-i-Azam for the Muslims of undivided India?