Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pervez Musharraf’s Dallas Visit

Upright Opinion
October 18, 2010
Pervez Musharraf’s Dallas Visit
By Saeed Qureshi
I am not aware of Pervez Musharraf’s other engagements in Dallas Forth Worth but I do know that he spoke before an impressive number of audience on the evening of October 15. His address lasted a little less than an hour. Since I could not be a participant at the grand gala reception hosted at a local hotel, I am writing this report based mostly of what I heard from other sources and somewhat on my reckoning.
I also know this much that the event was on the card for several months. There were reverberations in the air that the former president of Pakistan was coming to Dallas to launch the local chapter of his newly formed political party, “All Pakistan Muslim League.” I am also privy to the information oozing out from time to time that Musharraf would unfurl his party’s manifesto in his epoch -making address here in Dallas.
I was enormously dismayed when the organizers did not feel like inviting me as a journalist to attend the assemblage, which I understand, was very meticulously organized. Yet according to several versions, the event was lack- luster and less than a jubilant or mirthful event. There were grim faces all over in the hall and even Gen Musharraf himself looked visibly sombrous and somewhat gloomy. I was told that the local convener of the function was so much swayed by emotions that he could not utter a single sentence of welcome and disembarked, visibly shaky, from the rostrum.
The stage and the surrounding areas where the chief guest sat with the local top-notches were cordoned off with a yellow ribbon signaling that no one could come near the stage. Perhaps this precaution and security measure had to be taken to ward off any untoward incident, like physical attack on the chief guest or exchange of hot words or sloganeering by the antagonists of the former president.
The question-answer session was not in the customary format of someone raising the hand and then shooting the question by word of mouth. It was done by written questions scribbled on chits and presented to the honorable guest for answers. According to eyewitnesses, the whole joyful exercise of launching a political party, turned into a drab, controlled, and regimented affair.
It is not possible by watching a two-minute “you Tube” footage, to figure out what was the salient issues that the chairman of “APML” enunciated in his address. Someone from among the audience claimed that Pervez Musharraf spoke very little about the program and the much-awaited manifesto of his newly established party. His speech was a generalized account or refrain of the previously mentioned issues that would better be categorized as rebuttal or defense of the charges and challenges that loom large against the former president of Pakistan.
Some events assume historical or lasting proportions that the people relish and recount repeatedly as memorable. The visit of Pervez Musharraf was essentially a closed-door convention whose impact may be of transitory import without any hallmarks to remember to be mentioned as watershed. His message was confined to around 500 guests at his welcome reception. I wish he could have addressed the Dallas Pakistanis in an open place like Fair Park where most of the immigrant Pakistanis would have listened to his thoughts, plans, and vision about the future.
I also wish that the former president of Pakistan with a laudable litany of accomplishments during his 9 years tenure in presidency should have articulated his party’s manifesto with soul-stirring parlance and thrilling oratory. None of these antics, usually used by popular leaders to rouse and sway public opinion to their side, were remotely employed by Mr. Musharraf. Altaf Hussain and late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto are the epitome of such traits of fire spiting and earth shaking crafts to motivate masses.
Until the moment of writing this column, the local organizers has not issued a press release or a kind of information bulletin as to what transpired in that ground-breaking meeting. Those Dallas Pakistanis, who could not attend this function for any reason, should have been apprised about the outcome or impact of this important visit of a former top celebrity of Pakistan.
Outside the hotel intercontinental Addison, a protest rally was staged collectively by PTI, Baloch organization, Sindhi organization, and Dallas Peace Center. Besides other community members, women and children alike, protested against the former president by chanting slogans and by flaunting anti- Musharraf placards. Both the hall meeting and the outside protest remained peaceful and within the bounds of law.

(The writer is a Dallas-based freelance journalist and a former diplomat writing mostly on International Affairs with specific focus on Pakistan and the United States)
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