Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Faces With & Behind the ‘Imported’ Revolution!

Arif Nizami

The cat is out of the bag, finally!

The bulletproof monk has thanked Allah for deliverance. The maverick cleric Allama Dr Tahirul Qadri addressing his “millions long march” in the heart of the federal capital has declared that the apex court having done half his job by ordering the arrest of the prime minister in the RPPs (rental power plants) case. The rest would be done once he is through with his dharna.
The cat is finally out of the bag. It is not in vain that Qadri has been invoking the military and the higher judiciary to “save democracy”. The Chief Justice of Pakistan has obliged by announcing the arrest of “Raja Rental” and his cohorts involved in the case.
By virtue of the timing of its verdict, the apex court has thrown a spanner in the works. The democratic system already shaky in the face of Qadri’s long march has been further destabilised.
The prime minister’s continuing in office will depend upon the attitude of the higher judiciary and the military. Merely on his own, the demagogue cleric cannot send the government packing.
So far as the military is concerned it is facing a tricky situation with India. Manmohan Singh in retaliation to skirmishes on the LoC (Line of Control) has sent a tough message to Islamabad.
The new visa regime that was supposed to be operative from Tuesday stands suspended. To add insult to injury, the visiting hockey team has been unceremoniously sent back to Pakistan.
Its hands full in dealing with an internal insurgency threatening the state from within the military has now to deal with an increasingly belligerent and sabre rattling Indian Army. The military is also playing a pivotal role in negotiating with the Taliban as a precursor to the end game in Afghanistan.
This is hardly the time for the khakis to overtly dabble in internal war games despite Qadri goading them: “Not only to make policy but also to act.”
Nevertheless the Allama’s nefarious agenda to get the system wrapped up through the courts and the military is now in the open. Efforts to sabotage the carefully nurtured system just a few weeks before general elections – going to be held for the first time under the aegis of a neutral and consensual caretaker government and an independent Election Commission – is indeed sinister. Nawaz Sharif has invited all major opposition parties for parleys at his Riawind residence. Naturally the PML-N supremo reckons that he has the most to lose. He thinks that Zardari has had his innings and now it his turn.
The PML-N rank and file believes that Qadri has been launched out of the blue to thwart Sharif. The game plan is simple – to introduce a long-term caretaker government to clean up the Augean stables in the name of accountability. This could mean disqualifying politicians across the board, including Nawaz Sharif and Zardari, with the blessings of the superior judiciary.
Throwing the two major political parties of the country out of the arena is going to be extremely dangerous. Unrest seen in major cities of Sindh, including Karachi Hyderabad and Sukkur is a precursor of things to come. It is obvious that Zardari painted in a corner, will not hesitate to invoke the “Sindh card”.
Similarly, dislodging a major Punjab based party in the name of accountability will galvanize the opposition parties against a fragile and synthetic caretaker government. Messers Qadri and Imran can call it “Muk Muka” but a two party system buttressed by coalitions of smaller parties is a reality of democracy in Pakistan.
Predictably former dictator Pervez Musharraf has endorsed Qadri’s agenda. He thinks his ‘true democracy’ was the real democracy. From his self-imposed exile he has invoked the military and the judiciary to play their role by sending the present democratic system packing.
It is obvious that those forces that cannot even win a union council election want to grab power through the back door. Notwithstanding the economic woes of the country and tales of corruption of our ruling elite, the mullah, military and the judiciary are no holy cows either.
It is indeed hypocritical of Qadri to invoke Imam Hussain (RA) offering his chest for the first bullet, himself hiding behind bulletproof screens. The FIA is probing the enormous funds he has spent on organizing, publicizing and sustaining his rally. It is ironical that Qadri holding a Canadian passport and rolling in millions of dollars wants to reform the system in favour of the masses – before his next trip back to Canada.



Misgivings about Tahir-ul-Qadri

A brilliantly analytical piece by Dr Mazari. Shap, incisive.

By: Shireen Mazari

TUQDr Tahirul Qadri undoubtedly moved me on December 23, especially with the sea of green and white flags and the passionate resonance of the national anthem. We may be far from where we want to be, or should be, as a nation, but the passion and dream lives on in so many of us. Dr Qadri’s message touched a chord and the instinct was to join up in his caravan for change. After all, this was what had attracted me to the PTI until the “electables” invasion, traditional manoeuvring and takeover. Imran’s commitment to change was not the issue, but the means – of the same “electables” somehow becoming harbingers of this change – did somehow undermine the belief, notwithstanding the passion of the youth!

So when Dr Qadri in his convincing manner offered yet another path to truly change the democratic political equation in Pakistan, it was difficult not to join in. But something held me back, and I can now identify three different levels of reasoning that made me decide to stay away. The first level was related to the assumptions underlying the march, regardless of the numbers! The idea of having a “people’s assembly” which would make decisions for the nation without itself having been selected by the people smacked of an arrogance that was discomfiting! After all, how could this “people’s assembly” represent the whole gamut of the Pakistani nation without having actually been given this mandate? Similarly, respected scholar though he is, Dr Qadri also has not been given a mandate to head such an assembly and make decisions on behalf of the people of Pakistan!

At a second and perhaps most crucial level, I feel that, given the chaos and violence Pakistan is already experiencing, the means of bringing change matter. There is absolutely no doubt that the demands for electoral reforms through proper enforcement of the constitution are the need of the hour for Pakistan to rid itself of the corrupt politicians’ coterie ruling us. But the questions that came to mind are: One, why not use the Supreme Court and challenges through the ECP to ensure enforcement of constitutional provisions with regard to electoral candidates? Here Imran Khan’s example stands out in connection with bogus voters’ lists, as well as his pending appeals against pre-poll rigging.

There is a system that works, if used properly. This usage also allows for strengthening of institutions like the judiciary and the ECP – thereby fortifying the roots of democracy. I feel Imran’s use of petitions to fight electoral corruption not only shows faith in the judiciary, thereby fortifying the institution, but has also borne positive results in the battle for electoral reform – although the war has yet to be won.

Two, how can one man and his followers decide who is clean or pious? At the end of the day, if we believe in democracy then we must fight the battle against corruption and lawbreakers at the ballot box. Yes, rigging is a plague, as are the traditional political norms, especially in the rural areas; but if enough voices stand up against these evils, I believe things will change. We have never given the democratic system, flawed as it may be, a chance to take root. Too many dictatorial interventions in the name of “reform” have already cost this country a smooth evolutionary developmental process. In fact, this is a major reason why the corrupt, inept traditional “electables” succeed time after time in elections – because they are allowed to embrace political martyrdom instead of being exposed for the criminals that they are.

Distasteful as it may be, we have to allow the system to continue and hope people will choose new faces, who will in turn bring reform to the electoral system through parliamentary legislation. We need a system of proportional representation; of unhinging the roots of support for corruption in politics such the misnomer “development funds,” and so on. But these changes need to come through letting the electoral system continue, which may make the task more daunting but it is the only legitimate way. Too many non-democratic interventions have already destroyed the fabric of this nation.

Three, I feel very strongly about the whole issue of dual nationality and had written a letter to the CJ on the issue also. No matter how committed to Pakistan, dual nationality implies dual loyalties, especially in the case of the US naturalisation oath. If one wants to lead a political movement in Pakistan then commitment to this cause requires a renunciation of the foreign nationality. Not everyone agrees on this, but it is a conviction with me.

At a third level, my misgivings are based on what I tend to call “connecting the dots.” The timing of Dr Qadri’s return; information flowing out from British sources that the UK High Commissioner to Pakistan visited Dr Qadri in Canada two or three times about six months ago; the growing belligerency of drones and Indian troops along the LoC, alongside an unprecedented increase in terrorism, especially in Quetta; the sheer money and organisational structure that suddenly became overt – just too many coincidences in terms of timeline. Some said the “establishment” was behind Dr Qadri, but I am not convinced on that count! However, external powers I suspect have a role, although I have no proof – simply an educated assessment of what is happening within Pakistan and in our region.


We know the US seeks a favorable dispensation in Islamabad up to 2014 so that its withdrawal from Afghanistan can be smooth and the post-withdrawal scenario to its liking. A long-term friendly caretaker setup would suit them more than an elected government, especially since they are not sure what will happen in the next elections when there is no NRO and no “guarantors”! We also know how the UK played a lead role in the whole NRO game, so the same linkage can be taken as a given again. Banking on someone they recognise as a “liberal religious leader,” who has even sought to justify drones before December 23, they feel will allow them to bring the Pakistani nation on board. These are dangerous and false assumptions but it will not be the first time such miscalculations have been made.

Too many questions to set the mind at ease over the agenda of Dr Qadri – a man to be respected for his scholarship. But if he is really concerned about the people of Pakistan then a march that would win support from all over the country would be a peace march to Quetta. Now, that would be a march I would join without hesitation. Till then elections and legal challenges to enforce constitutional provisions are the route to achieve change. The means do matter.

This is a cross post from The News.