People seem to be losing either their memory or their minds nowadays. A glimpse of the news and the rhetoric generated over the past three months makes it appear that the general public hasnt come to realise the great leaps of logic being played against them.
Take, for example, the detention of four Germen tourists at the hands of the Garhi Shahu Police in Lahore just last week. They were on their way, it appears, to look at some carpets a respectable tourist activity when their car was pulled over at a check post. The Punjab Police, clearly unable to come to terms with the Raymond Davis affair, were not convinced by the pleas of the frantic carpet dealer and, since none of the tourists had their passports on them, proceeded to constrain them into being guests at the police station. After four hours of intense questioning and a visit to the Pearl Continental revealed that all was above board, that the foreigners were visiting on valid visas, that no law requires them to carry their travel documents on their person and that the Punjab Police are gifted geniuses.
Earlier, our Minister of Interior, the Don King-esque Senator Rehman Malik explained himself before the National Assembly over charges that a security breach resulted in the brutal and tragic assassination of Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti. Malik denied the allegations and stated he was prepared to resign if the assassination of the Minister could be demonstrated to be a security breach. Notwithstanding the fact, any which way you look at it, that the assassination of a Federal Minister in the Federal Capital is a security breach, the Minister is also evidently denying the fact that only two months earlier it was the security guard of Governor Salmaan Taseer who decided to take his warped interpretation of our Religion of Peace to its (il)logical sconclusion and emptied his clip of ammunition into the unarmed Governors back. If that isnt a security breach, I dont know what is. Clearly, there is a leap of logic going on here.
The National Assembly stood in silence to mourn the assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti. Everyone, except three legislators of Maulana Fazlul Rehmans JUI(F). This is the same political party that prayed fateha for Aimal Kasi in the National Assembly. Kasi was convicted, on his own confession, of murdering several CIA employees outside the CIA office in Langley, Virginia and then put to death on the orders of a US court of law. During the recitation of his fateha in our National Assembly, legislators denounced Kasis murders, whether inside Pakistan or outside (read: the USA). Another leap of logic going on here too. The JUI(F) is willing to mourn the death penalty carried out against a disgruntled double-agent but not stand up for two minutes to acknowledge the assassination of a Federal Minister.
The Aimal Kasi extradition is another example of how leaps of logic are working. Kasi was hauled and I use the phrase advisedly out of Pakistan by a team of American and Pakistani intelligence agents. There was no formal extradition process that was followed, so haul is the only way to describe how Kasi was transported from his hotel room in Dera Ghazi Khan to the Greensville Correctional Facility in Jarrat, Virginia. Nawaz Sharif was Prime Minister of Pakistan at the time. His political partly now wants the trial of Raymond Davis, who may actually have the benefit of internationally recognised diplomatic immunity, held in Pakistan and are dead set against handing this American over to the Americans.
But lets not forget the mother of all leaps of logic: the flip-flopping of our religious leaders. Now that two senior government officials have been gunned down because of their stance on our blasphemy laws, Maulana Fazlul Rehman has reportedly said that debate on the blasphemy laws is possible. Religious parties like the Jamat-e-Islami have now declared that terrorism in Pakistan is at the behest of the US and its Raymond Davis type agents in the country. It takes a while to digest just mental acrobats you have to perform to get to these statements.
It was the religious parties that took money from the United States to wage a proxy Jihad in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Back then, the US was our great ally (it still is, by the way). I wonder how Maulana Fazlul Rehman would stand up on an examination of his interactions with the American government over the years. I understand there are some juicy revelations from the WikiLeaks archives. The Jamat-e-Islami, now the self-proclaimed moral vanguard against all that is evil, were the folks who opposed the very creation of Pakistan and denounced Muhammad Ali Jinnah. It takes real chutzpah to come up with the things these folks have been saying recently. Sadly for us, our media is so busy intoxicated by the power it wields, it has failed to hold these politicians up to account. All it takes is to ask two or three questions for anyone to show the world that iss hamam mein hum sab nangay hain.
Leaps of logic are not confined to the Federal Government. In Lahore, the Government of Punjab is about to commit a leap of logic on Lahore, specifically at Kalma Chowk. It has been reported that the Chief Minister has issued directions for a new underpass at Kalma Chowk to be completed by 14 August. Never mind the fact that the P&D department dont know a thing about this Rs two billion project. Never mind the fact that the Urban Unit has no idea of whats going on. Never mind the fact that the Transport Department, which is in the middle of a multi-million dollar transport survey of the city, has not been consulted on the project and never mind that the law has been violated by the fact that no environment impact assessment of the project has been subjected to a public hearing and the approval of the Environment Protection Agency of the Punjab. The Government of Punjab is, it seems, above these details. It seems the Government of Punjab does not need to answer to the questions of the public (why is a substantial chunk of the provincial budget being allocated to a single road project in Lahore? What is the economic justification of the project? What considerations were deliberated upon before sanctioning the project?). What better example of a leap of logic than bad governance?
The writer is a lawyer and has an interet in urban issues.