Bail doesn’t mean off the hook | Pakistan Today

Bail doesn’t mean off the hook

And there are many cookies still to crumble

In just a month or so, Imran Khan would have realized that batting on a sticky wicket is one thing but batting in a minefield is quite another. A batsman has to know where opposition’s fielders are stationed, but in office he also has to know where mines a planted. If anyone can do it, Imran can. So far he has negotiated the mines well because the Fates are smiling on him and also because most of the mines have turned out to be duds planted by mentally challenged opponents. He should know that it is more dangerous to have imbecile opponents than intelligent ones.

But while negotiating the minefield Imran has gone many steps in creating a new field not of mines but of orchids and made impressive runs in diplomacy and changing our mindset from profligate to austere. Scientists say that orchids were the first flowers to blossom on earth and are very beautiful so we should keep hope alive.

Some of the mines have been planted by Imran’s many political opponents — obviously — some by the stupidity of his own colleagues, and some that he has unwittingly planted himself with seemingly unconsidered decisions. It makes him seem impetuous. On top of that mines are planted by constant global change over which Imran has little control. But he must try to understand constant global change, which is a tall order, if he is to deal with it.

Little point in discussing the mines that were damp squibs anyway, but some deserve a passing nod. The idiotic helicopter controversy raised by a desperate opposition made worse by the poor math of Imran’s otherwise adequate information minister has fizzled out and so is the even more idiotic fracas between his wife’s ex-husband and a policeman who was intemperately transferred in the darkness of the night by an amateur Punjab chief minister. Problem is, except for a few, Imran’s team does not raise too much excitement, thus there is the feeling abroad that it will change in a few months. Let’s see.

The passing of Nawaz Sharif’s wife Kulsoom, may God rest her soul in peace, was possibly a big mine on which Imran could have stepped, but he handled it adroitly and with great humanity by not placing hurdles in the way of a parole and helping the mourners. Full marks!

The passing of Nawaz Sharif’s wife Kulsoom, may God rest her soul in peace, was possibly a big mine on which Imran could have stepped, but he handled it adroitly and with great humanity by not placing hurdles in the way of a parole and helping the mourners. Full marks!

The latest mine to go off was the bail given to Nawaz Sharif, daughter Maryam and her husband Safdar by the Islamabad High Court. An avalanche of bombast was unleashed by Nawaz supporters accompanied by an eruption of uninformed rumour and gossip — was there a ‘deal’, was a larger ‘deal’ in the offing that would see the threesome in London, would we get back the money stolen by Nawaz, were the Saudis involved again, blah, blah and more blah? Drawing room chatter picked up speed and we got such amazing theories that would defeat the best of novelists.

The truth was clearly stated in this newspaper’s sub-heading: “Ousted PM Nawaz Sharif, Maryam and Safdar released on bail after IHC orders suspension of sentences till final judgement on their appeals in Avenfield properties case.” The key words here are “bail” and “suspension”. The verdict that imprisoned them has not been overturned. They have not been found innocent. All that the court has done is not let them languish in jail till the verdicts. So calm done. Many other cases await, like Murder in Model Town. The cookie has not stopped crumbling, my friends.

Imran Khan should now see that   our justice system is like a spider’s web that catches all the small insects but which big beasts tear through. They say that the NAB judgement was in parts wooly and what helped the Sharifs was that NAB did not put up a robust defence. But why? Begs the question. Now you see Mr. Prime Minister how far and deep our old boys network runs? You know that the root of our problem is our odious system. You know that this system must change to achieve any long-lasting positive effects. You have a fearsome job ahead in changing such mindsets so get started soon.

The orchid field that Imran is creating to neutralize the minefield is both domestic and international. At home he has started changing the official and national mindsets away from profligacy to austerity. Changes like bypassing expensive-to-run state houses and making them into meaningful institutions, auctioning unnecessary cars and buffaloes may seem small to the small minded, but added up they will make a huge difference not only in the total amount of money we save but also in wasteful attitudes. See how many schools can be made with the money saved. See how people are becoming conscious about wasting water, myself included. Appeal to the people to donate money to make dams are very good; we know that the money collected cannot pay for the dams but people who do donate get a stake in national survival. That’s a great mindset change, so keep going and don’t pay heed to the comedians amongst us. Jesters have their place in society but are taken seriously at your own peril.

All that the court has done is not let them languish in jail till the verdicts. So calm done. Many other cases await, like Murder in Model Town. The cookie has not stopped crumbling, my friends.

Abroad Imran’s forays hold the seeds of causing shifts in the geo-strategic paradigm. His understanding with Saudi Arabia to make an integrated oil city in Gwadar ($7bn), a petrochemical complex at Gwadar ($12bn), aluminum mining and processing facility in Baluchistan ($4.5bn), Karak refining and petrochemical complex ($5bn). Most importantly, Saudi has been invited and it has agreed to become a third partner in CPEC that changes the strategic economic and military balance in Asia and the Middle East. This has sent some (guess who?) scurrying to their drawing boards. In fact, all this could not have happened without the behest of China, a possibility that arose after our army chief’s visit to Beijing. If true, it is a masterstroke by China. Mark my words, if this happens, Russia and others will be coming to join the CPEC too.

What of the USA and India and their plans to do down Pakistan? We’ll see. But India has already shown its true colors by first agreeing to a meeting between the foreign ministers of the two countries at the UNGA and then reneging on it the next day. Even the U.S. State Department welcomed it. The backtracking probably comes from an inferiority complex that we used to have with the British. Get over the old Muslim hegemon and move on, good neighbour Sam. Stop your Muslim hating nonsense; it doesn’t behoove you. It’s no longer about religion. It’s about economic and strategic advantage. Now all can see who the peacemaker is and who the warmonger.

Then there was the visit of the British Home Secretary when we came to an understanding on nabbing our criminals who have absconded to the UK; the British government has already taken in one person. Things are evolving and maturing fast.

We would do well to discuss all this next time by when things would have become clearer.

Humayun Gauhar

Humayun Gauhar is a veteran columnist in Pakistan and editor of Blue Chip magazine.



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