- The Gujranwala rally left much to be desired
After two years, the opposition finally put up what looks like a forced alliance of 11 parties and named Fazlur-Rehman as its head. The alliance they called ‘The Pakistan Democratic Movement’ or PDM. This motley crew put up what they called “a power show” in Gujranwala but which actually turned out to be a shit show that couldn’t even raise much of a stench. The cricket stadium where they put up the performance has a capacity of some 25,000. Now let us be generous and say another 25,000 were outside the stadium, which makes it a total attendance of 50,000.
50,000 people attracted by 11 political parties makes it somewhat pathetic by our Asian standards. It was also obvious that much of the crowd was carted in on buses, most probably on payment and the promise of a feast. They certainly were preparing biryani and roast chicken (yum!). The workers of some of these political parties got into physical fights over some issues which shows a lack of unity.
Came the speeches and not one of them had anything new to say. The leader, Fazlur-Rehman, came late, either by design or indiscipline because it is entirely likely that he thought he would make a big entrance by his late arrival. Turned out that the delay resulted in a half-empty stadium and a poor mullah who had to speak to empty chairs. The problem is that the 11 parties are not united so they were all trying to steal the show as theirs. So as soon as that particular party’s leader’s speech was over, its supporters and the rented crowd made a beeline for the exits. The second thing about this show was the reinforcing of dynasticism. Each so-called leader seated on the stage was either a dead leader’s offspring or brother or some such. And some of the dynastic leaders came to that position perforce, because monarchy is embedded in our DNA because of our past kings and queens. Fazl-ur-Rehman is the son of Mufti Mahmood, Bilawal is the son of Benazir Bhutto and Asif Zardari (who became ‘King’ because he was Benazir’s husband) and he is also the grandson of You Know Who and Maryam of course is trying to take on her father’s mantle. Forget the others: they are non-entities. But remember though that Asfandyar Wali is the grandson of the Frontier Gandhi and the son of Wali Khan.
Don’t get in nature’s way. Mr Nawaz Sharif should remember that while he rails against the Army Chief, it was he and his party who bent over backwards to get him an extension of three years in Parliament. So he should look at himself and his party before attacking the product of his efforts
The most important aspect of the shit show was that more than half the crowd were common folk not associated with any of the political parties. They came to register their anger with Imran Khan for not delivering on his promises, the worst of them being high food prices, high utility bills and runaway inflation, which are making life near impossible for the middle and lower classes which make up virtually the entire population. So it actually turned out to be Imran Khan vs Imran Khan and this should cause the red light in his head to light up. He has to bring food prices down whichever way he and his economic team can do, without damaging the economy. They have to find a way because the first and foremost responsibility of the government of a sovereign country, especially an Islamic one, is to feed its people. I remember the former Chancellor of Austria, Bruno Kriesky, who co-authored a book with me, saying about the USSR that if a country cannot feed its own people, it has no right to call itself a superpower. By the same token, if a country cannot feed its own people, its independence and sovereignty become suspect. So Imran has his work cut out for him and he has to do it in as short a time as possible. He has a good economic team so I wouldn’t be surprised if they managed to do it, otherwise a real opposition with credibility will be born and that’s when the trouble will start.
Nawaz Sharif’s speech by video link was, not to use too harsh a word for it, a disgrace. In criticizing and yes, abusing, the Army Chief he actually attacked the armed forces. To many people this is tantamount to treachery. As for me, I think stupidity and desperation also had to do with it. He has done more damage to the opposition and his own party than any opponent of his could do. This Nawaz Sharif sounds like a hypocrite. A product of Generals Gilani and Zia-ul-Haq sprouted in the Army’s nursery like virtually all our political leaders. So if the Army has to be criticized for anything, it is these gifts that they have given to the country. So one can argue that they should clean up their own mess. But I would urge them not to even try because they will end up making a bigger mess. They should now let nature take its course and just stick to what they should be best at doing, which is defending the country against external and internal enemies. Most of our political leadership can be categorized as ‘internal enemies’ for they cling to a political system that benefits the corrupt and actually leads to the defeat of the will of the majority. Whilst they are internal enemies, the Army should not fall into the trap of trying to defeat them. They did with Mr Zulfikar Ali Bhutto by executing him and see what a storm it has raised. They should take the path of least resistance by stopping the attacks of the internal enemy rather than defeating them head on, for it will just cause an unseemly political kerfuffle. Don’t get in nature’s way. Mr Nawaz Sharif should remember that while he rails against the Army Chief, it was he and his party who bent over backwards to get him an extension of three years in Parliament. So he should look at himself and his party before attacking the product of his efforts.
As I write, the PDM is staging another so-called ‘power show’ in Karachi. There is no reason to believe that it will be any different from the one in Gujranwala. This is all good for it lets steam out of a kettle that is bound to burst. It is for Mr. Imran Khan to ask himself why he let so much steam build up in the first place?