How to solve a problem like Wazir?

The MNA is soon becoming a yardstick of sorts

He’s a representative of the people of his constituency in Waziristan, but Ali Wazir is also representative of the true nature of our state and the place that the representatives of the people – and through them, the people themselves – have in it.

He’s been hauled away to jail for a speech in a flimsy case that the deep state has made no attempt to deny is about its hurt feelings. As Wazir’s colleague from the neighbouring constituency, Mohsin Dawar, quipped, let us shut down the courts, then, when an apology is all it takes to acquit defendants.

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To make matters worse (and better in the eyes of his supporters) Wazir refuses to apologise either. And that summarises the problem.

The previous speaker of the national assembly, Asad Qaiser, attracted a lot of flak from the then opposition on the former’s refusal to issue a production order for the MNA. You’re not a good custodian of the house, they chided him, if you can’t even bring one of our own back here for the proceedings.

Well, a political lifetime later, after some polarities have flipped, we’re back to square one: Wazir in jail and the Speaker skittish about the issue of his production orders. The powers that be let him come back to the assembly for participation in the vote of no confidence. He voted against the then government, but (ostensibly) not as some sort of quid pro quo because his opposition to the PTI was well known. He then even attended the swearing-in ceremony of PM Shehbaz Sharif. And was then hauled back to jail.

Incumbent speaker Raja Parvez Ashraf is in a fix. He shouldn’t be. By way of competence, the former prime minister knows what he has to do. And ideologically, as well, we know what his party line is. The co-chairman (now the foreign minister) has made his position on Ali more than clear.

Party stalwart Farhatullah Babar has, most notably, registered his objection to the lack of action on this front. But that isn’t enough. We don’t merely need “good cops” from the Speaker’s party, we need action, and from the entire government. Not many expected Asad Qaiser to take a principled stance for a member of the opposition benches. Let us see how the self-styled torchbearers of democracy help out a member of the treasury benches.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected].

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