Why give London a bad name? The sophistication we are witnessing could have been concocted only amongst the rolling acres of that spot in the sun, Raiwind. The brainwave hitting the brightest of the Punjab administration, starting with the Khadim-e-Aala, to teach the Sheikhul Islam a lesson came not in far off London but here in Lahore.
The arrogance behind the decision to remove the security barriers – set up on the express orders of the Lahore High Court – in front of Allama Qadri’s one-kanal house in Model Town was a mark of the Punjab government, not that of the Greater Council of London.
And the police force that went in to implement the decision, and knock sense into the workers of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek, was from the force famous in legend, the Punjab police, and not London’s Metropolitan Police.
London may be home to some of the greatest theatres in the world but all of them together could not have produced a character like the honourable Gullu Butt. The picture of him wielding his danda, the images caught on camera for eternity, could never have come from London.
However great the marksmanship skills of the London Police, in their wildest dreams could they match the performance of the Lahore police? 14 dead, including two women, and 80-90 wounded by live gunfire. Apart from the live firing, the beating and roughing up of PAT workers, men and women…such spellbinding theatre was possible only in our climate.
Nor was this an isolated incident, coming out of the blue. It was part of a larger picture outlined by Raiwind Palace’s self-imposed and self-propelled tussle with the army and ISI. The mishandling of the Musharraf plot – agreeing to let him flee his coop once he made a court appearance, and then going back on this understanding – was conjured up in the feverish atmosphere of Raiwind Palace, where every stray whisper is magnified into a conspiracy, and not on the banks of the Thames.
If Musharraf had been a British headache, the Brits would have handled it differently. At the least they would have made sure that anyone looking like Pervaiz Rasheed, Khawaja Asif and Saad Rafiq came nowhere near the TV cameras.
It takes someone special like Saad Rafiq to come up with such a gem as his famous challenge: “mard ka bacha ban”…be the son of a man, this hurled at Musharraf when he was not appearing in court. The Brits can produce The Three Stooges, Norman Wisdom, Peter Sellers, and so on. The whole of British comedy, from Falstaff onwards, would be hard put to copy, much less mimic, some of the Lahori members of the Raiwind cabinet. Pervaiz Rasheed has such a mournful countenance he gives mourning a bad name. And he is the Goebbels of this setup. Goebbels would be turning in his grave.
Refusing to register the Model Town case…could this have been part of any London Plan? The British have not been above some of the most devious tricks known to history. After all you don’t go about grabbing colonies and creating an empire just like that. But in any plan set in London would it be part of the script not to allow the law to take its course after 14 persons were shot in cold blood? Tell this to a British audience and they wouldn’t believe it.
For over two months the provincial government saw to it that a case was not registered. It took a brave additional sessions’ judge to eventually order that the needful be done. Even then the ministers nominated by the aggrieved went in appeal to the Lahore High Court. And a judge of that honourable court gave a decision almost unparalleled in judicial history: directing the police not to arrest the accused unless there was sufficient evidence to implicate them. If this becomes a standing precedent, every accused in a murder case will have reason to rejoice.
And the alleged rigging in Lahore constituencies in the last elections… was this part of an MI 6 plan to destablise Pakistan? This could only have happened here: polling stations packed like never before in Lahore’s history, most anecdotal evidence pointing to an urban wave in favour of Imran Khan’s PTI. But as evening fell and votes were counted a dumbfounded city discovered that the palm of victory had gone to the candidates of Raiwind.
For a year and a half Imran Khan knocked at all the legal and judicial doors available to him under the constitution and the law. All he asked for was a vote recount in four constituencies, nothing more – a recourse provided in the election laws. But on one pretext or the other he was dealt with like a shuttlecock. Left with no other option, he took to the road, exercising his constitutional right of protest. Was this part of a London Plan?
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his brother, the visionary leader of Punjab, can blame the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or Boko Haram for their troubles. But even a cursory examination of the evidence would suggest that clumsiness and a gift for butting at windmills are responsible for the mess they are in. No London Plan can match their inventiveness in creating problems for themselves.
Incidentally, if there was a Truth Prize it would go to Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, bona fide member now of the Raiwind clan. Some of the fiction he generates in the name of economic analysis would be rejected as unrealistic even by a jury judging works of fiction. He lets no opportunity go by without trumpeting the claim that there has been an economic turnaround and that it is now threatened by the dharnas and the floods. Read any worthwhile economic commentator, and there are a few good ones around, to judge the worth of this claim. But hand one thing to him: he does a reverse Pervaiz Rasheed, his glib assertions made with a bold face.
The ruling clan – and it is now a clan, the tentacles of it spread far and wide – is having a hard time recognising something basic. They represent a bygone age, one identified with the archaeological remains of Gen Ziaul Haq and whose key feature was the marriage of power and high finance, public banks milked to pave the path to political glory.
No one did this better than the present lot. The loan in the early 1990s, amounting at that time to four billion rupees, taken from a consortium of seven banks, and to date not a penny returned, is just one example of their skill in this field.
The Mehrangate scandal in which the ISI – under the directions of that symbol of integrity, General Aslam Beg – took money from Younus Habib’s Mehran Bank and distributed it amongst a list of PML-N beneficiaries, including our friend Javed Hashmi, is another example of what went on at that time.
Pakistan’s urban class, its educated middle class hitherto not much interested in politics, the youth, students across the gender divide, and educated people and youth from rural areas as well…all these classes are sick and tired of that old politics. These are the people rallying to the standard of Imran Khan and listening to his speeches and the orations of the firebrand Qadri. And something is stirring within their souls.
This is no London Plan. This is a Pakistani phenomenon which has been a long time in coming but which having come seems here to stay. With luck it may even change the established order of things.