by Kamran Shafi
I HAVE a promise to keep. Ahsan Ansari, another young man who is one of the thousands of Pakistanis who fell victim to the Great British Visa Fiasco (indeed scam, for they don’t even return your money if they refuse you a visa!), and who read what I wrote about the fiasco sent me an email several weeks back to take up his case which too seems to be the result of nothing but inefficiency and bureaucratic arrogance.
Young Ansari applied for a visa to study at Magna Carta College that was purportedly not on the approved colleges list maintained by the Brit immigration authorities so he had his visa request turned down with the dreaded numbers 320 embossed on his passport. Upon requesting a review he got a letter from someone called Lisa Caruthers saying, “I am satisfied that the visa letter you presented was not a false document as the West London School of Management & Technology has confirmed that Magna Carta College is one of its subsidiaries”.
One should have thought that all should have been good and well as my friend Ashraf Afridi would say, but no! The British bureaucracy had another quite silly but completely nasty surprise up its sleeve for poor, young, Ansari. And what was that?
When he reapplied to another college definitely on the list, he got another letter from the UK Border Agency, and I kid you not: “You were refused entry clearance for using deception by presenting a non-genuine visa letter on 18th June 09. I am therefore refusing you entry clearance under paragraph 320 (7B) of the immigration rules. Any future applications will also be automatically refused, for the same reason until June 2019.” I ask you!
The last email I received from this despairing young man reads: “My semester is going to start in this month and after the 24th of November my college will not allow me to continue in this semester. The next semester is going to start in January so I request you to please help me out, please. I will really appreciate your help….” Will some good man or woman in the UKBA help?
Meanwhile back at the ranch, what is now increasingly known as the ‘Ghairat Brigade’ proceeds apace with its denunciation of the elected government in particular and politicians in general. The Internet is inundated with stories about the corruption of all politicians; the inefficiency of the only government in Pakistan which seems to be doing a half-decent job — the Punjab government; and of the selling down the river of Pakistan, its nuclear assets, its sovereignty et al, by the ‘bloody civilians’. Scenarios predicting the imminent fall of the government, followed by the wrapping up of the whole shoot are doing the rounds of the drawing rooms of the rich and the famous, what I call the Beautiful People.
Yet, just look at the shenanigans of the newest godfather of the ‘Ghairat Brigade’: “I said to the Americans, ‘Give us the Predators.’ It was refused. I told the Americans, ‘Then just say publicly that you’re giving them to us. You keep on firing them but put Pakistan Air Force markings on them.’ That, too, was denied” — Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf, former chief of the army staff, Pakistan Army, in a most recent interview with Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker. I ask you!
Where is the ‘Ghairat Lobby’ now when Musharraf’s subterfuge to trick the Pakistani nation has been made public: whilst going all the way with the Americans in allowing the drone attacks, asking them to camouflage their drones in PAF colours. Yet his acolytes have the gall to put the blame for drone attacks entirely on the present lot?
The Commando has also had (one of his) comeuppance(s), however. Asked if he had met any senior Obama administration official, he said, “I did not ask for a meeting because I was afraid of being told no.” Well, serves him right.
What else can I say but that sense should be knocked into the knuckleheaded, actually venal and dishonest establishment and its paid hacks by the lay people of this country who are up to here with being fed the worst tripe for the past 60-plus years; who are at the end of their tether with the sickening and ever shrill crescendo of blame and accusations and the strictest censure of politicians, and only politicians.
Case in point, a move in the Senate of Pakistan initiated by Senator-for-Life Wasim Sajjad: “Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in any law and treaty, and undertaking or conditionalities agreed with any foreign country, the president of Pakistan shall certify in January each year on behalf of the government of Pakistan to each house of parliament that the sovereignty and honour of Pakistan have not been compromised in any manner whatsoever, that no compromise has been made on security (sic) or effectiveness of the nuclear programme of Pakistan; that no understanding has been reached with any foreign country for interference in the change of command or promotions in the Pakistan armed forces or in the structure or role of the security forces of Pakistan; and that no conditionalities have been accepted from any source.”
He also said that the KLA (Kerry Lugar act) raised many concerns and caused serious worries in almost all civil and military circles’. Er, is this Senator Waseem Sajjad the same person who allegedly carried the army’s message to the Supreme Court these many years ago? I ask you, again!
To end, might I refer to friend Cyril Almeida’s question of last week: “Can our politicians ever make it work?” Yes, yes, yes, Cyril, provided our democracy gets the time it takes to grow and flower and prosper, to which endeavour all of us must be party by saying with one voice: “No matter what, never another army take-over!!” Otherwise we are lost.
PS May I one more time say to the leaders of Pakistan’s largest parties, President Asif Ali Zardari and Mian Nawaz Sharif: stay together and defeat the anti-democratic forces, or get ‘sorted out’ one by one. Particularly to Asif Zardari may I say yet again, “You don’t need four months to get rid of the 17th Amendment. All it takes is two days!! Do it!”