The past few days have been very eventful as far as public statements in Pakistani politics go. Punjab’s Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has been under heavy fire from all political corners over a statement where he reportedly asked the Taliban to stop attacking the Punjab because the PMLN like the Taliban was also against foreign dictation in Pakistan’s affairs.
While the media pounced on this tone of compromise, acting as a catalyst for a full-fledged Sharif-bashing session, Salman Taseer, Governer of the Punjab and Sharif’s arch-nemesis, wasted no time in condemning the statement as defeatist. Influential politicians from other provinces such as MQM’s Altaf Hussain have pointed out that the comment signifies the PMLN’s Punjab-centric attitude, and wondered aloud if the Sharif brothers think it is alright for the Taliban to attack other provinces while sparing the Punjab.
Possibly jealous of all the press coverage other politicians are getting, Imran Khan has apparently joined Twitter to try and pass some controversial statements there. Sadly, though, Zee News was the only media outlet to pick up on his social media activities.
Meanwhile, Shahbaz Sharif (thank the lord he isn’t on Twitter), who has gotten a little too much coverage, is kicking himself in the gonads for ever passing the comment. He has retracted his words several times and claimed that the media misconstrued and manipulated his comment, though he hasn’t clarified what he meant exactly either.
The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) seem to have taken note of this plea for a respite, whether Shahbaz meant it or not, as unverified reports suggest that the TTP has offered the Punjab government a proverbial ‘deal with the devil,’ saying they’ll stop attacking targets in the Punjab if the government stops taking action against them. This hasn’t really helped Shahbaz’s predicament.
And the fun doesn’t end there. Recently, it was reported that General Pervez Musharaf, who doesn’t like being kept out of the loop for too long, also passed comments to the press, this time utilising a new hip media buzz word in calling Shahbaz’s brother Nawaz Sharif a “closet Taliban.”
I knew it was possible to be a closet homosexual, or a closet alcoholic, but I can only wonder what a Taliban does in the closet. Perhaps Musharraf has been in the closet and knows exactly what goes on there. Though if we look at his track record, he did sweep a lot of Taliban organisations under the rug and shove some in the closet during his tenure.
And if the dynamic Sharif brothers seem to be in the line of fire, another unrelated Sharif, Justice Khwaja Sharif of the Lahore High Court, has also come under heavy attack for implications regarding the Taliban saying, “Hindus might be the financiers of such attacks.” He was apparently rebutting a lawyer who purported that US security firms were involved in the recent blasts. Now, what a way to go about an argument, rebutting one loony conspiracy theory with another; I didn’t know they gave that kind of training in law school.
Justice Sharif’s remarks have also caused a huge uproar, this time in the Hindu ranks of the parliament, where a band of Hindu MPAs have claimed that such comments hurt the feelings of Pakistani Hindus, whose patriotism should not be questioned. As criticism over this latest comment started catching heat, the Labour Minister came to the aid of the embattled justice saying, “the judge had seemingly blamed India for financing the Taliban rather than Hindus.” Oh, okay, so sorry, if he was blaming Indian Hindus then it’s perfectly acceptable, because apparently Indian Hindus don’t have feelings like the Pakistani Hindus do.
(Justices should be more careful when passing such sensitive comments – they should use the politically correct term “Indian Hindus” when referring to who was behind the attacks, lest they upset either Indian Muslims or Pakistani Hindus in the process.)
And if things between Pakistan and India weren’t tense already, comments like these from Pakistani political and judicial figures only threaten to hamper the two countries’ annual spring thaw, after which they prefer to cool things down again in the summer, because the summer is really hot in these parts you know?
Even General David Petraeus, that defender of peace and justice in the region, has warned that a Mumbai-style terror attack in India could put the two countries on a war footing as part of a Taliban strategy to take the heat off the operations in FATA. Is it just me, or is the diplomacy between the two countries really that idiotic? I mean, if you know someone’s trying to jeopardise the peace talks, would you just sit there and let the peace talks be jeopardised? Even in kindergarten playgrounds, if a third kid is trying to get two to fight each other, they know to band up on that third kid. But no, the high-ups in Pakistan and India are just too thick headed to think that far ahead.
And how exactly is blaming India for the attacks in Pakistan supposed to help the situation in any way? Does it even matter that the TTP has claimed responsibility for the attacks, and even went as far as to offer Shahbaz Sharif a deal? No, obviously those Taliban are lying to get credit where it isn’t due. Trying to take the blame away from the Indian Hindus, who do these Taliban think they are anyway? Maybe the Indian Hindus are actually in the closet, and maybe, just maybe, Nawaz Sharif might be a Hindu, and Indian, since he’s also in the closet.
I think the government should hire Musharraf as a special envoy to conduct in-the-closet investigations and lecture tours to find out exactly who is in the closet and who is out of the closet. This could work as a two-pronged approach to also figure out exactly whose side these Indian Hindus are on, and precisely how many Taliban are hiding in the closet.
The danger here is that if we don’t send Musharraf into the closet to tackle this rampant Talibanisation of the closet, then the US Army in conjunction with the CIA might divinely intervene and destroy the closet in a drone-strike. Then we won’t have any closet at all. What will we do then, with no closet? Where will Nawaz Sharif go on off days? Where will Imran Khan access his Twitter account from? Oh, what will we do?
With all this finger pointing on who is a Taliban and who isn’t, and all this debate over whether the Taliban are really that bad, and trying to find alternative paranormal explanations for the frequent blasts, I think sanity has packed its clothes (from the closet) and taken a good long vacation, leaving our politicians et al to beat their chests in the parliament we have as an excuse for a political institution.