Slouching Towards Mosul

Pakistani Shia Muslims shout slogans to protest against the bombing which killed 90 people, in Quetta on February 18, 2013

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.”

–William Butler Yeats

Chief Justice of Pakistan Tassaduq Hussain Jillani has ordered that ‘those responsible for religious hate speech on social media must be brought to justice and children who face harassment at their schools because of their religious beliefs should also be protected’. The Chief Justice further recommended the creation of a a national council to overlook the protection of minorities. It is welcome news, but there’s a long way to travel between ‘saying’ and ‘doing’, and one worries that the esteemed Justice’s orders may be a case of ‘too little, too late…’

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Sharifs snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

Lahore protest

For a brief moment, it seemed as if a new dawn was rising in Pakistan. Following an audacious attack against Karachi Airport, the nation seemed to pull together in a rare show of unity. The Prime Minister was giving strong statements announcing the beginning of the end of terrorism. The military were taking the fight straight to the heart of the militant camps in North Waziristan. Even PTI was endorsing the operations, and for a fleeting moment we had a glimpse of what Pakistan could look like without cynical political opportunism and without the civilians and military working at crossed purposes. Then, it happened. Lahore.

There is no question that Tahirul Qadri is a cynical opportunist of the worst sort, and the the timing of his protest was beyond comprehension. None of this, however, can explain or excuse what happened next.

“Clashes between workers of Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri’s PAT party and police started in the morning when police started removing barriers from the road [outside Qadri’s Lahore residence in Model Town],” Sohail Azim, a police officer on the scene, told Newsweek.

“Following complaints from Model Town residents, police sought to remove barriers from Dr. Qadri’s house,” said Azim. “While police were working to remove the barriers, political workers pelted them with stones, injuring three senior officials,” he added.

In response, police baton-charged the protesters and fired tear-gas shells on them. TV footage also showed police officers opening fire on the protesters and Qadri’s residence, resulting in the deaths.

This is more than merely a distraction that the nation cannot afford. It is a division among the people in a time that calls for unity. It undermines faith in the government and security services just when that faith is most desperately needed.

The fragile national unity that was just beginning to emerge has already begun to crumble. Not only are Qadri’s supporters baying for blood, PTI (never one to miss an opportunity to jump in the lime light) has quickly announced that its Bahawalpur jalsa is back on. MQM has announced another day of mourning, shuttering Karachi in response to the attacks on Qadri’s supporters.

The proper response was a simple one. Allow Qadri and his supporters to have their rally which was made completely irrelevant by the new wind that had just begun to blow. Let them protest and let them go home. Instead, the streets were stained with the bodies of the dead. Not terrorists, but innocents. Just when things were starting to look up, chaos has returned. It remains to be seen whether the Sharifs can put things back together, or whether they have finally managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Nawaz Sharif’s Do Nothing Government

Nawaz Sharif Not Interested In Governing

Voters thought they were electing a government of PML (Nawaz), but what they got was a government of PML (Nothing). Since one year of power, the present government has done exactly that – nothing. Not one single law enacted. No Foreign Minister. No peace agreement. No anti-terrorism strategy. Nothing.

Actually, that’s not fair. It’s not like the Prime Minister has been merely sitting on his hands and whistling a tune. He has been quite busy in fact. Nawaz has taken 15 trips abroad! And his trips have been very productive too. For example the $1.5 billion ‘statistical discrepancy’ he received from Saudi!

Meanwhile, the common man faces increased terrorism, load shedding, and unemployment. Does Nawaz Sharif have any solution to these problems? Or does he plan to be ‘out of the country’ when things finally fall apart?

Media Math

Which political party is richest? That depends on which newspaper you read. Front page of The News reported ‘PML-N richest, PML-Z poorest political party‘.

The News report on political parties wealth

Same day, Daily Times reported ‘PPP richest, PML-Z poorest political party‘.

Daily Times report on political parties wealth

The error appears to belong to The News whose report says ‘Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is the richest party with assets worth Rs88.7 million, followed by the Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) with assets of Rs190.17 million’. Last time I checked, 190 was still more than 88. But in Pakistani media, who knows!