Painful episodes - Dr A Q Khan - Monday, March 28, 2011

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At present, people are concerned about two issues – the Haj corruption scandal, and the Supreme Court orders to relieve retired superannuated bureaucrats, while the government blatantly refuses to obey these orders.

Those involved in the Haj scam will definitely be taken to task by the Almighty. It was reported that almost 250 cronies of the rulers were flown to Mecca by special PIA flight at government expense. The plane arrived after the permissible time limit and PIA was fined a huge sum of money (and paid from its own funds). This reminded me of a totally contrasting event that happened in 1904. The Begum of Bhopal, Nawab Sultan Jehan Begum, an extremely popular ruler and an excellent administrator, decided to perform Haj. The British political agent in Bhopal was informed and asked to make the necessary arrangements. He requested the governor in Bombay to hire a comfortable ship and also informed the Turkish governor in Jeddah to provide proper protocol and security to the Begum. Once all the arrangements had been made, the Begum invited the local people to join her entourage at her own expense. The invitation was duly published in local newspapers a number of times. But not a single person accepted the invitation. Everyone felt that Haj was to be performed at one’s own expense and performance of Haj was not compulsory if you did not have the means to do so. The Begum later wrote the details of the whole journey. That is an interesting story I would like to write about at some other time. The most important part of her narrative was about the mischief played by the Sharif of Mecca and his attempt to cheat and blackmail her and extort money from her. The Turkish governor had to intervene to prevent unpleasantness.

After all the arrangements had been made and the Begum and all her family members left by train, but not a single person from the public accompanied them. Now compare those honest people who preferred not to perform Haj at state expense with our present-day dishonest, corrupt, rich people who find any excuse to create and utilise opportunities for free travel, even Haj.

The second matter is that of the rehiring of retired bureaucrats, most notably the the director general of the FIA, Wasim Ahmad. By defying specific court orders, the Gilani government indulged in blatant contempt of court. Those thick-skinned bureaucrats are causing a dangerous confrontation between the judiciary and the government. They should have had the moral integrity to send in their resignations and stop going to work. There is such a thing as sanctity of office but it seems to be non-existent in this country. Here is an eye-opening episode from Islamic history.

It was reported that the ninth Abbasi Caliph, Wasiq Billal, was holding court and his prime minister, Ammara Bin Hamzah, was present. The court was full of people voicing their complaints and conveying their needs to the caliph. One person complained that Ammara was illegally occupying his land. The caliph ordered the prime minister to go and sit next to the complainant and explain his position. Ammara, an upright person, said: “Amerul Momeneen, I don’t want to become a party in this case and won’t contest it. If the gentleman honestly thinks that it is his land, I withdraw my claim and will hand it over to him... Since the caliph has appointed me to the most respected post of prime minister, I don’t want to harm and disgrace the sanctity of this post.” The caliph, officials and public were highly impressed with the action of Ammara and he served with distinction for many years. (Nizam-ul-Mulk Tusi.) This is just one example of our golden traditions; now compare how the NAB and FIA officials behave and cause embarrassment to the government.

I usually avoid discussing day-to-day issues taking place in the country, but there are three things I would like to mention today. The first is the “fixed” bout between the MQM and the PPP. People have become wise enough to see through this game. As was to be expected, the MQM raised a hue and cry about Dr Zulfiqar Mirza’s statements. The president, as usual, arranged his darbar in Karachi and, as is equally usual, Rehman Malik flew to London to see Altaf Hussain (and his own family). There followed the expected photo session in which a beaming Rehman Malik informed everyone of the settlement of all differences and Dr Farooq Sattar showed his acting skills.

The agreement was announced and in the same breath the government slapped on new taxes, raised the price of electricity, petroleum products, sugar, etc., and the MQM looked the other way with a smiling face. Neither Zulfiqar Mirza nor Siraj Durrani were ticked off.

The second highly condemnable episode is the drone attack on a peaceful jirga at Dattakhel in Waziristan a few days ago. It happened immediately after the shameless rulers buckled under US pressure and let that murderer and CIA spy Raymond Davis leave Pakistan. The drone attack killed 44 tribal elders who were trying to resolve a dispute between two parties regarding the mining of marble. As was to be expected, there was the usual “public relations” protest by the government. The former director general of the ISI, Lt Gen Asad Durrani, described these protests as being merely for cosmetic purposes.

The army chief also protested. Or was that only because some soldiers had also been killed? The fact is that these protests have never produced any positive results. It is the duty of the armed forces anywhere in the world to protect the lives of the citizens and to ensure the sanctity of national borders. A country of 180 million people, armed with nuclear weapons and missiles and having an army of almost one million, has become a banana republic and has no self-respect or pride, thanks to its spineless and corrupt rulers. This could never have happened during the times of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Gen Ziaul Haq, Mr Ghulam Ishaq Khan, Gen Mirza Aslam Beg and Gen Abdul Waheed Kakar.

The third disgraceful episode is that of the release of Raymond Davis. Starting from President Obama right down to junior officials in the US administration, all put pressure on Pakistan’s rulers to let him go scot-free. As expected, our rulers gave in and found ways and means to let him go. What a contrast between this case and that of Dr Afia Siddiqui. That poor fragile lady was implicated in a false case, convicted and sent to jail for 86 years while our rulers could not even extract a pardon or deportation for her from the US administration. But making such a demand requires courage, guts, self-respect and power of conviction, which is simply not there in this nation. A nation that has no self-respect and national pride is doomed to ignobility and disgrace.


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