VIEW: Month of March, Mian sahibs and Raymond Davis —Naeem Tahir - Saturday, March 19, 2011

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The Raymond Davis case has more to it. To start with, it became a vehicle for the ‘Punjab lions’, Mr Sanaullah included, to embarrass the federal government. As usual, the federal government chickened out and even removed the foreign minister

Almost one year ago — it was in the third week of February 2010 — I called Mr Rashed Rahman, the Editor of Daily Times. We met the same day in his office. His editorial board members, Ms Mehmal Sarfraz and others, also joined in. During this meeting, Rashed asked me to write for the paper. I reflected for a moment and my first reaction was positive, primarily because the newspaper has an enlightened outlook. So I had little problem with the ‘policy’. I asked him, “What subject?” He answered, “Whatever you like”. So he left no room for me to have second thoughts and I started. In March 2011 it has been one year and I have covered 47 articles. Very soon, I realised that a ‘readership’ had developed. Several persons from civil society read and responded to my work. Their comments encouraged me to continue writing even at times when I felt lazy.

At the time when I started my column, I followed my natural responses to various situations. Occasionally, I wrote with a sense of humour. Gradually, a change occurred in me. When I started looking at issues, I gradually lost my sense of humour. National issues were getting too serious and trends were becoming scary. There were senseless murders, radicalisation, terrorism, corruption and so on. I found it difficult to laugh these off. I hope that some day these situations will change and I will get my sense of humour back.

In the month of March, one should actually be talking about spring, flowers and lovely birds. I am reminded of Begum Hijab Imtiaz Ali whose death anniversary falls on March 18. She was a lover of nature, she created an imaginary world of her own in her writings and she was the first Muslim woman licensed to fly an aircraft in the British Empire. Hijab called up Intizar Hussain in daily Mashriq and expressed her concern that she could not hear the voice of the koel (cuckoo) in that season! Are we even concerned about the environment these days?

Here is what we are actually concerned with in this month of March. Top of the line: Raymond Davis. Did we all not know that he was going to be released sooner rather than later? Why do the rightists make a ‘beard brigade’, try to gain political capital and play with public sentiments? Raymond Davis committed a crime; he was going to be treated according to the law of the land. Why is the ‘street’ interfering? Are we expressing no confidence in the courts? Funnily, Imran Khan joins in wherever he finds a bunch of people standing on the streets! What his position as a politician is, is not clear. People respect his achievements in sports and the medical field but he needs to build his overall credibility in the management of national affairs.

In any case, the Raymond Davis case has more to it. To start with, it became a vehicle for the ‘Punjab lions’, Mr Sanaullah included, to embarrass the federal government. As usual, the federal government chickened out and even removed the foreign minister. What update was given by the Foreign Office about Davis’s diplomatic status is unknown. However, one presumes that there must have been a good measure of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ to let the court interpret. However, most useful was Kerry’s meeting with the Mian sahibs. The Mian sahibs decided to please the US on the side and found a way to do so. In Mian sahib’s thinking, the solution to everything is money. That is what they used and it worked. A newspaper has stated an interesting chronology of events but leaves a mysterious gap of happenings between February 21and March 16, a crucial period. My Sherlock Holmes instincts put the pieces together in the following lines: After Kerry’s meeting, the Mian sahib loyalists started working on the legal heirs. They approached every one and negotiated for an amount of ‘blood money’ or diyat. As has been revealed by the press, the amount was good enough for each one of them to live a life of comfort ever after. So they agreed. Then the social side of this ‘forgiveness’ was taken care of and the family members were made ready to leave for umrah or change of residence to another country. Therefore, each one was ensured the fulfilment of their wishes. Having planned this out, the heirs were convinced to sign the legal documents of forgiveness. Consequently, a case was made for murder and the court announced the charges. The public was pleased that their ‘man’ had been duly charged and hence there was victory for the ‘Punjab lions’. The charge had the planned solution according to the law and Islamic tenets. The court accepted the ‘forgiveness’ documents, freed the accused and all the ‘heirs’ and the accused were whisked away in a jiffy.

The deed having been done, Mian sahib remembered that his wife was unwell and that he must travel abroad to look after her. He also realised that he had a heart issue and this was the best time to have a stent placed for the treatment. It was, of course, reasonable for the CM to rush and enquire about his ‘leader’ and elder brother’s health in London. What an ideal position to avoid public questioning and protests. They will be back in ‘good health’ as soon as the matter subsides. Such hospital tricks are a great help to politicians and have often been used before. So far, so good. But how will they explain that the spying charges against Raymond Davis were not filed? Obviously, such charges will not be covered by diyat. Also, how did they forget the girl who committed suicide and refused to forgive? There may be more homework for the politicians and surely a lucrative way out for all will be found. After all, public sentiment is not something to worry about. The public should be given a big jolt of prices, or electricity or something similar so that they worry about themselves rather than national issues.

The writer is a culture and media management specialist, a researcher, author, director and actor

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