Is this a victory ?
Politics is a dirty business. J.K Rowling pointed that out rather cleverly when Harry and his friends had to flush themselves into the Ministry of Magic via a public toilet. But that dirty business has since become dirtier still.
Jinnah and Gandhi had little in common except their chosen professions and an interest in politics. But their approach to politics was very different. Gandhi, the man who later dressed in just a homespun loincloth, represented his people in their fight for independence from the British, as a Hindu leader and social reformer. Jinnah, on the other hand, the debonair man who lived in a style well within his ample means, represented his people in their fight for a separate homeland as a lawyer who happened to be Muslim. Their rhetoric was different, and their choices in life very different. Gandhi married within his caste and religion at the age of six. Jinnah made a similar choice initially, marrying his cousin at an early age. She died within a few months of marriage. He did not marry again till he was in his forties, and this time he married very much by choice – Rattan Bai, a non-Muslim, by whom he had a daughter.
To bring Jinnah’s name into an argument is to open a can of worms although God knows we like to have his portrait stuck on the wall everywhere, just as, figuratively, for important religious figures. But let’s open the can just far enough to allow the dignity to be visible. It would be hard to hear what Jinnah said at any given moment because this is the man who never yelled into a mike.
Gandhi was assassinated a few months before Jinnah himself died. Here is the statement issued by Jinnah on the occasion of Gandhi’s death:
‘I am shocked to learn of the most dastardly attack on the life of Mr Gandhi, resulting in his death. There can be no controversy in the face of death. Whatever our political differences, he was one of the greatest men produced by the Hindu community, and a leader who commanded their universal confidence and respect. I wish to express my deep sorrow, and sincerely sympathise with the greater Hindu community and his family with their bereavement at this momentous, historical and critical juncture soon after the birth of freedom for Hindustan and Pakistan. The loss to the Dominion of India is irreparable, and it will be very difficult to fill the vacuum created by the passing away of such a great man at this moment.’
Nawaz Sharif, just removed from his elected position as Prime Minister of Pakistan has the dubious distinction of joining a long list of Prime Ministers, some of whom resigned (Chaudhry Mohammad Ali, Suharwardy, Chundrigar) or were assassinated (Liaquat Ali Khan), or were simply removed from office….all the rest, not counting those who were serving an interim term. The British newspaper, the Independent, calls this removal ‘a double edged sword’ for Pakistan, saying that this, yet another premature dismissal of an elected government, could reinforce the army’s grip over the country’s fate. Although the Independent is also right when it says later that the army already dictates in this country, and might no longer wish to ‘officially’ take over by means of a coup.
Note the contrast in dignity between earlier political figures of this country and those today.
When the verdict was announced, the PTI celebrated the Supreme Court’s verdict by distributing ladoo. Imran Khan praised the country’s judiciary for disqualifying Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from office. Khan believes this verdict will help eliminate corruption from the country, and at a news conference called the disqualification a “good omen” for Pakistan, adding that everyone who looted the nation’s wealth should face a similar fate.
He then asked his party supporters and other countrymen to make their way to Islamabad to celebrate the opposition’s victory in a “battle against corrupt elements.” He of course will be there, along with his close supporters, most of whom are wealthy landowners and – well, very wealthy.
As I wrote this article, on Sunday, the PTI was getting ready for that celebratory rally in Rawalpindi. That rally that, as we saw, was full of those who expect the dismissal of the government to be a ‘new beginning’. How naïve can you get, to imagine the puppet is moving on its own with nothing in view except accountability? At least the Khan may claim the excuse of a bouncer to the head at some stage in his earlier career.
That the route to Sharif’s dismissal is paved by a million hollow blocks appears to be lost in the current mindless atmosphere. We have Imran Khan proudly saying on public television, that one of the judges on the bench that convicted Sharif told him to ‘bring the Panama Case to the Supreme Court, and he would handle the rest.’ Would you consider a man who admits to such communication with a Supreme Court judge – whether or not this claim is true – to have any inkling whatsoever of justice, much less governance and democracy? Do you really, truly want such a man as Prime Minister?
Do you really think that the verdict issued by a panel containing a judge who could say such a thing, even one who would be in contact with an interested party, to be valid?
Really, the stink in this public toilet is enough to make a person sick, but as hard to stomach is the fact that many people appear to think the stench is attar of roses.