You might have 99 problems, but mine is only one, or perhaps two. One, for the umpteenth time, inquilab got cancelled in Islamabad, and two, India sentenced Kashmiri separatist Yasin Malik, who Pakistanis were most concerned about, to life imprisonment. Regarding the latter, there are loose emotions and commiserations that this ain’t 1857.
Holding the capital hostage this week, Imran Khan supporters, in pursuit of revolution, set fire to Greenbelt park, beat up policemen, vandalised ATMs, harassed journalists, and attacked television offices in the city. While Rome burnt, Nero cried for justice across the border. Condemnation tweets poured in from Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to the military spokesperson over the life sentence, and justice was sought. This was mixed with the promises of standing with Kashmiris.
One man’s hero
Hypocrisy knows no bounds. If Yasin Malik’s sentence is a call for condemnation, then why isn’t the establishment showing solidarity with Hafiz Saeed, who, for the last few years, has been handed multiple sentences for financing terror in Pakistan? Since indicting him ticks the boxes of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), it shouldn’t be made much of a talking point. But wasn’t Hafiz Saeed as much of a hero for the ‘Kashmir cause’ for Pakistanis? I wonder.
Notwithstanding — as the Haqiqi Azadi March aka ‘The Complete Freedom March’ was initiated on 25 May, the same day as Yasin Malik’s sentencing — critics believe that Imran Khan fixed a match with India to get more attention. Some even urged PM Modi to award the Bharat Ratna to the ousted Pakistani PM for this endeavour. Having self-appointed himself as the ‘ambassador of Kashmir’, Imran Khan, like many others, tweeted his condemnation. What else should he have done? Probably taken his Azadi March to Srinagar, along with the set of ex-soldiers. Even better, he could change his display picture on Twitter as some ministers did. The entire day, prime minister of ‘Azad Jammu & Kashmir’ was busy seeking haqeeqi azadi in Pakistan with Imran Khan.
404 — inquilab not found
Back to the dharna that wasn’t a dharna, a march that wasn’t a march, and a revolution that was ‘error 404 not found’. There were enough lights, cameras and action. Some hid in storerooms to avoid arrest and some set fire to the trees, only to fall from car roofs. The dharna pro max leader, Imran Khan, tried to make it a jihad, forgetting that ‘jihad’ is valid only at his east and west. One loyal lieutenant suggested the leader give an ‘Islamic touch’ to the speech amid blaring party songs. He complied by saying “I am a lover of the Prophet.”
Learn how to use religion to defend your decisions: 👇
When crowd was not agreeing with @ImranKhanPTI to call off the #LongMarch, former deputy speaker National Assembly @QasimKhanSuri whispered in his ears “give it some Islamic touch” and #ImranKhan followed the advice! pic.twitter.com/tBOXNpS7bX
— Asad Ali Toor (@AsadAToor) May 26, 2022
Since his ouster, for about six weeks, there has been StarPlus-drama-level messaging from Imran Khan. The mayhem that caused the ouster had begun in March with a conspiracy letter, then there was deceit, lies and unfaithfulness, the phone numbers he blocked, the poison added to food to induce heart attacks, and the atom bomb in our stars. We endlessly heard how the United States conspired with Western nations and got rid of Imran Khan. So much so that now he wants US Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu to be sacked “for bad manners”. Beware, President Joe Biden, if you don’t sack Lu, the next dharna might be in the lawns of the White House.
We also heard how Pakistanis rejected the “imported hukumat” and there was a tsunami of people waiting to dislodge the government. Twenty lakh people besieging the capital was the promise — what it got was not even 2 per cent of the number. Only if the members of the Twitter troll farm showed up at the dharna, the results would have been different from the early morning retreat. ‘Announce elections in six days’ was the ultimatum to the government. Or else the band will return to Islamabad. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif isn’t much impressed with the shenanigans and said that the government won’t let Imran Khan dictate actions and it would make its own decisions.
— Veronika Sofia (@VeronikaSofiaRS) May 24, 2022
Alas, this is not 2014 when powerful generals would gather people on your behalf, workers would feast from deghs of biryani, and the court building would be a laundry rack — the Supreme Court of Shalwar Kameez, precisely. Even then, neither Nawaz Sharif resigned nor Imran Khan was seen as the problem child working to destabilise the government on the behest of ‘others’.
Pakistan a ‘laboratory’
Ever since he was put out of office, Imran Khan’s politics has revolved around one handler or the other. Now, as an ousted prime minister, he wants to return no later than November. Why November? Because that is when the new army chief is appointed. How absurd that sounds — as a leader, your only priority is picking favourites as security chiefs, while your performance remains neither a priority nor a possibility. Make no mistake, you will still be thrown out. The fact is that even if you pick Imran Khan, change the system to a presidential form of government, or even make him a monarch, it will still fail. The last three and a half years are hard evidence.
It is ironic how Muhammad Ali Jinnah had often said that Pakistan would be a “laboratory”. Decades of political experimentation in this “laboratory” have now brought it on the verge of a default. Yet, the fiddling doesn’t stop. The virus of 2018 has infected its own creator, and by the looks of it, no one has a vaccine. However, inquilab zindabad.
The author is a freelance journalist from Pakistan. Her Twitter handle is @nailainayat. Views are personal.
(Edited by Humra Laeeq)