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Moulana in the limelight

As the autumn bids adieu and the winter sets in, many countries have been overwhelmed by public protests. The yellow shirts shook the young President Emmanuel Macron in France. Following suit were the people of Chile, Hong Kong, Iraq, Lebanon and now the so called Azadi March in Pakistan. Let us quickly distinguish the Azadi March from the public protests in the above countries. The public demonstrations in all these countries genuinely reflected all the swaths of the population and were political, secular and democratic in nature with clear demands. They had a broader consensus over their demands exactly knowing the purpose of their protests. They did not have ferocious stick wielding brigades to create fear and panic.
The Azadi March represents the religious sections – seminary tutored students, prayer leaders of mosques of a particular sect – blended with fringe Pashtun ethnicgroups with no defined agenda. The Azadi March is devoid of any consensual mandate. The leaders of the other two mainstream parties – the Muslim league (N) and Pakistan People’s Party were reluctant to go a whole hog to support the Moulana in his bid to steal the limelight relegating them as his political adjuncts despite having worthwhile strength in the Parliament. Notwithstanding the initial support, these parties did not mobilize their workers for swelling the crowds in Larkana, Sukkur, Multan, Lahore and Rawalpindi. The Moulana felt the snub.
From the beginning, the Muslim League (N) seemed playing a double game. The PPP was hamstrung between its avowed secular ideals and the religion card which the Moulana was suspected to play despite his assurances to the contrary. Weeks before the start of the Azadi March, the JUI cadre had started accusing the PTI government of conspiring to recognize Israel and dispense with the constitutional clauses declaring Qadianis as non Muslims. They have well connected network of propaganda. As the policy or strategy is sanctioned, a word goes out to all the Imams of their mosques to include this in their ‘khutbas’. Just imagine that this narrative is conveyed in hundreds of mosques in incendiary words to hundreds of thousands of followers in every division. They do not desist from lying in their discourse as they believe that in battling the anti-Islam forces, this is part of the strategy and a forgivable act.
The PPP was embarrassed when JUI publicly used the religion card. The PPP has a precarious political position in Sindh because of the growing ingress of JUI. Its leader, Rashid Soomro polled over 50000 votes against Bilawal Bhutto in Larkana. With JUI help, the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) won the provincial seat in the heart of this constituency. The huge participation of seminaries from Larkana and Sukkur Divisions in the march came as a warning to the PPP about the penetration of JUI in its political hinterland. Thus, PPP joined the ML (N) in abandoning the Azadi March after the address of Bilawal among religious slogans. This left the Moulana with the Pakhtun nationalist Mahmood Khan Achakzai and a few supporters of PTM.
Maybe, the mainstream parties saw more than what meets the eye. The Moulana’s inflexibility about the timing of the March in the background of the geo-strategic situation with the lockdown of the armless Kashmiris by the Hindu majoritarian nationalist regime, the worsening violence in Afghanistan and the hovering clouds of war in the Gulf raised many eye brows. The demands finally divulged by the Moulana did not have that much urgency to push the country into political uncertainty in such critical regional strategic situation. It is possible they realized there was “something rotten in the state of Denmark” – to borrow from Shakespeare.
After all, these conspiracy theories are not new in our political journey, and in the greater Asia. The Ayub Martial Law was encouraged, if not inspired, by the USA, says Asghar Khan in his book. The PNA movement of 1977 was believed to be foreign-inspired to make a “horrible example out of Bhutto”. The NRO by General Musharraf was facilitated by President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair. Muhammad Mossadiq of Iran lost his power because of the CIA sponsored protests in the mid 1950s. Saad Hariri withstood the pressure of his Saudi patrons to resign but not the demonstrations encouraged by them. The Ikhwan-linked Muhammad Morsi, the genuinely elected president of Egypt faced sponsored demonstrations by the so called liberals and was overthrown in a military coup. The mercenaries who took over Libya killing Col Kaddafi were sponsored and heavily armed by the wealthy Arab monarchs. They wanted to enact this melodrama in Syria also to eliminate Bashar ul Asad.
The Moulana is a pragmatic politician. He carefully measures his moves notwithstanding his ambition to become the Prime Minister of this country -as reflected in the communications of the USA Embassy in the Wiki Leaks. However, his speech from the container yesterday night suggested that sanity has prevailed over his ambitious plan to overthrow the government, torpedoing the accountability process, creating uncertainty and paving the way for new elections and winning the same in coalition with the mainstream political parties. He is now looking towards wily Chaudhry of Gujrat for a face saving formula. This debacle would hit him hard in his political constituency.
Prime Minister would be well advised to have a thorough soul searching. He raised high hopes in his election campaign. He has to live up to the public expectations by delivering on some of his promises. He should pay more attention to the internal issues hitting the lower class. His priority should be to reset the economy and control the rising inflationary trend. He should seek the cooperation of the mainstream political parties in making the Parliament functional to stem the growing talibization of the country. A few Ministers use harsh language against the opposition leaders. The Prime Minister himself indulges in unpleasant rhetoric some times. Being Prime Minister of the country, he needs to tone down his rhetoric.



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