The Defaming Game


Hafeez Khan

In the month of May, we shall witness a lot of shadow conflicts; rehearsing for the next round

“G atka” is a form of martial art associated with Punjab. Its origins can be traced back to the 15th century. It is popular among rural Sikh communities and adopted by many in the region, including Hindko speakers. Wooden swords are painstakingly carved and used in this sport. I attended Burn Hall School run by Irish priests. We knew more about European history and the Queen, rather than our own history or rulers. My father, Dr Abdul Hameed Khan, realized this distortion. He would give me books about our motherland and Islam to balance my approach to life.
He also instructed my uncle to steer me and my cousins towards rustic sports during winter vacations spent in our village near Lyallpur. Wrestling, kabbadi and guli danda were common among kids our age. However, I was drawn toward gatka. Taya (uncle) Laboo was part of the extended family. He was renowned as a “master” of gatka. He became my instructor. A ceremony was held which included the presentation of a turban and ladoos (sweets) to Taya Laboo. During my training, I quickly realized that gatka was far more glamorous from outside the ring. After each session, I would have stripes and bruises all over. It did give me confidence through acquiring skills for self-defence and channelling aggression.
This analogy came to mind watching events unfolding on our national scene. In the month of May, we shall witness a lot of shadow conflicts, like gatka, rehearsing for the next round. From experience, I know it inflicts pain. June is likely to see the showdown. One side has to blink. If allowed to fester, this conflict between self-respect seekers and the imported regime could easily blow up. It is already tearing the nation apart. A call by IK brings out throngs of people in multiple cities expressing solidarity with their leader. The tempo will continue to build.
Let there be no confusion; the “old” Pakistan is back. My friend from University days Aqeel Khawaja keeps me current by sifting through hundreds of posts and forwarding the relevant and credible ones. He saves me time, a dwindling resource at our age. Last night he shared a post of a young couple and their little daughter. Their motorcycle was damaged in a paid parking lot. The father got into an argument with the contractor. Police intervened. Rather than resolving the issue, they beat up the complainer and put him in a police van to lock him up. The youngster used the “new” Pakistan technique. He recorded his woes and released them on media. Punjab Police is renowned for its ham-fisted ways and is feeling rejuvenated by regime change. It will not work this time around.
Individual acts of violence and suppression have begun. Beatings are spreading. Be it an elder asking for a lota, a serving army officer by PML (N) goons, preventing a young barrister from joining a protest, or ramming Shahbaz Gill’s vehicle forcing it into a ditch. These are reported incidents. If you connect the dots it displays seething anger and increased nervousness amongst the imported regime, especially in Punjab.
The best barometer is Maryam Aurangzeb, Information Minister. Her pronouncements would make you laugh if the matters were not so serious. Today, she announced the regime’s decision to hold an inquiry into the “intervention memo”. Even before the commission has been constituted, she has given the verdict that it is a farce and a brainchild of IK. What a sham. Two NSC committees have verified its existence. No one from the US administration has denied the contents. Rebecca Grant, a credible and renowned National Security Analyst, has confirmed the contents. The list goes on. Panic reactions to counter the PTI narrative continues to be non-starters. The only answer is a Supreme Court ordered a public inquiry.
This imported regime has serious challenges ahead. They came in promising to control inflation. They are failing miserably. Their attempts at seizing the narrative are blowing up in their faces.
The Medina incident, despite being inappropriate, has been ignored by Saudi Authorities. People are viewing it as a spontaneous reaction by Pakistanis offended by the blatant theft of PTI’s Government. FIRs registered around the country are provoking further protests. Their paper-thin majority in Parliament can fall apart any minute.
Within a day of PTI’s announcement of holding 15 public meetings in May, PML (N) has announced its plans to hold seven similar events. The match-up is in Punjab and KP. Despite the efforts of patwaris and police augmented by “keema nans”, I doubt PTI’s enthusiasm can be countered. Self-respect is a strong motivator versus ‘rent-a-crowd’. Hot weather thus far has not impacted the enraged Pakistanis out to undo the grievous wrong inflicted on the nation. Let us see how the “Noonies” respond.
My concerns are different. As the imported regime loses ground, their narratives will wither away. As inflation explodes and their writ weakens they will resort to violence, suppression, and releasing inflammatory videos and audio. It will only add fuel to the fire. I dread a clash of institutions with the general public. It should ring alarm bells amongst the institutions tasked with safeguarding this nation.
The foundations of this regime are shaky based on bribery and foreign intervention. They will not hold up. The only answer is free and fair elections at an early date to put the nation back on rails.