Quarrel-ridden weeks that the last few have been, where do we begin? With the squabble between the PPP secretary-general Jahangir Badar and Law Minister Dr Babar Awan, or with the fracas between Science Minister Azam Swati and Religious Affairs Minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi, or with the spate between Sindh home minister Dr Zulfiqar Mirza and the MQM.
As if all the above were not enough, and there is no space for more, Pakistan also has to cope with being pilloried by the world, with England, France and Germany singing a damning tune against Pakistan for their supper. With the Indian economy growing at the rate that it is, the US deal with India for US Boeings, the $16 billion Indian deal with China during the recent visit of the Chinese premier, India's trade expansion with China to $100 billion in five years, the threesome from Europe with gasping economies can only drool, and sing tunes to please Indian ears.
Then, there are the accursed Wiklileaks, which not all the verbal gymnastics and cleverness of wordsmiths and deception artists of the PPP, of the assorted PMLs, of Maulana Fazlur Rahman's party, will wipe away. The clumsy attempt to get mileage from Wikileaks by planting spurious cables boomeranged. Who would have thought anyone would sift through a quarter of a million Wikileaks cables to uncover the spurious ones. Too bad, someone did.
Jahangir Badar is convinced that Dr Babar Awan is after his job. If it was a question of swapping jobs, Badar would probably not mind being law minister, or an officer of the law. Benazir Bhutto, after all, threatened once to make Jahangir Badar the chief justice of the Supreme Court. For Jahangir Badar, the fact that all held their breath after Benazir's threat is irrelevant. These are different times after all, when nothing has to make sense, or appear rational, before being put into effect. Dr Babar Awan has done a yeoman's job for the president by successfully blocking actions against NRO beneficiaries after the NRO's invalidation by the Supreme Court, by creating rifts in the lawyers' community through raining funds on district bar councils, and in other valued ways. If the lawyers' movement had not forced the PPP to restore the judges, Babar Awan and Agha Rafiq Ahmed, who was a Sindh High Court judge and is a close friend of the president, were said to be top-runners for appointment as chief justice of the country. In the event Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar had to be replaced.
Minister of Science Azam Swati of the JUI-F and Minister of Religious Affairs Syed Saeed Hamid Kazmi of the PPP have been at each other's throats for the unprecedented corruption during this year's Haj. Both ministers have been sacked, more for the reason that their infighting was embarrassing the government than for the corruption issue, which, for the prime minister, was probably a lesser wrong.
Maulana Fazlur Rahman has walked out of the coalition, supposedly to protest Swati's sacking, but more likely to try and cobble up new options, ones with greater nuisance value to reinforce his bargaining power. If no new options come up, the good Maulana should be back in the coalition. If there is one thing the Haj scandal has proved, it is that for the last three years it has been open season for corruption in the Islamic Republic. This is being unashamedly indulged in, at all levels, with frenzied urgency to make hay while the sun shines. It is like Robin Hood and his merry men, who robbed the rich to give to the poor. Except, our band of "merry men" are robbing the poor, and the poor country, and pocketing the loot.
The Haj scandal is a shame which the Islamic Republic will find hard to live down. It is an outrageous climax which should make us ponder if the prefix, " Islamic" should not be dropped from the country's name, until the country is made worthy of it.
The Sindh home minister's recent rant against the MQM is an outburst of frustration at his failure to do his job. He is trying to find scapegoats, like his party's government is continually finding scapegoats for its failure to do its job, or govern competently. The MQM must not let the home min- ister's rant, which clearly has unspoken PPP approval, divert it from its objective to be a national political party of the middleclass in Pakistan.
This is a nightmare scenario for the PPP. It will do the utmost, as will other political parties, which are hostage to one family, and succession is hereditary, to make the "ethnic" label stick to the MQM. The inherent hostility of family-run parties towards the MQM and Tehreek-e-Insaf stems from their fear of middleclass support for the two parties snowballing.
The current campaign for influx into Karachi of people from PK should not be resisted by anyone, least of all by the MQM. On the contrary, the MQM must commence a programme of service to newcomers, to help them regard Karachi less in the way that immigrant workers regard Dubai, and more as another city of Sindh, and of their country.