Quar­rel-rid­den weeks

The Pak Banker - - Editorial - S Khalid Hu­sain

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.

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