Tuesday, August 19, 2014

PTI’s DESPERATE GAMBLE- WHEN "LONG MARCH" TURNS INTO "WRONG MARCH"

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf’s (PTI) ‘Independence March’ began with a call for the government to resign. It ends with the PTI saying it will resign instead from the National Assembly (NA) and all provincial assemblies except Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), though both decisions are still under debate. Flanked by a worried looking KP Chief Minister (CM) who undoubtedly sees a hard won election victory going down the drain, Imran Khan made the announcement in Islamabad yesterday and said he and his supporters will enter the Red Zone where sensitive government installations are located, despite having given written assurances to the authorities that he would not do so. What this desperate measure is meant to achieve appears to be nothing more than saving Imran the embarrassment of having to back down and admit his march failed to gather the critical mass of people necessary to appear as a legitimate popular movement.

If the PTI does resign the government will have to hold by-elections, where the PTI will probably lose seats if it contests. This could lead to dissent within the party if legislators have to reinvest in campaigning so soon after victory because of their leader’s short-sighted electoral politics. In KP, despite forming the government, the PTI does not have a majority of seats, meaning that if it resigns, unless the CM dissolves the assembly there is a precedent for a minority government that could reign in the interim until by-elections fill the remaining seats. The announcement follows Imran Khan’s garbled call for ‘civil disobedience’ on Sunday, which consists of his supporters refusing to pay bills and taxes. This should not inconvenience the government since it can cut electricity to defaulters, confiscate assets, and punish tax evaders under the relevant laws. It is also difficult to imagine several thousand charged party workers facing off against several thousand policemen in Islamabad’s most sensitive area, the Red Zone, without violence, in spite of his declaration. Since Imran has descended into delusion, the government must ensure restraint in what is a potentially combustible environment.

The government put Islamabad on red alert following the announcement, and the worry is that if ‘civil disobedience’ or marching on the Red Zone leads to clashes, bloodshed and arrests, the country could descend into further anarchy. With terrorism rampant, security is a prime concern and the government has a legitimate worry about letting thousands of people into the country’s nerve-centre. Moreover, a march into the Red Zone achieves nothing aside from a symbolic partial victory. Is it worth losing a strong presence in the NA and the provincial Assemblies? From the perspective of electoral politics, no it is not.

From a populist perspective, Imran is playing the only card he has left. This is not the stuff of revolutions; even the Kiev ‘Maidan’, a similar putsch to Imran’s attempt, had as many as 150,000 people in a country with a much smaller population. This should tell Imran two things; first, his popularity is not as widespread and unflinching as he assumed, which casts doubt on his claim that the 2013 elections were rigged. Second, his protest caused a great deal of uncertainty and upset for ordinary citizens who want nothing more than a few years of stability in which to reorder their lives. It has made him deeply unpopular with many of his former supporters. If anything, it may have strengthened the government, which now has every major political party on its side and appears relatively sane by comparison, its past sins of omission and commission notwithstanding. It repeatedly offered Imran a way out and is still doing so, setting up multi-party committees to negotiate with the PTI and PAT.
Iman Khan now has three options: he can turn to violence, he can negotiate, or his party can resign and fade into obscurity. Nawaz Sharif has given no indication he will resign, and Imran’s best hope of leaving this debacle behind is to accept the government’s peace offering and push his remaining demands at the negotiating table. If his party follows through with the threat to resign, he will be the only loser.  

Courtesy Daily Times

Saturday, August 2, 2014

MAJID NIZAMI: END OF A JOURNALISTIC ERA

Majid Nizami and my father Bashir Hussain Nazim had not only enjoyed unconditional friendship spanning over four and a half decade but also had a similar personal traits, i-e love for motherland, ideology of Pakistan, philosophy of Iqbal, political sagacity of Quaid and last but surely not the least their resistance against dictatorial regimes. 
P.S: Both left this mortal world on sacred days of Islamic calendar. Bashir Hussain Nazim was laid to rest on 27th Rajab (Shab-e-Meraj) June 17, 2012 while Majid Nizami was handed over to his maker on 27th Ramadan (July 26, 2014).   

With the passing away of Dr. Majid Nizami, chief of the Nawa-i-Waqt group of publications, has come to end an important era in Pakistan's history of journalism. Majid Sahib, as he was popularly known, took over the paper after the demise of his elder brother, Hameed Nizami, founder of Nawa-i-Waqt and a pioneer of independent journalism in this country.

In his professional career spanning well over half a century, Dr Nizami made a name for himself as a highly-respected editor. This did not come easy in a country where press has always been under pressure from military rulers, even civilian governments. True to a quotation his paper carried each day on its masthead "telling the truth to an oppressive ruler is jihad", he never hesitated to speak truth to power.

Unlike many in the profession who change colour with the changing times out of self-interest, Nizami always firmly stood by his convictions. Throughout his life he remained an ardent advocate of the 'Ideology of Pakistan', and helped found the Nazria-i-Pakistan Trust, an institution dedicated to the promotion and projection of the "Ideology of Pakistan as enunciated by Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Allama Mohammad Iqbal."

Equally zealously he supported the Kashmir cause, and argued for continuation of a confrontational policy towards India. He was also a strong proponent of a nuclear Pakistan. When it came to issues pertaining to India he could be the most hawkish of hawks. He was as uncompromising on the question of normalisation with India without resolution of Kashmir as he was on what he called 'slavery of military overlordship'. Clearly, on the former score, Majid Nizami was out of tune with the times.

Quoting an incident while fixing my date of wedding in the month of April (2012), my father (Bashir Hussain Nazim) straightaway shifted the date of April 21 to April 28 because of an annual function held under the aegis of Nazria Pakistan Trust where he had been reciting Kalam-e-Iqbal for the last 40 years. In this regard he was conferred upon “Iqbal Gold Medal” at Lahore in a ceremony.    

Strong views elicit strong reactions. Not only did Majid Nizami Sahib have a loyal following in some sections of society, he was arguably revered by country's military establishment. But he also had many critics because of his views on the controversial 'ideology of Pakistan' and a belligerent stance on India. To give him his due, he practiced what he believed in. Even though there are few takers left of his views on India, he stuck to them. The consistency with which he dealt with various other national issues and concerns commanded respect. He will long be remembered for the contribution he made to the cause of democracy as editor of a popular Urdu daily.

Majid Nizami will be missed as an upright editor who always wrote and said the right thing under the most trying circumstances. He will be remembered for his legacy of high standards of journalism and proprietorship. May his soul should rest in eternal peace.