On the brink of civil war?

Farheen Anwar | Head-Set Option | Saturday, May 12th, 2007

What is Pakistani politics coming to? Why is the government restricting the opposition’s efforts to secure support of a few thousand people when they are confident of their own strength and authenticity? What are they afraid of?

An insight into the history of current affairs should provide us with sufficient answers.In chronological order, it starts with the CJ’s denial of the Steel Mill’s privatization and exclusion of other by-laws which he considered judicially discrepant and erroneous.All this went against the President’s reign, leading to the government’s heightened embarrassment. It gave way to his displeasure and subsequent attempts to force the CJ to either take back his decisions or quietly resign. The CJ’s refusal of both options aggravated the government’s reaction and they filed a ‘fundamentally strong’ case against the CJ. The allegations included the usage of a private plane on several occasions and the appointment of the Chief Justice’s son as medical officer in the Provincial Health Department, as a member of the Police Services of Pakistan, and the nomination of his son for a foreign course on combating international terrorism.

How do these allegations compare to the millions of rupees taken as loan by several members of the national assembly and parliament and written off with the President’s consent? Leaving that issue for another time, lets head back to the issue at hand today, the inter city rallies taking place all over Pakistan. The rallies taken out by the CJ and his supporters in the northern parts of the country were done so peacefully without any riots. However, when the same rally is channeled to Karachi with the backing of the country’s most didactic and respectable professionals, they face government resistance! The government’s puppets, better known as Muttahida Qaumi Movement, took full advantage of being in power in Sindh. The Adviser to Chief Minister for Home Affairs, Waseem Akhtar, warns the CJ that his life is in danger upon his arrival in Karachi. Unless Waseem Akhtar and his fellow MQM-ers decide to take such drastic measures, there is no harm to the CJ’s life. The opposition is in favor of the Justice, why would they want to hurt him in any way? And if in retaliation to the opposition’s rally, MQM wanted to take out its own, why didn’t the central government hold back its pet dogs? Not only did they decide to take their own rally out, they blocked all routes which the Chief Justice had decided to take, jeopardized the opposition’s vehicles, and kept the Chief Justice Iftakhar Chaudhry, Aitezaz Ahsan and all other lawyers stranded at the airport until they had no choice left but to accept boarding passes back to Islamabad! In the meantime, the Karachi police was stripped of all their powers to stop riots on the potential throngs on the streets. They shamelessly watched the massacre with fellow rangers. As if that was not enough to quench their thirst for power, they chose to shoot a few individuals to make their point LOUD AND CLEAR!

What is coming out of all this, other than the clash of dirty politics? Innocent people who decide to take a stance that they believe is right, are dying.On the other hand, the President himself addressed the general public in Islamabad from a bullet proof glass box with his toy Prime Minister and pawn government officials where the Police and Rangers positioned were alert and maintained security efficiently.What a democracy where one has to fight for one’s own life to support policies that do not follow the government’s agenda, where one has to die for having an independent opinion!

The President claims this is not a political matter. Tehrik-e-Insaaf’s chairman, Imran Khan, claims it IS a political war. Politics,by definition, is matters between the state and citizens.Who could represent that relation better that the Chief Justice who maintains law between the state and citizens. So, addressing definitions, it IS a political issue. Had the political parties not amalgamated their political with lawyers and judicial powers, the Jamali chapter would repeat itself.

Tomorrow is Black Day in Karachi, followed by God knows how many days of strikes by several agencies. Are we going to see further bloodshed? Where are the law enforcement agencies of the country? What comes of the people who lost their lives innocently? Why could MQM not have taken out its rally a day before or after the 12th of May? Was this manslaughter planned? Who is responsible? Is the country on the brink of civil war?

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