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President Should Act Swiftly To Dispel All Doubts

A comedy of errors took place yesterday when this column of mine was mistakenly placed by the ‘erring’ computer under the heading of ‘Editor’s Comments’. It shows that computers and humans both can err, and there is always some room as well as reason for apology and rectification. I can’t help wishing in this context that President Pervez Musharraf is led to reassess and reshape the policies he has recently been pursuing, much to the discomfort of his own self as well as the nation. Meaning thereby that it is never too late to rectify the mistakes that are made (and have been made).
For example, condoning the act of Karachi Government to expel (deport?) bonafide citizens of Pakistan from the province of Sind amounts to ‘recognising the right of some divisive ethnic zealots in that government to issue or to refuse ‘entry permits’ or ‘visas’ to those fellow citizens of Pakistan who happen to have a different linguistic, racial, ethnic, ideological or political background.
This is a dangerous precedence to set. Its symbolic implications can lead to disastrous consequences. Any act or gesture on the part of the President that may suggest that ‘his loyalties to the Nation as a whole are matched, if not surpassed, by his loyalties to his roots, can provide his adversaries an excellent weapon to be used against him. There already are quarters where it is argued that among the reasons which led to the induction of the ‘City Government’ system in the country was ‘the objective’ of handing ‘Karachi’ over to a party with his ethnic roots. President can simply not afford to provide these quarters more firepower than they have.
Punjab has a glorious and unparalleled history and tradition of accepting leaders from all ethnic backgrounds, provided that they are seen as rising above all petty prejudices, and happen to be championing only national and ideological causes.
The cases of Quaid-i-Azam and ZAB are supreme examples in this context. Only by simulating these examples and by forcefully rejecting the ethnic cover being provided by the MQM can the President lay a convincing claim on the high pedestal of national leadership that does not rely on the power of the uniform alone.

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