28 – 03 – 2008
Let us hope, and hope fervently, that we have seen the last King’s party to emerge on the country’s political scene. There will be no Ayub League again. There will be no Zia League and no Musharraf League to serve as a dangerous and destructive aberration in the name of democracy in the future.
Pakistan has already suffered hugely at these ‘political parties’ that have frequently emerged on the national scene to do the King’s bidding, and to provide him with a phoney and fantasized cover of democratic legitimacy and popular appeal.
The first such party was fathered by Pakistan’s first illegitimate ruler – Major General (Rtd) Iskandar Mirza. Incidentally it was the only King’s party that did not carry the name of Quaid-i-Azam’s Muslim League. It was named as Republican Party, and among the King’s parties it had the shortest life.
Of the three other King’s parties, only the one fathered by General Pervez Musharraf and named as PML (Q) is not yet extinct. But it’s ‘slide’ from the country’s dominant ‘political’ force to a miserable group of political outcasts has stunned even those who happen to know that such parties cannot outlive their mentors and masters. Ayub Khan’s PML perished with his ouster. So did Zia’s. Musharraf’s is unlikely to face any different fate. While I write this, I cannot help feeling sorry for the Chaudhry brothers whom I have known for over a quarter of a century. But haven’t they themselves chosen their political doom? Of course they are putting up a brave face by making explicitly known how determined they are to do their duty in the opposition. But I am sure they know that it had never been an option for them. I wonder if they realize that they should not have gone overboard to back Pakistan’s most unpopular man in history. As I write this, I myself am shocked at my candidness. But that is the truth. Ayub Khan still has his admirers. So has Ziaul Haque. But on May 12, 2007 General Pervez Musharraf became the most fiercely despised person outside the territories we call the Urban Sindh. It suddenly dawned upon the people – even those who had defended and supported his role as a leader in ‘a leaderless’ country – that he was inwardly the product of the same ‘ethnic longings and hatreds’ which had produced Altaf Hussain and his MQM.
Pervez Musharraf was always an MQM man. In this capacity one wishes he had done a lot more than he did to divest his party of its ethnicized militancy, and its Mafia-style regimentation. These reflections on my part do in no way mean that the MQM vote bank isn’t an integral part of our national fabric. But one wishes that the demons of ‘ethnic totalitarianism’ are slain sooner than later. Perhaps it can happen now that both Zardari and Altaf Hussain have started opening their arms for each other. But let Altaf curb his tendency to point accusing fingers at Punjab and its leaders. Punjab cannot help being Punjab – the province with more than half the country’s population.
It is obvious that the clandestine plan of assembling a united front against Lahore has been shot down by Mian Nawaz Sharif’s declared resolve to back the PPPP’s government unconditionally. This plan had a sinister side too, which is evident from the inexplicable delay in calling the Punjab Assembly to session. There has always been a purpose in Musharraf’s madness. It is his misfortune that no purpose of ‘his’ has been served till now. Madness of course stays on.
HOPEFULLY NO KING’S PARTY WILL BE BORN AGAIN, AND THE MQM WILL CHANGE ITS CHARACTER
28 – 03 – 2008