March Issue 2015
Post-Elections 2013, rigging was the issue; as the March 5 Senate elections drew near, it was horse-trading.
Interestingly, two sworn enemies of yesteryear — Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif — cast their differences aside and agreed to fast-forward the proposed 22nd Amendment to the Constitution, calling for “open balloting” instead of “secret balloting” in the Senate elections. Meanwhile, Sharif’s erstwhile friends — Asif Zardari, Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Asfandyar Wali — proved to be the spoilers in the game.
Politics makes for strange bedfellows as it takes unlikely twists and turns. At the end of the day, it is only about the coveted throne.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s chief minister complained about loss of sleep over the sackfuls of notes that were being offered to PTI legislators as bribes by the candidates to win their votes in the Senate elections. One would rather he lost some sleep over the state of his province, where the army is fighting a full-blown war with terrorists.
And that goes for all other political parties who are currently engaged in what seems like a battle for their lives as they cobble together assorted alliances. Among the most active in this wheeling and dealing is its past master, PPP chairman Asif Zardari. Karachi — and Pakistan — can wait. Never mind that it is in the grip of extortionists, extremists, land grabbers, drug mafias and the like. Never mind that a Shia is being killed every day. For Zardari and his minions, it’s “business” as usual.
The MQM, meanwhile, has its own axe to grind. It continues with its ‘To join or not to join the PPP’ tamasha for the umpteenth time. As for the PML-N, it stays in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
The only institution that seems to be truly focused on the job at hand is the army as it fights what its chief calls the final battle for Pakistan’s soul.
But this battle cannot be won by the men-in-uniform alone, to whom the civilian leadership seems to have abdicated all responsibility. The government has to wrest control of the narrative from those nurseries of terrorism — the madrassahs — that are churning out battalions of extremists and refuse to be registered, monitored or audited. The Lal Masjid, whose Jamia Hafsa invited ISIS — the beheaders’ brigade — to establish their rule in Pakistan, is a classic example of the dangerous path some madrassahs are treading.
In a damning indictment, one of the PML-N’s own ministers stated that Saudi Arabia was the biggest donor to the madrassahs in Pakistan. News is that Nawaz Sharif is headed for Saudi Arabia at the invitation of the new king.
The moot point is, given his business interests in the Holy Land, will the prime minister request the Saudis to freeze all funds to the errant madrassahs or will he apologise for his minister’s ‘faux-pas?’
Rehana Hakim is one of the core team of journalists that helped start Newsline. She has been the editor-in-chief since 1996.