April issue 2015

By | News & Politics | Published 6 years ago

“Hamaray paas aik fauj hai, kiya aap kay paas koi jung hai?” (“We have an army, do you have a war?”)

An off-the-cuff remark by a Pakistani on Facebook, as the Arab and western media circulated stories of Pakistan’s decision to send troops to Yemen at Saudi Arabia’s request.

Despite Defence Minister Khawaja Asif’s vehement denials, the country’s mainstream and social media went into overdrive, with those for and against the move trading the vilest of barbs.

The Sunni and Shia religious outfits also jumped into the fray and almost came to blows as they held public demonstrations to express the same, threatening to set off another cycle of sectarian violence in the country.

It was a month of rising temperatures — and frayed nerves.

As the Rangers cracked down on Nine-Zero and its inmates — several wanted criminals, including the convicted murderer of journalist Wali Babar — the MQM supremo went after the Rangers hammer and tong, denounced the Pakistan army, backtracked, and then revved up his anger after Saulat Mirza was pulled out of the hangman’s noose and used to launch a tirade against Bhaiand his band, on national television.

Incidentally, Bhai’s anger was not restricted to the Rangers alone. As Imran Khan passed some uncharitable remarks against the MQM chief, the latter hit back with a vengeance.

But Khan was not one to back down. Now he wants to take on Bhai on his own turf — Azizabad.

A PTI candidate will be contesting on NA 246, the MQM seat vacated by Nabil Gabol. So more fireworks — and possibly gunfire — are expected in the neighbourhood, as Imran Khan “the saviour” enters. One witnessed a trailer of it when PTI’s candidate, Imran Ismail, made a trip to Jinnah Ground to inspect the possible site of his election jalsa.  The knives were out, and accusations flew back and forth.

Meanwhile, Khan’s battle royale with Sharif and his men is over, at least for now, following the agreement on the setting up of a judicial commission. In fact, Khan and his brigade made it to the joint session of Parliament on Yemen. In any case, this is not the time for any more dharnas.

The country is in the grip of a battle for its survival as terrorists continue to give the army and civilians a tough fight. The US army is in the process of exiting Afghanistan and the Taliban have yet to come to the table for peace talks. Relations with neighbouring India, under Modi, are uneasy and fraught with risk.

And now, to add to Pakistan’s woes, the situation in Yemen threatens to embroil Pakistan in a regional dispute, if the House of Saud has its way. Difficult days lie ahead.

Rehana Hakim is one of the core team of journalists that helped start Newsline. She has been the editor-in-chief since 1996.