Islamabad—We knew it was going to be dirty. But we could never imagine that it would so dirty.
Old timers in the Press Gallery agreed that this was arguably the dirtiest ever National Assembly bedlam. And believe it, these foggys have seen it all. We saw Ghulam Ishaq Khan sweating to near-death when faced with “Go-Baba-Go” chanting of Benazir’s PPP. We were also witness to Farooq Leghari’s fall from grace when he too was subjected to “Go-Laghari-Go” grill. Then we also saw Commando Pervaiz Musharraf trembling in his pants when he was hooted while addressing the Parliament as President. But this surpassed all that.
We can’t even use the usual clichés as ‘fish market’ to describe it. It was worse. It was not just uninterrupted 90-minute shrieking and sloganeering. The newly elected Law-makers whistled, tore official papers and then threw them in air-as money is thrown in desi mujras. Led by family tonga squaud of women brought on reserved seats, they might have attacked Prime Minister-select Imran Khan if he was not encircled by has Boxer colleagues as Shehryar Afridi and Amin Gandapur. To his credit, Imran maintained a casual smirk on his face, his fingers on rosary moving faster very time the pushing got stronger.
That this should have happened on the auspicious day a new Prime Minister got elected, made it worse. It’s supposed to be a goody-goody day when even sworn political enemies say nice things about each other. Prime Minister gives his vision of future and promises to carry everybody along. And Opposition responds positively even when it doesn’t mean it. Here I am not talking about the US where everybody waits for the loser to call the President elect to accept defeat and then congratulate the victor. Even Imran Khan did that in 1993 even when he had bigger grievances of rigging in elections. He had congratulated Nawaz Sharif on becoming the Prime Minister. His contention was later proven by the SC inquiry where, as he said today, 25 million votes were found dubious. But N League got away because the courts, while accepting the lapse, argued that it couldn’t find any organized rigging.
N League is yet to furnish proofs and one hopes IK accepts its demand of making a Parliamentary committee to probe it.
But the root of this all was that N League simply can’t swallow Imran Khan as Prime Minister. It’s not politics; it’s personal. Moreover, the Nawaz-Mariam camp thinks this is the only way they could pressure Imran from not pursing their cases further.
That may have backfired. Imran got reactive and swore that he would not let any NRO take place and would put every “dakoo” in jail and bring back the looted money from abroad. Now that he’s got the tools of FIA, Police, SECP, FBR, Auditor General, under him he could very well initiate the first ever thorough investigations into the accounts of not just Sharifs but their whole coterie.
PMLN may have lost some sympathy by going overboard in their rioting. And it’s difficult to maintain this tempo. IK was right to throw a challenge by offering them a container and logistics. Remember Shahbaz Sharif couldn’t take a few thousand to Lahore Airport to receive his brother. He seemed like a rubber stamp before Nawaz-Mariam’s camp. We could see from the Gallery that Mariam Aurangzeb went over to him to whisper something in his ear-probably just to let him on to the planned agitation.
Incidentally, He too couldn’t make an effective debut speech at the National Assembly as PTI gang staged a tit-for-tat hackling during his speech. This was in bad taste as PTI was not a government and could not match the opposition in rioting. That might take some time for the Khan who got to this position after 22-year struggle.
It’s obvious that he would not get a peaceful tenure. He would have to play this much under constant tumult. That might be a very difficult task considering his ambitious agenda and difficult circumstances, particularly on the economic front.
And he continues to err on the selection of his team. After some controversy on his selection of his KP CM, the choice of Usman Buzdar has raised many eyebrows. Good that he’s from South of Punjab. At least this should make our friend Rauf KLasra happy. But he is no middle class. He is son of the Tummandar of Buzdars who have influence in five union councils of D G Khan’s tribal area bordering Balochistan. His father Fateh Mohammad Buzdar was a three-time MPA in Punjab Assembly but Usman may have serious capacity issues. His only political experience is that of being a Tehsil Nazim comprising just five Union Councils. He is a first-time MPA and is not known to be articulate, let alone handle the political elite of Lahore and the sharks in officialdom, hardly the material for bringing about Naya Pakistan. But then this might be the reason that he was selected and promoted by his chief patron-Jahangir Tareen. Buzdar might be the perfect rubber stamp for him to run Punjab from behind and to keep the likes of Shah Mehmood Qureshi out.
The hero of the day was Bilawal Bhutto. Only if he could get rid of his baggage-read Asif Zardari. His maiden speech was the best-most suited to the occasion, presenting his vision on local issues and foreign policy.