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The Sahibaan Enigma

Speaking at his brother’s residence soon after arrival from the USA, former Caretaker PM, Moeen Qureshi said that keeping in view the political and economic challenges confronting the country as well as the internal and external problems all segments of the society should give up confrontation and evolve national consensus. MQ said that the law and order situation in Pakistan was deteriorating and until the problem was resolved the country could not develop. While declaring himself as “not a supporter of Martial Law” since democracy was restored in the country after a long struggle, MQ said that during general elections in the country he had insisted on the formation of a national government as according to the results of the elections, both the largest political parties of the country had won equal votes. The former PM said that as per democratic spirit an in-house change could be made in the country as a national government was the need of the time. During this Press Conference, he was flanked by the Minister for Information during his tenure, Mr. Nisar Memon, the long serving IBM Chief in Pakistan. Thankfully, other members of the American Business Council (ABC) and the Overseas Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who made up a fair segment of his Caretaker Cabinet, were not present as then it would look very much as the kick-off of a selection campaign by this expatriate Pakistani to become PM of another “national” government.

For the record, what do Maulana Sattar Edhi, Lt Gen (Retd) Hameed Gul, Imran Khan and Moeen Qureshi have in common? Well, for starters all of them do not belong to any political party but have “the best of Pakistan at heart”. Given that Edhi got cold feet at being asked to join Imran Khan and play the role of a “pressure group” on the national stage and is, therefore, out of contention, there is a logistics connection of sorts between Hameed Gul, a former spy-master known to be skilled at “The Great Game” who is encouraging Imran Khan in his back-to-Islamic basics, and Moeen Qureshi which makes the mixture  very interesting. The General is known to generally have views about an Islamic “Green Crescent of Countries” in Asia that is anathema to the US and the west while MQ is very much in the US camp despite his stating that Pakistan should make policies without caring for America and European countries, to quote “we should not think that certain steps would anger the US nor should we take measures to please the Superpower, rather Pakistan should decide its affairs independently”, unquote. For someone who makes his permanent home in Washington rather than in Pakistan (being only available to Pakistan from time to time as a candidate for PM (or President), these are brave words indeed. One must hope these are meant from the heart as a Pakistani and not just as rhetoric for consumption of our extremely gullible public.

Nobody doubts the sincerity of Imran Khan or Hameed Gul or for that matter Moeen Qureshi, they are all patriotic Pakistanis but the fact remains that their mettle has not been tested against the whims and caprices of the electorate in contrast to the struggles of Ms Benazir Bhutto and Mian Nawaz Sharif. As for MQ’s arrival at this rather delicate period in our crisis-ridden history, the inner trio in the Army led by the then Chief of General Staff (CGS) Pakistan Army, Lt Gen Farrukh Khan, who orchestrated MQ’s first political arrival on the Pakistani scene in mid-1993 as their selected PM, do not exist to call the political shots as a powerful triumvirate anymore. Though at least one gentleman survives in a particularly sensitive post, his individual loyalties may have shifted along with career aspirations to the present incumbent PM. The circumstances that propelled MQ from virtually nowhere to the most powerful PM in recent history, albeit for a short time, are also quite different. Ms Benazir is still firmly in control as PM while the PML that accepted his selection the last time around with alacrity and got burnt by his choice of Governors, CMs and civil administration (who were almost unanimously opposed to Mian Nawaz Sharif’s return to power), may not be so gullible (and therefore amenable) this time. After all, only Henry Wilson could sell the Eiffel Tower twice!

In Afghanistan we have a grassroots indigenous phenomenon called “The Taliban Movement” whose objectives are quite clear and who have undergone years of hard rigour in the battlefield before reaching this stage. Other than the fact that they are ready to give up their lives for what they sincerely believe in, they have no controversy about being controlled by masters, external or internal. In contrast, the equivalent third force in Pakistan seems to have emanated mainly from drawing rooms and seem to have too many midwives and/or controllers. Given the fact that some of them seem to be only available to be being selected to serve Pakistan rather than being elected to serve the country, in contrast to the indigenous “Taliban Phenomenon” they can be called the “Sahibaan Enigma”. Far removed from the sound of any battle, they are not prepared to even face the public at the hustings but want to go straight from the drawing rooms to an Oath-Taking Ceremony on the basis of supportive manipulations and a sophisticated media campaign. Imran Khan and Hameed Gul are at least in constant touch with the general public in Pakistan and living in this country, what about “the Man who would be PM”? If MQ has come only to persuade GOP and Gordon Wu to paper over their commercial differences about power stations, he is more than welcome. But if the former selected PM wants to convey that “Barkis is willing” to the powers-that-be, then we must become a little more wary and less gullible about this absentee landlord-ism than we were the first time around.

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