Kashmir: The Forgotten Jugular Vein

The following article has been published in the Sunday Edition of Pakistan Today, dated 31st August 2014
(For online version: http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2014/08/30/comment/kashmir-the-forgotten-jugular-vein/ )

(For Published Version, Page 9:   http://issuu.com/abidoon/docs/dna_issue_39/9?e=3820687/9123742 )

Kashmir: The Forgotten Jugular Vein

What it still means to Pakistan

Prof Dp

By: Omer Zaheer Meer

The author is a Director of the think-tank “Millat Thinkers’ Forum”. He is a leading economist, qualified accountant and anti-money laundering expert with international exposure who can be reached on Twitter and www.myMFB.com @OmerZaheerMeer  or omerzaheermeer@hotmail.co.uk

Just like all beautiful things in this world, Kashmir, the heaven on Earth has been a victim of its own charm. While most people in the sub-continent and world over know of the miseries of Kashmiris since 1947, their hardships and slavery has dated back long. It was the fateful year of 1820 when tyranny took over the beautiful region with Ranjeet Singh annexing it. However it was yet to see the worst. In 1846, following the defeat of Sikhs in the first Anglo-Sikh war, the so-called “Maharaja” Gulab Singh “purchased” Kashmir along with all its inhabitants for a paltry 7.5 million Rupees from none other than the torch bearer of civilization and human-rights, the then British Empire. After the worst possible atrocities and subjugation a nation has been subjected to in human history, Kashmiris saw ray of hope with the arrival of 1947.

A new Muslim state was been carved out in the subcontinent named Pakistan. The region comprising this new state shared natural, logistical, economic, cultural, religious as well historic ties with Jammu and Kashmir. The overwhelming majority of Kashmir at the time, according to some studies over 80% was Muslim. The masses believed it was their democratic right as well as natural to become part of Pakistan. However there was a catch. According to the Independence Plan the Indo-Pak region was divided on the basis of religious majority of Muslims and Hindus but the independent princely states were to decide their own faith but encourage to join India or Pakistan while taking into account geographical contiguity and the wishes of their people. Any disputes were to be resolved by holding plebiscites.

The subjugation of Kashmiris ultimately led to an internal revolt in the “Poonch” region against the “Dogra Raj” resulting in declaration of “Azad” Kashmir government. The cries for support against the ruthless Dogra oppressors were answered by the poorly armed Pashton tribes from the mountainous terrains of Pakistan, sharing a strong bond of religion. As a result Hari Singh asked for help from India and was forced to sign an alleged accession document as per Indian claims despite having already signed a “standstill” agreement with Pakistan.

Worried by Indian aggression, Quaid-e-Azam ordered the British commander-in-chief of Pakistan Army, General Gracey to send in Pakistan Army units to aid Kashmiris but he refused setting a despicable blot on his name. A few low-ranking Pakistan Army officers voluntarily joined the warring tribes and reached the outskirts of Srinagar. However unnecessary changes of command, lack of proper arms and ammunitions and deficiency in numbers of the rag-tag militiamen meant they were no match materially for the regular Indian Army. However their passion, skill and bravery they fought with led them to not only liberate a vast region but inflicted such damage that the Indian Prime Minister Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru himself took the matter to the United Nations (UN) requesting a cease-fire and asking for a plebiscite in Kashmir under the UN watch, accepting it to be a disputed territory.

Before proceeding further, let me share an interesting excerpt from a historic address with you: “It (Kashmir) is a people with a soul of its own and an individuality of its own. Kashmir is not the property of either India or Pakistan. It belongs to the people of Kashmir, and the people of Kashmir alone will decide as to what their future affiliation and course of action will be”. The excerpt you just read is not said by any Pakistani or Kashmiri leader but these are words of the Prime Minister of India Mr. Nehru himself.

It is a sad tragedy that the so-called largest democracy in the world has enslaved an entire people against their will and back-tracked on its own commitments to not only them but the whole world for the seventh decade now. What’s more pitiful is the hypocrisy practiced by India. It annexed Hyderabad and Junagargh, both ruled by Muslim rulers despite the first declaring independence and the latter signing accession to Pakistan. India claimed that since the majority of the population was Hindu in both states, the independence and accession agreement do not hold. But when it came to Kashmir which was exactly a mirror image with a majority of Muslim population ruled by a non-Muslim ruler, India changed its own stance claiming the alleged accession agreement was to hold in this case. In effect, India practiced imperialist hypocrisy null of any principles. What’s more it even refuses to date to honor its own pledge of a plebiscite in Kashmir, which it made to the international community.

As of today, despite the partially successful 1948 liberation war and subsequent events including 1962 Indo-China war, the state of Jammu and Kashmir stands divided into three regions, the Indian-Occupied Jammu, Kashmir Valley and Ladakh, the Pakistan-administered Azad Kashmir and Gilgit–Baltistan and the Chinese-administered regions of Aksai Chin and the Trans-Karakoram Tract.

On its part, Pakistan fought several wars with India over the Kashmir dispute but missed some golden opportunities. During the 1962 Indo-China war, Kashmir was virtually “empty” of Indian Army and Pakistan was sent a message by Chinese to move in and take over what was rightfully theirs. However the dictator at the time, Field Marshal Ayub Khan let the opportunity slip. Earlier during the 1948 liberation war, Pakistan accepted a ceasefire when its tribal militia without support of regular Pakistan Army was inflicting serious damage to regular Indian Army, letting an opportunity to liberate Kashmir slip away.

Reading this all, you may be wondering why is Kashmir still so important to Pakistan and do Kashmiris still want to join Pakistan? While the latter can be determined by a plebiscite we can examine the first. All of Pakistan’s rivers flow from Kashmir. The Indian occupation has pursued controversial projects to implement a water control strategy designed to starve Pakistan of its lifeline of water supplies. The consequences of water scarcity require a detailed write-up but it can be safely said that it’ll put the very existence of Pakistan at risk.

It was not without reason that the wise Quaid-e-Azam said “Kashmir is the jugular vein of Pakistan and no nation can allow its jugular vein to be held by the enemy”. Even if one was to think beyond the atrocities by Imperialist India warranting a compassionate response, an independent Kashmir with defense pacts would be better for both Kashmir and Pakistan compared to an Indian Occupied one. Pakistan should therefore continue to stand beside the brave Kashmiris who have given unprecedented sacrifices for freedom and lend all the support possible for their just cause.

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PTI, PAT vs PML-N: Sagacity in short supply

The following article has been published in the Sunday Edition of Pakistan Today, dated 24th August 2014
(For online version: http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2014/08/23/featured/pti-pat-vs-pml-n-sagacity-in-short-supply/ )

(For Published Version, Page 9:   http://issuu.com/abidoon/docs/dna_issue_38/9?e=3820687/9038422 )

PTI, PAT vs PML-N: Sagacity in short supply

Take the third umpire’s advice seriously

Prof Dp

By: Omer Zaheer Meer

The author is a Director of the think-tank “Millat Thinkers’ Forum”. He is a leading economist, qualified accountant and anti-money laundering expert with international exposure who can be reached on Twitter and www.myMFB.com @OmerZaheerMeer  or omerzaheermeer@hotmail.co.uk

A small problem that could’ve been resolved easily has been turned into a national crisis. It’s often said that to understand complex issues one should go back to the root-cause of the problem. The current political crisis began with Imran Khan’s very reasonable demands of investigating four selected constituencies for rigging and taking corrective action for the shortcomings. The government logically asked for same number of PTI won constituencies to be investigated too and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) readily agreed to that. Unfortunately there had been no concrete development on the issue since which has led to the stance of PTI getting much more stiffer with the ultimate demand now of PM Mian Nawaz Sharif’s resignation and mid-term polls under a reformed Election Commission after the alleged “culprits” of rigging in 2013’s General Elections are punished.

The government on its part was worried that if there were any issues to be found in the four constituencies, it may lead to the calls for mid-term polls as the legitimacy of the set-up would be called into questions. However the crisis has lead to exactly that situation and this could’ve perhaps been averted had the Government took positive actions before. What’s been interesting is the changing narrative of the incumbent Government which claimed that it was not authorized to and cannot open up the four constituencies after Chaudhary Nisar, the Federal Minister for Interior agreed to open up “40 constituencies” in National Assembly. However as the crisis peaked, the same Government proposed asking Supreme Court for forming a commission to investigate the allegations of rigging while there were also proposals of bringing “Ordinance” to open up the four constituencies initially selected for audit and verification by Mr. Imran Khan’s PTI.

Certain quarters claim that atleast some of the four key ministers, Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Federal Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique, Federal Minister for Planning and Development Mr. Ahsan Iqbal and Federal Minister of Defense Khawaja Asif did not wish to let their “victories” be examined and as such used their influence to push the PMLN Government to a harder line by selling the above narrative within PMLN in order to ensure their own seats were not in danger.

It wasn’t as if the pressure of the campaign re four constituencies by PTI was sufficient to bring matters to the current boiling point. If we recall, things were actually looking quite comfortable for PMLN Government until that fateful incident of Model Town slaughter. Operation “Zarb-e-Azb” was announced, differences with Military Establishment were substantially reduced, public opinion was against protests during such an important operation, PTI had already announced cancellation of its Bahawalpur Jalsa while Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) was about to do so. Than somewhere, someone decided to “teach a lesson” to Mr. Qadri and set an example for opposition as accepted in less straighter words by ex-Minister for Law (Punjab) Rana SanaUllah during television programs. However the operation on Minhaj-ul-Quran cum PAT secretariat to remove barriers backfired and gave blood of unarmed civilians to the opposition. From there on, the anti-government movement gained momentum culminating into “Azadi” and “Inqilab” marches.

That momentum should make one wonder that how the opposition lost the steam going into the marches. PAT was always going to be the determined religious cult beefed up by the Minhaj associated youth and workers. It was PTI who was deemed the bigger player, the game-changer on its own. However over the past eight days what we’ve witnessed, though unprecedented in terms of the determination and zeal shown by PTI supporters, has left many surprised by a less than expected show of power by PTI. So let us examine what exactly went wrong?

Firstly the administration was ill-planned and organizational communication minimal if any. The arrangements were redundant. Several PTI’s office bearers left Islamabad on 15th owing to a lack of even basic arrangements, non-presence of party representatives/organizers and no-communication from party as to the expected arrival of the main procession led by Imran Khan. A prime example of the mismanagement was that despite the extreme weather forecast, the organizers didn’t bother to arrange for even a basic and cheap item like umbrellas which would not only have protected the participants from elements but also provided shade and sense of safety without the need to hold sticks. Furthermore post the infamous intra-party elections, the losing party workers who are in majority as only one of the five to ten contestants won, feel disgruntled. This majority was not taken on board or reached out to. As a result they didn’t attend or work for the success of the “Azadi March” nor did they ask their supporters to do so.

Against all mainstream analysis and despite all the internal setbacks and unprecedented failure of march organizers, Imran Khan’s own determination, resilience and charisma has done wonders in not only getting a very decent number of supporters out but motivating them enough to stay on the streets for an unprecedented eight days till now. Most of the analyst believed that PTI’s supporters were too soft to stay on roads for long and that too in extreme weather conditions. However the determination of highly motivated PTI cadre has been no less than PAT’s religious zealots.

This whole situation, however, has serious implications for the country. The pride and stubbornness of the Government has resulted in missing key moments for resolving the conflict. For fourteen months PTi kept asking for audit of just four constituencies which was ignored, the deadline by Imran Khan during Ramadan was also brushed aside and more foolishly instead of capitalizing on an initially weak show by PTI on arrival in Islamabad, PTI by mocked by key ministers of PMLN. PTI has since gained much of the lost ground. Khan has now repeatedly stated that he won’t accept anything sans PM’s resignation while PM is as likely to resign as Imran is of backing off his own words. The negotiations ended in cruel joke when Government suddenly decided to put up containers back and IG Islamabad was transferred for allegedly refusing to use force on protestors.

While PMLN rightly states that majority of the parliamentary parties are on its side, this stalemate virtually melting down the economy cannot go on forever. If this situation is not resolved amicably, the army will intervene which may even lead to wrapping up of the whole system. The responsibility for such a disaster would lie more with the incumbent government as not only it has the power, authority and responsibility but also more on stake than the protesting parties. It should therefore act more magnanimously to accommodate rather than ridicule PTI and PAT. Letting loose its own workers would only exacerbate the situation more. As the “third umpire” recently said let sagacity and maturity prevail.

Thy Brothers’ Welfare: Millat Thinkers’ Forum

The following is the original version of the article published in the Sunday Edition of Pakistan Today,                                dated 17th August 2014
(For online version: http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2014/08/16/comment/thy-brothers-welfare-millat-thinkers-forum/ )

(For Published Version, Page 12: http://issuu.com/abidoon/docs/dna_issue_37__1_?e=3820687/8966077 )

Thy Brothers’ Welfare: Millat Thinkers’ Forum

A culture of research and development to seek knowledge is the path to reclaiming lost glory

Prof Dp

By: Omer Zaheer Meer

The author is a Director of the think-tank “Millat Thinkers’ Forum”. He is a leading economist, qualified accountant and anti-money laundering expert with international exposure who can be reached on Twitter and www.myMFB.com @OmerZaheerMeer  or omerzaheermeer@hotmail.co.uk

There was a time Muslim world ruled the planet. Humanity was lead and shown the path in civilization encompassing all areas of life be it economy, astronomy, medical, diplomacy, trade, management, military studies, foreign affairs, art, literature, e.t.c. This was when rest of the world particularly the west was experiencing dark ages. This golden era for humanity led by Muslims illuminated the dark worlds of those left behind.

However since the fall of Muslim Spain and the worst persecution of Spanish Inquisition by extremist Christian fanatic Queen Isabella and her husband Ferdinand, the Muslim world has plunged deeper and deeper into an abyss. There are various reasons of this downfall and historians have written detailed accounts covering various aspects. One key element at the helm of all the problems has been the disassociation with research and development. A nation whose beginning was with “Iqra” meaning “Read” ignored the importance of seeking knowledge. The order to seek knowledge from mothers’ lap to grave (signifying importance of knowledge) got lost in the disillusionment with the vitality of knowledge. The carriers of the legacy of personalities like Al-Beruni who was seeking knowledge even on his death-bed, left seeking knowledge at the bottom of its priority list. It is not surprising then that the nations who took over the legacy of research and development to seek knowledge had been bestowed with ruling the world.

One key aspect of this knowledge based culture of these developed nations has been the development of independent and high-standard think-tanks. These think tanks vary by ideological perspectives, sources of funding, topical emphasis and prospective consumers. In developed countries not only the Governments but corporate sector funds the think tanks too. Their importance is realized to such an extent that many countries allow tax-exemptions to these institutions in addition to other incentives to promote a culture of research and knowledge seeking.

Pakistan like the rest of the Muslim world however has lagged behind in this area. Unfortunately the culture of research has not been properly developed in Pakistan. The value of research and development is highly under-rated if realized at all in the circles making key decisions. As if that was not enough, the few think-tanks that do exist are mostly handicapped by their patronage’s interests, mostly foreign. Their limitations due to foreign funding or from sources with vested interests results in disappointing results and questionable reputes.

It was against this backdrop and keeping the importance of independent think-tanks to the development of a nation in view, I along-with some key people sharing the thought started working towards addressing the situation by taking some positive action. After deliberations, it was decided that a step in the right direction would be the formation of an independent think-tank aspiring to international standards.

A team lead by Mr. Zaheer Ahmad Meer (Chairman Professionals’ Social Network & Senior Advocate) and comprising of Mian Khalid Habib Elahi (Advocate Supreme Court & ex- Deputy Attorney General Pun), myself (Mr. Omer Meer, Chairman Liaison Committee LTBA, Qualified FCA & Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist) and Mr. Wajih Ur Rehman (Agriculturalist and Social Worker) worked day and night to turn this dream of the first totally ingenious, independent and international-standard think-tank of entire Muslim world in Pakistan into a reality.

This led to the formation of the phenomenon called Millat Thinkers’ forum (MTF), the first totally ingenious, independent and international standard think-tank of not only Pakistan but entire Muslim world. The mission statement of Millat Thinkers’ forum (MTF) is Diagnose (the issues), Deliberate (on the different aspects and complexities) and Decode (to understand and recommend/develop a solution). These traits have been lacking and highly required not only in Pakistan but the entire Muslim world.

FINAL LOGOMillat Thinkers’ Forum‘s model involves quality research by a highly competent research team followed by monthly events where the best brains of the country are brought together to provide their inputs. The finalized reports then form the basis of MTF’s recommendations and sent to concerned departments, e.t.c. Its membership is focused on high quality induction to ensure accomplishment of the objective of meeting international standards. The members include top professionals, successful businessmen, scholars, media personalities, parliamentarians, social workers, academics, research scholars, students, e.t.c.

MTF has been working informally for some time and has even assisted some policy makers during this time. Information related to Millat Thinkers’ Forum including event information, pictures, videos, research and even finalized reports are now shared on Millat-Facebook (www.MyMFB.com), the largest social network ever by Muslims. However the growing demands and a desire to institutionalize led to the formal inauguration in Lahore.

I was honored to be tasked with organizing, managing and hosting the formal inaugural session which was graced by eminent personalities and top achievers from all walks of life who also became a part of the forum. The session consisted of three parts after Recitation of Holy Quran and “Naat”; the felicitation session, the keynote presentation on the topic of “ISIS/ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and Al-Sham/Levant): Implications for Pakistan & the way forward” followed by contributions from distinguished attendees. A sumptuous Iftar dinner was served keeping in view the auspicious occasion of Ramadan. Some of the eminent members to grace the inaugural event included but were not limited to:

  1. Mr. Asad Umar (Renowned Economist, Businessman & MNA),
  2. Gen (R) Ziauddin Butt (ex DG ISI & COAS),
  3. Mr. Absar Abdul Ali (Director, Hameed Nizami Press Institute),
  4. Sardar Asif Ahmad Ali (ex Foreign Minister, Pakistan),
  5. Justice (R) Sharif Hussain Bukhari,
  6. Mr. Hamid Khan (ex Chairman & Vice Chairman of Pak BC, ex V.Chairman of Pun BC, ex President SCBAP. ex President LHCBA),
  7. Mr. Arif Masud Mirza (President ACCA (UK) – Pakistan),
  8. Mr. Khurram Khosa (Advocate SCP & President PPP Lawyers’ Forum),
  9. Dr. Farzana Nazir (Doctor & MPA),
  10. Dr. Nousheen Hamid Miraj (Doctor & MPA),
  11. Mr. Mansoor Ur Rehman Afridi (Advocate SC & ex holder of several senior bar positions),
  12. Mrs. Mehnaz Rafih (Renowned Social worker, Intellectual & Political activist),
  13. Mrs. Ayesha Qazi (President Lahore Tax Bar Association),
  14. Mr. Hamid Zaman (Leading Industrialist),
  15. Sardar Arif Rasheed (ex Minister Irrigation, Agriculture, Forest & Fisheries),
  16. Mr. Walid Iqbal (Grandson of Allama Iqbal),
  17. Mr. Shahab Jafri (A. Editor Pakistan Today), e.t.c.

Many dignitaries including Mr. Hamid Khan, Mr. Asad Umar and Sardar Asif Ahmad Ali moved their engagements to attend the event. Honorable, Dr. A Q Khan who had prior family commitments sent his felicitation message for Millat Thinkers’ Forum in which he highly appreciated the endeavor and urged to continue the good work. Similarly Mr. Arif Nizami (renowned anchor, journalist and editor Pakistan Today) who was abroad sent his best wishes.

Patrons Mr. Zaheer Ahmad Meer and Mian Khalid Habib Elahi shared the importance of research and reasons for formation of the forum while I was honored to conduct the entire program along-with delivering the keynote presentation. General (R) Butt, Sardar Asif Ahmad Ali and Mr. Hamid Khan said the presentation was a highly expert-quality research work on the subject. Mr. Asad Umar pledged his support saying that this forum has the potential to become the best contribution to changing the fortunes of the nation. Mr. Arif Mirza, Mr. Absar Abdul Ali and Mrs. Ayesha Qazi said that MTF was the need of the hour. Walid Iqbal said that Diagnose, Deliberate & Decode is what this nation needs. Justice Bukhari, Sardar Arif and Mr. Hamid Zaman were confident that such endeavors can take us to the heights of glory. Mrs. Mehnaz Rafih said that only through such endeavors can we strive to achieve the Pakistan dreamt by Quaid and Iqbal. Mr. Khosa, Dr. Farzana and Dr. Nousheen all were impressed and hoped this will be the dawn of a new culture in Pakistan. Mr. Shahab Jafri presented his expert analysis on the situation and lauded the effort.

Overall the event was an astounding success and all the dignitaries not only pledged their support but appreciated the high quality of the research, attendees and management. The keynote presentation on ISIS was particularly praised. All in all, Pakistan once again took lead in showing the way forward to the Muslim world.

Hero of Islamic World Dr. A Q Khan’s Felicitation message for Millat Thinkers’ Forum

Below is the felicitation message sent by Honorable Dr. A.Q. Khan, Hero of the Islamic World & Father of Pakistan’s Atomic Program on the auspicious occasion of the inauguration of the first indigenous, independent and international standard think-tank of Pakistan and Millat-e-Islamiya,

“Millat Thinkers’ Forum”

                               18th July 2014

Mr. Omer Zaheer Meer,                                                                                                              

Director,

Millat Thinkers’ Forum.

 

My dear Meer Sb,    Assalamo Alaikum,

I would like to congratulate you wholeheartedly on the formal inauguration of the Millat Thinkers’ Forum. It was the need of the hour that a forum be established where top professionals, successful businessmen, entrepreneurs, scholars, academics, media personalities, parliamentarians, lawyers, social workers, etc. can have discussions and brainstorm on matters of national importance and inform the public and the rulers of possible recommended solutions.

Most Western countries have such Think Tanks, which play an important role in advising the government on important matters. I hope that the Millat Thinkers’ Forum will be able to play the same positive role in Pakistan.

With my best wishes for the success of your highly commendable and nationally important initiative, I congratulate you once again on this auspicious occasion.

With profound regards.

 

Yours sincerely,

Dr. A.Q. Khan

NI & Bar, HI

Azadi & Inqilab Marches

The following article is published in the Sunday edition (DNA) of Pakistan Today, dated 10th August 2014

(For online version: http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2014/08/09/featured/azadi-and-inqilab-marches/  )

(For published version: Page 8  at:   http://issuu.com/abidoon/docs/dna_issue_36/9?e=3820687/8887323    )

Azadi & Inqilab Marches

Game Over?

By: Omer Zaheer Meer

The author is a Director of the think-tank “Millat Thinkers’ Forum”. He is a leading economist, qualified accountant and anti-money laundering expert with international exposure who can be reached on Twitter and www.myMFB.com @OmerZaheerMeer  or omerzaheermeer@hotmail.co.uk

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) announced its million march towards Islamabad for 14th August calling it the “Azadi” or freedom March whereas “Shiekh-ul-Islam”, “Allama”, Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri’s Minhaj-ul-Quran (MUQ ) cum Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) is yet to announce a date for its “Inqilab” or revolution march towards federal capital. A lot has been written over the past few days about both these marches and hence I’ll focus more on the lesser explored aspects.

While PMLN ministers and supporters are arguing the marches to be unconstitutional, one wonders whether the same would apply to Mian Nawaz Sharif’s long-marches including the one in recent past against the Zardari government on the issue of restoring judiciary which returned from Gujranwala. If they were constitutional, and they were than how can these marches be termed unconstitutional just because they’re against PMLN?

Settling that question, let us examine the two marches. Mr. Qadri’s march has a precedent from the dying days of Zardari rule when hundreds if not thousands of women, children and elderly were kept waiting in dire cold while Qadri was leading from the comforts of what some termed as a “five-star” container. It ended in a non-conclusive and long-forgotten agreement with “Yazeedi” government amidst chants of “Mubarak Ho” “Mubarak Ho” meaning congratulations by “Hussaini” Qadri. Word within sensitive circles has been that a gift from Zardari government amounting to tens of millions of Rupees was awarded to Qadri for “service” of the country via Minhaj ul Quran. It is not too surprising than that during the early hours of Thursday, 7th August while blockade of Model Town was underway, the ex-Interior Minister of PPP, Mr. Abdul Rehman Malik tweeted whether this was a consented action providing face-saving to Mr. Qadri. It may not be so but history has left serious doubts about the intentions, capabilities and persistence of Tahir-ul-Qadri. Perhaps this is one of the main reasons that despite PMLN’s unprecedented blunder of the infamous model town massacre, PAT has not been able to garner the kind of support PTI would have in a similar situation.

Contrary to Dr. Qadri’s controversial image, PTI’s chairman Mr. Imran Khan enjoys a formidable reputation of being honest, upright and steadfast. Though there is a section within PTI as well as some allies including Shiekh Rashid who argue that an alliance should be forged to direct united force towards the incumbent government of PMLN for the sake of achieving political goals. This, however ignore the questionable repute of Tahir-ul-Qadri often criticized for hypocrisy in his statements on religious issues while in Pakistan and 180 degree opposite ones when in west particularly Canada, amongst other things. A lot of the educated and rational populace which forms the core support base of PTI has a very negative view of Qadri and any such alliance would definitely benefit him at the cost of PTI.

Whether PTI and PAT will overcome their differences and eventually forge a united front is something time will tell but for now PTI has played its cards quite right. It has been successful in mounting pressure on PMLN, has united party workers for a common cause, garnered public support and made its position of “stolen mandate” re 2013 elections widely accepted. The government has now approached PTI showing willingness to not only open four constituencies but reform the electoral process too should PTI call-off its “Azadi” march. All of this seems pretty impressive for a party reeling from a huge psychological setback just about a year ago. The problem, however, is that PMLN has made and not kept similar promises before. Hence not many in PTI and certainly not Imran Khan are too willing to take the bait this time.

Seeing that Khan is in no mood to budge or even listen to his old friend Chaudhary Nisar, hawks within PMLN proposed plan B. There were no offers for Tahir-ul-Qadri before either but an FIR for inciting violence and uprising against the state followed by encirclement of his house cum headquarters were a far cry from the response expected from a government still reeling from the infamous Model Town fiasco. But PMLN’s blunders continue with arrests and harassment of not only PAT workers but those from the much bigger threat of PTI.

Infact the crackdown has been harder on PTI whose workers are rounded up in huge numbers while those harassed numbers even more. As if that wasn’t sufficient, thousands of motorcycles including those belonging to ordinary citizens were locked up following an announcement by PTI that 100,000 bicycles will form the vanguard of its march. Add to that PMLN’s plan of closing down fuel supplies close to the march and you have a very scared and immature reaction at hand. As if that’s not enough Islamabad and Model Town Lahore (having both the secretariats of PTI and PAT) are besieged with containers, some of them sand filled.

What these strictures are actually doing is not only motivating the workers of PTI and PAT but also ensuring the incumbent Government is fast losing its moral authority. Arrest of workers and blockades may actually serve to fuel the fire of rebellious passions of the aggrieved masses already reeling with rising inflation and a stifling power crisis. Even if these measures results in a prevention of the marches, that may be a temporary success for the government, not only setting a dangerous precedent for its future but ensuring another future assault on its rule with more vigor and consensus among the opposition. If you remember the underlying just demand of election reforms by PTI, the PMLN’s response in allowing the situation to reach this stage exposes the bewildering state of mind of its decision makers.

Last but not the least; my sources have revealed that the establishment will intervene if the situation gets out of hand. Though the preferred option, a technocrat setup is not decided upon as yet. Perhaps PMLN needs to take a democratic pause and let the people exercise their democratic right to protest.No hell will break loose from that while oppressing it may actually lead to the very results, PMLN government wants to avoid.

As for my sources, they’re not “chiryas” but you may choose your pick from amongst bat, arrow, lion and/or boots.