If you are reading these notes, you didn’t join Professor Doctor Tahirul Qadri’s long march on Islamabad, which shows you don’t want to be there. If you are on the long march, it means you don’t support the PML(Q), whose leaders, the Chaudhry cousins, were spending their evenings with Professor Qadri. They were emphasising the militant danger. But Dr Qadri, firm in his resolve not to embrace anyone, set out.
After all, nobody wants to get electoral reforms only because the long marchers staged a sit-in, and then the natural consequences flowed. And they raised a big stink, if you know what I mean. I mean, Islamabad has got enough troubles as it is, with petrol being pulled off the market, and doesn’t need clogged drains. Of course, no one tried the Rehman Malik solution, which is quite simple. Just turn off all the mobile phones. And it may be easier to turn off mobile phones than stop petrol being supplied.
Though it seems that Dr Qadri’s long march and the late Benazir Bhutto’s methods to stop them are the same. Like containers. Not only does PPP Co-Chairman Asif Zardari not want electoral reforms, but it seems unlikely that after the march, he will emulate the holder of his office as President then, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, who said in his inimitable Pushtu accent, “March laang ho ya shaart, muluk kay faiday main honi chahiyay.”
He then dismissed the Nawaz government. However, not at once, but after a while. That Long March referred to the one carried out in the 1930s by the Communist Party of China. Since then, every walk has been a long march. Here, because of Benazir’s example, everyone is afraid that there will be a change of government. In fact, there is so much fear of the military taking over, that it probably won’t, no matter how big a stink is raised in Islamabad.
As a matter of fact, a stink is being raised in Quetta, on Alamdar Road, where the demand of the heirs of 60 victims of Thursday’s blasts are protesting along with the bodies, is that the Army take over Quetta. It’s not very reassuring that they don’t seem to have much hope from the elections coming this year. Maybe Professor Qadri would find support there, because there must be reforms before there can be elections in Quetta.
There’s been a beeline for Quetta, which might indicate the relative priorities placed on the two events. Perhaps Mian Nawaz Sharif is not going because of the death of his brother Abbas, from a heart attack. Heart disease is something that the family suffers from, with the father of the two, Mian Sharif himself, dying of heart disease. And Mian Nawaz himself recently having a bout which led to his being hospitalized in London. I’m familiar with the situation, because it happened to my father, who died at the turn of the century of a heart attack, but who left behind two elder brothers, who are both hale and hearty, leaving me to pray that the Almighty preserve them. However, since Dr Qadri won the approval of the late Mian Sharif first, and was then introduced to Mian Nawaz, I suppose that he and Dr Qadri must have met then. Mian Abbas was only tangentially in politics, having once been elected an MNA from Lahore in a by-election caused by Mian Nawaz having left the seat. Interestingly, Mian Abbas’s nephew Hamza sits for a seat that once Dr Qadri sat for, the only time he was elected to the National Assembly, in 2002.
It would seem that Mian Abbas stayed alive just long enough to see the death of Qazi Hussain Ahmad, the former Amir of the Jamaat Islami. He was the third Amir, after Maulana Maudoodi and Mian Tufail Muhammad. And among other things, should be remembered for the PIF (Pakistani Islamic Front) solo flight of 1993, which resulted in a major setback. I suppose the lesson in these two deaths for us all, including Dr Qadri and Mian Abbas’ elder brothers, is that we all have to go in the end, whatever items remain incomplete on agendas, reform or otherwise.
By the way, back in 1993, Benazir Bhutto was kept out of Islamabad through an externment order. Now it is the turn of her party to serve such an order on Dr Qadri if it wants to preserve the air of Islamabad. Not that he would spoil it. But if he is not served with such an order, something made possible by the Raj, his followers will certainly turn Islamabad’s salubrious air inclement. It would be no fun for jialas to visit.