‘Filing a reference against Imran Khan’

Obsessed with the desire of scoring points against their opponents, our politicians frequently act oddly. Yet I didn’t expect it from Sardar Ayaz Sadiq. He is a cool and sedate type. Being the scion of an influential family of Lahore, he had gone to elitist Atchison College of that city. Imran Khan was also a student there. Both Ayaz and his brother, Mehmud, soon turned his bosom buddies.

This connection later motivated Ayaz Sadiq to join Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) as one of its founder members. Imran Khan had established this party after switching to politics in 1996.

Even after spending six long years in the said party, Ayaz Sadiq’s zeal and family influence failed to get him elected to the National Assembly when he contested for one of its seats from Lahore on this party’s ticket in 2002. Then he switched to Pakistan Muslim League led by Nawaz Sharif and had consistently been returning to the National Assembly since 2008. After the election of 2013, he also got elected as its Speaker.

Imran Khan feels deeply bitter with the autonomous rise and rise of Sardar Ayaz Sadiq. With vicious vigour, he rather promoted a campaign that questioned the validity of Sadiq’s election to the National Assembly during the election of 2013. Instead of protecting his seat through protracted legal battles, Sadiq preferred to resign and put himself again in the field to fight the by-election.

To ensure the defeat of Ayaz Sadiq, Imran Khan pitched a real estate tycoon, Aleem Khan, against him. But after a viciously contested election, Sadiq did surprise many by retaining the seat.

After turning foes, friends of yesteryears seldom forget and forgive each other. Ayaz Sadiq can thus not be blamed for sustaining a deep grudge against Imran Khan. But he certainly looked not so “classy” by taking the floor during Monday’s sitting of the National Assembly to push a motion, designed to paint Imran Khan a “traitor.”

Wednesday evening of the previous week, the former prime minister had given a TV interview. During the same, he warned “the establishment” that if it didn’t change its “behaviour”, Pakistan would eventually go bankrupt under the government that had removed him through a vote of no-confidence. To bail Pakistan out of a precarious economic meltdown, its enemies would surely ask for the abandonment of our nuclear programme. Without being protected by the nuclear umbrella, Pakistan can thus split into three countries.

A significant number of Pakistanis were indeed shocked to watch Imran Khan spinning a doom and gloom scenario. Yet most of them also disregarded the said interview by considering it “after me…deluge” sort of delirious babbling.

Sardar Ayaz Sadiq believes otherwise. He visibly had reached the House with a plan to execute and after getting the floor went on and on to interpret the said interview of Imran Khan as a “perfect specimen” exposing the alleged “anti-Pakistan ideas”, the former prime minister “had been keeping too close to his heart for many years.”

To prove his point, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq frequently referred to repeatedly expressed suspicions of two leading scholars and political personalities of Pakistan, Hakim Saeed and Dr Israr. After Imran Khan’s switching to politics more than two days ago, both of them feverishly began venting a popular but visibly conspiracy theory that this charismatic cricketer had been “launched to politics” by eternal enemies of Pakistan. And the “Zionist conspirators” prepared the agenda for him.

After building his case like a lawyer in the court, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq then put a motion asking the National Assembly to collectively condemn “anti-Pakistan” content of Imran Khan’s interview. Frankly speaking, I had no issue with that; our parliamentarians are compulsively addicted to traitor-calling games. What really surprised me was the demand, inserted in the same resolution, that after censoring Imran Khan, the National Assembly should also request the Federal Government to file a “reference” against Imran Khan and his party. That clearly was a ridiculous overkill.

Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, eventually the founder of Bangladesh, was the first high-profile politician who was formally tried for “conspiring against the state of Pakistan by cultivating Indians.” The case against him is known as “Agartala Conspiracy Case.” But the first military dictator, Ayub Khan, who had initiated this case against him withdrew the same when his government felt overwhelmed by the populist movement launched against it in late 1968. After being released from the jail, Sheikh Mujib was respectfully invited to a Round Table Conference for negotiating a deal with General Ayub. It is a different matter that the said conference proved too little too late. And the rest, as they say, is history.

In post-Bangladesh Pakistan, the government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto also felt extremely agitated with Khan Abdul Wali Khan and his party, National Awami Party (NAP). Both of them were constantly alleged to be working for Afghanistan to cut out the Pashto-speaking areas of Pakistan to merge them with “Greater Pushtunistan.” A reference against them was then filed before the Supreme Court, which in the end declared NAP a ‘defunct party’. Wali Khan and his comrades were also sent to jail to face “Hyderabad Tribunal” to prove their loyalty to the State. They refused to defend themselves.

But hardly a few weeks after taking over in 1977, General Zia, another military dictator, announced withdrawal of the cases against Wali Khan and his comrades and later gleefully invited them to the Presidential Palace to share lunches or dinners with him. After Zia’s death in a plane crash, Wali Khan also returned to the National Assembly through the election of 1988. The party, he had been leading, now functions with a new name, i.e., Awami National Party (ANP). Throughout the 1990s, the same party stood like a steadfast ally of Nawaz Sharif. After the election of 2008, though, it became friends with Asif Ali Zardari. Its nominee, Amir Haider Hoti, remained the Chief Minister of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa from 2008 to 20013 and these days he represents a seat of Mardan in the National Assembly.

I felt forced traveling too far down in history, simply to prove the point that you can’t push your political opponents to vanish in thin air, by getting them declared “defunct” by the Supreme Court, after filing a “reference” against them. You have to compete with them in political arenas and let the people judge who is a patriot or a traitor in Pakistan.’

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt