By Yasser Latif Hamdani
ANP’s NWFP government is fighting the onslaught of terror and even those who disagree with its politics and its past have rallied behind it all over Pakistan. We at PTH support all steps in the right direction and therefore this morning I wrote an article welcoming ANP’s suggestion of changing Pakistan’s name. Democratic politics requires old configurations, compromises and coalitions re-align themselves along new political realities. Alas I knew that it was too good to be true and by evening ANP sparked off a divisive controversey of a very different nature which revealed the true pettiness of this party and its politicians.
But before I come to the topic, allow me to digress. I recently received as a gift the “Diaries of Field Marshall Ayub Khan”. At the start of the diary there is an album of our first military ruler with world dignitaries, leading figures of the time, Jackie Kennedy and India’s first Prime Minister Jawarharlal Nehru. Nehru by far looked most at home and interested in Pakistan. There is a picture of Nehru surveying the materials being used in the construction of Islamabad and another picture with Ayub Khan giving Nehru a freshly plucked rose for his tunic etc etc. And there it was Nehru placing flowers over a grave with the caption “Pandit Nehru at Quaid-e-Azam’s grave”. Contrary to the myth, Advani was not the first leader to visit Jinnah’s grave, Nehru was, except there wasn’t a Mausoleum as yet.
Nor was the picture the first time Nehru visited Jinnah’s grave. Wolpert in his book “Nehru a Tryst With Destiny” mentions that Nehru visited Jinnah’s grave in the 1950s as well and then went over, along with Indira, to have lunch with Fatima Jinnah. Needless to say that in that last one decade before partition, Jinnah and Nehru were not enamored with each other. Nehru was extremely bitter about Jinnah and even at Jinnah’s death, he wrote “I have been very angry with him over the last few years”. However Jawaharlal Nehru showed his class by paying the proper tribute to his erstwhile rival and one time comrade by bringing flowers to his grave. In doing so he also showed Pakistanis that he was not an enemy of theirs but a friend – even if it was only partly true.
Now compare this to what happened today in Karachi at the NFC moot. The near customary visit of the Chief Ministers to the Quaid’s Mazar this year saw only three chief ministers – from Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan. The Chief Minister of NWFP decided to make a point by not going. Interestingly it is said that the only other leader in power who never visited Jinnah’s grave was General Zia. That General Zia came from a family of Majlis-e-Ahrar is the kind of stuff legends are made of. Others say that Zia didn’t go because he knew what he was doing to Pakistan was wrong but that is too good to be true.
Pakistan today needs unity. The enemy of Jinnah’s Pakistan and Bacha Khan’s Pakhtunkhwa is the same. Yet the Chief Minister of NWFP and his party are so petty and shameless that they absented themselves from a customary visit to Jinnah’s grave- as customary as the flag hoisting ceremony. What next? Will he also take off the father of the nation’s portrait from his office? Or stop saluting the flag? It is perfectly alright he does so on a personal level but what would that achieve given his stature as the chief minister of a province of Pakistan ?
How ironic, because as mainly regional leaders Bacha Khan and his brother were not even direct rivals of Mr. Jinnah. Infact Rajmohan Gandhi quotes Bacha Khan as saying that when he visited Jinnah in Karachi Jinnah got up and embraced Bacha Khan and then said “today Pakistan is complete” and gave 200 charkas for the social work of Khudai Khidmatgars. And even earlier, it was Mr. Jinnah who had pressed Viceroy Irwin to release Ghaffar Khan and appoint him as a representative from NWFP to Roundtable Conference in London.
While Jinnah himself had nothing to do with Bacha Khan’s incarceration following his collusion with Fakir of Ipi during the latter’s revolt against Pakistan, if that is the reason that ANP holds a grudge against the father of the nation, then perhaps we would have to investigate whether Omar Abdullah refuses to visit monuments dedicated to Nehru because his grandfather was dismissed and imprisoned by Nehru directly.
Pakistan is waging a war against extremists. Amir Haider Hoti is the Chief Minister of a Pakistani province. He cannot hope to win this war, unless all of Pakistan is behind him. Today his party sits in government with the same party whose founder – Zulfikar Ali Bhutt0- imprisoned and tortured Wali Khan and Asfandyar Wali Khan. If the pettiness shown by ANP in Karachi today was due to some principle of revenge, perhaps ANP should be principled enough to distance itself from the PPP as well.
Shame on you Hoti! Shame on you for your theatrics when your province burns. You’ve truly proved right Maulana Azad’s characterization of Khan brothers in his book “India Wins Freedom”.