By Fazal Abbas
Tie-down Roping or Calf Roping is a timed rodeo event, particularly famous with American cowboys, which features a calf and a rider mounted on a horse. The goal of this sport is for the rider to lasso the calf, dismount from the horse, run to the calf, and control it by tying three legs together. All of these activities have to be executed in as short a time as possible.
Now let’s apply this analogy of Calf Roping to current scenario in political arena of Pakistan. The incumbent government of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) is a show-off rider galloping the horse and swinging the rope. Geo-ISI-ARY fiasco, civil-military relations over operation in North Waziristan, protests of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and revolutionary mission of Dr Tahirul Qadri, these are the calves lined up in a row to give a tough time to the rider. How does the rider (PMLN) react when calves are released from the chute? He misses the aim, lassos his own horse and falls down.
It has been a scorching summer so far in Pakistan and political situation in the country looks more sweltering with each new development. Last week the Pakistan Army launched an eagerly awaited military offensive against the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in North Waziristan. So far nearly 300 militants have been killed, hundreds captured and their safe havens and explosives depots taken out as part of the on-going operation – as per the military sources. The operation involving airstrikes, tanks and heavy artillery has forced the exodus of more than 350,000 people, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) out of the affected areas.
In my view we are standing at a critical moment of our history, the moment which needs a political ceasefire and unity among all the political parties. We need to support our soldiers at the war frontier and help in relief activities for IDPs in every way possible. But Zarb e Azb has fallen to backdrop, thanks to clash of lunatics: ‘Self-proclaimed revolutionary messiah’, Dr Qadri and government of PMLN.
This is not the first time Dr Qadri has entered the arena with a revolutionary agenda. In January 2013, he held Islamabad hostage for several days while making a series of demands that had to be met within a span of just fifteen minutes by the government ‘or else’. It was a four-day-long rodeo event. We witnessed the supporters and workers of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) camping at D-Chowk through cold temperatures, rain and hunger. But in the course of just few hours, Dr Qadri had developed a resuscitated endearment for all stakeholders of political set-up, including those whom he had banished as robbers. He demanded arrest of the sitting prime minister of that time, however, on forth day thanked and signed the Islamabad Long March Declaration with the same person.
The previous coalition government of Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP), Awami National Party (ANP) and Pakistan Muslim League Qauide-e-Azam (PMLQ) acted as a maestro rider. They skilfully swung the rope, tightened it across the neck of the calf, restrained it and peacefully took it out of the arena. Situation has been completely opposite over the past few days. The calf named Dr Qadri has been riding over the nerves of PMLN.
This saga of Dr Qadri could have been written differently and sensibly. The model town fiasco and aeroplane drama could have been averted easily. Except for the most ingenious, few people would buy the nonsense about the necessity of having to remove the barriers around Dr Qadri’s house. Those barriers were in place for the last four to five years with the sanction of the order of Honourable High Court. Why did the need arise just a few days before Dr Qadri was to arrive in Pakistan and launch his so-called ‘revolution’?
Now comes the day of arrival of Dr Qadri. If the workers of PAT were to be stopped, they could have been blocked a long distance away from the Benazir Bhutto International Airport. Why did they let them reach airport and then baton charge them? There was absolutely no need to divert the aeroplane from Islamabad to Lahore, where we witnessed an unfathomable drama of Dr Qadri not leaving the plane.
Democracy warranties freedom of expression and freedom of protest regardless of whether you agree with it or not. This ‘Canadian made Business Class’ revolution didn’t last four days in its last outing and it could not have lasted now in this hellish summer. With little sense the government could have averted this debacle. A couple of months back ex-President Asif Ali Zardari called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and assured full support in case of any threats to derail current government. May be PM could have asked the ex-president for some advice how to handle ‘the revolution’.
I wonder who is advising Prime Minister and the Chief Minister of Punjab on this issue. The mishandling of the Dr Qadri episode shows bad judgment about the implications. It is shameful that a country, where the most important military operation of its history is underway and where over 350,000 IDPs need help, is focused on an unavoidable circus of Gullu Butt and Dr Qadri.
The writer is Chartered Accountant from Lahore currently working at A. F. Ferguson & Co., Chartered Accountants (a member firm of PwC network). His interests include history, politics, sports, music and movies. He tweets at @fazalwarraich.