The Long March

A shower neither preceded by clouds nor followed by any vegetation!



In the last weeks Pakistan threw up two surprises. One, in the cricket field, another, in politics. First, a boy who impressed one and all with his brilliant piece of bowling, second, a cleric, who came like an unannounced gust in the desert, raising the dust to sky. One came from England, another, Canada. When Pakistan toured India just recently, no one knew that a bowler playing English County would make a dazzling appearance on the firmament of Pakistan cricket. He came from a foreign land – England – and redeemed the game of his home country. A new comer infusing life into the decaying cricket of Pakistan was a surprise, but one that was understandable, and made all happy. The second surprise is still unfolding. God alone knows what will happen to the Long March! Qadri, as a sermonizer and a marginal presence in the politics of Pakistan was already known, but his sudden rise is neither fully understandable nor is it going to make the country happy in the end. This is what one can easily glean from all – news reports, opinion, comments and analytical pieces. The newspapers and TV studios in Pakistan, and some even outside, are full of discussions on the surprise appearance of Tahir-ul-Qadri.
Most of the commentators in Pakistan are skeptical about the Long March; they also consistently bring to light the inconsistencies in the life and politics of the person who now projects himself as the messiah of the masses in Pakistan. What is the reality of this man and why he is doing all this, and what it will finally lead to, will be known in the coming days. There are many questions that precede and succeed this man, and his avowed mission to bring a revolution in Pakistan.  Before things become clearer and it is know who wants to do what to Pakistan, it is not that easy to hazard any guesses. Nevertheless, there are certain things that contribute to unease. One, Imran Khan was till now the only voice of change in Pakistan. His integrity and his methodical approach towards change was infusing hope about a brighter Pakistan. This new turn of events has made things problematic for him. Tahir ul Qadri inviting Imran Khan is a zugzwang. He cannot deny that Pakistan needs reforms but ceding leadership of the revolution to Tahir-ul-Qadri is not an option for him. And then he cannot contest Qadri at the moment, because he himself pitches for the electoral reforms and the removal of Zardari. So, is then this Long March a spanner in the political mobilization envisaged by Imran Khan! Two, the overweening recourse to emotion laden religious references is off putting, to say the least. Desisting to comment anything more on the man and his mission, here are the two things that caught my attention.
One, a column by Nazir Naji in Dunya, an Urdu daily from Pakistan, titled “Peechai Kaun Hai” ( Who is Behind?), and two, an anecdote narrated by Mukhtar Masood, in his book Awaz-e-Dost .
Wondering over how Tahir-ul-Qadri pulls such a massive crowd, knowing well that he was no extra ordinary politician of Pakistan, Naji writes, “Looking at this I’m reminded of a story. When a teacher decided to serve the severest punishment to the bright students of his class, he would ask the dullest one to come forward and slap them. This slap would be more painful than a thousand punishments. Today, like that school teacher, the time has slapped many; and looking at the list of the faces, I wish I could slap my own face.” For Naji all the old and new political faces have received a thunderous slap from Qadri – Pakistan Muslim League, Pakistan People’s Party, Jam’at-e-Islami, and even the Imran Khan led Tsanami  Party. Then Naji puts forth his analysis to explain who actually is behind this all. One can agree with him, or not, but the way he explains how the political leadership has made Pakistan to come to this pass is a painful read. And then he concludes; “this is no secret now that ‘Who is behind’, but I want to beat my head on seeing “who is in the lead”!
And here is the anecdote by Mukhtar Masood, one of the brilliant minds of Pakistan who participated in Pakistan Movement when he was a student at Aligarh University. His book Awaz-e-Dost is actually a lament on how the quality of human went down when Pakistan Movement became Pakistan.
In Pakistan, Mukhtar says, he followed a person for 25 long years, and when he finally met him he received the shock of his life. “He was a completely changed man. Before Independence he would undertake a journey of thousands of miles in third class to attend a rally of Anjuman-e Himayat-e-Isalm. But today he was only about himself and the problems faced by the country didn’t interest him at all. His only connection to Pakistan was now an occasional stay because for him the universe had really expanded, and then the Swiss Banks were always open to him. I tried to take him back in time, may be he is shamed a bit, but he went on listing his successes with a swagger. The list was long – third wife, fourth factory, tenth legal case, twentieth company…. I silently heard this all, but when he mentioned his fresh passport and a second citizenship I was dazed, couldn’t take the shock anymore. As if I went into coma.”

Lastupdate on : Wed, 16 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 16 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 17 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST

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