SECOND OPINION: The Jamali fallout —Khaled Ahmed’s Urdu Press Review
It was a Jamali-Chaudhry battle from the start. Jamali wanted wiggle-room inside a ‘curtailed’ job he was given on an understanding that he accepted. He probably wanted the wiggle-room to assuage his tribal pride, but he could not see the limit beyond which he was risking a stubbing of his big toe
The change of prime minister in Islamabad in the pre-budget season was a messy affair despite efforts in the presidency to make the transition smooth and natural looking. Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali played along and made some bromidic statements while bowing out, but he was undoubtedly bitter, as became apparent later. The various actors in this theatre of the absurd tried to hide their spoor but not much of what they said in the media was credible.
Columnist Abdul Qadir Hassan wrote in Jang (June 18, 2004) that PML leader Kabir Wasti said in a private meeting that his party’s then prime minister Mr Jamali was about to be sacked. A journalist who was present in the meeting printed his statement as news, after which the country started ringing with rumours that the prime minister was about to go. Then Mr Jamali went to Kabir Wasti’s house and called on him which was extremely embarrassing for Mr Wasti.
This is a seemingly ‘innocent’ column from a veteran who speaks the language of Bhola, the village idiot who is supposed to say the unwittingly wisest thing on politics. Wasti said something picayune and a rascally journalist ran away with the item, so to speak. This is clearly a column ‘on request’. Mr Jamali took some time taking courage to speak out, but it is clear from his statements that he knew what Wasti was doing at the behest of the Chaudhrys. It was a low blow and it felled a big man with wrong lessons radiating to the smaller provinces.
According to Hamid Mir in Jang (June 14, 2004), when ‘Patriot’ federal minister for health Hamid Hraj invited Punjab chief minister Pervaiz Elahi to his constituency in Khanewal, the then prime minister Jamali rang him up and objected to the invitation. He said those who have their feet in two boats would drown. Hraj said that he had first invited him (Jamali) but he had not responded. Hraj had invited the chief minister after a much publicised meeting for reconciliation between the PM and PML party chief Chaudhry Shujaat. After the visit of the Punjab chief minister to Khanewal, a ‘Patriot’ minister explained to Hraj that since the entire Patriot bloc was supporting the prime minister he should avoid getting friendly with the Chaudhrys. On this, Hraj threatened to resign but was prevented from doing so by President Musharraf after much persuasion.
It was a Jamali-Chaudhry battle from the start. Jamali wanted wiggle-room inside a ‘curtailed’ job he was given on an understanding that he accepted. He probably wanted the wiggle-room to assuage his tribal pride, but he could not see the limit beyond which he was risking a stubbing of his big toe. The next phase is even more ominous: the Patriots versus the Chaudhrys.
Quoted in Nawa-e-Waqt (June 17, 2004), Chaudhry Aslam Saleemi and Hafiz Muhammad Idrees of Jamaat Islami stated that the new 12 members appointed to the vacant Council of Islamic Ideology were all sifarishi. The Council was to be headed by Dr Khalid Masud. The members included Dr Manzur Ahmad, Syed Afzal Haider, Dr Rashid Ahmad Jullundhari, Prof Mazhar Saeed Kazimi, Maulana Abdullah Khilji, Allama Aqeel Turabi, Al Haj Hanif Tayyab, Syed Zakir Hussain Shah, Dr Munir Ahmad Mughal, Justice (retd) Haziqul Khairi, Syed Daman Ali Shah and Saeed Bibi. The leaders said that the members were angutha chchap (rubber stamp) and would help in pushing through abrogation of Hudood Ordinance and Blasphemy Law.
The MMA has also alleged that one member (Dr Masud or Dr Julundhari?) was a Qadiani. This is something you can do nothing about. If you deny it you are supposed to be a latent one. One can do the most low-down thing for the sake of office. One can go to the mosque of the denouncer and say namaz there. In the past the members of the Council clearly had political affiliations. What is needed is scholarship and moderation. The Council has been so extreme in its literalism in the past that moderation will look like heresy now.
According to Nawa-e-Waqt (June 17, 2004) a police constable Ijaz Hussain had resigned from the police department because he was not being provided protection against threats from the terrorists. He was the main eyewitness in the Multan terrorism case in which the Iranian Cultural Centre was destroyed and an Iranian diplomat Dr Raheemi was killed. It was on his deposition that the killers were convicted at the local and High Court levels. Constable Ijaz meanwhile received threats to himself and his family’s life but when he approached his senior officers for protection they considered the request an affront and threatened to stop his salary. He finally resigned when the case was at the Supreme Court and the terrorists had stepped up their threats. The case still hung by his testimony from which he would now resile.
The biggest scandal in Pakistan is that the police cannot present a good case in the court of law against the terrorists it captures. The government has had to amend a law to keep the terrorists from walking free after being acquitted at the special courts. But if the police is unwilling to protect even its personnel this will go on forever.
According to Nawa-e-Waqt (June 18, 2004) Indonesian terrorist, Hasni Rejal, deported from Pakistan with three other terrorists in December 2003, had stated in a court that he had gone to Karachi in 2003 to study at the Abubakr University. There he met the brother of an Al Qaeda, Indonesian terrorist called Hanbali. He also met in Karachi members of the Al Ghuraba organisation affiliated to Al Qaeda. Al Ghuraba was led by Abdul Raheem, the son of the Indonesian leader of Jamaat Islamiya, Abu Bakr Bashir. Hanbali had transmitted Al Qaeda funds that were paid to the terrorists who caused an explosion at the Marriot Hotel in Indonesia. Rejal was trying to prove that he was not a member of Al Ghuraba which he said was an adjunct of Al Qaeda.
It is outside Pakistan that the most alarming information is released about the goings-on in Pakistan. Most of us actually believe that Abu Bakr Bashir is innocent and that Hanbali actually doesn’t exist. Future historians would be astounded to find two kinds of truth about Pakistan: one horribly negative from the outside and one completely based on a state of denial from the inside. *