Sharifs overkill in their political heartland of Lahore


ISLAMABAD: Politically, Dr Tahirul Qadri-led force was never considered a potent threat that made the Sharifs and their cronies overkill in their political heartland of Lahore.  
Now, as they desperately look for a scapegoat to come out of the first popularity dip that comes unfortunately on the heels of PML-N’s “one year of good governance” celebrations, critics apart, their own sympathisers, urban voters and supporters remain utterly confused about the things to come. These people have been seeking basic reforms in policing, education and health sectors apart from the mega developmental works “Khadame-e-Aala” takes pride in. 
The brutal unleashing of police on civilians was far beyond the expectations of the masses who voted Sharif-led PML-N to power for a third time even when adversaries thought of it as a far cry because of their decade-long chequered relations with powerful military establishment of the country. The barbarism which was witnessed on the roads of Pakistan’s cultural and historical city with police blatantly beating up innocent civilians, both men and women, without care for old and minor and then shelling and straight firing at them is something unparallel in the annals of the country’s tortured history. 
Such shameful incidents were not even seen in President Musharraf’s time when the bar and bench started a decisive movement against him which ultimately led to his ouster from power. All this came at a time when Pakistan’s armed forces have just started a battle for the survival of the country in the most volatile tribal region of North Waziristan. The need of the hour was to build political consensus and boost the morale of the fighting soldiers, the self-proclaimed “Khadim-e-Aala” of Punjab turned the streets of Model Town Colony in the provincial capital into a virtual war zone, diverting attention, God knows whether intentionally or intentionally, from the war on terror as it entered into a decisive phase. 
According to observers, the ongoing comprehensive military assault will determine the future course and direction of Pakistan, presently reeling under the pressure of manifold problems. So far, it is the military keeping the nation abreast, bit by bit, with details of the operation. It is again the military busy in pulling out entrapped civilians from the war zone as well as catering to the displaced persons of North Waziristan, besides keeping vigilance on all movements to and from the volatile region. 
The government seems nowhere to take the masses into confidence on military action. The instructive interior minister, who is even more instructive while addressing press conferences, has yet to brief the media on law and order situation in the backdrop of the military operation. Barring the poorly scripted speech which Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif delivered on floors of both houses of parliament on second day of the military assault, the nation has yet to come across any worthwhile substance from the government that could establish credibility of the ruling political elite as wartime leaders.
It is really funny when newspaper articles suggest to PM Sharif to learn from Sir Winston Churchill, the former British PM who is regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the 20th century. Apart from being a great statesman, Churchill was a historian, a writer and an officer in the British Army who in his youth had served as an army captain in Malakand Agency. While Sharif’s defensive speech on military assault in parliament in which he was attempting, time and again, to prove that the decision to launch the operation was taken as his government’s die hard efforts to end insurgency through peace talks could not succeed, it is worthwhile to quote few excerpts from Churchill’s war speeches during World War II which had captured his nation’s heart.
“I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this Government: ‘I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.’ We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us: to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival,” Churchill had said in the House of Commons after taking office as PM on 13 May 1940.
At another session of the House of Commons, Churchill had said: “Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy or that anyone who embarks on that strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events, incompetent or arrogant commanders, untrustworthy allies, hostile neutrals, malignant fortune, ugly surprise, awful miscalculations.”
“Blood, toil, tears and sweat”... “we will fight on the beaches” ... “this was their finest hour” ... “never was so much owed by so many to so few…” were some of the phrases from Churchill’s war speeches which frequently echoed in 1940s. Churchill, no doubt, was a master of the sound bite. Our bunch of leaders need to learn from history and, at least, should go through some of Churchill’s famous war speeches which will help them a long way to understand how a civilian leader handled the most bloodiest war of human history. For a time being, the elder Sharif, other than to study Churchill’s war speeches, needs to speak up to the nation about the blunders of his younger brother for ordering a bloody police operation against unarmed civilians which left 12 persons, including two women, dead. Even, a fool could not have dared getting into such nasty action at a time when our armed forces need our outright support in a war which has been started for the sake of the country’s future.

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