An ugly phase of politics in offing

Kamal vs Ebad

Salahuddin Haider

The war of words between former Mayor, Mustafa Kamal, now chief of the Pak Sarzameen Party and Sindh Governor Ishratul Ebad Khan can only be termed ugly face of politics.
Why and how did it start, is not yet clear. The motive is difficult to ascertain. What could, however, be said without contradiction is that it was initiated by the PSP chief, who should have restrained himself from opening another front. It must also be emphasized that Kamal and Farooq Sattar can be given the allowance of being whole-time politicians. Ishratul Ebad’s case was different. He is holding a responsible office. Rebutting the allegations, even wild in nature, was his right, but principal factor that he is holding a responsible office, should have never been lost sight of.
The Governor, in explaining his position, should have been cautious to maintain his reputation of cool and composed, relaxed person even in the face of heavy odds. That he threw caution to the wind, and went wild in accusations against a person, younger in age, and atleast two steps lower in rank, was least required. If he had to rebut the charges, he should have confined himself to bare facts which, apart from clearing his position, may have cleared the messy minds of those keen on controversies.
That he overlooked the fundamental principal that perceptions are stronger than realities—a lesson he himself used to tutor us in the Sindh government during Musharraf regime as part of his team, has finally cost him heavily. He not only became controversial now but has lost face considerably in the eyes of the normal citizenry.
Whether Kamal misused his authority as Mayor of Pakistan’s biggest city, full of riches, having big businesses thriving abundantly in its lap, becomes secondary here. It could have been seen and analysed from different angles. Whether PSP chief received bouquets or brickbats, was for the time to decide. But the moment Ishratul Ebad came live on TV screens fuming and seething with vengeance, wove a cobweb of charges against his former Mayor and party colleague, an ordinary story, suddenly became dramatic. The up and down swing of what the Governor said ,and in a tone or tenor, became a hot topic of TV talk shows, household debates, and a public subject of immense interest.
Who is right or who is wrong, is for men on the street and analysts to decipher.
But let me go on record here, without fear or favour, and whatever is being said here, must be taken in all seriousness that in case of investigations into the case of Azeem Ahmad Tariq assassination of May 1, 1993—just a day before the bye-elections ordered by the Sindh High Court—Hakeem Saeed murder case, Baldia Township factory fire, roasting 259 souls alive, the May 12 tragedy on the day of arrival in Karachi of deposed chief justice Chaudhri Iftikhar, or the recent recovery of massive dumps of modern combat equipment and ammunitions from Azizabad, Governor and Governor’s house, too will automatically get involved and then what happens, no one knows now. Ebad thus indirectly accused MQM and its Karachi Organising Committee of which Anees Ahmad QasimKhan was the chief, had tried to speak someone else’ words. Sources said he had met one of the top establishment leadership prior to bursting out at his press talk.
Seen in that context, Kamal’s word of caution that leads of May 12 tragedy, and or many other incidents blackening Karachi’s face, will be seen heading for the official residence of the Governor, for he has been sitting there since December 2002, and had been the principal officer and witness to all such grim and ugly situations.
As a journalist, working to record events, and as a person who was part of the government and an insider also then, I too am convinced that the Governor had spoken some half-truths, while some of his utterances will be hardly true, and extremely difficult to justify. The Governor cannot absolve or detach himself of the story when it begins to unfold in case fresh probes are ordered. Defending Kamal is not my job, but credit must be given where it is due. Kamal has made monumental mistakes since landing Karachi early in March this year. And whether he succeeds in standing against Altaf or fritter his energies away, is for him to face. Kamal should not have spoken against the Governor. That he chose to did and for what reasons, it will be interesting to know.
Ebad has been on record of praising Kamal sky high for restructuring the city roads, designing and completing fly-overs, under-passes, initiating work on Lyari Expressway and on the prestigious K-4 drinking water project for Karachi. Both these projects fell victim to deliberate neglect of the PPP government, for Kamal, had relinquished charge in 2010. If anyone is to be held responsible for such inordinate delay, it is PPP administration. Holding Kamal responsible for that will be gross injustice.
If Kamal has minted illicit money, as the Governor alleged, the former will have to be accountable for every penny, like anyone else in the government, including those who have built palace-like villas in the posh Jumeirah locality of Dubai. If Waseem Akhtar can be in problem for the May 12 incident for being the provincial home minister at the time of occurrence, the Governor too was in office then, and heading the ministers’ team belonging to MQM. Can he wash off his hands for not being part of the situation?, is the vital question now
Citing Daily Dawn coloumns by business tycoon-turned—columnist, late Ardeshir Cowasjee to undermine his own mayor and belittling his importance versus predecessor Prof Nayamatullah Khan, is something below dignity, a job that can never be appreciated especially by the well-read segments of the society. Cowasjee had stooped low to kidnap his rival minority opponents Byram Avari in 1985 non-party parliamentary polls, ordered by military dictator General Ziaul Haq, and also he was saved by late Jam Sadiq Ali, who as chief minister of Sindh, had shielded him under his table from mosque prayer leaders for his coloumn against “azaan”, the call for prayers which Muslims have to hear and respond to five times a day. How could such an individual be relied upon, the Governor need to explain now.
Whatever has happened earlier this week—the war or words—between “two greats” of MQM (now separate from the party) will be washing dirty linens in the public, which will benefit neither. Nor will it help the cause of Muhajirs who had begun to look to MQM, or its nominees for their salvation. Not only has the party split, but the veterans too got involved in dirty fight, which is hurting the Muhajir population and getting them more and more confused.

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