Askari Raza Malik
IT was around midnight 23/24 November 1971 when the four of us landed at Karachi on our way to Colombo and onward to the erstwhile East Pakistan. We had about eight hours in Karachi. The options were many from the cabaret at the Metropole to a walk on the beach. The serenity of the sojourn led us to the mausoleum of the Baba, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. I humbly presented myself and more humbly submitted, ‘Baba! We are grateful to you for the gift, Pakistan. But we are good children. We are not going to live forever under the burden of your immense favour. We are about to return one half. Pray for us that we keep the other half. We were four young majors who had volunteered to join the fighting in the eastern wing where the chips were already down. Every one of us was leaving a young wife and a toddler or two behind. It was perhaps the second last flight between the two wings joined together by the brotherhood in Islam. My inauspicious words proved true. We lost the eastern part. It is another story that we were not defeated by India but a hundred thousand strong young and zealous army of our own brethren, the Mukti Behani, the Bengali fighters. We also remember even though we do not wish to be reminded of that all the major actors of the drama 1971, ‘Secession East Pakistan’ had met an extremely violent and ignoble end. Today, once again I was reminded of Baba in a rather tragic setting. He has been dragged in the petty political squabbles by small minded politicians fighting for their survival against a determined ‘National Accountability Bureau’, (NAB).
Captain Safdar ex Pakistan Army officer had the audacity to babble cheap and meaningless slogans coined by a dimwitted absconder right inside the Quaid’s mausoleum. He brings to mind ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’ by John Fowles. Those of our age who are familiar with the romance would agree with me that Safdar’s story is no less romantic. His unit officer was selected as ADC to the Prime Minister (Nawaz Sharif) and told as usual to report forthwith. The selected captain was short of a formal dress. So, the next recommended, for want of a comparable quantity was captain Safdar. He reported forthwith and started to go about his business in real earnest. He soon hooked up a more than willing daughter of his boss, eloped with her and immediately married her to present a fait accompli to his boss who had no option but to accede and celebrate to make it look like an arranged marriage. Safdar, thank God for it, left the Army where he claims he could have risen to be a lieutenant general. Judging from the sense of proportion displayed by him in his sacrilegious conduct at the tomb of the father of the nation he had already reached the height of his incompetence as a Captain. He found his right place in the gang of PML (N) stalwarts.
The other musketeer who has attained notorious fame for his silly knavery is Khwaja Safdar the name sake of our gallant Casanova. He could not settle for anyone lesser than the Quaid himself to compare with a group of common vultures on the radar of the NAB. One thought he was literate enough to know that apples are to be compared with apples and so on and not the highly pedigreed horses with mules and donkeys. In his as stupid a tweet and height of imagination he brought the Quaid to the NAB court. The court asking Jinnah to justify the acquisition of his huge property when he drew only one Rupee as salary. What an analogy! Even a high school student will be able to give an account of Quaid’s wealth that he had made before he assumed a public office. Whereas, most of the thugs are being asked to justify accumulation of billions stolen out of the public exchequer, a scared trust. Comparing Jinnah with his party’s ordinary thieves is not only a huge profanity, it is sheer lack of shame in a person who often keeps waffling about the sense of shame in others. The Quaid gave his life-long hard-earned money and property to the nation. Though he drew only a symbolic one Rupee as salary he had enough money of his own to live in luxury. He led a highly austere life regarding his personal wealth also to be the property of his nation.
And here is one of your party chiefs who sends a donation of millions of pounds (coming from abroad for the widows and the orphans after the earthquake), direct to his personal account to be whisked away to the safety of foreign lands. The tale of laurels won by the bunch of thugs the duo of Safdars represents is long and abominable. That is beyond the scope of this limited piece to recount. But who will show these unimaginative and uncouth gladiators the limits of decency? Who will censure them for the blasphemy they seem to perpetrate without a demur? Who will teach captain Safdar to observe the sanctity of the tomb of father of the nation? And who will take Khwaja Asif to task for creating an uncalled-for and unholy analogy? The Supreme Court of Pakistan might deem it necessary to intervene and call upon these rouges to offer an unconditional apology to the nation. Have they not committed a graver offence in vandalizing the founder of Pakistan than the contempt of the court? I, as an ardent admirer and a great lover of the Quaid, can only plead with the politicians to please have pity on Baba and stop dragging him in your petty wrangles.
— The writer, a retired Maj Gen, is a Rawalpindi-based freelance columnist and author of book, “Pakistan in search of a Mesiah.
Askari Raza Malik