March to end as foreordained


Muhammad Usman

IT was no foretelling that Maulana Fazlur Rehman embarked upon a thorny course where much to his dismay, he could only find his nemesis to meet. To his fond hopes to the contrary, no bonanza awaited for him, unlike before to which he was generally accustomed to. It was a self-defeating and self-destructive path which he chose, allegedly on inside and outside instigation. His erstwhile insatiable greed for greener pasture was also considered too compelling for him to jump into uncharted waters blissfully – far different environments exist in the country. This was by no means, an unfounded view as enough reason exist in its support. The list is varyingly long however, by no mean exhaustive one.
Let us start with main objectives of his March; resignation of PM Imran Khan, being illegitimate and incapable. First one is born of allegedly rigged general election 2018 and second charge has been framed because of his awful performance to run the country. Both assertions have holes. The cacophony of rigged elections is found exposed because of conspicuous inaction of all opposition parties to fight their contention in election tribunals, parliamentary committee and courts etc. Regardless of numerous and enormous difficulties faced by people, one year is not enough time to judge performance of an elected government particularly, when it assumed office, country was in a sinkhole at the hands of those who now are demanding its removal at gun point remorselessly with Maulana upfront. The consensus view is that Imran Khan needs to be given more time to do what he intends to do according to his own light.
Maulana has been widely accused of high jacking global spotlight of IoK by staging drama of his March. Allegedly, his bailout to India includes far more. He helped India in more ways than one. Firstly, by synchronizing his day of March with the day which is observed by Kashmiris Black Day against illegal Indian occupation, he has undermined cause of Kashmir particularly, this year when it was to be observed with more intensity and ferocity. Secondly, by making men of his party’s subsidiary “Ansarul Islam” to wear uniform in colour of Indian RSS, he polluted vigorous campaign of Pakistan worldwide to expose its mentality of Hindu domination in India. On top of this, by taking Guard of Honour from a contingent of “Ansarul Islam”, he disseminated an impression of a state within state in Pakistan. This coincided with the time when Pakistan was fighting hard to evade possibility of its blacklisting by global watchdog, FATF. It is hard to believe for majority of people that timing of his March in these circumstance was a mere coincidence.
Another widely held view is that his March is maliciously aimed at hitting economy which is about to take off after braving hard times. It is also widely believed that he has launched his March on the behest of whole ruling elite to save their skin from accountability albeit they have continued to play variety of gimmicks about their support/participation in the March for want of political and other necessities. In exuberance or otherwise, even Maulana could not hide this fact when he said, he wanted to see Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari out of the jails. Consequent upon above, possibly Maulana alienated people except his religious faithful who has considerable authority and influence in Madrassas of own sect. There may be a counter argument that he never had support among people other than this segment nevertheless, this segregation was distinct during the March. From Karachi to Islamabad, reception/support by common people was scant and sparse.
The March could not excite people. It was just a travelling from one destination to another. Though crowd was quite sizable at Islamabad but picture which it dished out, was of people of one brand. A sizeable representative crowd is an imperative to kick start a movement but it cannot succeed until at least one third people of various sections of society pray/wish for its success in their households. In instant case, by and large, this element was starkly absent rather there was a curse spread extensively against Maulana for putting the country in awkward position at a critical time. Besides, support of middle class is an essential for success of a movement. Again Marchers were vividly void of such important part of the society. If this was not enough, Marchers antagonized women flock by banning coverage of sit-in by female reporters. This darkly reminded ideology of TTP which they wanted to enforce in Pakistan. Albeit JUI tried to retract but damage caused could not be undone. Again support of women could not be overemphasized for success.
Our ruling elite has neither experience nor temperament to deal with an honest man like Imran Khan. Probably this is the reason that they are continuously slipping downhill. Over last decade, our military has done everything in its grasp to keep the country on democratic path as well as stability in the country. Their resolve remains undiminished as clearly vowed by DG ISPR most recently. With presence of all above, adventure of Maulana neither had chance to succeed nor would have. He is already in cul da sac. There are apparent signs that he is trying to find an escape route with some face saving. Probably this is only less hazardous option for him and government is in no mood to accord him meaningful one. Probably he has to craft it largely himself.
— The writer, a retired Lt Col, is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.