STRAIGHT TALK by Hafeez Khan
My friend Hassan Nisar narrated a very interesting anecdote. During British Raj it was a tradition amongst the notables to congregate in the Governor’s House Lahore on the first day of the year. It included the Tumandars, Nawabs, Sardars, Nawabzadas, Maliks and prominent landlords. They would assemble in the sprawling lawns outside the Governor’s residence awaiting the rise of His Lordship to wish him a happy new year.
After the festivities of New Year’s night with all its rollicking fun, the Governor would take his own sweet time to rise and shine. Most often after midday, the Governor would be informed of the assembly. Too hungover to make the effort, his response would come through the tall, well built, smartly dressed orderly in his high starched turban.
He would approach the gathering, calling the attendees to attention and loudly proclaim “Saab kehta hai Salam kabool hai”. Overjoyed, all notables would be beside themselves and warmly hug each other that “Sahib” had accepted their greetings. This is not a story from the Middle Ages, but a reality that unfolded each year less than a century ago. This was our elite whose descendents continue to dominate the legislative assemblies making a mockery of our so called democracy.
I am not certain whether the elders of our CM Buzdar made the cut to be invited to these gatherings, but he certainly displays the qualities of obedience and subservience. But at what cost? He is evaporating a quarter century of committed political struggle of PTI through this incompetence and neglect. It is a modern day Greek Tragedy. This could be a missed opportunity of epic proportions. Only history will judge.
There are few lessons to be learnt from our history linking Punjab to the Centre. President Ayub Khan was most effective when Nawab Kalabagh ran the show. Prime Minister Bhutto’s control was complete when Khar managed it. Zia’s regime was propped by Nawaz Sharif. Benazir Bhutto’s government was continuously under threat with Sharif’s controlling Punjab or when lackluster CM’s ran it for her. CM Parvaiz Ellahi was a lifeline for Musharraf.
President Zardari lasted five years benefiting from the “charter of hypocrisy” by subletting Punjab to Sharifs. It resulted in a drastic shrinkage of PPP footprint in Punjab. The drift of history is clear. Controlling and managing Punjab is crucial for any Government in the Centre.
It ain’t happening under CM Buzdar. Delivery of the PTI agenda is completely stalled. A huge blow, completely unnecessary. I don’t know how many folks will give it as straight to PM IK. I want to be on the right side of history. I see a disaster in the making!
Another historical move was the unveiling of a new Political Map of Pakistan on August 5th by PM IK. The day Kashmir and parts of Ladakh were gobbled by Modi Sarkar. It has evoked a strong reaction from India and parts of the opposition. It may be symbolic but it opened a lot of old wounds. It is the truth to be repeated often. As a student of history it took me back to 1947 when the partition happened. It revives the memories of the ham fisted manner in which the fate of three princely states was decided.
These states were Hyderabad, Kashmir and Junagarh. Sardar Patel, the deputy Prime Minister of India called them “the King, the Queen and the Pawn”, using chess analogy. The fate of all three was to be decided based on accession by the ruler, the religion of the majority, and all this to be confirmed through a plebiscite. The other option was as an independent state.
Junagarh was the “Pawn”. The Nawab of Junagarh, Mahabat Khan acceded to Pakistan but had a majority Hindu population in the state. This decision was turned down by Nehru and Patel. They forcibly occupied the State and through a plebiscite obtained their certification.
The “King” was Hyderabad. The Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan took time to decide. He had a high revenue base, a well organized bureaucracy and other infrastructure to survive as an independent state. The time was cut short by sending in Indian forces forcing Nizam to concede. The premise of takeover was Hindu majority.
With the King and Pawn usurped forcibly. Prime Minister Nehru and his team eyed the “Queen” to complete the triangle by taking over Kashmir. The Raja’s hand was forced to accede while sitting in Bombay but its Muslim majority rejected the move. Attempts were made to quell this expression of freedom by force. This was unacceptable to their Muslim neighbors in Pakistan. The tribes of Fata and other freedom lovers joined in support.
The matter ended up in UN. Pakistan stood with its Kashmiri brethren. India accepted to hold an independently supervised plebiscite that became part of a UN resolution. The rest is history. Following the launch of the Map I followed Indian media. Ignoring the closed minded junkies, I listened to the intellectual discourse amongst their intelligentsia. The bottom line was that strength has to prevail. They are silent about China because they can’t take them on. Pakistan has stepped on India’s tail.
The upshot of this Political Map is that it has sown the seed of truth. Thoughts bring response which lead to action. Amongst the activists emerges commitment for a continued struggle. A just struggle forces the hand of usurpers and eventually gives dividends. Stand by your commitments and belief, situations evolve and there is light at the end of the tunnel. Historically without Nelson Mandela there would still be apartheid in South Africa.