STRAIGHT TALK by Hafeez Khan

I was in my library prepping for a longdistance call when the ground under feet started to move. It did not register right away; however as tremors continued I called my wife and staff to step outside; by then it was all over. The duration was a little over a minute, long enough to make me realize how weak and vulnerable we are when faced with acts of God. It is a stark reality ignored by powerdrunk rulers intoxicated and blinded by greed and avarice.They are stepping on thin ice that can easily break and drown the entire nation.

Pakistan has been rocked by another man-made earthquake in a narrow street originated bythe erstwhile Chief Election Commissioner. I call him “erstwhile” a synonym of “former” because he has declared himself as a “truly obedient servant” of PML (N) and PPP. Hisconstitutional position requires him to conduct free and fair elections under the Constitution. He has grossly violated it. He has thrown the gauntlet at the Superior Judiciary in open defiance of their judgment requiring him to hold elections in Punjab and KP within the stipulated time.

The country is in the midst of severe economic, security and political instability. CEC’s order has further aggravatedthe situation by this blow beneath the belt. Devious planning by PDM and their handlers went into overdrive immediately after the ruling by the Supreme Court regarding elections. An orchestrated vicious campaign was unleashed against the Honorable Judges of Superior Judiciary, reportedly masterminded by the Bandit Queen through fake video and audio leaks. Its purpose is to bully and intimidate upright Judges. It is the 21st century version of the physical attack on the Supreme Court of Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, using technology instead of “dandas”.

What has necessitated all this? Asif Ali Zardari jumped into the limelight in the first Benazir Government,earning multiple titles including “Mr. 10 %”. There are many stories about his ham-fisted tactics to extort wealth; one such story has lingered. It is him tying a remotely controlledbomb to the legs of a businessman to go and withdraw bribe money from the bank or get blown into pieces. It worked. Zardari is a Baluch; known to harbor grudges over generations. Before Imran Khan appeared on the political scene, it was PML (N) versus PPP viscously attacking each other and wounding egos to grab power. Zardari’sperfect opportunity arose when IK’s Government was ousted in 2022. He tied the bomb to Shahbaz’s leg and launched him as the Prime Minister. Meanwhile securing his goldmine, Sind, and promoting Bilawal amongst the Western ruling elite as a future PM contender.

While Zardari holds the detonation switch, events have gone poorly for the Sharifs. IK’s ouster triggered an unexpected reaction from the masses, a total surprise and shock for PDM and their choreographers led by Gen Bajwa. Their plans and manipulations have failed one after the other over the past 12 months. With each passing day,PTI’s popularity is skyrocketing as PM Sharif and his team continue to commit blunders. With each failure their desperation increases. NS, the conman and convict sitting in London, is running the country remotely. He does not have the guts to return, so he has put his viceroy Maryam in charge of “HukmranKhandaan”; the ruling family. She has bombed at the box office despite her surgical makeover, unable to muster crowds or support amongst the electorate.

The Bandit Queen has ordered extreme physical intimidation and further attempts to eliminate IK. Brutal tactics seen in Lahore and Islamabad have shocked the conscience worldwide. The kidnapping of Hussam Niazi after being released on bail and journalist Sadiq Jan along with the arrests of hundreds of PTI activists is shameful,further darkening the already blackened face of PDM. I have seen Hussam grow up over the years into a brilliant lawyer, fearless and upright in his family’s tradition. In the unfortunate breakup between his father Hafeez Ullah Niazi and Imran Khan, he sided with his “Mamu”on principletranscending a family feud. Any mistreatment in custody will have severe consequences.

The situation in Pakistan has the entire nation and international community extremely concerned. The report for US State Department on human rights in Pakistan reads like an indictment of Sharif family listing their crimes against opponents and upright journalists. Zalmay Khalilzad, a veteran and deeply entrenched US diplomat has come out openly condemning the efforts to remove Imran Khan from the political scene through brutal force.

Panicked, PML(N)’s attempt at distributing free atta is a perfect setup for food riots or turning us into a nation of beggars. Atta prices have more than doubled in the last twelve months. I came across a recent video clip beautifully captures how IK has unified the nation in adversity. Pakistanis have demolished ethnic, religious and linguistic divides to help each other to combat police brutality and stand up to the oppressors.

ECP’s order to allow PDM to run away from elections is a scheme conjured up through the active support of the establishment.Where did the magical date of 8th October come from? It is a week after Justice Bandial’s retirement. This vicious onslaught on the Constitution of Pakistan can only be blunted by the Supreme Court. Rulers have played their trump card to prolong their fascist rule. Guardians of the Constitution need to stand tall and the nation needs to support them in numbers never seen before. 25th March in Iqbal Park, Lahore can be a great starting point!

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