Give credit where credit is due

Syed Hashmi

Through his article ‘Options for Qadri’ published on February 15, Aziz-ud-Din Ahmad has joined the team of ‘intellectuals’ lambasting Dr. Qadri. Well, Dr. Qadri has announced that he will neither file any review petition against the Supreme Court’s verdict, nor discuss it again. So, democracy appears to have been saved, and the theories about his conspiracy to derail democracy should be consigned to the dustbin now.

Despite the rejection of his petition for reconstitution of the Election Commission, Dr. Qadri’s campaign for the vetting of assembly aspirants cannot be held as having failed. During his campaign, Dr. Qadri discussed the issue so forcefully and consistently that almost every one now knows that during past elections, the relevant provisions dealing with the eligibility of candidates were not enforced.

This is no mean achievement. Also, as these have been brought into lime-light, it will no longer be possible for the aspirants to avail the ‘walk-in, walk-out, no-questions-asked facility previously enjoyed by them. We have been assured of thorough vetting by the Chief Election Commissioner, Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim, a man of unquestioned integrity and also adequate time has now been allowed for the process, through the efforts of Dr. Qadri. Moreover, Federal Board of Revenue, State Bank of Pakistan, NADRA, NAB and other relevant institutions have offered all possible help to the Election Commission. For the first time, there appears to be a strong likelihood that tax evaders, loan defaulters and those who got their loans written off, did not pay their dues: in short all cheats and fraudsters will not have a smooth-sailing like in the past, and will be obstructed. A person who made all this possible should be appreciated and respected and all decent people are actually doing that as opposed to others who are just ridiculing Dr. Qadri.

The writer goes on to say that due to (perceived) insults hurled at him by the SC and the all-too-free media, Dr. Qadri could decide to call it quits and return to Canada, which is what most people in the country would like. It is surprising how some people interpret their own personal wish as that of 180 million people. It is also amazing how even after decades, very many of our individuals - intellectuals included - as well as institutions have not progressed beyond the formative stage, at least as much as the length of time would have warranted, which sentiment is partly admitted by the writer through his description of media as all-too-free. However, responsible sections of media are behaving admirably.

The writer describes Dr. Qadri’s main attraction for the West to be the big money that is available there to grab in the name of religion by playing on the emotions of Muslims settled there. Then he says that he could join hands with others in Pakistan and continue his campaign but points out the snag: that of his workers making sacrifices while fruits enjoyed by his partners contesting elections.

Using his imagination further, which borders on hallucinations, he suggests another course that Dr. Qadri could take. He could tear up his Canadian passport, revive his political party and jump into the boxing ring while asking his heir-apparent to look after his lucrative business in North America and Europe.

The writer is so biased that he can’t even see contradictions within his own statements. If money is what Dr. Qadri is after, why would he leave his lucrative business abroad and jump into the political ring, where he will have to spend big money out of his pocket, knowing in advance that he could not grab an important official position in Pakistan anytime soon which could enable him to recover his investment, much less make a profit on it. Not only that but leaving his ‘business empire’ in the hand of heir apparent who, not being able to match his own oratorical and managerial skills, could end up ruining his business. Now, why would Dr. Qadri, portrayed by the writer as a shrewd businessman, give up money-spinning opportunities abroad and embark on such a loss-making venture in Pakistan?

The writer claims that because of his moving to Canada seven years earlier, Dr. Qadri lost touch with the reality on the ground in Pakistan but his huge educational, medical and welfare network in Pakistan rather contradicts that statement. He also talks about a vibrant civil society emerging in Pakistan during Dr. Qadri’s absence from the country of which he remained ignorant. Now, he has been away from the country only for seven years, and this time span is inadequate to let individuals, institutions and civil society grow from the state of infancy to adolescence, much less to that of adulthood and maturity, and this shows up all over.

If our writers can manage to take a bit of time off from their Qadri-bashing activity and study the situation within and around Pakistan, they will come to the conclusion that the country is going through the most critical phase in its history, having already been halved in a mere 24 years. While we managed to survive after the earlier self-made tragedy, this time round, our fate could be much worse, making the tragedy of Iraq and Syria look like an infinitesimal incident, and goodbye to our nuclear assets. This time, India would be looking forward to avenging one thousand years of Muslim domination, as announced by Indira Gandhi, plus sixty-five years of Muslim near-equivalence and in this mission, it will also have the active support of Israel, its sponsor the United States as well other Western countries whom very many of our people, intellectuals included, mistakenly regard as our sincere friends.

However, we can avoid that terrible fate by choosing our next crop of leaders on merit and not, on other selfish and petty considerations or else repent at leisure for the rest of our lives.

A competent leadership emerging as a result of our careful exercise of voting rights, plus sincere efforts by an empowered Election Commission, would concentrate on nation-building, and developing close collaboration with our sincere neighbours like China, Iran and also Russia, whose interests lie within the region. At the same time, it could develop proper relationship with Afghanistan, India and the western countries, based on mutual respect and cooperation in the real sense of the word. Our Middle-Eastern friends will also be much happier seeing a stable and prospering Pakistan and will extend their helping hand. However, we have got to help ourselves first before expecting others to help us.

I think Dr. Qadri came to wake us up from our deep slumber and to remind us of the desperate situation that we are in.

Through his vibrant style, he has done his job well and it seems we will not enter the next elections in the same half-asleep, dis-interested state like before, for which we should thank God and express our gratitude to Dr. Qadri, his capable team as well as his sincere and steadfast followers whose march to Islamabad and stay there in most unfavourable conditions proved to be a game-changer.