PTI, MMA and PML-N for unity between opposition parties
* No semblance of law and order in Pakistan, says Imran
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf (PTI), the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) have called for unity between opposition parties for the restoration of democracy and the Constitution in the country.
This was agreed in a meeting between the top leadership of the PTI, the MMA, and the PML-N in Islamabad on Wednesday morning.
The meeting was held at the initiative of Imran Khan, PTI chairman, and was attended by Qazi Hussain Ahmed, MMA president and amir Jamaat-e-Islami, and Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan of the PML-N. Akbar S Babar, PTI central information secretary, was also present in the meeting.
The three leaders discussed the political situation in the country and decided to launch a decisive public movement against dictatorship and a fake political system in the country.
The leaders said the present parliament had been made redundant as it had no powers to resolve people's problems.
The leaders hoped the MMA and the Alliance for the Restoration for Democracy (ARD) would agree to launch a joint movement against Gen Pervez Musharraf's rule.
Reacting to the increasing acts of violence in various parts of the country including the murder at the Bari Imam shrine in Islamabad on Tuesday afternoon, Imran Khan said the country was being led down a dark alley of uncertainty.
Nobody was safe even in the federal capital, he said, adding that the insurgency was growing with daily acts of sabotage in Balochistan.
Gilgit and Skardu had remained under curfew for extended periods of time. The Tribal Aareas continued to simmer with acts of violence, he said.
Imran Khan thanked the PML-N and MMA leaders for their positive response to his efforts for forging unity between opposition parties.
Imran Khan's choice of candidate for prime minister has left many of his ardent fans, especially women, dumbfounded. The cricketer-turned-politician voted for Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal's nominee for premier, against the advise of many liberal and progressive members within his Tehrik-e-Insaaf (TI).
Imran used his solitary vote in parliament in Rehman's favour, forwarding the argument that the MMA is the only political force that is independent and does not take dictation from abroad. He maintained that he found himself ideologically and politically close to the MMA, which denounces President Pervez Musharraf's support to the international coalition in the war against terrorism, especially in neighbouring Afghanistan.
"Khan has more than a soft corner for the ousted Afghan Taliban," a senior leader of his party said on the condition of anonymity. "He thinks that the orthodox religious militia did a great service to Afghanistan and Islam before they became a target of the Americans."
Also, the MMA's firm stand against Musharraf, especially his series of controversial constitutional amendments, won the heart of Pakistan's former speedster, he added.
Imran's protracted bitterness towards the Pakistan Peoples' Party and anger against the Pakistan Muslim League left him with no alternative other than the MMA, which secured 86 votes, including those of the Pakistan Muslim League (N).
Khan's vote for the pro-Taliban cleric has added to the political confusion within his party, which performed poorly in the October 10 elections. "It would have been understandable, had Imran voted for a candidate that was nominated jointly by the opposition," said a senior Tehrik-e-Insaaf leader. "But by voting for the MMA, he most certainly has lost his standing among the liberal, democratic and progressive elements in society."
Human rights groups and the majority of the moderate and liberal Muslims have been extremely critical of the MMA's narrow interpretation of Islam and the conservative views of its leaders on women, education, fine arts, television and sports. By voting for the MMA, the Tehrik-e-Insaaf chief has, in effect, endorsed the religious alliance's stand on these issues as well.
Will the women's wing of the Tehrik-e-Insaaf, led by Jemima, Khan's British-born wife, endorse the Taliban-like interpretation of Islam? That remains a moot point.
Mairaj Mohammed Khan, the Tehrik-e-Insaaf's secretary general who has spent a lifetime advocating socialism and secular politics, finds it hard to defend the somersaults of the party leader, who has drifted from one extreme (of being pro-Musharraf) to the other extreme (of being anti-Musharraf) within a short span of time.
"Even we are finding it difficult to figure out the real Imran," quipped another of his Karachi-based leaders. "He dons the shalwar-kameez and preaches desi and religious values while in Pakistan, but transforms himself completely while rubbing shoulders with the elite in Britain and elsewhere in the west."
Many in the Tehrik-e-Insaaf would have preferred to see Imran abstain from the voting like the veteran Pakhtoonkhawa Milli Awami Party leader Mahmood Khan Achakzai.
"But such political maturity is perhaps too much to ask or expect of Imran," says a Karachi-based Tehrik-e-Insaaf leader and a close aide of Mairaj Mohammed Khan's. "It is understandable why people do not take Imran and his party seriously in politics," he said. "His self-righteousness and high-flying principles fail to explain the contradiction between his strange fondness for the maulanas and his passion for all the good things in life which have come from the west.
Curious Case of Imran Khan December 9, 2004sepoy » homistan »4 comments
Yesterday I linked to an essay by Imran Khan. Something has bothered me for a while and I think I will hash it out here. Why has Imran Khan failed in Pakistani politics?
Imran Khan, from ‘85-'95, was Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky and Joe Montana rolled into one. He retired from Cricket (after winning the World Cup) and started a project to build a free cancer hospital in Lahore. For this project, he solicited donations, did fundraisers, gathered monies from NGOs, all to guarantee that the poor have a world-class facility. I can't even begin to describe the goodwill and cheer he accumulated through his philanthropy.
Then, he decided to enter into politics and established the Tehrik-e Insaf [Movement for Justice] to foster an agenda of anti-corruption and development. He should have been elected PM in under a month. Yet, he has struggled to be taken seriously by our politicians or public. He still makes more news through his personal life than through his political one. He attacked the major parties as being corrupt and exploitative of the public and that not only cut him out of the immense organizational structure required to engage in local politics but also made him a political pariah. The religious parties had no use for this recent playboy with a gori wife. He went through phases of political wranglings and compromises [even doing the mullah bit - for like 5 seconds] which destroyed his reputation of being a non-compromising gentleman among theives.
His party never won any seats to speak of and he has barely managed to get elected in the few chances he has had. After 9/11, he criticized US foreign policy and has been by-and-large anti-US since the Afghanistan war. If you don't have friends in D.C. and you don't have friends in Riyadh than you ain't got a chance in Islamabad. His latest move is to lead a XI-strong against The General. He is trying to emerge as the leader of a unified front - akin to the M.R.D. against Zia in ‘81. The thing is that MMA is doing the same thing. Chances are that Imran Khan will get sidelined, once again.
So, what does this say about Pakistani political landscape? Why can't an immensely popular and well-liked individual take a populist platform and still fail to gather any support as a leader. Masses are malleable only to the ones in power? Or is this a unique case? In the absence of any desire for change, can Pakistani civil and political society re-allign itself against The General? Don't I have any shot at becoming the Manmohan Singh of Pakistan?