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On March 15th, 44 BCE, Roman emperor Julius Caesar was assassinated, and thence came the term Ides Of March, which has historically come to connote and be associated with bad omens, betrayals, societal agony and all types of misfortune. In our local context, it should be re-coined as “Ides of May” because far too many things have happened in the month of May, a lot of bad ones and only one good.

Picking only from recent history, the good that happened from the only standpoint of national security was the nuclear detonation done on 28th May.

Thanks to Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan and his talented team of scientists. During the President Musharraf’s years we had the 12th May carnage, rioting and killings in Karachi, which ultimately led to the undoing of the MQM (Muttahida Qaumi Movement).

And of course who can forget the mayhem that followed PTI’s (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s) peaceful rally on 25th May. All these events are kept alive by the media, each year. The reminders are both celebratory and of remorse.

To our national horror, we experienced the horrendous day of 9th May recently, when mobs went berserk. No sane Pakistani can avoid in offering the strongest condemnation of the events that unfolded on that ominous day. The vandalism was no different from what the nation had witnessed at the cruel and sad assassination of the most popular politician, Benazir Bhutto.

The spontaneity of reaction belies the claim of any orchestrated plan. Regardless of whether it was planned or not, the strongest possible reaction wouldn’t be enough to convey the anger that it ignited in each and every patriotic Pakistani. The arson, brutality and insensitivity of human behaviour reached its zenith.

Indeed, disgusting is the sight of vandalism of the portraits of our decorated heroes, the soldiers and the Shaheeds. It is painful to watch it repeatedly, but the TV channels are unsympathetic to our feelings; they love to devour upon our sentiments by telecasting it endlessly, daily, since then.

While the heart bleeds at the treatment meted out to our gallant “Shaheeds”; for any citizen worth a bit with any sense of national pride,it is equally disgusting and nauseating to sight a young girl being dragged by her hair on the streets of Lahore by the law enforcers.

This picture will also remain imprinted upon the pages of history, let alone being etched upon the conscience of the nation for a very long time; again, thanks to the electronic media, who refuse to cease this display. Do they realise the damage they inflict on our beloved country’s image? We are not savages. We are a decent nation.

These sights are an aberration, not the norm of response. Our culture is one where we show utmost respect to women even if they be protesting peacefully. The impromptu response clearly is a gross violation of our religious dictates and social creed, values and traditions.

Whilst there cannot be any justification to hooliganism, violence, misconduct, gangsterism, criminality, transgressions and lawlessness, it is of significance to pay heed to what two eminent lawyers, the Honourable Aitzaz Ahsan and Latif Khosa, are saying when they question the absence of law enforcers at the places where rioting was taking place, which areas in normal days are severely monitored, remotely and by the presence of large numbers of security personnel. Their opinion begs a response. The guardians of these high profile locations were nowhere…caught napping or what?

Of late, mostly the time-servers are taking out rallies to express support to the armed forces. There is no Pakistani that doesn’t respect and love our armed forces. It is stupidity to move around in streets to express solidarity.

That is a given thing. The nation adores, admires and values the armed forces for their bravery and gallantry. They have successfully protected the citizens during the war on terror and many have by embracing martyrdom. They stood up to defend us in the aftermath of war on terror unleashed upon us by the flawed policies of the international forces.

Do they need certification from the streets? No. The Nation is proud of them. There is no need to belittle their stature through such clumsy moves.

Some politicians in outright stupidity are remarking that what the enemy couldn’t do, has been done! What utter nonsense is that? A hooligan crowd could be settled by them, in no time. It is judicious restraint. Let’s appreciate that, and not act as if the enemy can walk in.

Any adventure by the enemy will be repelled with swift and brute action. Did the armed forces not prove it, in February 2020, when they downed the enemy aircrafts? Do not confuse our irritant miscreants with the enemy. The media must shackle its wild imagination. They appear to be doing more harm than good to the State. Our army knows how to defend us. On that count, let there be no mistake, by any.

The rioters need to be adequately punished in a transparent and legal manner. No compromises. Having said that, it is also imperative now to begin the process of binding; a time to glue together the highly polarised social and political divide. There is need to give respect to the courts, in fact to the entire judiciary.

Today, I can appreciate, what I had read at primary school: At the height of the Second World War, Winston Churchill emerged from a cabinet meeting held in the War Room to face a battery of journalists, who on behalf of the citizenry started to complain to him about inflation, lack of food grains, shortage of vegetables, lack of Coal for heating, etc.

Churchill listened with patience, gave a sombre look, and asked, “Are the Courts working?” “Yes”, replied the many journalists. Churchill then waved with a smile, writ large on his face, and only said, “Then Britain is saved”. He walked away. Four words say it all.

We are witnessing political forces openly flouting court orders, using delaying tactics, and expressing with no self-control while indulging in full-scale character assassination of the judges. This must stop. We must as a society respect the judiciary and their decisions with Uberrima fides as the cornerstone of acceptance.

Let’s heal the wounds. Let there be a complete cessation of the verbal duels between politicians and State institutions. The blazing anchors on various TV channels and analysts in the print media need to silence the verbal armoury in favour of developing channels of communication to end the slide into the abyss of no return and to quell the mental agony of the people of the blessed land.

Imran Khan, like others, must have learnt his political lessons well by the events of 9th May. His condemnation of the strife was a tad late for a patriot and a politician of his caliber. He should have rushed to do so. The personal jolt of having been manhandled can be an attributable excuse for this delayed reaction. His respect and regard for the Armed forces is evidenced by the several statements and speeches he has made in the past; the indiscretions are a result of political demagoguery, of which almost all politicians are equally guilty of.

Imran Khan needs to reassess his strategy. The demand for early elections is both democratic and legal. Imran shouldn’t be upset by those leaving him or the party.

The rats are usually the first to jump off a sinking ship. PTI is not going anywhere unless it can be proven that they planned and perpetrated the mayhem in a court of law. Political parties have a life beyond attempts of being banned. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto banned Wali Khan’s National Awami Party (NAP), but soon it was back with a new name.

The sun has never set forever. Every sunset has within its womb the promise of a fresh and brighter sunrise. Hence, why can’t our country also see a brighter tomorrow? We can. We will.

We should. The Phoenix is bound to rise from the ashes. The electorate alone must decide which political party should be voted into power, and who shouldn’t. That’s the main principle of freedom to vote in a democratic dispensation.

Let’s sow the seeds of accord. For 75 years, we have as a nation been reaping the bitter harvest of having sown seeds of discord to the extent that we enabled creation of Bangladesh. How much more does the Nation wish to reap from the malady of our collective ill judgments, lacking political wisdom, sagacity and acumen.

Stop sowing seeds of discord. Let’s reunite. We are a strong country of nearly 250 million people, waiting to unleash its positive potential, politically, socially and economically. We have all the resources to do so. Let nobody harbour a doubt on this.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

Sirajuddin Aziz

The writer is a senior banker & freelance contributor

Comments

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Tulukan Mairandi May 24, 2023 10:05am
It is likely that there will be another partition of Pakistan if politicians and Establishment don't reconcile and allow TTP to run the country.
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KU May 24, 2023 11:09am
It’s true that vision and honesty are wanting but greed and propaganda rules us. We have been reading articles on ''hope for a better tomorrow'' for the last 75 years, how has it changed the lives of people for the better, or how has the country progressed or grown economically? We must accept the fact that a hand full of political parties have been plundering the country since its independence and inducing corrupt practices so that everyone can benefit. What gets a shameful first prize is the fact that politicians, government servants, and the elites have made unimaginable wealth throughout our history while the poor people and Pakistan are bankrupt, and more of this is on the menu.
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