‘Bas Ho Chuki Namaz Musalla Uthaiye’
The rallies in Karachi and Gujranwala organised by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) and addressed by various speakers including former PM Nawaz Sharif (speaking online from London, which can be heard on Youtube) are over, and it can now be said, quoting Urdu poet Aatish, “Bas ho chuki namaz musalla uthaiye.” It can also be said, quoting Shakespeare’s Macbeth “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
Who are these 11 parties which have formed the PDM in Pakistan ? They are a motley bunch of frustrated, discredited people having nothing in common: Nawaz Sharif, who was known to be highly corrupt, and mentioned in the Panama Papers, with huge assets abroad; Bilawal Bhutto whose grandfather Z.A. Bhutto threw Ahmadis to the wolves by the Second Constitutional Amendment for his political benefit, whose mother Benazir was highly corrupt and took huge sums abroad, and whose husband was known as Mr 10%; Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman, that Rasputin of Pakistan, that fraud and rank opportunist, etc.
Have these people anything in common except their frustration at being out of power and deprived of the loaves of office? Have they any genuine love or concern for the masses? Not at all.
Nawaz Sharif has named 4 senior army officers, including the present army chief Gen Bajwa, for installing Imran Khan whose government is being blamed for all the ills in Pakistan. But does he seriously think there will be an effort to oust them? The Pakistan Army is disciplined and jealously protects its generals, including even the retired ones like Gen Musharraf (in fact, Nawaz Sharif’s ouster from power was because he had started hounding Musharraf).
So despite all Nawaz Sharif’s loud rhetoric, nothing will happen, except that now the Pakistan Government is likely to apply for his speedy extradition from the UK (his 8-week bail for medical treatment is over).
The truth is, as everyone knows, the real ruler of Pakistan is its army. Power grows out of the barrel of a gun, and all the PDM’s horses and all the PDM’s men cannot cause even a dent or scratch. At most what the PDM will achieve, provided its agitation assumes large proportions, is the ouster of Imran Khan as PM, like a sacrificial goat, just as the agitation by the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) in 1977 resulted in the military coup by Gen Zia-ul-Haq and ouster of that demagogue Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.
So my prediction is that if the PDM agitation grows and spreads in Pakistan, it will culminate in a coup deposing Imran Khan, and the arrest of leaders of the 11 parties comprising the PDM, and break-up of its constituent parties – as happened to the PNA in 1978. All the huge crowds which assembled in Karachi and Gujranwala will disappear when confronted by a ‘whiff of grapeshot.’
Markandey Katju is a former judge of the Supreme Court of India. He was also the Chairman of the Press Council of India.