By Asif Mahmood
Not only has sectarian violence eviscerated our country but now it seems to have affected mainstream political parties too. I wish I could take the developments on many fronts bit lightly.
The new assignment of Raheel Shareef has been visualized differently by the major political parties. Despite the fact that PPP and PTI dint give nod to this assignment the govt , albeit begrudgingly , opted for that and it earned strong criticism.
We shouldn’t forget that in recent past we have witnessed this alarming sign when the PML-N, the then opposition party, threatened to undo the arrangement of the gas pipeline project with Iran if voted into power and the PPP, the then government crowed this project to appeal to voters. Some of the commentators observed that time that the issue was one of the PML-N supporting Saudi Arabia and the PPP leaning towards Iran as a political ally.
Saudi Arabia and Iran have a long history of distrust. Saudi Arabia has always been skeptical about the expansionist designs of Iran to the extent that the French paper Le Figaro reported the Saudi King as saying ‘Two states in the region do not deserve to exist: Israel and Iran’. Iran has always been taken as a threat to the Arab world. Both have aspirations to lead the Ummah and both are keen to expand their influence to Muslim countries with Pakistan as ground zero.
An incident inside the parliament is also worth mentioning here when Mushahidullah Khan questioned the loyalty of PPP to ‘the blood of Mohtarama Benazir Bhutto’, to which the Deputy Chairman senate retorted ‘the PML-N leaders rendered sacrifices in Saudi Arabia’. But this is not the whole story, there are certain other examples strengthening my thesis.
You may recall Mr. Ahmadinejad’s visit to Pakistan. Commentators were surprised to know that no meeting was scheduled between Nawaz Sharif and the Iranian President as the honourable guest was not interested in it. In the context of the developing relationship with Iran, such a meeting was of paramount importance. In pursuing a durable relationship with a country, the opposition political leadership can never be ignored in this manner. If memory serves, it was an unprecedented move, but it is believed that the Iranian President just reciprocated Nawaz Sharif who had politely turned down Ahmadinejad’s invitation to visit Iran in order to appease Saudi Arabia.
The second coming of Mr. Tahirul Qadri was believed to be in furtherance of restructuring the politics of Pakistan on a sectarian basis. In response to the Deobandi and Salafi political forces, it is said, Qadri was trying to form a Barelvi-Shia political alliance. Whether his arrival was merely a happy combination of fortuitous circumstances or is devised, drafted and planned is still a million-dollar question. No need to
Have we gone that far that we are content with living like a frog who thinks its puddle is a great sea? Pakistan as a mature nation should strike a balance between the rhetoric of the Ummah and the requirements of a nation-state. At all events, all parties need to show some commitment to resisting all outside forces that undermine the plurality of faith and the diversity of our political culture.