MIRZA HAZARE’S CRUSADE
RASHEED HASAN KHAN
On 27 RAMZAN, in a marathon two hour television spectacular, Dr. Zulfiqar Mirza, Senior Minister, M.P.A, and ex- interior minister of Sind, caused an earthquake in the national political scene by launching a broadside at the P.P.P. coalition partner M.Q.M. The charge sheet presented by Dr. Zulfiqar Mirza is not new, except for a few items, he has been repeating these charges off and on for the last few years, leading to a series of furious reactions by the M.Q.M. every time. This time around, he seems to have chosen the timing of his offensive with care. The Supreme court of Pakistan was to commence the hearing of the suo-moto case in regards to the mass killings in Karachi round this time. Then there was the negotiation between the M.Q.M. and President Zardari for the latest reconciliation, which had entered a crucial stage at this time. Thus, on a day held sacred by Muslims, Zulfiqar Mirza launched his crusade against mass murder and extortion in which, sadly enough, all the political parties in Karachi are involved and which has resulted in the loss of thousands of lives and billions of Rupees have been lost to arson and disruption of economic activity.
Dr. Mirza’s presentation was very impressive, holding the holy Quran upon his head, he delivered his diatribe in a steady flow of fiery lava. This two hour presentation encompassed his resignation from all official posts, his deep indebtedness to President Zardari and Benazir Bhutto for his personal and political advancement, his own exalted and spotless pedigree ( his grandfather and three grand uncles had been deputy-collectors under the colonial rule), the crimes of his erstwhile friends in the M.Q.M ( ranging from murder and extortion to participation in anti- Pakistan conspiracies at the behest of U.S.A. ) and last but not the least, the ‘nefarious’ role of Rehman Malik in the national scene ( to which he devoted a great deal of time). He also presented a series of documents from the official record as a proof of the correctness of his statements.
In one masterly stroke, he managed to put the M.Q.M., the Supreme Court, and the present P.P.P. Government on the spot. Thus the cataclysmic effect of his press conference is not difficult to understand. One of the initial responses of the political circles was that this is a ‘scripted’ play, with all participants playing their parts to confuse the public and help maintain the Status-Quo. However, this is not the whole truth. Such serious charges, with national and international implications, cannot be exchanged in a mock battle whatever the benefits the users hope will accrue to them. Zulfiqar Mirza’s dramatic press conference represents the emergence of new contradictions and sharpening of some old contradictions in Sind and therefore in the national political scene. All progressive and scientific analysts of the Pakistani society must bear this in mind if they are to understand the present situation and the future course of events in Pakistan correctly.
Zulfiqar Mirza has announced his retirement from politics and declared that he will devote his life to combating the present prevalence of mass murder, extortion and corruption in the political process. This is a very laudable objective, provided it is applied across the board and does not have any ethnic or national tilt. In next door India the public abhorrence of corruption has been demonstrated by the popular response to Anna Hazare’s movement against corruption. The agenda posed by Zulfiqar Mirza is comparatively very complex and difficult to resolve, given the ground realities of Pakistan, especially Karachi; but it appears that we are seeing a Mirza Hazare, in the maze of mass murder, extortion and corruption —- can he find a way out ? Only time will tell. Apart from Mirza Hazare’s self assumed mission, the serious charges made by him in his 27 Ramzan press conference and subsequent speeches all over Sind demand that the Government of Pakistan investigate these charges and declare its position on the issues raised by Dr. Mirza forthwith.