While we are rushing to press, Maulana Fazal ur Rehman’s so-called “Azadi March” is winding towards an end – without achieving anything substantial on the face of it. Maulana had lost his constituency in July 2018 elections and for the first time in the last three decades, this wily politician dressed as a religious scholar has no seat on the decision-making table in Islamabad.
Deeply disturbed, and eager to re-enact himself, he had been organizing large protests, in different cities calling them “million marches” borrowing the term unconsciously from Nation of Islam leader, Louis Farrakhan who had organized a “Million Man March in Washington, DC in 1995.
Though Maulana was able to import the biggest ever crowd of protesters into Islamabad, he failed to create the kind of impression many expected. Karachi bourses, currency markets and business confidence remained stable.
Most media were hostile to him, but the worst role was played by his supporters who kept telling tv reporters that “we have come here to get rid of a PM who is supported by Jews, Israel and Qadianis” Yet, appearances may be deceptive. Maulana has always been a multi-layered chameleon of Pakistani politics who says one thing and does the other.
Azadi March took away all attention from Kashmir (wherein end Oct, Jammu & Kashmir were formally turned into Union territories) and has coincided with ex-premier, Nawaz Sharif’s sudden illness that has set the stage for his release followed by the release of his daughter, Maryam from jail and its widely believed that soon both will be leaving for London for a long time.
It appears that 14 months long relentless stand, by Imran Khan government, against mega-corruption and abuse of public office, is now about to collapse. Release of Nawaz and Maryam, in latter’s case through a High Court Judgement that looks very unconvincing, will inevitably follow with relief for others including Asif Ali Zardari.
That means the usual politics of Pakistan will soon re-erect itself with Khan government becoming like its predecessors. Learning outcome is that Pakistan’s political system, media, civil society and criminal justice institutions have still not evolved to the stage where they can build reliable dams against mega corruption and abuse of public office – and calling it “sad” is an understatement.
On the positive side, there are hopes that the economy may gradually be turning around. This issue has an extensive focus on Pakistan’s investment and corporate world. We have interviewed Zubair Gillani, new Chairman Board of Investments who argues that “Future is Made in Pakistan”.
We followed that with our discussions with Farid Alam, CEO AKD Securities, Salman Haider, CEO AWT Investments and Fatima Munir Ahmed, CEO Hamdard Pakistan; all talk of challenges and opportunities but agree that direction is right and things are turning around. To top it all we have a brilliant piece by Dr. Kamal Monno who examines how French scholar, Thomas Pikkety’s, “Capital and Ideology” is a must-read for Pakistani decision-makers.
Lest I forget, we have two most intelligently written but opposing arguments on police reform from two top institutional minds; one from Tariq Khosa (police) and the other from Naguib Ullah Malik (DMG). Looking forward to your feedback!