The attack on Karachi airport was horrendous enough. But it contained an entirely different horror, as people were burnt alive in a cold storage facility. Instead of merely throwing the blame from one department to another, it should be remembered that death by burning has a peculiar horror for Muslims, and not just because it is both painful and horrible, but because this punishment has been reserved by the Almighty to Himself. Sinners will burn in Hell, so Islam does not allow the state to burn anyone, though it allows other means of execution, like beheading or crucifixion.
That might be why Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf wants to leave Karachi, where he has been holed up ever since being granted exemption from personal appearance by the Special Court trying him for his life. The Sindh High Court helped him inch towards becoming the first ex-President to have his name removed from the ECL, though it has given the federal government time to appeal. Is this one of those historic moments when the judiciary is striking down the ECL itself? Musharraf doesn’t Care if that is the case, or if he is being got off on a technicality. All he wants is to be left to see his ailing mother. That she is abroad means that he will only be tried if he comes back. Who knows? He might. After all, he came back in the first place.
And if the government appeal fails, he will leave from the airport that was attacked. Hopefully, he will be alive, unlike the poor unfortunates who died in the burning cold storage.
Someone who didn’t die in that fire, but did pass away in Karachi, was Khair Bux Marri, the nationalist leader. He had lived to make the shift from active politics to becoming a living legend. He represents the departure of another member of a generation that represented a particular type of politics in Balochistan. He had headed to the hills when Ataullah Mengal was sacked as Chief Minister, when Ghaus Bux Bizenjo resigned as Governor. Bizenjo has passed away, as has his replacement, Akbar Bugti. Mengal is still alive, but his son Akhtar is an ex-CM too. Instead of active politics, he had been put on a pedestal, for all, including current CM Abdul Malik Baluch, to gaze upon.
But we are all affected by what is near to us. I never met Nawab Khair Bux, but I had often enough met Zulfikar Balti, while we were together at The Nation Islamabad over 20 years ago. So I was hurt by his death in a way that Nawab Khair Bux’s didn’t. He was a cheerful soul, quick to befriend a Lahore lad feeling a little lost in the federal capital. He never took his ethnicity beyond his surname, and was cheerful. That is the enduring memory I have of him: a cheerful man. We didn’t spend much time together after I came back to Lahore, but I assume that that is the memory Mian Nawaz Sharif will have of the man who became his personal photographer: a cheerful man.
Another man from Rawalpindi is Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan, who is, thank Heavens, still with us, though he has suffered chest pains, and been put through an angiography, and that too at the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology. Yes, the same place that didn’t give one to Musharraf, though they kept him for weeks and weeks, helping him avoid trial. Let’s see how long they keep Ch Nisar.
Musharraf isn’t all that was kept. The election record is kept by all the District Returning Officers. Well, except in Lodhran, where the record for one constituency has been destroyed by termites. That isn’t what happened to the record for NA 118, a Lahore seat where PTI is challenging the PML(N), where the election tribunal has been told that the thumb-prints do not tally. There is no mention of termites. That would have been wondrously convenient. And I am reminded of the explanation that was accepted by the Military Accounts people from a unit during the Raj for a lost crowbar. The termites had eaten it. Well, if termite can eat an iron crowbar, why can’t they eat the paper of an election?
I’m sorry to keep harping on the Karachi attack, but it is being widely linked with the Iraqi militants who have seized Mosul and are advancing on Baghdad. If the Americans didn’t subdue Iraq before leaving, why are people expecting the regime to fall? If terrorism hasn’t been defeated. Why is the USA withdrawing? Apart any possible links between Karachi and Mosul, how long will the winner of the Afghan runoff election remain in office?
But anyway, Iraqi Parliament couldn’t muster the quorum needed to approve the emergency proclamation that the government needs to handle the situation. Well, if lack of quorum in Parliament is a sign
We can’t quite get away from the Karachi attack, for the attacker used Indian weapons, which showed that new PM Narendra Modi was true to the BJP, or rather the RSS and its Hindu extremist ideology. But maybe he was busy writing the letter he sent to Mian Nawaz. He had written first. He wrote no letters to Vajpayee, fearing that he would reply with some of his verses, and demand daad. And we all know that he only gives daad where it is due.