The Senate proceedings of Thursday clearly conveyed that the Imran government was just not willing to fathom deeply grim sides of the controversy, retired Capt. Safdar’s arrest from a hotel room of Karachi had triggered since Monday morning. 

Transmitting the said message, its ministers also disregarded the fact that none other than Chief of the Army Staff felt the need of ordering a comprehensive probe of the incident. His initiative implicitly affirmed that things somewhere had gone berserk when it came to Safdar’s arrest. Instead of acknowledging the same, the ministers behaved quite aggressivelyto push the whole opposition to a defensive corner. 

Faroogh Nasim, the otherwise soft-spoken law minister, cunningly set the theme of a story, which Dr. Wasim Shezad, the leader of the house, and the minister of information, Shibli Faraz, kept rubbing in viciously. Senator Walid Iqbal also delivered a provocative speech to promote it. 

The ministers kept stressing that while discussing the story of Safdar’s arrest we must not forget that he violated the sanctity of Quaid’s mausoleum with fierce slogan chanting. An appropriate law is available to punish such violations. But the Sindh police initially hesitated to invoke it. Shibli Faraz was not surprised with their behavior; he rather insisted that working for an “incompetent and corrupt (provincial) government,” police in Sindh often displayed dereliction of duty. 

Dr. Wasim Shezad also faked innocence regarding the background of Safdar’s arrest. He rather stressed that visuals, spread on the regular and social media, convincingly established that no one else but Sindh police had arrested him. He also laughed at claims that Safdar was nabbed after “breaking in” the hotel room he was staying with his wife, Maryam Nawaz Sharif. 

Visibly facilitated by “friendly” behavior of the Senate Chairman, Sadiq Sanjrani, the ministers eventually succeeded in scuttling the attempt for establishing a special committee of the house to probe into the incident. In spite of heavy numbers and assistance furnished by very experienced senators, the opposition failed to achieve what had been planned, perhaps half-heartedly. 

Immediately after the question hour, Raja Zafar-ul-Haq, the opposition leader, moved a resolution. Referring to Safdar’s arrest, he demanded formation of a special committee of the house to probe its background and consequences. Ms Sherry Rehman of the PPP vigorously endorsed the demand and Raza Rabbani articulated weighty arguments in its support. 

Rabbani and his colleagues worryingly focused on promoting the allegation that the PTI government had recklessly “pressurised” institutions other than the police to arrest retired Capt. Safdar. The same elements allegedly “kidnapped” the Inspector General Sindh Police rather felt “invaded and besieged” by their conduct and eventually created the situation where a score of senior officers decided to go on leave in protest. This might have led to a dangerous confrontation between the federal and the provincial government as well. 

 

The opposition senators were totally justified in stressing that the Senate was the ultimate constitutional forum to ensure smooth relations between the federal and provincial governments. All provinces are equally represented here and its fundamental job is to ensure protection of the rights granted to provinces by the Constitution of Pakistan. 

 

They, however, were slightly late in recalling their obligation. At the outset of the ongoing Senate session on Monday, they should have put the resolution for demanding the formation of a special committee to probe into the happenings in Karachi. They simply appeared ‘catching up’ with initiatives the Sindh government and COAS had already taken in this regard. Little wonder, after appropriate homework the ministers pushed them back with a counter story, which remained hooked to wailing over violation of the sanctity of Quaid’s mausoleum. 

 

For another time the ministers’ conduct conveyed the message that the Imran government was yet not ready to move on by abandoning its either/or obsessions. I rather have it from highly reliable sources that at the outset of Federal Cabinet meeting of Tuesday, Prime Minister Imran Khan had expressed displeasure with “softy behavior” of some of his ministers. Shibli Faraz, the information minister, endured ‘special treatment’ in this regard. By turning unusually aggressive Thursday, he visibly attempted to compensate for the presumed acts of omission. 

 

With utmost contempt the information minister blamed the opposition for furnishing “damaging and embarrassing” content to Indian media by presenting the arrest of Safdar, as if reflecting the head on collision between various institutions of the state of Pakistan. Being our archenemy, India has to invent and promote negative stories about us.

 

But as a custodian of Pakistan’s image, Faraz must not forget that the story of Safdar’s arrest was widely covered by the global media as well. For being the daughter of a three-time prime minister of Pakistan, Ms Maryam Nawaz, savors a high profile. The pictures she posted on twitter accountingthe story of a “break in” during early hours of Monday definitely associated Pakistan with countries, condemned to endure ‘midnight knocks.’

 

Lest you forget, she had been staying in a five-star hotel in Karachi. After knowing the story of a ‘break in’, foreigners would certainly think twice before traveling to our country or staying in five-star hotels. 

 

Safdar’s slogan chanting at Quaid’s mausoleum could not be justified even by hardcore loyalists of Nawaz Sharif. Apparently, he did violate a law and deserved some reprimand for it. But after extracting the warrant of his arrest, by whatever means, there was no need to “break in” to the hotel room he was staying with his wife. Feeling under pressure to “perform,” Shibli Faraz could not see these delicate and subtle points. 

 

Most ministers of the present government have not developed a thick skin to bully the opposition only. They also appear indifferent to ever-rising inflation and unemployment, baffling an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis. 

 

The government has yet to find means to deal with consistently deepening crises, triggered by the price of wheat flour and sugar. It also feels compelled to increase charges for electricity consumption. As if the said problems were not intense enough to make it jittery, we are now heading to massive load shedding of gas.

 

Omar Ayub Khan, the minister in charge of energy, told the senate, with an unmoved heart, that his government would not be able to supply the required gas to homes and industry during the coming winter. 

 

Instead of spinning some assuaging story, he kept shrugging his shoulders while stressing that the government could not meet the accumulated demand of the fuel gas. It could only manage supplying almost half of the demand. As if to justify the brewing crisis, he remained stuck to blame the previous governments of “looters and plunderers” like a broken record.