The opposition parties’ much-hyped power show in Lahore last week eventually turned out to be a damp squib. Not only did the Qadri-led ‘joint opposition alliance’ fail in pulling a large crowd for its first protest rally, but also it couldn’t devise and announce any significant future strategy to give the government a hard time. Apparently, this protest rally was held to demand just for the victims of unfortunate 2014 Model Town incident in Lahore where the trigger-happy Lahore Police mercilessly killed as many as fourteen unarmed activists of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) in Lahore. However, the opposition’s typical anti-government rhetoric just took centre stage in the rally. Moreover, the anti-Parliament remarks made by PTI Chairman Imran Khan during his speech somehow overshadowed this rally. The media and some political parties strongly reacted to these controversial remarks. So, the PPP leaders, who were bashing the government in the evening, were just seen bashing PTI in the Parliament on very next morning.
While repeating and approving the earlier derogatory remarks passed by MNA Shiekh Rashid against Parliament in Lahore rally, Imran khan damned and criticized Parliament by using the word ‘Laanat’. Soon after IK’s speech, his followers launched a massive smear campaign against Parliament on the social media to justify Kaptaan’s harsh and abusive remarks. Though IK cursed Parliament against the backdrop of the recent tailor-made amendment made by it in the country’s electoral laws to pave way for ‘ineligible’ Nawaz Sharif to again head his political party, but his followers indicted Parliament for a large number of ‘crimes’ ranging from harbouring and supporting to plunderers of national wealth to dishonesty trying to repeal blasphemy laws in Pakistan. Similarly, we also saw veteran leaders of PTI just explaining the ‘actual context’ of IK’s controversial remarks. They also actively tried to harmonize and justify this anti-Parliament tirade by explaining the real meaning of the word ‘Laanat’ in the light of Arabic grammar and Quranic text.
It is quite unfortunate that a section of our mainstream media also tried to justify IK’s derogatory remarks against Parliament through conducting opinion polls. I am neither an Arabic language expert nor a Quranic scholar. However, I, at least, know that the word ‘Laanat’ is used in our common language to absolutely criticize or reject a person or thing. This word denotes a strong disapproval and condemnation. Therefore, IK’s contemptuous statement against Parliament is just uncalled for and extremely deplorable. A national leader, who is also a parliamentarian, is not supposed to make this sort of derogatory statement against the premier state institution. I just expected that IK would tender his resignation or at least announce his party’s en bloc exit from the Parliament following his anti-Parliament diatribe as did Sheikh Rashid in the same rally. But, strangely, nothing of this kind happened. So, PTI legislators, including IK, would continue to draw hefty monetary perks from the same damned Parliament.
Despite being in active politics for more than two decades, Imran Khan has yet not learnt to act and behave like a mature politician. He has hardly been careful in his choice of phraseology while criticizing his political opponents. This sort of irresponsible, reckless and devil-may-care attitude of IK has become a dominant trait of his personality. Sometimes, IK’s immature behaviour also put his fellow party leaders and followers in an awkward position. So, they have often been absurdly trying to explain or rationalize his reckless behaviour. When it comes to using abusive language, Sheikh Rashid appears to be the spiritual leader of Kaptaan, under whose stewardship and spiritual guidance, he has just reached the ultimate state of spirituality (Maarfat).
At present, it is being widely believed that the opposition’s current maneuvering against the government is only aimed at prematurely putting an end to PML-N government to sabotage or frustrate the forthcoming Senate polls. There is certainly no apparent plausible reason for this massive political agitation by the ‘joint opposition’ when the General Election are just around the corner. At this crucial point in time, PAT leader Allama Tahir-ul-Qadri has returned Pakistan to launch another anti-government campaign afresh by transforming his Tehreek-e-Inqilab into a Tehreek-e-Qisas.
A number of political developments and events in the country during the last five years have resulted in disgracing Parliament and Parliamentarians. Indeed, politicos have been instrumental in distorting the image of Parliament. During their 126-day long sit-in in Islamabad in 2014, PTI leaders actively tried to dispute the credibility and sanctity of the Parliament by calling it a ‘fake Parliament’ on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations of electoral rigging. Similarly, two months ago, TLYR leader Khadim Rizvi also severely bashed Parliament for secretly introducing amendment in blasphemy laws during his three-week long dharana in Islamabad. Moreover, we have also seen that the apex court has extended the scope of so-called Iftikhar Chaudhry Doctine to disqualify the Parliamentarians for being not a ‘Sadiq’ and ‘Ameen’. Now a smear campaign on the social media is underway to defame Parliament as an institution.
Parliament occupies a pivotal position in a parliamentary form of government. It is mother of all state institutions. It is supreme law-making body. It also formulates the constitution, which is the supreme law of the land. In Pakistan, Parliament elects President, Prime Minister and takes parts in the process of appointment of the judges of the superior courts. Therefore, Parliament is not mere a brick-and-mortar building. It is a symbol of the popular sovereignty in the country. No doubt, parliamentarians are part and parcel of a parliament. However, a Parliament has an identity independent of the parliamentarians. Parliamentarians are elected for a specific period of time, but a parliament is a perpetual body. Therefore, one can condemn and criticize the conduct of the parliamentarians. But damning and cursing the parliament in toto is under no circumstances justifiable or allowable.
It is the Parliament of Pakistan which has passed one of the best written constitutions in the world. It is the parliament which has given the nation a unanimous constitution, whereby, now, our superior judiciary are taking suo motu actions and disqualifying the legislators. Indeed, the performance of the parliament is not up to the mark, and so are other state institutions. In fact, the integrity, capacity and inefficiency of the legislators have been a major challenge before the Third World democracies. These common democratic malaises are generally advised to be treated through a better political culture, and ensuring the rule of law as well as the continuity of the democratic process. It was the Parliament of Pakistan which introduced a set of blasphemy laws. It was also the same body which declared Ahmadiyyas as non-Muslims in the country in 1970’s. Therefore, now this parliament should not be labeled as an anti-Islam or pro-Ahmadiyya body on the basis of narrow interpretation of blasphemy laws. So, while maneuvering politically in the country, our politicos should be a bit cautious. There should certainly be a distinction between the parliament and the parliamentarians.
Imran khan, who heads one of the largest parliamentary parties in Pakistan, should extend an unqualified apology to the nation over his recent anti-Parliament remarks. Parliament doesn’t belong to Nawaz Sharif, Asif Zardari, Imran Khan, or anybody else. It simply belongs to the people of Pakistan. Therefore, disgracing parliament is just tantamount to disgracing the people of Pakistan. Indeed, no individual, including any self-proclaimed ‘Savour of the Nation’, can be allowed to damn or disgrace our Parliament- a crucial institution by which ‘Will of the People’ is expressed.
The writer is a lawyer and columnist based in Lahore.