The Blunder-ful few days

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In trying to hit two birds with one stone, at times the stone misses both the birds and lands on your own head.

Pakistan is currently governed by a group of people who deem it wise to try and intimidate a ‘wannabe’ revolutionist, by attacking his residence and Party’s local office and institute with more than a thousand policemen. A group who wants the public to believe that the attack was not actually an attack, but an “anti-encroachment” operation aimed at removing the “illegal” barricades deployed in front of the leader’s house. Well that is a very reasonable justification.

After all, barricades in front of that particular Model Town residence were the last barricades left in the city to be removed. No?

Repeated notices had been sent that were faced with non-compliance. No?

And it’s not like the leader of the political party associated with that residence or institution was on his way to the country, in a couple of days, pursuing his declaration of bringing a revolution. Was he?

The followers who resisted the ‘anti encroachment’ operation were tear gassed and sprayed with water cannons, and then negotiations that were held between leadership of the party and police failed and rocket launchers were fired at the police after which the police had no option but to attack the heavily armed violent aggressors. Not true?

Well then it wasn’t an innocent mistake by the o so naive Punjab government? Shocking!

Let us assume it was a planned maneuver to scare the revolutionist and prevent him from disturbing the ‘smooth and blissful’ functioning of the government. Notwithstanding the absolute stupidity of this plan, let us review its implementation.

You direct the police to fire at their own citizens and you do not direct them to keep the media away?

You let goons in civil clothes thrash and vandalize public property and you let it happen in front of rolling cameras?

You send a thousand policemen to a place and then claim they went there to remove encroachments, when in the same area; Model Town, private residences of leaders of the ruling party are surrounded by a multitude of barricades and illegal encroachments?

You have the audacity to deny any knowledge of the said operation while sitting on portfolios of Chief Executive and Law Minister of the Province?

Some planning I say, impressive!

The alleged – ‘malicious and ill-planned’ – operation resulted in the deaths of more than ten citizens of Pakistan, including two women. It resulted in giving life to an otherwise dim anti-government move. It resulted in discrediting and defaming an institution; Punjab Police, that – despite its vices – has also sacrificed a lot for the people of this province. It also resulted in making the arrival of Tahir Ul Qadri (TUQ) in Pakistan a huge deal. Without the Model Town operation, TUQ would have arrived to begin a movement or a revolution, as he likes to call it. But thanks to the government’s smart planning, he arrived during one.

The handling of TUQ’s arrival was as impressive as the earlier operation. Twelve hours before his flight landed, the province started seeing unprecedented preventive measures. Main roads connecting the capital and its twin city were being blocked, the capital itself was barricaded and shut down, the airport was practically cut off from the city causing nuisance to hundreds of travelers. And what were they preventing? NO! not Godzilla. They were trying to prevent TUQ’s followers from reaching the airport where TUQ WOULD NOT be allowed to land. Smart, isn’t it?

The reason for all these measures, that must have cost millions, was claimed to be TUQ’s own security. Grave threats to his life were what forced the ever so considerate government to take these steps. One may wonder why then, in the presence of such serious threats to his person, were security barricades being forcibly removed from his residence a couple of days ago? But then one would be under-estimating the importance of its citizens’ security for the government.

While the plane circled the Islamabad Airport and probably tried to reason its way into landing, it was diverted to Lahore. The plane wasn’t PIA’s – the personal servant airline of the rulers – by the way, but Emirates Airlines. Now that’s two birds with one stone. One might deem it difficult and improbable to create chaos within the state and cause ridicule for it internationally, but again, one would be wrong because one underestimates the smart planning of the smart planners.

The Emirates aircraft was diverted to Lahore, against International Aviation Rules. The plane was stated, by two Federal Ministers on internationally aired Television channels, to have been hijacked. TUQ was allowed to freeze the aircraft operations for more than four hours. Why was the plane diverted? the fact that Federal Minister for Information had categorically denied diversion the previous night, can’t be the only reason. TUQ could have been flown via helicopter from Islamabad as well.

What is the outcome of the blunder-full few days? TUQ is now seen – nationally and internationally – as a force to reckon with. Earlier if his capacity to topple an elected government was doubted, it has now become very real. If I know there is a cat outside the door to my house and my housemates are oblivious of what’s outside, they just know there is something outside. What would they assume if, to keep that ‘something’ out, I reinforce the doors with 8 inches thick steel and call heavily armed men to guard it?

If the government is toppled, if democracy is yet again derailed, history would find someone from within the ‘house’ to be responsible. God bless Pakistan, although we do not seem to want Him to.

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