It was unimaginable. It was unthought of. However, it did happen with all its viciousness. No doubt politics is cruel. However, the fact that0 followers of cult politics could go to any length defies comprehension and logic.
There was a method to the madness. When the newly elected cabinet ministers along with Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif were visiting the Masjid-e-Nabvi in Madinah, a mob breathed down their necks and started hurling a volley of abuse at them. Raising slogans in unison, “Chor, Chor,” (thieves, thieves) they pulled the hair of Shazain Bugti and cast a slur upon Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb. It was a horrifying, shameful and ugly spectacle. The courageous minister didn’t let the attackers perturb her peace. She refused to stoop to their level in the holy land.
To launch a verbal attack on Marriyum Aurangzeb is quite understandable. She is a thorn in the PTI’s side. She is the one who stood like a rock and was quick to slam Imran Khan and his cronies for their ill-advised policies throughout Khan’s rule.
But since when did Shahzain Bugti become a “chor”?
He was the Special Assistant to the ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan on reconciliation and harmony in Balochistan. His grandfather Akbar Bugti was mercilessly done to death when a cave in Kohlu, Balochistan, where he was staying, was bombed on the orders of former military dictator General Musharraf. Needless to emphasize, the people of Balochistan are already suffering from a profound sense of deprivation, alienation and oppression. However, this bitter reality was lost on hired guns.
The carefully constructed narrative “Chor, Daku” is so toxic and vitriolic that it sweeps aside all rationality, decency, religious and moral values in one go. It slams shut the door of healthy dialogue, fosters intolerance, sows the seeds of righteous hatred, encourages people to spew venom and to be at each other’s throats. It encourages slavish following and puts an end to critical thinking.
Debate, dialogue and tolerance lie at the heart of democratic politics.
“Chor Daku” is not an accusation, but an anti-democratic slogan, presupposing that a particular politician is guilty and corrupt for all intents and purposes and that is it. Above all, it strikes at the heart of the centuries-old criminal jurisprudence principle that no one should be presumed guilty unless proven otherwise, and that, too, beyond a shadow of reasonable doubt. By dint of this presumption of innocence, a person who stands trial is called an “accused” and it is only after a full trial is held that an accused is held to be guilty or not guilty – based on the evidence presented against them.
It was a well-orchestrated scheme, apparently conceived by the evil genius of Sheikh Rashid, who sounded a warning a day before that it would happen. The nephew of Sheikh Rashid made his intentions crystal clear in a video. In yet another leaked video, those who were involved in this could be seen planning about it. Jahangir Alias Cheeko, a friend of Imran Khan and President of PTI UK Rana Abdus Sattar were spearheading the mob. With absolutely any qualms of conscience, they flagrantly disregarded Quranic ordainment:
“O believers! Do not raise your voices above the voice of the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him), and (also) do not speak to him so loud as you are loud when you speak to one another (lest) all your actions should come to nothing (including your faith), and you are not even aware (that your faith and all pious works have been wrecked)”.
(al-Hujurāt, 49: 2)
Sheikh Rashid and his cohorts might have made Imran Khan proud for carrying out the despicable scheme. However, in doing it, they have not only exposed themselves to embarrassment and ridicule, but brought endless shame to the Pakistani nation as well.
It seems that Sheikh Rashid often goes down memory lane and finds himself stuck in the past. And when the bitter realisation dawns upon him that he is no more a minister, he is possessed by a sense of huge loss and a longing to get back in the halls of power. Needless to mention, the septuagenarian Sheikh has been a member of the National Assembly since 1985. He took charge of six ministries from time to time under Nawaz Sharif’s two governments from 1991 to 1993 and 1997 to 1999. In Musharraf’s regime, he became minister again. In 2007, Lal Masjid was bombed with phosphorus bombs, even as Sheikh Rashid assured the nation of successful negotiations. And in PTI’s recent rule, he became first the railways minister and then interior minister. His railway ministry witnessed disastrous accidents. When criticism grew, he was made the Interior Minister instead. Here, his penchant for foul language knew no bounds. It is high time that a nine-time minister resigned from politics – perhaps better sooner rather than later.
It is baffling that the PTI leaders fail to condemn the incident and rather vigorously defending the indefensible, indulging in sophistry and coming up with straw man fallacies, convoluted logic and specious arguments. Imran Khan threw the entire blame on the present government and washed his hands of all the responsibility.
The comparison of the Madinah incident with what happened in London outside Jemima’s home is cringe-worthy, to say the least. Both the incidents are incomparable. Both are unjustified, unwarranted and highly condemnable. However, to dovetail them with each other is to water down the gravity of the Madinah incident and is a concerted effort and a ploy on the part of the PTI to make it acceptable to its supporters.
The reverence and sanctity of one of the most sacred Islamic shrines was flouted with contemptuous disregard. It requires wholesale condemnation from sects and political parties of all hues and shades. Pilgrims go to Madinah out of reverence and respect and not with their hearts consumed with revulsion and hatred towards certain people. They seek forgiveness from Allah, who is the most gracious and the most merciful. The Prophet’s (peace be upon him) message is of compassion, forgiveness, love, peace and tolerance and not of animosity, revenge and ill-tolerance.
At the end of the day, there is no end to PTI’s downhill journey. With each passing day, new follies and blunders come to light, more humiliating than the last ones. On the one hand, PTI wears religion on its sleeves, and on the other, it is taking on a streak of fascism, hell-bent upon turning fundamental religious values on their heads.
Whether PTI leaders will be banned for life from stepping on to Makkah and Madinah is for Saudi Arabia to decide. However, here in Pakistan, there must be accountability for the actions of those who think this is an acceptable way to do politics.