31 July 2008

Fair & Square?

Wheels of reformation
Thursday, July 31, 2008
By Mian Saifur Rehman

Is there a wheel of fate like wheel of fortune? Yes, I think there are many wheels, including the wheel of history that sometimes turns full circle taking you back to square one, i.e from where you started.

My life in particular has experienced wheels within wheels and wheels over wheels. At present, however, I am bamboozled over strange repetition of history or the wheel of history taking a 360-degree turn. It is about my one-time tete-a-tete with Mian Shahbaz Sharif. One fateful day of my life, way back in 1992 or perhaps 1993, Mian Shahbaz Sharif and I were seated on the same sofa in the famous drawing room of Mian House at Model Town, Lahore. I was uttering the same words that the junior Sharif uttered a few days back that is after a lapse of more than one-and-a-half decade.

I said I feared the powerful staring eyes of Lord Almighty, the Supreme Observer of the Universe. My interlocutor conceded abruptly without questioning my saintliness, nay shrewdness that had developed suddenly in me probably out of necessity for my survival. And now, after so long a period of time, almost the same words have been uttered by Shahbaz Sharif while addressing a gathering a few days back. This time, however, these pearls of wisdom were meant to advise the depraved ones to reform.

To my good luck, my depravities came to an end much earlier. My friends, however, call it my toothless-ness. Does it mean reformation and toothless-ness are directly proportional to each other? If that is the case, how will you evaluate claims of non-toothless-ness of our own PM?

From my side, no comments. But, here, I need to mention an old friend who has once acted as an emissary of the political genie alluded to in the preceding paragraph. He is none other than Rana Maqbool, the one-time superman of police force who is in trouble these days (if at all, this giant of a cop is in trouble). I, however, believe he is trouble-free. At that time, he had been tasked to persuade (read pulverize) me to take a specific route on the wheels of justice. I yielded in cowardice but I made good my escape through stealth like a guerrilla fighter. In a way, I belong to the pioneers of guerrilla fighters in this land where depravities abound not in one sector but almost in all sectors.

Take, for example, the devouring of a full-fledged graveyard by some legal eagles with the support of legal subterfuges that no Revenue officer dare challenge. And if they were to be challenged, the forum again will be under the dominance of legal eagles.

Take, for instance, the missiles of straw that continue to ply on roads, especially at night, endangering the lives of people passing by these truckloads of straw packed beyond the road limits.

And take into consideration the land owned by the US-collaboration well-reputed company of former Lahore Chamber SVP Abdul Basit. The land continues to be in the illegal possession of an armed-to-the-teeth political family of Pattoki, District Kasur, for the last four to five years.

And also keep in view the illegalities blatantly committed by a mafia of encroachers under the patronage of LDA in some private housing schemes in the Johar Town area of Lahore. Even ministers have been involved at times in the gold rush at this golden spot given the titles of Anwaar Housing and Gulshane Mustafa Schemes in LDA files.

Then, there is a serious issue of patronization of a group of assailants by quite a senior police officer of Faisalabad region as a result of which not a single murderer has been arrested so far despite the registration of FIR (No. 166 of 2008, Police Station Jaranwala) about four months back.

The aggrieved are, however, lucky that the CM Secretariat, Punjab and IGP have taken notice of this injustice and ordered appropriate action. The IGP, Shaukat Javed, according to press reports, is rather very particular about such ugly things and wants an early end to malpractices. He has also ordered free registration of cases. Yes, free! I think this term free need not be understood only in terms of freedom from police apathy but also as free of charge or free from voraciousness of those cops who treat bribery as manna from the heavens.

Even the incumbent CCPO Lahore is reported to be a strict adherent of this policy of free registration of cases. His open-arms and open-door policy is talk of the town. The other day, Akhlaqur Rehman, a retired civil services senior was praising the CCPO for being courteous. I can only envy his nearness with the CCPO who does not give a damn whatever I write to him or about him.

I think my hcs is at fault. Do not be misled. It is nothing but 'harmless creature status' of mine. I must, therefore, endeavour to bid goodbye to hcs like those well-wishers of Pakistani nation who had, in a bid to acquire more and more power, decided to clip the wings of that agency which is not only dreaded among the adversaries but also rated as one of the best and most organized intelligence agencies of the world. I am simply referring to the ISI.

A man of repute who has served the ISI for a long time, Brig (r) Aslam Ghumman, former DG Anti-Corruption, Punjab, phoned me the other day to express his views about this bulwark of national defence and integrity.

What a metaphor Ghumman has used for the ISI. He says that the ISI is the vanguard and frontline force among the four defence forces of Pakistan, namely the masses, army, navy and air force. Describing the ISI as the best institution capable of meeting external threats, Ghumman has referred to one-time desire of former Indian Premier Gandhi who had asked Indian generals to build one institution like the ISI. In the end, the retired Brigadier has appealed for establishment of a thinktank that should give guidelines about formulation of long-term, lasting policies so that the country is strengthened and developed on a permanent footing in complete disregard for the coming and going of any government.

PUN OF THE DAY: Carpetbagger is a beggar on a (flying) carpet. saifee2001@hotmail.com