Justice Markandey Katju-
Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own.
The Pakistan government and the religious fundamentalist Tehreek-e-Labaik Party (TLP ) have agreed to place the issue of expelling the French Ambassador before the Pak Parliament at 3 p.m. today ( 3.30 p.m. Indian time ).
The TLP is a far right extremist group which wants strict enforcement of the blasphemy laws in Pakistan ( e.g. section 295C Pakistan Penal Code ) which are often used to target Ahmadis, Hindus, Christians, etc In 2017 the TLP launched an agitation which brought the whole of Pakistan to a standstill over proposed change in an election law, which it said was against the concept of ‘khatme nabuwat’ ( finality of Prophethood ). Now TLP has demanded expulsion of the French Ambassador and breaking all trade ties with France, as cartoons of the Prophet had been shown there, and President Macron had said this was part of freedom of speech guaranteed by French law.
I think any MP in Pakistan who will plead against expulsion of the French Ambassador in the debate will be placing his life at risk and becoming ‘wajib al qatl’ ( deserving to die ), like those members of the French National Convention who in January 1793, voted to spare King Louis 16 from the guillotine.
TLP leader Rizvi, by demanding expulsion of the French Ambassador, has caught Imran Khan by his throat, and is twisting it slowly but surely. If the demand is accepted, all Western nations ( including USA, UK,Germany, Italy, etc ) may cut off diplomatic ties, trade, and aid to Pakistan, which will swiftly bring Pakistan to its knees financially. But if it is not accepted, Imran Khan will be branded as a collaborator with those who have done ‘ghustaqi’ ( insulted ) with the ‘shaan’ ( honour) of the Prophet.
In his election campaign in 2018 Imran Khan hobnobbed with Tehreeke Labaik and other extremist groups to get votes, and gave PTI tickets to dubious ‘electables’, including many shady businessmen, and the infamous Amir Liaquat, whose TV show resulted in killing of many innocent Ahmadis. He expelled Atif Mian, an internationally renowned Princeton based economist from the Pakistan Economic Advisory Council only because he was an Ahmadi.
Thus, Imran Khan abandoned all his professed principles soon after coming to power, and became a pucca politician, like a Faust doing a deal with a Mephistopheles. Under his rule the Pakistani economy has gone downhill, with rising unemployment, and skyrocketing prices of foodstuffs, fuel, electricity, etc.
In the current crisis, with large scale protests and demonstrations going on all over Pakistan, Imran Khan thought that by entering into an agreement with TLP he could ward off the danger. In fact it was like Neville Chamberlain signing the Munich Pact with Hitler in 1938, and announcing “ It is peace in our times “. Churchill rightly called it a dishonourable surrender, and the Second World War started the next year.
Imran Khan forgot that surrender to blackmailers like the reactionary TLP bigots only invites further blackmails. He will soon realise this. The next demand will be strictly enforcing the blasphemy laws against Ahmadis ( see my article ‘Barbaric persecution of Ahmadis in Pakistan’ online ), Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Shias etc.
I believe Imran Khan’s days are now numbered. What will be his replacement ? In my opinion it will for the time being be army rule. However, many army personnel are reportedly supporters of TLP, and the example of Governor Salman Taseer’s assassination would have put fear in the hears of generals or officers who would like to suppress the TLP. Hence a time may come when a TLP led Govt might be formed, with a lot of Pakistani MPs, whether of PTI, PMLN, or PPP switching bandwagons and joining the TLP, to show they are real ‘ashiq-e-rasool’ or lovers of the Prophet ( Pakistani politicians have an unenviable reputation of changing parties and being ‘aya ram gaya ram’ : many present PTI MPs were earlier in PMLN or PPP ).
The TLP is as feudal minded and reactionary as the Taliban. So Pakistan is headed towards the Middle Ages, and we may soon see sharia law imposed in full rigour in Pakistan, with women stoned to death for adultery and limbs of thieves cut off, and burqa made compulsory for all women. Those who do not say namaz 5 times daily will be flogged. Minorities like Ahmadis, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Shias, etc will soon know the real meaning of ‘nizam-e-mustafa’.
And of course poverty, unemployment, child malnourishment, lack of healthcare and good education, price rise, etc are all Irrelevant. All that matters will be how to attain jannat–even if it is on an empty belly.