Justice Markandey Katju: Why the Pak situation is like ‘Shatranj ke Khiladi’

Justice Markandey Katju

By 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)

There is a well-known short story of the eminent Hindi writer Munshi Premchand called ‘Shatranj ke Khiladi’.

It is about two noblemen, Mir saheb and Mirza saheb from the court of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah of Avadh (who ruled from 1847 to 1856). They are so engrossed in playing chess, while the people of Avadh are so engrossed in dancing, music, cock-fighting, etc, that they are oblivious to the looming danger of the approaching British army (which soon occupied Avadh in 1856 and exiled the Nawab and his nobles to Calcutta).

The great film director Satyajit Ray has made a famous film on this.

The present scenario in Pakistan reminds one of this story.

The two main political groups in Pakistan, the PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf) led by Imran Khan, and the PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement), an alliance of former PM Nawaz Sharif’s PMLN and the PPP founded by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, are at daggers drawn. It is a no holds barred battle.

Imran Khan, and his Sancho Panzas like Fawad Chaudhary, often begin their speeches by calling PDM leaders ‘chor daaku‘.

The latter return the compliment by calling Imran Khan an anarchist and a ‘fitna‘ (mischief monger) who is bent on destroying Pakistan.

While this political imbroglio is intensifying, the country stares at bankruptcy and record inflation. Yet these Mir sahebs and Mirza sahebs (the PTI and the PDM) are so engrossed in their petty squabbles that they are unaware about the looming danger, as mentioned in this article.

Talleyrand said of the Bourbons (the French royal family): “The Bourbons saw nothing, remembered nothing, and forgot nothing.”

Most of the Pakistani politicians today remind one of the Bourbons. One can only hope they don’t meet with the same end as the Bourbons.

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