Related posts: #IftikharMental: Pakistan social media abuzz with insult for country’s top judge
On June 24, the newly elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, Raja Pervez Ashraf, made the obligatory trip to Garhi Khuda Baksh village in District Larkana to pay homage to the martyr leadership of the party that made him, a loyal party worker from a middle class background, the 25th premier of the country. After offering prayers at the resting places of the martyrs of the Bhutto dynasty, he gave a press conference and a longer speech outside where he displayed his impressive prowess on the Sindhi language while answering questions from local journalists and when giving his first speech in Sindh province after becoming Prime Minister. It was really a laudable fact that Co-Chairperson Pakistan People’s Party Mr Asif Ali Zardari, who is also the President of the country, chose a man of such humble (and multi-ethnic) origins to lead the country at the time of great political, judicial and economic crises.
Not everyone has been so objective or appreciative of President Zardari’s decision though. To paraphrase the age old saying, according to a few people a leader of the PPP is guilty until he or she is proven guilty! A pending court case is enough to DAMN an individual in their eyes PARTICULARLY if that individual happens to be associated with this party and is loyal to its leadership.
Thus the phrase ‘Raja Rental’ was created and bestowed on the newly elected Prime Minister of Pakistan. This title draws its origin from a Supreme Court (where else?!) case about the hiring of rental power projects to offset the energy shortage that is the cause of the rampant load shedding that has ravaged the economy and the nation. The Supreme Court forced through the cancellation of some early contracts signed with private companies to produce electricity that would have been cheaper than setting up power stations from scratch and THEN operating them. If the Rental Power Plants (RPPs) had been allowed by the Chaudhry Court, more than 16000MW would’ve been added into the national power grid in less than half the time that its alternative would’ve required! But the Court rightfully stood steadfast and prevented the “incompetent”/ “corrupt” Federal Minister “Raja Rental” from ending the energy crisis in Pakistan!
While one can understand the hostility of political opponents who use EVERY ACTION this government makes as an opportunity to attack it, civility being a long lost casualty of our political discourse, what (somewhat) confounds the imagination is the caustic reaction of many self declared ‘liberals’ to this recent appointment. For those who have been monitoring the social media pronouncements of certain urban-origin ‘liberal’ bloggers, journalists and ‘human rights activists’, such behaviour has ceased to surprise them for a long time now.
Let’s turn to the political reaction first.
Maryam Nawaz Sharif (@MaryamNSharif) “Despite our political differences, continuation of democracy & democratic process is indeed encouraging and a good augury.”
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“Is Jamshed Dastti next in line? Setting horrifying standards PPP!!”
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Now if you see the earlier tweet, it is a true-to-her-nature display of political maturity and consideration for the democratic process for which her father and our martyred leader buried two decades of enmity and worked together against the then dictatorship. But then a few tweets later, Miss Sharif mentions the MNA from Muzaffargarh and denigrates the “horrifying standards” of the Pakistan People’s Party. PPP and its workers are proud of this man who, just like our current PM, also hails from Pakistan’s rural middle class. In Dasti’s case, we find the best example of our political belief that the court of the people is more powerful than the court of a few judges. In 2010, the Chaudhry Court forced Dasti to resign over a fake degree case. Dasti went back to the people of his constituency and got elected in a heartbeat! So with all due respect to the scion of the House of Sharif, Dasti as an MNA or charged with any other responsibility is hardly a “horrifying” prospect.
Ahsan Iqbal (@betterpakistan) “Ch Shujaat accompanied Faisal Saleh Hyat to press charges against Rental Raja in SC now Q League supporting Raja Rental as PM. What a joke!”
It is shameful that, being a democrat himself, MNA Ahsan Iqbal would join the fray and ridicule a democratically elected premier who fairly contested and won the election against his party’s candidate. But, as our former Prime Minister Gilani would have remarked, such are the ways of the tight race between PMLN and PTI to be seen as Pakistan’s Next Top Opposition Party! In response to Mr Iqbal’s tweet, it can also be logically assumed that the PMLQ leadership decided to quietly drop the RPP case having seen no merit in its further pursuit.
Awab Alvi (@DrAwab) “From Zardari to Ephedribe (sic) Gilani to Raja Rental this is the state of affaris (sic) of Pakistan . can we get worse? dont know? gutt feeling yes”
Incidentally, Awab Alvi came under great censure recently for sharing the ‘Bahria Town’ list of media persons, journalists and ‘human rights activists’ who were reportedly hired by the real estate magnate for copious amounts of money and other benefits. According to one prominent TV anchor named in that list, a senior PTI leader had to apologise on Alvi’s behalf and disowned his statements as not being party policy. Notice how in this tweet itself, Alvi makes a reference to another pending SC case where even the involvement of former PM Gilani’s son is not proven yet!
Now let’s turn to the so-called liberals and their horrific reactions to the news.
Omar Waraich (@OmarWaraich) “Raja Rental wasn’t going to win his seat anyway. A five year ban scarcely affects him.”
One can only wonder whether Mr Waraich is a voter in RPH’s Gujjar Khan constituency that he would make such a damning and ABSOLUTE prediction about the electoral prospects of the man! A man who won from his constituency even during the 2002 elections which the former DDG ISI admitted were rigged!
Salman Ahmed (@sufisal) “Raja Rental insults the intelligence of even an imbecile.Zardari now needs the mentally deranged to be his lackeys. the end is nigh…”
This is the “Et tu, Brutus?” tweet. Salman Ahmed is widely respected in liberal circles for his courageous stands against fundamentalism in the Muslim World. He chooses to launch mean spirited attacks at the government of Pakistan’s largest and ONLY liberal party, at a time when unity among the liberals of the Muslim World is the need of the hour! But then again, his liberal credentials are open to question what with his affiliation with an Islamist leader like Imran Khan. The PTI bug of disrespectful and personal attack has gotten to him as well apparently. Salman decides to question the “intelligence” of the new Prime Minister, a man that he has never met before in his life! He goes on to call Raja Pervez Ashraf a “mentally deranged” “lackey” of President Zardari. Here again, one finds evidence that proves that a PPP leader is condemnable IF he is loyal to its leadership. Its traitors are the belle of the ball for these people! Conscientious objectors, even!
FQ (@faisalqureshi) “ARY says they were 1st to giv news of raja rental as PM nominee. Shud u really b bloody proud of that? I mean WTF. U brought news of disease.”
For the life of me, I never understood why representatives from the government or the Peoples Party go to this man’s current affairs show. He literally goes out of his way to demonise the PPP and visibly ridicules the PPP representatives who come to him. He suppresses any positive development brought to his attention with a quick reminder of how things are bad elsewhere. A man who criticises for the sake of abusing and condemning the PPP and its leaders! This particular tweet is no exception to the rule. As if calling the democratically elected Prime Minister of Pakistan a “disease” isn’t enough, he precedes that insult with a swear word! A man has been pre-judged as bad for the country LONG before he even began his first day on the job!
Declan Walsh (@DeclanWalsh) “RT @cyalm: Raja Rental as PM is a national embarrassment. But who to blame for this mess? SC or PPP? Disgusted with the lot of them.”
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To his credit the New York Times correspondent does not use the slur even once in a tweet of his own. Yet he and Ayesha ‘Tammy’ Haq (talk show anchor, Business Plus channel) did choose to re-tweet a (true to HIS nature) heavily biased remark from Cyril Almeida, Daily DAWN newspaper’s Assistant Editor and the possible author of the ‘Raja Rental’ banner headline that announced Ashraf’s candidature as the next Prime Minister. Almeida has attained notoriety in Dawn newspaper’s Sindhi reader base for his latently racist series of columns on the political domination of PPP in ‘Interior Sindh’, a term Sindhis consider racist in itself. Pakistan Blogzine has recorded instances where Almeida has subliminally called on the Army to remove the PPP government by force. It is no surprise he treats the 25th Prime Minister of Pakistan with derision solely due to his membership of the PPP. A middle class origin Prime Minister is a “national embarrassment” indeed! Herr Almeida is right in holding the Supreme Court responsible “for this mess”! For Raja Pervez Ashraf, like any other PPP leader, should be treated as GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY!
What could be the REAL reason that forces these elitist liberals to pick on this man they hardly know?! Could it be his rural Punjabi/Sindhi background? Could it be that he chose to stay in his party and not run off to the PTI (like Pir of Lotas Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi) when his Water and Power ministry was taken? Could it be his unflinching loyalty to President Zardari?
I and MANY others throughout Pakistan wish Raja Pervez Ashraf the best for his forthcoming premiership. I would also add that this slur and its use, though condemnable, is beneficial for the party in the long run. Not only does it draw attention to the spurious nature of the allegations that are often levied against the PPP’s leaders, it also re-ignites the debate about the benefits the RPP scheme could have given to Pakistan and that were lost due to the political victimization of the Chaudhry Court.