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Raja Rental? Pakistan’s new PM Raja Pervez Ashraf is guilty until proven guilty – by Ravez Junejo

Related posts: #IftikharMental: Pakistan social media abuzz with insult for country’s top judge

Five facts which go in favour of Pakistan’s new PM Raja Pervez Ashraf – by Ali Tahir

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.”

(Screen cap 1)

“Is Jamshed Dastti next in line? Setting horrifying standards PPP!!”

(Screen cap 2)

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!”

(SC 3)

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”

(SC 4)

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.”

(SC 5)

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…”

(SC 6)

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.”

(SC 7)

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.”

(SC 8 -)

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.

About the author

Abdul Nishapuri


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  • The following journalists, bloggers, activists were seen on Twitter actively promoting an abusive term for an elected Prime Minister Raja Pervez Musharraf.

    Most of them are either pro-PTI, PML-N or Jamaat-e-Islami or are committed helpers of military establishment. All of them are urban middle class types, and all of them are PPP phobes, some of them more refined than others.

    Umar Cheema ‏@UmarCheema1
    Good Morning Pakistan! Congratulations on having PM Raja Rental, a gift from Pres. Zardari on birthday of BB. A proud moment indeed 😀

    Ahmad Noorani ‏@Ahmad_Noorani
    So, Shahab hav no complaints now- Gilani is also happy- & Zardari has this in his mind 2take revenge through Raja Rental from very first day

    Usman Manzoor ‏@usmanmanzoor
    Raja Rental’s visit to mazaar-e-Quaid ruins Altaf Bhai’s serious and historical speech 🙁

    Azaz Syed ‏@AzazSyed
    Will Supreme Court tolerate Raja Rental…?

    Ahmed Quraishi ‏@AQpk
    New #Pakistan PM #RajaRental visits Bhutto graveyard. Jokers. Seeking blessings from the dead while the living…

    Omar Waraich ‏@OmarWaraich
    Raja Rental in 2009: “I’m prepared to resign if I fail to fulfil my promise [to eliminate load shedding within the year]”

    Awab Alvi ‏@DrAwab
    From Zardari to Ephedribe Gilani to Raja Rental this is the state of affaris of Pakistan . can we get worse? dont know? gutt feeling yes ;(

    Shaheryar Mirza ‏@mirza9
    It’s important that you know that Raja Rental’s teenage son refers to himself as “Raja Dilawar Don”. He introduced himself as such. #NoJoke

    MasoodSharif Khattak ‏@MSharifKhattak
    Saw on PTV RajaRental n ministers pushing fr camera visibility at the grave of SMBB. Sad sight compared to what one had seen with SMBB as PM

    Umar Cheema ‏@UmarCheema1
    Diff b/w tragedy n comedy: Makhdoom Shahab, front runner lost the race (Tragedy);RajaRental, emerged only Thursday, tipped as PM (Comedy):D

    Mansoor Ali Khan ‏@MansoorGeoNews
    #Rajarental has declared that he has assets worth only 74 million – Don’t you dare laugh !!!

    Arshad Sharif ‏@arsched
    #Rajarental says he symbolizes collective wisdom of the nation!

    ejaz haider ‏@ejazhaider
    the 48-hour deliberations, intensive and extensive, have produced the profundity called raja pervez (rental) ashraf; praise to the lord!

    Abbas Nasir ‏@abbasnasir59
    Great move by AZ to push Raja rental towards disqualification for the power mess. (If Geo correct on PM candidate).

    saeed shah ‏@SaeedShah
    If the #PPP is trying to avoid controversy, why has it gone for Raja Rental? He could be in court over corruption allegations soon enough

    Declan Walsh ‏@declanwalsh
    woah. RT @SaeedShah: Jeez RT @UmarCheema1: Makhdoom Shahabuddin dropped. Raja Rental new PM candidate: Geo TV

    Umar Cheema ‏@UmarCheema1
    Makhdoom Shahabuddin dropped. Raja Rental new PM candidate: Geo TV

    anjum kiani ‏@AnjumKiani
    Makhdoom Shuhabuddin Nominated as PM & Rental Raja Pervez Ashraf as alternative candidate #Breaking #Pakistan

    MasoodSharif Khattak ‏@MSharifKhattak
    From my days with the PPP I know Makhdoom Shahbuddin to be a good man. Can’t say abt the drug case under investigation. But Raja Rental!!!!

    Samad Khurram ‏@SamadK
    12-16 hours of loadshedding in most parts of Pindi. Serves us well for electing Raja Rental.

    Saad Khan ‏@M_Saad_K
    #RajaRental visits Quaid’s mausoleum after garhi Khuda bakhsh.. pretty much clarifies the priorities of #PPP. Its a disgrace to Quaid.

    Shame on all of the above!

  • Alternative view too was offered by pro-democracy activists on Twitter.

    Abdul Nishapuri ‏@AbdulNishapuri 22 Jun
    Today in Pakistan, the will of the people has prevailed. Let the Teen Jeem lament. Let’s celebrate. Cheers.

    Votes: Raja Pervez Ashraf PPP 211, PML-N 89, PTI-DPC 0

    Dear army, judiciary, media (Teen Jeem): Today we have foiled your anti-democracy designs thru political means. Sincerely, Pakistani People

    Born & raised in Sangarh (Sindh), employed & elected in Gujar Khan (Punjab), Raja Pervez Ashraf truly represents a federal party #PPP

    Celebrations in Gujjar Khan. First ever elected Prime Minister from Pothwar. Welcome Raja Pervez Ashraf #Pakistan #PPP

    Feel free to insult those insulting journalists & bloggers who are ridiculing an elected politician as Raja Rental. Shame on them!

    You abuse our elected leaders and instead call us abusive when we take you to task. Respect democracy and elected leaders, please.

    Criticizing is fine, name calling is not.

    Raja Rental (insult) against Pakistan’s new PM was invented by the ISI, spread via Ansar Abbasi, Ahmad Noorani and other thugs.

    Abdul Nishapuri ‏@AbdulNishapuri
    Right wing influence (ISI-PMLN-PTI) on media/social media is evident. Those crying Raja Rental are silent on wheat scandal of Mehtab Abbasi. “Mehtab Abbasi was convicted in the Wheat Scandal on August 31, 2000. He was sentenced to 14 years’ RI and fined Rs.20 million.” Ghafoor Jadoon, food minister in Mehtab Abbasi`s cabinet in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, turned approver against his own boss over wheat scandal.

    Those “neutral” journos who were thorn thorn for Raja Rental are rose rose for Imran Khan. Aap samajh tau gaye hon gay.

    For example, this ISI-friendly thug keeps showing his true colors. MT @Rezhasan Raja Rental is back in town – power cuts every 2 hours in Islamabad now. Rezaul Hasan Laskar: An Indian journalist in Pakistan embedded in ISI’s narratives. What right does an Indian journo in Islamabad (with allegedly ISI-friendly discourse) have to abuse an elected Prime Minister of Pakistan?

    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!

    22 Jun Abdul Nishapuri ‏@AbdulNishapuri
    @betterpakistan Is name calling okay in democracy? Raja Rental is a insult coined by agencies, why use their discourse?

    Darvesh ‏@Darveshh
    Please collectively send your LANTAT on everyone who contemptuously called this PM Raja Rental. #LANAT

    Naeem Shamim ‏@naeemshamim
    ‎‪#Pakistan‬‏ ‎‪#RajaPervaiz‬‏ سنو لوگو : يا أيها الذين آمنوا أطيعوا الله وأطيعوا الرسول وأولي الأمر منكم

    Atif S Ahmad ‏@atifahmads
    Cursing an elected PM is fine for “Patriot Pakistanis” but criticizing the black laws, ISI, Army, PTI n Cheap Justice makes you a traitor!

    Darvesh ‏@Darveshh
    @khalidkhan787 Raja Rental, O bhai, has got 211 votes. Let’s respect the mandate he has got unlike 17 PCO judges who disqualify PMs 🙂

    Umair Tariq ‏@umairthe1
    #IK proves that abusing trolls just follow him by calling PM of Pak Rental Raja @PTInazariati

    Laibaah ‏@Laibaah1
    Omar Warich himself promoted Raja Rental tag and then claims “The man nicknamed “Rental Raja” by Pakistan’s media” http://t.co/gpYYJ7u7

    M Usama Kabbir ‏@MUsamaKabbir
    The real Rental is #RentalFauj . Pak Army can be rented world wide ! #Bahrain

  • Thank you, Ravez, for writing this much needed post. Mainstream lies and discourses need to be confronted through good quality research based posts.

  • Not at all Mr Nishapuri 🙂

    I would state for the record that this post was requisitioned by Mr Abdul Nishapuri and guided by the note he emailed me. Obviously the entire content here is mine. I’m just glad to be part of our narrative that provides a much needed alternative to the skewered mainstream and social media in Pakistan.

  • This is one of the best blog posts I have read in a while. Much political clarity and media criticism.

    I was almost blinded by middle class – elite propaganda against new PM.

    Thank you very much

  • مرحومہ بینظیر بھٹو نے انیس سو چورانوے میں ’میرے گاؤں میں بجلی آئی ہے‘ مہم چلائی اور پاکستان میں کوئلے سے بجلی بنانے کے لیے سنگاپور کے کاروباری شخصیت گورڈن وو کو ٹھٹہ ضلع میں چھوٹی بندرگاہ بنانے، تھر کا کوئلہ نکالنے کے لیے تھرپارکر تک ریلوے لائن بچھانے اور پانچ ہزار میگا واٹ کا بجلی گھر لگانے کا معاہدہ کیا۔
    اُس وقت حکومت پریشان تھی کہ سنہ دو ہزار میں جب یہ پانچ ہزار میگا واٹ کوئلے اور دیگر نجی بجلی گھروں سے اتنی مقدار میں بجلی پیدا ہوگی تو وہ پاکستان کی ضرورت سے تین ہزار میگا واٹ فالتو ہوگی۔ ایسے میں انہوں نے بھارت کو دو ہزار میگا واٹ بجلی بیچنے کے لیے یاداشت نامے پر دستخط کیے۔
    لیکن پانچ نومبر سنہ انیس سو چھیانوے کو بینظیر کی حکومت برطرف ہوئی تو سنہ انیس سو ستانوے میں مسلم لیگ (ن) دو تہائی اکثریت سے حکومت میں آئی۔ انہوں نے کئی نجی بجلی گھروں سے معاہدے منسوخ کیے کہ پیپلز پارٹی کی حکومت نے کمیشن کی خاطر ان سے مہنگے داموں بجلی خریدنے کے معاہدے کیے ہیں۔
    اس کے ساتھ ہی تھر کوئلہ سے بجلی پیدا کرنے کا منصوبہ بھی ختم کر دیا گیا۔ گورڈن وو نے عدالت سے رجوع کیا اور ان سے میاں نواز شریف کی حکومت نے ’آؤٹ آف کورٹ ڈیل‘ کی اور دو کروڑ ڈالر کے قریب انہیں جرمانہ ادا کرکے بھگا دیا گیا۔ سندھ کے قومپ رست کئی بار تقاریر میں یہ کہہ چکے ہیں کہ نواز شریف نے تھر کوئلہ منصوبہ اس لیے ختم کیا تھا کہ پھر کالا باغ ڈیم نہیں بن پائے گا۔
    پاکستان کی بدقسمتی یہ ہے کہ نجی بجلی گھر ہوں یا کرائے کے بجلی گھر، موٹر وے ہو یا پیلی ٹیکسی سکیم ہر وقت کے حکمرانوں نے عوامی فلاح کے منصوبے اپنی جیب گرم کرنے کی خاطر بنائے ہیں۔ ایک دوسرے کو نیچا دکھانے کے لیے کیچڑ اچھالتے ہیں اور آخر میں مصیبت عام آدمی کو ہی جھیلنی پڑتی ہے۔
    پاکستان کے سرکاری اعداد وشمار کے مطابق آج بھی جو بجلی گھر لگے ہوئے ہیں ان کی بجلی پیدا کرنے کی گنجائش بیس ہزار چار سو پندرہ میگا واٹ ہے۔ لیکن وقت کے ساتھ ساتھ اور کچھ آلات کی خرابی کی وجہ سے وہ کم ہوکر سولہ ہزار چار سو ستاون میگا واٹ ہوچکی ہے۔ اس وقت پاکستان میں بجلی کی ضرورت اٹھارہ ہزار چار سو باسٹھ میگا واٹ ہے جبکہ پیداوار گیارہ ہزار دو سو میگا واٹ ہے۔
    پچھلے ماہ جاری کردہ اقتصادی سروے کے مطابق باسٹھ فیصد بجلی پنجاب ، سندھ بیس فیصد، خیبر پختونخوا گیارہ فیصد اور بلوچستان ساڑھے پانچ فیصد استعمال کرتا ہے۔ سب سے زیادہ استعمال گھریلو صارفین کرتے ہیں جو کہ چھتیس فیصد ہے، چھ فیصد تجارتی، اکیس فیصد صنعتی، نو فیصد زرعی، پانچ فیصد حکومتی اور باقی دیگر صارفین استعمال کرتے ہیں۔

    موجودہ حکومت کہتی ہے کہ گزشتہ چار برسوں میں انہوں نے گیارہ سو ارب روپے بجلی کے شعبے کو سبسڈی (رعایت) دی ہے جوکہ کل ملکی پیداوار یعنی ’جی ڈی پی‘ کا ڈھائی فیصد بنتا ہے۔ لیکن ماہرین کہتے ہیں کہ یہ رقم اگر ہائیڈل یا کوئلے سے بجلی پیدا کرنے پر لگائی جاتی تو آج پاکستان میں بجلی کی قلت نہیں ہوتی۔ پاکستان میں پچاس ہزار سے زائد پانی اور اتنی ہی مقدار میں کوئلے سے بجلی بنانے کی گنجائش ہے لیکن پینسٹھ برسوں میں حکمرانوں کی ترجیح مہنگی ترین تھرمل بجلی پیدا کرنا کیوں بنائی؟
    پاکستان میں اس وقت پینسٹھ فیصد تیل سے یعنی تھرمل بجلی پیدا ہوتی ہے ، تینتیس فیصد ہائیڈل اور دو فیصد جوہری بجلی پیدا ہوتی ہے۔ جتنی ہائیڈل بجلی بنانے کی گنجائش ہے اس وقت اس کا بیس فیصد بمشکل ہم حاصل کر رہے ہیں۔
    اقتصادی سروے کے مطابق توانائی کی قلت کی وجہ سے تین سو اسی ارب روپے سالانہ معیشت کو نقصان ہو رہا ہے جوکہ جی ڈی پی کا دو فیصد بنتا ہے۔ سرکاری اعداد و شمار کے مطابق بیس فیصد بجلی چوری/ لائن لاسز ہیں لیکن ماہرین کے مطابق یہ مقدار اصل میں زیادہ ہے۔ لیکن اگر بجلی کی چوری کو ہی روکا جائے تو بھی اسی فیصد مسئلہ آج حل ہو سکتا ہے


  • Let democracy work
    By Saroop Ijaz
    Published: June 30, 2012

    Saroop Ijaz: The writer is a lawyer and partner at Ijaz and Ijaz Co in Lahore saroop.ijaz@tribune.com.pk
    Raja Pervaiz Ashraf is not the best choice for the premiership, actually he might be quite close to being the worst choice. His performance as minister for water and power was less than stellar and both his competence and credibility are suspect. I personally would have been thrilled if I never saw him in politics again. One expected some outrage and criticism of his election (we would do well to remember it is not merely an appointment), however, somewhere along the line it became obvious that our media has gone a tad too far. This is precisely what prompts me to undertake this Luciferian task of putting up a slight defence.
    While we all know Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has gained notoriety, and rightly so for giving false deadlines, however, one is entitled to mild stupefaction when a senior journalist says that the day of his election is the most depressing day of his life. Surely, he does not consider the new PM’s election a bigger catastrophe then Ziaul Haq coming to power. Another firebrand media pundit expressed his desire to leave the country because of this abysmal choice for PM. I am certain he would have been this outraged when General (retd) Pervez Musharraf took over or when Moeen Qureshi or Shaukat Aziz were ‘appointed’, or maybe he wasn’t. Also be careful not to exhaust all your outrage, save some for the less important matters such as suicide bombings and the Shia killings etc. Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has been elected by a quite overwhelming majority, with no ‘Changa Manga’ or ‘Midnight Jackal’, which is a breakthrough.
    The new prime minister has allegations of corruption and perhaps, more significantly and tangibly of incompetence. Yet, watching a recent television programme it occurred to me that they may not be the only reasons for resentment. In that television programme, a top anchor person showed a clip of Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, wherein he pronounced the ‘Q’ in PML-Q in the typical Urdu/Punjabi pronunciation of the alphabet, which vaguely speaking has a tiny howl at the end and then went on to mock him repeating the same pronunciation. The point of this exhibition was to demonstrate how uncouth the new PM was: we do not like him because he is an upstart, a common man, perhaps, not the best representative example of a common man, yet unquestionably common. To be painfully honest, the anchor person would probably belong to the same class originally and his proficiency of the English language and phonetics would also make for easy criticism. I dare the said anchor to mock the Urdu of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, which also left much to be desired. The problem with Pakistan’s middle class like most middle classes is that they hate themselves.
    I do not like Malik Riaz one bit either but the jokes about his pronunciation of the word ‘screw’ have outlived their amusement value. Remaining on television anchors, sometime back I saw another gallant chat show host refer to Malik Riaz as “Riaz Thekaydar” repeatedly and perhaps, too strenuously. I can understand him saying it once to declare his independence but to protract the use of “Thekaydar” as a pejorative word is just cheap. Again, it is not elitism in the personal sense since the said anchor probably would be self made, it is self-hatred. Malik Riaz and Raja Pervaiz can and should be justifiably and scathingly criticised for a lot of things. However, the fact that they give the impression of guys who imbibe top shelf single malt with Pepsi in large gulps, while admittedly being personally irksome is not one of them.
    We do not like corruption or deceit, but we really, really do not like it when the common man does it. Fake degrees make us a bit angry, however, if it is Jamshed Dasti’s fake degree, that is earth shattering, “what have we come to” apocalyptic stuff. It is also cathartic at some level, I am sure many of our media gurus and opinion-makers are secretly thrilled and all of their birthdays have come together. A target as unchallenging as Raja Pervaiz Ashraf would make it easier to look smug and the airs of superiority will not seem as phony. I can imagine Raja Pervaiz Ashraf saying some purged version of Tony Montana’s in Scarface, “You need people like me so you can point your finger and say, that’s the bad guy”.
    There has been some talk of a recent Pew survey and I see a lot of urban middle-class folks getting fairly excited about it. I restrain myself from commenting on the finding. However, if surveys catch your fancy, there is a bigger survey held periodically that all of you are invited to, it is called the ‘general election’. Make sure you do not miss it. The moralising of the urban middle class is particularly irritating when one realises that most of them do not vote; worse still consider all politics dirty business. I am told that winds of change are blowing and we will see it in the next election, I certainly wish that is so and look forward to it.
    No one is really happy about the new PM, except perhaps, his immediate family and no one has to like him. The seminal question is this: is bearing Raja Pervaiz Ashraf being allowed to complete his term of a few months too high a price for the democratic system to continue? I go for high stakes and say the categorical answer is “no”. He maybe a bad example of a very important principle but the principle trumps the personality quite easily. Do not underestimate yourself, we have survived 11 years of Zia, this should be a walk in the park.
    Loadshedding is an inescapable subject while talking about the PM. The analogy summoned to mind is that while protesters have genuine grievances, yet to burn the Wapda grid station or destroy electricity poles is not the smartest of moves, since it deprives you of the meagre electricity that you are, in fact, getting and the cycle becomes more vicious. The same goes for democracy, don’t do it, it is self-sabotage and suicidal.
    Published in The Express Tribune, July 1st, 2012.