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Fleeting moments

January 27, 2018
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Fire but no fury

Opinion

January 27, 2018

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The layout for the January 17 political show on Mall road was perfect. A high stage was set in a commanding position for leaders of sorts who were to address the audience. Thousands of chairs for followers of political and religious parties of assorted hues were laid out much before the show was to begin. Estranged bedfellows of politics – Imran Khan and Asif Zardari – were to address the same rally. And then came disappointment! Figuratively speaking, there were more fiery leaders to disseminate their wisdom than there were partcipants.

During our college days, watching the first screening of a movie in a cinema hall was considered great entertainment. If the movie didn’t live up to the audience’s high expectations, the hall would often be vandalised and moviegoers would walk out of the hall chanting slogans against the movie. Some even demanded their tickets be reimbursed. Allama Tahirul Qadri and Imran Khan’s event on the Mall was reminiscent of the flop movie shows.

Before the show, Imran Khan bragged of bringing PTI tigers in the arena. Although no tigers emerged, there were instead a few attendees, who sat with their faces painted – a hallmark of PTI rallies – chanting slogans. The show wound up much before the expected time and the government survived yet another putsch manufactured by a Canadian citizen. What if a citizen of another country staged a similar show in Toronto: what would they do?

Imran Khan’s lack of warmth towards Allama Qadri on the stage was palpable. Compare personalities of the two and they seem to have nothing in common, other than their fiery oratory put to use to denounce their common political foes, the Sharifs. Both have diverse educational backgrounds. While Allama’s claim to fame is his religious scholarship and a PhD in criminology, Khan attended elite educational institutions. If his political outpourings are anything to go by, one wonders why he didn’t acquire the suavity usually associated with elitist education

However, they make the perfect combination when Sheikh Rashid joins them on the stage. Amid uproar during the brief show on the Mall, the son of Rawalpindi showered parliament with thousands of curses and even resigned publically. We are yet to see if he will make good on his outburst or whether it will go down as another one of his hollow claims he is known for. But on a serious note, Sheikh Sahib needs to change the way he speaks – especially when he seems to have a long bright political career ahead.

Furthermore, an increasing number of people have lost interest in the Imran-Qadri shows which have become repetitive. Khan should realise that Allama Qadri has nothing to lose if public rallies in which they team up together flop. As impetuous as the visiting Allama is, he will buy a ticket on the first available flight to Canada and slink back to his other homeland. On the other hand, Imran Khan nurtures a dream: a dream of nothing less but attaining the premiership of the country. On PTI’s roadside hoardings, one can see him staring longingly into the horizon. It’s premiership or nothing. And he means it.

Sometimes it feels as if Khan has raised his stature so high that the country that has begun to look smaller in comparison. Let’s consider his disdain for parliament that he cursed along with his first lieutenant Sheikh Rashid. Having spared no efforts to disparage parliament, he forgot that he had all along been availing salaries and perks of a parliamentarian. Since the time Khan was elected, he has attended only 20 parliament sessions, but has promptly received around Rs5.73 million from the public exchequer as salary. Nevertheless, the educated circles continue to debate whether Imran’s popularity has become a victim of his strident demeanour or has improved. We’ll see in the next elections.

The writer is a freelance columnist based in Lahore.

Email: [email protected]

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