Three And A Half Fruitful Meetings

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In the last three weeks, I had the fortune of having ‘three and a half’ significant meetings. The series began on April 8 with an Iftar hosted by the respected Nawaz Sharif, followed by a meeting with the newly elected Amir of Jamaat-e-Islami Hafiz Naeem ur Rehman two days ago, an encounter with the esteemed Maulana Fazlur Rehman two weeks prior, and a half-meeting, coincidentally, with General (Retd) Bajwa, centered around the challenges facing the country.

The ‘half’ meeting was because the other party was blissfully unaware of it. At a wedding reception two weeks ago, following my usual routine, I inquired about Mr. Shami. My brother Ejaz ul Haq informed me they had arrived and were asking about me.

Without hesitation, I sought them out, only to find General Qamar Bajwa and Mohammad Malik engaged in a deep conversation in a distant corner. I hesitated, recalling a list of crimes against the state associated with General Bajwa. I stopped a few steps away and sat down with other friends in such a way that my gaze could remain on the trio.

Twenty minutes later, as the meeting adjourned and both men approached with their minds clearly preoccupied, the details of their conversation revealed that General Bajwa spent the entire time presenting his case.

He laid the Quran open in front of him as testimony, swore on his mother’s grave, and deprived himself of the Prophet Muhammad’s intercession, throwing his entire belief into proving his truthfulness. 

For 52 years, I have been under the protective wing of Mr. Shami, who easily confers the title of ‘truthful’ unless proven otherwise. General Bajwa’s 6-year tenure remains a dark chapter in the history of Pakistan, well-known to every notable person.

A man who blatantly violated his oath in broad daylight, trampled the Constitution of Pakistan for six years, and orchestrated a long march against his own institution with the help of General Faiz and Imran Khan to secure another extension.

A country armed with the finest nuclear weapons and deadly ballistic missiles, now ready to launch a satellite to the moon (congratulations). It’s absurd to slander such a powerful and unparalleled army by saying it is unfit for battle due to lack of fuel.

On August 5, 2019, Kashmir was handed over to India, and a cowardly peace agreement was made on the LOC. Such a person should have been in the criminal’s dock. Unfortunately, he is boldly presenting his defenses. 

To both brothers, I quote Khalil Gibran, “He told me one thing, I believed him; he repeated it, I began to doubt; when he swore and repeated it, I was convinced he was lying.” Their simplicity and straightforwardness, touched by General Bajwa’s oaths, “Such simplicity, who wouldn’t die for, O God.” Only God knows how these two esteemed intellectuals overlooked his 6 years of criminal reign.

Two days ago, the newly elected Amir of Jamaat-e-Islami, Hafiz Naeem ur Rehman, hosted a large-scale media dinner. The dinner was just a pretext; the real treasure was the detailed conversation. For the first time, perhaps, an Amir of Jamaat has started with such a fervor, full of determination to achieve much, establishing his presence. He swiftly covered the national thoughts and the dire situation, outlining the political strategy of Jamaat-e-Islami.

A new spirit was evident in his intentions to increase Jamaat’s influence among the public, declaring absolute independence from relying on or supporting other political parties. He had his finger on the pulse of the state and laid out the diagnosis of the disease. Only time will tell how much capacity Jamaat-e-Islami will be able to develop for treatment. Hafiz Sahib’s extraordinary performance will likely fulfill many desires.

Two weeks ago, Maulana Fazlur Rehman arrived in Lahore, and I received a decree for an immediate audience. Details of the sumptuous dinner aside, the discussion on the national political crisis was enlightening. Accompanied by my brother Mujeeb ur Rehman Shami, the meeting added much to the conversation.

For fun, upon seeing the spread of food, I respectfully reminded Maulana of the breakfast on January 1, 2021, which had me rushing to the hospital, and soon after, a stent became my fate. The laughter of Maulana and Shami Sahib was not my comfort. Meetings with Maulana are always fertile. His golden words, knowledge, wisdom, and insight resolve intellectual puzzles in a blink.

In politics, Maulana is a PhD, indeed a complete institution in himself. Fondly remembering, 15-20 years ago, even Imran Khan was openly enchanted by his discourse and perspectives.

This time, Maulana appeared very angry and formidable against the establishment, concerned and troubled by the national political scenario. In the past 6-7 years, such irritation and frustration had never been observed in our meetings.

Though JUI does not have significant parliamentary power, it is undeniable that their street power is unmatched and widely acknowledged. Before February 8, PTI had a full experience of numerous failed rallies, two failed long marches, and an unsuccessful jail bharo movement.

The situation post-February 8 has worsened, with 7-8 nationwide protest calls in the last three months, all ending in failure and disgrace. Today, many look towards Maulana with hopeful eyes.

Maulana clarified unequivocally, “The establishment has always been duplicitous with us. Many times when they faced trouble, they sought our help, and we pulled them out. Unfortunately, we were the first to be deceived.”

In politics, Maulana’s stance is firm, steadfastly holding onto his political legacy inherited from his father, which is a treasure of ideological politics.

In summary, there were countless discussions; a heap of complaints against the establishment was expressed. At one point, he also stated, “Nawaz Sharif and I are on the same page, sharing the same mindset. He will inevitably join my movement at some point.” He hoped that “Nawaz Sharif would also boldly choose some course of action.”

In any case, Maulana has now stepped into the “arena of affectionate martyrdom.” It was a comprehensive meeting lasting about two hours. As per tradition, we thoroughly enjoyed both the conversation and the meal, learning much from Maulana.

The next day, Maulana was to travel to Quetta, where he openly declared his intentions in Pishin. As for my meeting with Nawaz Sharif, “Long live our companionship.”

Note: This is the translation of his Urdu column published in Jang. 

 

Hafeez Ullah Niazi
Hafeez Ullah Niazi
The writer is a veteran journalist, analyst and a political commentator.

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