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Home Media Reports 2005 A ‘small’ retreat …
A ‘small’ retreat for Shaukat or a ‘great’ leap for Qazi?
Daily Times
Saturday, March 26, 2005

Editorial: A ‘small’ retreat for Shaukat or a ‘great’ leap for Qazi?

Shaukat AzizThe cabinet of Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has caved in to mullah pressure and agreed to insert the religion column in the new machine readable passports. It has done so after much prevarication and vacillation in the last six months. Clearly, the spirit of Zia ul Haq still haunts the establishment in Islamabad. His son Ijaz ul Haq must be a happy man. We are reminded of the time in 1974 when ZA Bhutto apostatised the Ahmedis to appease the mullahs. Having got an inch, they then demanded a yard in 1976. So he banned alcohol and made Friday the weekly holiday. But, of course, that still didn’t save him from their wrath. They didn’t rest until their conspiracy to hang him had succeeded.

We know how the argument must have gone in the cabinet. A small minority probably argued that the issue certainly wasn’t about religion; nor was it about the passport at all. It was about holding out against the mullahs and proving that the government believed in enlightened moderation and wasn’t being hypocritical before the whole world. But the majority would have pooh-pooed this approach as being “idealistic” and “bad politics”. The mullahs are rampaging, they would have argued, because they’ve latched on to this “non-issue” - take out the “non-issue” and you take out their sting.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. The mullahs will not rest until they have seen the back of General Musharraf and Shaukat Aziz and the likes of them in and out of government. The day before yesterday it was the blasphemy law. Yesterday it was honour-killings. Today it’s the religion column. Tomorrow it will be peace with India. The day after it will be allegations of “secularism”. And the day after the day after it will be allegations of selling out on the bomb. And so on, ad nauseum. One would have imagined that by now this would have been clear to General Musharraf and Shaukat Aziz. But it seems not. They are still being guided by the PML-Q wallahs and intelligence advisers with beards in their stomachs instead of on their faces.

This is another sad day for Musharraf’s Pakistan. It only looks like a small retreat for Shaukat Aziz. But in fact it is a great leap for Qazi Hussain Ahmad.

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