Mind your language, please!


By Wajid Shamsul Hasan

THANK goodness for the whatsapp academics, they never let bad taste in the mouth die especially when it is a manifestation of verbal diarrhoea like situation among politicians suffering from chronic foot in the mouth disease. In the yore when Parliaments were considered cradle for training of good politicians and chiselling of bad ones, grooming word power, use of satire in parliamentary duels—one never heard of exchanges of abuses that fall in the category of four letter words among members or fist fights. Any one that crossed the decent parameters was put to rest by the Honourable Speaker with effective warning that weighed heavily across one’s neck like an albatross for one’s parliamentary career.

Mother of all parliaments—that is British Parliament—is an outstanding example of a political institution where if politicians were not born, they found it to be a very rich training ground. Its history is replete with speeches made by members that make it proud and distinctive. Some of the finest pieces of oratory ornate the archival tapestry of House of Commons and the House of Lords. Speeches made many years ago like that of Edmund Burke, Disraeli and Winston Churchill to name a few—still reverberate in the ears.

It is a bit of digression but it is worth it to make interesting my comments on the below the belt attack by PTI scatterbrain MNA Asad Umer on Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s speech in the Parliament described even by his opponents as finest so far in the house. BBZ rose to very high calibre in the NA where buffoonery has come with the PTI’s dowry. Instead of learning from famous quips that enliven British politics unlike ours where our politicians shout at each other instead of carrying their arrows to the target in Churchillian wit that continues to resonate in the Houses of British Parliament even to this day.  

Often we hear in bad taste members accusing their opponents of being traitors. In a similar situation as the story goes during the war intelligence hounds nabbed under Act of Treason  a man abusing Prime Minister Churchill calling him as incompetent nincompoop. Human rights activists raised a rumpus in the Parliament against the arrest, Churchill having quietly listened to all the hullabaloo took the wind out of their sails when he roared in the House—‘Mr Speaker, Honourable Members of the House, yes, the accused committed an act of treason. He dared to disclose in war time a state secret— a treasonable offence’. The entire House roared in laughter. On another occasion a young female parliamentary assistant rushes to him as he enters House of Commons and whispers in his ear—‘Sir Winston, your fly is open’. Sir Winston shouts ‘my dear, dead birds don’t fall off their nests’.

Pakistan’s founder Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, a Lincoln’s Inn Barrister by profession rising to the highest apogee of being the tallest in his profession, chose Westminster model for Pakistan’s democratic future. If one sees the standard of debate in his life time and many years after too until political engineering by the powers that be marred the quality of membership, there has been rapid degeneration in their conduct. 

Most regretfully instead of improving the quality of membership, the Praetorian cloning of politicians especially after 2008 has only produced queers to name a few like Asad Umer and Fayyazul  Hassan Chohan. What they do in the assemblies and otherwise, is much more of the same that they along with their Fuhrer, did in their dharnas. Their performance should have forewarned the voters to be careful in their selection. It is another thing that the voters right to elect had been forfeited by powers that be who had opted to flood the assemblies with hordes of buffoons of their choice.      

This digression and comment on the quality of members have been necessitated by the diatribe of PTI’s MNA Asad Umer against PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s to a very sensible speech he made in the parliament the other day. In his address BBZ criticized the government for its failure to initiate a timely crackdown against proscribed organizations like the Jaish-e-Mohammad being held responsible for Pakistan’s diplomatic isolation, Imran Khan’s HMV Asad whose claim to fame are either pedigreed to his father late General Umar who was right hand man of General Yahya’s genocidal martial law regime known internationally as government run by pimps and prostitutes or his own as a totally failed chief executive of a multi-national company. One would not like to mention Gen Umar’s indictment as a major villain of the piece in East Pakistan tragedy as concluded by Justice Hammodur Rehman Commission Report, nor would one like to mention the looting of Pakistani banks and Post Offices by organised gangs for the generals mentioned in HRCR that provided them capital to become big business tycoons in residual Pakistan after their ignominious surrender.

Umer also took exception to criticise Bilawal for using his mother’s name (Bhutto) instead of his father’s (Zardari) and second, he castigated BBZ for delivering his speech in English to please his ‘foreign masters’. It was like Urdu phrase ‘Ulta Choor Kotwal Ko Daan Tay” –(meaning thief scolding the police officer). Notwithstanding his own foreign links and having received millions in payment for services that were non-professional from his badesi masters, Umer also forgot the reference that is pending judicial decision on charges of receiving foreign funding by PTI and its leadership.
Lo and behold Umer’s diatribe was repeated in Thar by his Fuhrer confirming that whatever foul PTI members vomit are the words of their master who would always be remembered for introducing—to borrow word from his dictionary– ‘phhateacher’ style favourite of the street urchins. One had thought that the shifting of the venue from Dharna on container to the august house of parliament would eliminate the PTI buffoonery.

Conclusively last but not the least, IK and his party members have come to be past masters in murdering history. Criticising Bilawal for speaking English, they forget that the founder MAJ spoke only English and even addressed massive public meetings in it. IK followers rush to brand him as Quaid-e-Azam the Second without knowing how great a leader that MAJ was and how puny their leader is. And what about PTI’s own Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. He too rendered his speech in English immediately after Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

(Author is the former High Commissioner of Pakistan to UK and a veteran journalist.)