To Bannu – From Panama, with Love


The PM’s Bannu trip is revealing

Amid rising calls for the Prime Minister’s ousting from office after revelations from the Panama Leaks puts his family into the spotlight, he departs to the city of Bannu in Khyber Pakthunkhwa. The strategically significant Bannu is important given its close geographical proximity to the restive North Waziristan region and the fact that it was once used as a British military base for action against the Afghan border tribes. History aside, the Panama Papers is exactly what prompted the PML N to resort to this important city, given that the revelations have emboldened their opposition with rallying cries for the elimination of corruption from Pakistan. Whether or not this visit and the establishment of the airport would have a bearing on the public perception of our Prime Minister’s credibility can be anyone’s guess.

Ordinary it is not and ordinary it will not be.

Our public is a sensitive organism. It vibrates to the tunes of holding those accountable for misgivings, yet at the same time reclines when those championing accountability have a shady history themselves. Under the current ecosystem, this organism is also receptive to development and prosperity for itself, but would step back when the odor of political statements and gimmicking clouds sincerity and purpose. It is within this context that the Prime Minister’s call for establishing an international airport in Bannu alongside other developmental projects in KPK needs to be taken into consideration. Not many would feel less incensed at such a gesture and even few would buy that the PML N wants to develop Bannu into a regional hub.

Ordinary it is not and ordinary it will not be.

Given the geographical and strategic significance of Bannu- just about anything- an airport, roads- increased connectivity or CPEC’s deliverables, should have been a top priority for the PML N as soon as it ascended into power when the nation was grappling with sectarian and terrorist strife. After all, projects which promote regional connectivity are bound to have a bearing on militancy as well as prosperity- yet it is not the PML N, but the boys in uniform who take the credit for the improved security situation. As far as prosperity is concerned, like in its previous years in power, the PML N has focused extensively on catering to the corporate community in Punjab, facilitating the progression of monopolies and oligarchies and if one harks back to the reservations over CPEC being expressed by the PML N’s staunchest opponents over its proposed route, it is quite clear that this move towards building an airport in Bannu is to allay political concerns amid growing calls for accountability and transparency directed at the Prime Minister’s family.

Ordinary it is not and ordinary it will not be.

So then the question arises, who takes the blame here? Surely, painting the Panama Papers as a ‘Satanic Controversy’ as government minister Rana Sanaullah did once the revelations became public knowledge will not cut much ice at such an hour. Similarly, referring to the protests championed by the PTI as an attempt to derail democracy also runs hollow, as this is a regurgitation of the same terms which were echoed during the 2013 election protests. The mantra is simple this time around- either hold yourself publicly accountable, or face the boys in uniform or those parties which subscribe to similar views.

Ordinary it is not and ordinary it will not be

Both the COAs and IK have been quizzically testing. The COA’s decision to suspend 12 Army officers for corruption charges and issue statements linking corruption with terrorism is a clear indication of how the PML N’s follies continue to provide a vacuum for the boys in uniform to make their palpable presence felt. Then comes the street protests, where Imran Khan’s rallying cry for holding a long march aimed at discrediting and eventually toppling Nawaz Sharif is another indication where PML N has allowed the PTI’s lost political relevance after the farcical election protests to get revived under a new banner- the Panama Papers. One may question either party’s motivations, but clearly, the PTI is operating no differently to the PML N over an issue which continues to brim and put the country into the spotlight, but results in political bickering, scoring fist pumping and attempts to discredit the opposition.

Ordinary it is not and ordinary it will not be.

For the locals in Bannu however, an airport sounds fantastic. Who doesn’t prefer top notch aviation services at their disposal? Yet at the same time who wouldn’t prefer such proposals with less political scoring and more sincerity as far as living up to election manifestoes are concerned. Whisper it, but the PML N knows what it is doing and for good reason.

Ordinary it is not and ordinary it will not be.


  1. From the International Airport of Kohat the passengers will take the Purple Line Service to the City. Bannu's Airport will have Chopper Service to North Waziristan. I hope the Prime Minister has not forgotten about the International Airport at Dera Ismail Khan otherwise his buddy Maulana Diesel will be on fire. Also to connect South Waziristan he has to decide between Chopper Service or Indigo Line Service.
    Unless our Prime Minister decides to beat India and Iran over their Caspian-Chabahar Canal link by opening a Canal from Raiwind to Gwadar.

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