Chips off the same block

  • This is an age of specialization

The spat between Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry and special assistant to prime minister on political affairs, Naeem ul Haq, regarding appointment of Arshad Khan as MD PTV is indicative of the fact how difficult is it for a government– formed by bringing together carpet-baggers of different hues, fortune seekers and turn coats — to maintain harmony in thought and perceptions among its affiliates in regards to steps taken by it.

Reportedly Naeem ul Haq in response to media reports that Information minister was not happy over the appointment tweeted “Prime minister has full confidence in the management of PTV and wanted to turn it into an independent organisation like BBC.” The minister in the tweeted rejoinder to his observations quoted a verse of Ghalib which translated into English will read like this ‘Ghliab is showing off for being an associate of the King otherwise he enjoys no respect in the town’. There could not have been a better expression than that to characterise not only Naeem ul Haq but also all those, including Fawad Chaudhry, clinging to Imran Khan like leaches to share spoils of power-wielding. In fact they are all chips off the same block.

Naeem ul Haq retorted with the tweet ‘all the newcomers in the PTI must understand and follow the philosophy of Imran Khan. Those who do not believe in the ideology have no future in the party’. In response to Naeem’s rejoinder the information minister re-tweeted a tweet from one of his fans which advised Naeem ul Haq to contest an election if he wanted to be a politician rather than depending on friendship with Imran.

Both the gentlemen have shown mirror to each other regarding their political stature and worth. I as an anodyne observer and political analyst really wonder what ideology Naeem ul Haq was alluding to and does the PTI really have an ideology except taking u-turns and doing everything to grab political power like the traditional characters of power politics. Imran Khan the revolutionary who emerged on the political horizon in March 2011 in his sojourn to the corridors of power has made so many compromises to clinch power that he himself no more would be knowing what the actual ideology of PTI is. The people around him are the beneficiaries of the exploitative system of governance that bred a culture of graft and entitlement. Who does not know the past of persons like Jahangir Tareen, Seikh Rasheed Ahmed, Fawad Chaudhry and Shah Mahmood Qureshi who are always willing to jump on the bandwagon of the prospective rulers, even the military dictators, and supporting their all kinds of shenanigans and being rewarded for their changed of loyalties.

It is really astonishing to note that in spite of having myriads of skeletons in their cupboards they still have the audacity to publicly proclaim their piety and throwing flak at their opponents of the same ilk and doing the bidding of the power wielders. They think the memories of the people are very short. It is not that. People do have very sharp memories but in the permeating political culture and system of governance they simply do not matter except for going through the ritual of voting for a representative government to perpetuate the prevalent system. I vividly remember Sheikh Rasheed leading a political rally on Murree Road Rawalpindi with a caged live lion proclaiming Nawaz Sharif as his political guru and mentor. I also saw his spat with Imran Khan in a TV programme hosted by Hamid Mir in which both of them insulted and denigrated each other. The same man is now the most vociferous spokesman of the government charged with the responsibility to throw all kinds of invectives at the Sharifs. Shah Mahmood Qureshi was foreign minister in the PPP regime. Likewise Fawad Chaudhry also showered praise on Zardari and acted as proponent of political creed of PPP when the party was in power. Those who joined the PTI after the elections did not do so for the sake of an ideology but for lust of power and money. So where is the ideology that the stalwarts of the PTI so fondly refer to?

The very purpose of constitution of information group as part of the CSS was to raise a corps of professionals to handle government media relations and to head public organisations related to media

The only philosophy of PTI one can understand from the sham accountability that is going on in the country is political vendetta which also has been the hall mark of previous regimes both military and representative. So what is the difference? Nothing has changed and nothing will change during the PTI stint of power unless systemic changes are effected in the archaic system of governance which has inbuilt avenues of corruption, to make it responsive to the needs of the masses supported by fool-proof mechanisms for across the board accountability. That is only possible through cooperation between the government and the opposition parties. The country surely needs a new social contract, but unfortunately the PTI headed by Imran Khan does not seem to understand it and is treading the path of confrontation with the opposition parties and hell bent on victimising the political opponents. That might consign the country to perennial political instability which could also undermine efforts to change economic profile of the country and improving economic situation of the masses, whose live have already been made miserable due to the economic policies pursued by the PTI government.

Now coming to the appointment of Arshad Khan as MD PTV, it is pertinent to point out that successive government have made political appointments to run state-owned PTV paying them heavy salaries and perks. Millions have been paid to such favourites from the exchequer unjustifiably. The proponents of change are also acting in a similar fashion. The millions that are paid to such appointees can be saved by appointing the officers of the information group who would be working on these posts on their own salaries without any additional burden on the treasury.

The very purpose of constitution of information group as part of the CSS was to raise a corps of professionals to handle government media relations and to head public organisations related to media. In the past we have seen even an officer of DMG heading PTV. The culture of pushing square pegs in the round holes and rewarding political affiliates of the government must end now. This is an age of specialisation. Therefore all media organisations in the public sector must be headed by officers of the Information group.