Open letter to Asma Jehangir

Hello Ms Jehangir:

As always, welcome to India. I hear you are in Delhi already and have asked for the involvement of India in the "democratic process" so that both the countries can move forward towards a "common future."

Would you please be more explicit? Should we send troops to ensure democracy in your country? After all, in your lecture at the Jamia Millia you have asked us to distance ourselves from President Musharraf, the "mischief-making machine".

You say, reminiscing about the Agra Summit debacle:

If Musharraf can deceive India once, he will do it again. We expect logistic support from our neighbours so that Pakistan can become a truly democratic country.

Excuse me? Who exactly do you think we are that we were deceived? This sounds like some bad Bollywood film where the villain takes revenge again and again. Just to jog your memory, it was India that let down Musharraf during that Summit. You were on television singing Hindi film songs and clapping about how we could all be one; however you did emphasise that we were two different societies; you pointed out the different salwaar cuts too. Remember?

There was an agreement that was about to be signed, and because of some horribly devious moves by certain people within the BJP, the then ruling party, it was botched up and Musharraf had to take the flight back home at midnight, a humiliation that even our Laloo Prasad Yadav commented on.

Therefore, by logistic support, do you mean we should not invite him or let him pose with his wife on that bench in the foreground of the Taj Mahal in Agra? If he is not to be head of government, then we will not be doing business with him. However, as long as he is President, we will have to treat him as such. That is protocol. Do you have the courage to tell this to the United States? To any western power?

We (Pakistan) have seen only bloodshed in the last two years. With the efforts of lawyers’ movement and civil society in Pakistan, the verdict has been pronounced. We want Pervez Musharraf to quit honourably. We don’t want to get him out thrashed because that will affect the image of Pakistan globally. But we want the cooperation of our neighbours for the process so that Pakistan can truly become a democratic nation.

You have seen bloodshed in 1971 more than ever, and India was not really helping in the democratic process. Of course, we have all grown up and become big girls and boys now. If you want him to quit honourably, then you ask him. And what image are you talking about? In India we keep reading Western press releases about dictatorship and Pakistan being the most corrupt nation etc. This isn’t new. It’s been there for a while.

We are looking for a joint harmonious future with our neighbours and the first step towards this process is the elimination of Musharraf. The people of Pakistan have matured after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and there is a major shift in how people of Pakistan view India.

Really? Tell me more. Have not heard a single comment by any of your ‘democratic’ leaders about India and what relations they will have with us. Show us the money; we will take maturity later. And what do you have to say when the main winning party is called The late Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party? You like it? If not, why don’t you voice your protest over this too? Be an equal opportunity offender.

You call President Musharraf a "double crosser" – did you read reports that have now come out about how the deal was that once corruption charges were dropped against Benazir she would return after the elections? The moment all those charges were dropped, she decided to return. This is what power does.

The fact is that elections were held because of Musharraf and not despite him. His party has lost. Now it is upto the new powers to decide how to do things “honourably”. Lawyers wearing their black coats throwing stones at the police in the streets are not a very good sign of it. Don’t forget, these cops will be around irrespective of which government is in power.

Getting rid of Musharraf is like getting rid of glue. It sticks. We have faced growing inflation rates because of the mismanagement of the government. There was an amazing amount of pre-poll rigging; even money was offered to people to not vote. But after the election results were out, it was confirmed that the era of moving Pakistan towards democracy has ultimately ushered.

Right. In India we know all about glue and kissa kursi ka. And we know about inflation and we know about pre-poll rigging. And horse trading. Boy, we do know that. But we are a democracy because our Constitution says so. You get your lawyers to start some work, formulate policies, and then we can talk.

For now, have a nice stay in India (isn’t this where your room was ransacked in your absence during your last trip?) and tell us a bit more about democracy. Not by standing on a podium at the Jamia Millia but by going to small towns and villages where they are not allowed to get to the polling stations.

PS: Together with former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), the PPP will, according to latest reports, form the new government in Pakistan.

The plan is that the PPP will lead the federal government in Islamabad while the PML (N) will head the provincial government in Punjab, with its chief minister being supported by the PPP.

Asked if they had agreed to form a coalition, Mr Zardari sidestepped the question by saying: "We have consensus on all these points because we had been together in our long-drawn struggle."

Now, Ms. Jehangir, first let us know who we will have to speak to. I can bet, even you do not know that.

PPS: You will be hailed as a democrat for rubbishing dictators in your country. I will be rubbished as a jihadi for rubbishing a Modi in mine. See how different the two countries are?

Jiye-jiye, etc,


Update February 24, 6.40 PM IST:

“I think there is no need to impeach Musharraf at the moment.”

– PPP Vice-chairman Makhdoom Fahim, frontrunner for the post of Prime Minister.

Well? Well!


  1. Wow! Jab aap ne itna kuch iss andaz se farmaya hai, tau meiN kya keh sakti hooN? :)

    I do have to say that the notion of Pakistan maturing as a nation after BB's death is questionable. And that is putting it mildly and politely. I mean, why attribute it solely to her? Plus maturation is a process that involves a lot more than going to the polls, or taking to the streets.

    Khair, according to some, I know nothing of Pakistan so hum tau kuch keh nahiN sakte :)

  2. PPS: You will be hailed as a democrat for rubbishing dictators in your country. I will be rubbished as a jihadi for rubbishing a Modi in mine. See how different the two countries are?

    Very True� I completely agree.
    Infact Asma Jehangir is blessed by not having to confront situations that you do.

  3. FV:

    Very well said. Absolutely to the point!
    Thank God , Ms. Jehangir didn't say so during the NDA rule. Mr. Modi's brethren might have taken it as an invitation to the big brother. After all they envied the US for sorting out Afghanistan and Iraq and Israel for putting all its neighbours in place. Never mind the current situation in all those places.
    Exactly what is India expected to do. Tell Musharraf to resign. Else... we will nuke them. Then, when PPP and PML support the jehadis, ask them the same thing. Come on... this is ludicrous.

  4. Oh boy. Let's take this bit by bit.

    Maybe asking other nations with problems of their own to help us with ours is not always the best course to adopt. Fine. I agree. But doing so, and perhaps spouting a few very stupid things in the process, should not elicit such harsh criticism.
    And for what it's worth, she has asked the US to help. Quoting from a letter of hers, "...urge the US administration to stop all support of the instable dictator."

    You have seen bloodshed in 1971 more than ever..
    There are no 'frames of reference' for bloodshed and death.

    Dropping Benazir's massive corruption charges was double-cross enough, regardless of the precise working of the agreement.

    Just because some lawyers resort to thuggery does not mean the movement as a whole is wrong. There are precious few who actually believe in the ideals behind any movement. The rest just tag along

  5. Okay, I did get some slight raps for this...offline:)


    BB has become a rallying point rather unfortunately, and I really think people like Asma Jehnagir ought to question this sort of democracy too.


    It isn't that she does not face horrible situations, but yes, ideologically she can take real swings and it is okay. How I wish one lived on an island (oh, but I do...Mumbai is one!)


    You are so right about what would have happened if the NDA were in power here...as it is we are gloating. I honestly don't know why she does not mind interference from outside forces.


    Phew...she asked the US to stop support, which means tangible...she really said 'instable'??

    ["You have seen bloodshed in 1971 more than ever.."
    There are no 'frames of reference' for bloodshed and death.]

    She said you have ONLY seen bloodshed for two years, which is ridiculous. There are always frames of reference, if the bloodshed is a political act.

    [Dropping Benazir's massive corruption charges was double-cross enough, regardless of the precise working of the agreement.]

    This was double-cross of Pakistani society, not of her for she was a participant.

    [Just because some lawyers resort to thuggery does not mean the movement as a whole is wrong. There are precious few who actually believe in the ideals behind any movement. The rest just tag along]

    And this is what we see...I did not rubbish the lawyers' movement, but asked her to expect some policy formulation from them.

    Was my criticism too harsh? I thought my quill was rather feathery...

  6. I know people who were there and Asma Jahangir was acting very important like our Teestas.

  7. Asma Jehangir is a great lady and a credit to that country called Pakistan.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.