Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Maverick I Know (iii)

Since Makhdoom sahab had moved into Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), people from both sides of the aisle have contacted me to either express their pleasure or hatred of the decision. Some people, especially the younger lot, is quite confident that he has made the right choice at the right time. Some older hands severely reprimanded this choice. Both sides have a valid reason to support their argument. Both sides are very charged up to show their love or displeasure. But both sides love this man. The reason they are all expressing their opinions about him is because they care about him, no matter which party he joins. 

There were several times when Makhdoom sahab mentioned to me that he had been sidelined by the party for good. The party leadership does not give him his rightful place in the ranks. He could have easily retired from the politics and nobody would really care about it in the party leadership. But the only reason, he is still given importance in the meetings and a seat right next to the top leadership is because the party workers demand that for him.

I have been contacted by people not only from Kot Addu and Multan but also from abroad. Some of his class and prison fellows have also contacted me to express their opinions in this regard. I am truly touched and humbled by this huge following. 

I know Hashmi sahab has spent almost all of his adult life in politics which spans over 40 years. He started his politics back in the University of Punjab as a student leader. And he has seen all kinds of ups and downs in his career. And he has been in the news on and off for all these years. When I was getting married, he was in Kot Lakhpat prison in Lahore. I had arrived from the U.S. just a couple of days before my wedding. He called me the next day and told me that he is really happy for me and really wanted to be part of the wedding. But, he continued, he would not be able to attend the function because he does not want to request the dictator for attending the wedding ceremony. That is why he won’t be joining us but his prayers will be with us all the way. I know certainly that I would have been much happier if my father-in-law would have been attending the ceremony but I also did not want him to bow down and lay down his principles for this. So I said that I totally understand what he was saying and I am with him on this. 

The following day, as we approached Multan with barat, we were informed that Hashmi sahab had been released on parole and will be arriving at Multan airport for this function. The rest is history that many of the journalists, media persons and politicians from all kinds of backgrounds joined us to show their solidarity with Hashmi sahab for standing his ground in respite of all kinds of hardships.  

The history will be a better judge of the decision that he took of joining the PTI. When he asked my opinion, I told him that I was sure that he would have thought on all angles before coming up to this decision. Both way, I understood and I am with him on this all the way.

A Maverick I Know (ii)

On my wedding day, Mian Hamza Shahbaz, son of Mian Shahbaz Sharif offered Makhdoom sahab Rs.100,000.00 as a ‘salami’. Makhdoom sahab plucked Rs.1000.00 out of that bundle and returned the rest to Mian sahab. And he added that I have taken only the amount which I am able to pay you back.
Over the years, I learnt how he operated on different levels in terms of relationships, politics, and various other affairs of his life. We are all muslims and we all believe in the conviction of our religion. I am still trying to grasp the extent of conviction of Makhdoom sahab in Allah. I have seen him time and again taking a bold decision first and believing that Allah will definitely succeed him in his endeavors. And Allah has always helped him to withstand the extreme pressures of this life. 

During the last few years, I have been surprised by his quietness and trying to put on a brave face in difficult situations. I must admit that I can be a cruel questionnaire some times. On various occasions, I asked him hard questions pertaining to him, his political party and the party leadership. He always tried to defend his party and the leadership. Like one time at the wedding of my younger sister-in-law, I inquired him if he had invited the party leadership? He said that he had extended the invitation to them. But he did not insist on them to be there since they were quite occupied by other important affairs of the province and country. You see, for a political layman like me, I would not understand why the party leadership could not find a few precious hours for a party worker who had spent several precious years of his life in prison for them. But I had a hunch that something was really killing him inside. 

Another time, when he had suffered brain hemorrhage, and was in ICU of General Hospital, Lahore, Mian Nawaz Sharif visited him. I could see how keen he was to receive him. It had been a few days for him that the hemorrhage had affected his speech badly. He had tried to speak earlier but could not utter a single word. And when Mian Nawaz Sharif showed up, for the first time since his hemorrhage, he uttered several words to show Mian sahab how glad he was to see him. Even the doctors present in that room were quite surprised with that effort. 

At a different occasion when Mian sahab spent a few days in Bahawalpur for hunting, I had a chance to visit Hashmi sahab. It was after he had suffered the hemorrhage. We talked about different things and I mentioned to him that Mian sahab was staying in Bahawalpur, which is hardly an hour and half drive from Multan. He tried to ignore the presence of Mian sahab in the adjacent city and moved to a different topic quickly, not giving me a chance to ask him the obvious question. Nonetheless, I could see he was hurt.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Maverick I know

I met him the first time when I was in fifth class. His mother-in-law had passed away. My female family members wanted to visit their place for condolences. Every able man in my family was busy to accompany them. So they took me along with them for this visit. I guess at that age, you don’t have any choice.

Once we got there, I paid my condolences to a close relative for passing away of their family member. As we were waiting for my family members, we were informed about ‘his’ arrival. I was taken to meet with him. When I was introduced to him about who I was, I remember his words. He said, “I know him.” I was stunned. I thought to myself, how could he possibly know me? I have met him the first time in my life and I am hardly ten years old. Anyways, after spending a few more minutes with him, we departed their place.
The next time I met him was on my wedding day. In fact, I was marrying his daughter. As mentioned above, we had only one meeting in my life. But he still took this bold decision to trust his instincts. And this time when someone asked him, “have you known him before?” He said, “Yes. I know him quite well.” 

He is no other than Makhdoom Javed Hashmi. To begin with, we both are Qureshi Hashmi, so we are both connected there. But more recently, there have been very close marriages between our families. But in our culture, people do take keen interest in people and families where their daughters are getting married. Like all his daring political decisions and moves, and practically living on the edge, he didn’t even try to do his ‘research’. Now that I have known him for a while, I know for sure that he couldn’t have researched even if anybody would have asked him to conduct one. Once he makes up his mind, he does not go back on his words, no matter what. 

Second, he is a very straight-faced and forward person. He does not mince his words to put a rosy picture. He will tell you in direct words to make you aware of the situation. I remember that when I was thinking of moving back to Pakistan, I thought of discussing with him too. He told me that the decision would not be an easy one. I would have to make some sacrifices. May be life would not be exactly like the U.S. There will be a few difficulties on the way too. And your lifestyle graph will be zero, maybe negative, before you get somewhere. But once you make that leap and come out of the adjustment period, you will come out of that cycle with flying colors. 

And so far things have been exactly how he predicted. There were many individuals who told me otherwise and showed me gloomy and depressing picture that nothing works in Pakistan and all is bad here.
I don’t write politically-motivated articles in my blogs, and this one is no different. But I am guilty by association this time. And Makhdoom sahab has joined Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaaf officially recently. So more on this in the coming days. Stay tuned.