Sherry Rehman, and liberal principles

This editorial from the pro-PML paper “The News” made me think a bit about the futility of principled behavior towards the Pakistani right-wing.

Rarely can apology have seemed more hollow than that tendered repeatedly by information minister Sherry Rehman to the civil society activist Tahira Abdullah. Both women were appearing on a popular daytime television talk-show. One of them had slept sound in her bed the night before; the other had suffered the indignity of being roused from her sleep in the small hours, her door battered by the police, and then carted off into detention, albeit briefly. Ms Abdullah was weeping. Not the phony tears of the cinema, but the real tears that come with the realization that those values which she believed in ā€“ justice, peace, equality ā€“ had been trampled at her own front door by the very party which she believed was going to uphold and protect those values

This paragraph contains many things that I feel — outrage at the arrest and regret at the state of the Pakistani left. But the context it’s written in, just like all the other “Benazir would never have wanted this” comments from the right, is just laughable. The way to think about it is that these people capitalize on the principles of liberals and then use them to neutralize their opposition to their side’s own completely unrestrained behaviour.

Sherry Rehman’s apology may have been “hollow” (I do not think it was). But where was the apology for Najam Sethi or for Jugnu Mohsin?

The real reason why I was arrested by Nawaz Sharif had to do with a BBC documentary in which I had taken part, exposing the corruption of the PM. I was interviewed by the BBC in Pakistan two days before I left for India . The IB found out and informed the PM. Saif ur-Rehman called me and asked what I had told the BBC. I told him: “everything.” “Negative or positive?” he asked. “Is there anything positive in your regime?” I replied. “We will get you,” he warned.

Where is the movement to restore justice Sajjad Ali Shah?

Why is this country currently being held hostage to the principles of the left in the hands of one the most unprincipled individuals the right has ever produced?


8 responses to “Sherry Rehman, and liberal principles

  1. Publius

    PPP’s behavior in this entire mess has been a terrible betrayal of democratic values. To disbar a political rival by influencing the judiciary, then to impose Governor’s rule, then to use draconian measures to try and prevent the expression of ensuing anger( they should have drawn a sharp line at violence and not resorted to things like banning people from entering Islamabad etc etc), and then the worst horror of it all the BANNING of geo.

    Sherry Rahman’s resignation does more good to the reputation of PPP than anything else.

    It is true that PML N has no principled commitment to democratic conventions and for them this is a convenient and ultimately dispensable tool to advance political goals but if the PPP continues to behave in this undemocratic manner it will not matter.

    This is because we human beings , by out very nature, cannot ignore the visible, the current and the obvious and focus instead on the unmanifest, on the past ,on the projected future.

    The undemocratic behavior of the PPP is out there and worsening, that of PML N hidden, in the past and covered over by their assertions.

    Even now the PPP can regain the higher ground, remove Governor’s rule unilaterally, allow the protests to go on peacefully with a sharp line drawn at violence, apologise for banning the geo.

    It will restore their credibility partially and take away from the justness of the other side’s cause.

  2. Publius

    If the news on the compromise reached by Zardari is true then a part of the post above is irrelevant. Still by doing under pressure what should have been done as a matter of conviction PPP has damaged itself. Undemocratic actions will always harm those who sincerely speak in the name of democracy.

  3. Couldn’t have put it in a better way.
    I always believe that liberals copping out to right wings on the basis on principles is not gonna work out in current day Pakistan. The war is dirty and has to be fought along the same lines.

    Personally, I think restoration of Iftekhar Chaudhry would be the biggest cop out. That man is so politicized, if restored, he would not be CJ of Pakistan but a PML-N/Jamaat CJ.

  4. Publius

    “The war is dirty and has to be fought along the same lines”

    I don’t think that rabia was suggesting that dirty tactics are necessary, only that principled behavior will not mollify the right wing. That does not necessarily imply that such behavior ought to be abandoned. (Rabia, of course, can clarify her viewpoint).

    However the issue of dirty tactics in service of liberalism is a valid question in itself.

    What has been gained by the dirty tactics used so far (listed in my first post above)? Why were they necessary, especially governor’s rule and censorship ?

    One could make a case that the dirty tactics were responsible, if not wholly then at least in part, for creating and sustaining this crisis in the first place.

    Is it rational to use more such tactics to deal with a crisis that was created triggered by their use ?

    And at what point in this downward spiral will it be necessary to say thus far and no further ? Is there any such point ? If PML N stoops to murder, for instance , would it be justified for the PPP to do so too ?

    Won’t dirty tactics just taint the conscience and the reputation of the democrats and give them a pyrrhic victory, if at all ?

    ( This is not to suggest that a principled liberal cannot choose between PPP and PML N. He or she can. But that is very different from rationalizing or justifying dirty tactics)

  5. it is painful as well hilarious to see that the country is “currently being held hostage to the principles of the left in the hands of” the right wing.

    apnay hi doston se mulaqaat ho gai.

    shame on aitzaz ahsan for trying to destabilize a democratic government of his own party.

  6. takhalus

    i personally find it hard to believe sherry is principled

  7. takhalus, I guess I am partial to Sherry, it might be a little like your partiality to Ayaz šŸ™‚

  8. takhalus

    haha touche rabia

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