“Fantastic” is how a tourist from England describes the lights and colours decorating the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi to celebrate Eidul Miladun Nabi.
The decorations remind the visitor of his hometown in West Sussex, which is decorated in a similar fashion during Christmas. For the English visitor it is his first exposure to a religious event in Pakistan and calls the entire experience, “wonderful” and adds that such events can go a long way in promoting a soft image of Islam and Pakistan abroad.
On the other hand, another event — elections 2013 — which is equally important for the image and global connectivity of the country, seems to be — theoretically speaking — in jeopardy, after statements made last week by the British high commissioner, Adam Thompson.
According to a political analyst, Mr Thompson’s statements are an English-TuQ, referring to the statements of Tahirul Qadri during his Islamabad sit-in: “Democracy good, politicians bad.”
But statements of the high commissioner in diplomatic circles are being looked upon as violating diplomatic norms.
To former Ambassador Ali Sarwar Naqvi, the statements of the High Commissioner come as a "surprise", especially the timings — so close to the elections.
Mr Naqvi, who has held diplomatic posts abroad, is pretty clear about the matter: “Democratic system of Pakistan should not be a cause of concern for outsiders. It does not behoove a foreign diplomat to directly comment on the country's political system.”
But according to senior analysts in the city, who regularly socialise with diplomats, Mr Thompson's statements come as no surprise. In fact, they represent an I-told-you-so scenario.
Senior journalist Nusrat Javed, few days before the British High Commissioner's comments, had written in his Urdu column that based on his interaction with western diplomats in Islamabad it seemed that the entire focus was on US/Nato exit strategy 2014 from Afghanistan and for achieving that goal, derailing the democratic setup would just be a side show.Commenting on British High Commissioner's latest statements, Mr Javed smiled and said: “Readers can just connect the dots now.”
While readers have the luxury to connect the dots, according to another analyst, the government might not have the same luxury as it is bogged down in other matters.
“The mysterious death of NAB official Kamran Faisal is a serious matter,” insists the analyst.
“It is important for NAB to come out clean on the matter. If media is overplaying the matter, then NAB needs to provide more information on Kamran Faisal and his method of investigating the RPP case. One needs to know whether he unearthed the entire case using NAB procedures or he had non-NAB sources assisting him.”
“Keep in mind, everyone is not as gifted as Faisal Saleh Hayat (one of the petitioner's in RPP case), who supposedly unearthed the entire matter after doing ‘research on the internet’,” says the analyst. The analyst warning of the seriousness of the situation gives a historical reference: “For some strange reason it reminds me of Chief of Army Staff General Asif Nawaz Janjua’s death in 1993. He died of a heart attack but there were rumours at the time that a senior PML-N leader might have something to do with his death. And then a few months later Nawaz Sharif’s government was dismissed.”
On the other hand, a Pakistani-Brit (dual national Pakistan-England) laughs over the statements made by the British High Commissioner. He says the rendition is reminiscent of a comedy television show popular in Britain during the 80s ‘Not the nine o’clock news’.
‘Not the nine o’clock news' was political satire just like ‘Fifty-fifty’, says the Pakistani-Brit, referring to a show famous in Pakistan during the 80s. Interestingly, ‘Not the nine o’clock news’ launched the career of Rowan Atkinson, better known to Pakistani audiences as Mr Bean. So then is one supposed to look at the High Commissioner’s statements as a Mr Bean moment?
If that is the case, then the High Commissioner just might be “a victim of Islamabad's drawing room politics,” says the Pakistani-Brit. Drawing rooms in Islamabad are reputed to be virulently anti-democratic and are the first source where ears of foreign dignitaries get filled with anti-politician talk.
The Pakistani-Brit recommends: “Perhaps Mr Thompson needs to step out of the diplomatic enclave more often, get some fresh air, as the Americans say ‘smell the coffee’.”
Dear visitor, the comments section is undergoing an overhaul and will return soon.