Articles of the year 2005

A Free World
Published on October 07th, 2005

The newspaper reports of the President's run in with the Women's groups in New York, should be viewed in the right perspective. The special characteristic of the free world is the right to badger the visitor—or any speaker, till he is so unsettled that he loses his train of thought, or worse his temper. Speakers corner in Hyde Park has been famous over the years for providing any and every topic to be expounded publicly, and for the hecklers to make their comments mostly at the expense of the Speaker. The public would by and large visit on Sundays to appreciate the standard of heckling more than the quality of Speech, and was considered good entertainment. This spot in Hyde Park became famous for allowing any topic no matter how bizarre—even the Royal family itself was not spared. A bobby or two sauntered around just to make sure physical violence did not erupt. But there was no interference from the law,-- never.

In the West public figures on occasion have to face much more humiliation, take the case of Mrs Thatcher having pies thrown at her—and eggs, yet she was the most powerful Prime Minister Britain has seen. It is a part of public life. The President should look at the bright side, and acknowledge that maybe heckling is a good thing and should be encouraged in Pakistan. Our politicians definitely could do with a heckle or two. The law ministers son one hears has been taking the law into his own hands ( pun intended), and would think twice if he faced a public barracking.

There is however a more sinister side to whole episode. It is fairly obvious that the President has been briefed fully on the complete Dr.Shazia case. The facts should be brought into the open, warts and all. The President should not be seen to be defending himself, and certainly not defending a cover up. Certainly not to give the Media an opportunity to try the Govt by innuendo, and a whisper. Either she was raped or she was not. Either way the cover up has backfired very badly, and the only way out is to make the facts known. The truth no matter how sordid, will clear the air, and our President will not be seen defending any position. The truth has no position--- it is the truth. And so it should be told.

The Free world gives the holder of public office no protection from questions, and the media is wont to take advantage of these situations sometimes contrived, so that they appear sensational, for it is their job to sell newspapers, the more sensational the better they sell. It is up to the interviewee to tread very carefully indeed. For as a Public figure it is his stature that will diminish or grow depending on his performance. So far President Musharraf is way ahead on points, and the latest hiccup will not mar his rating here or abroad. He is a master of the TV screen and his sincerity comes across beautifully, as opposed to the likes of Tricky Dick of old who was plagued by a terrible TV image. He was brought down by the mother of all cover ups----Watergate. With President Musharraf there is no such compulsion, he should call a rape a rape, punish the guilty party and get on with life, why cover up?

The President, should be above and beyond such manipulations of the truth, for his person, the Presidency and Pakistan will be diminished in the process.