Joota Khapay – Shoe Rule
By Dr Shabir Choudhry
09 August, 2010
After callous murder of former Prime Minister of Pakistan Banazir Bhutto, people of Pakistan in general, and people of Sindh in particular were extremely angry and they raised certain voices which indicated break up of Pakistan. It was at that time Asif Zardari, husband of the deceased requested people to calm down and coined the phrase, ‘Pakistan Khapay’ – which in Sindhi means continuation of Pakistan.
However it is interesting that ‘Khappay’ in Punjabi and Urdu means annihilation or devastate. Asif Zardari also speaks these languages; and his critics question if he meant a Punjabi meaning or a Sindhi meaning when he said ‘Pakistan Khappay’.
That aside, leaders of Pakistan Peoples Party, and particularly Asif Zardari take pride in this slogan and from time to time chant it in their public rallies, especially at the end. However, luck was not on his side in Birmingham, England where huge amount of money was ‘invested’ to show public support for him and his heir apparent – Bilawal Zardari.
First impediment was the strong opposition to his trip to France and Britain when his country faced the worst floods in the history; and almost half the country was under water with more than 15 million people uprooted and more than 2000 deaths. The criticism was more sharp and effective because of extravagant expenses when every penny was needed to feed the uprooted people.
As a result of this strong criticism he had to make changes to the planned ‘launch’ his son, Bilwal in politics. And to add salt to wounds, a Kashmiri from Sensah, Kotli (Pakistani Occupied Kashmir) hurled two shoes at Asif Zardari to express his anger against his trip and his Kashmir policy. The shoes did not hit him but the insult and anger it generated was so overwhelming that Asif Zardari had to finish his speech abruptly and without the chant of ‘Pakistan Khapay’ and ‘PPP Khapay’.
This incident attracted so much interest in the media that both Asif Zardari and shoe thrower, Sardar Shameem Khan, immediately became part of history, although Asif Zardari is already very controversial and historic figure, but loathed and hated at the same time. After this incident he has become historic for abandoning his people in trouble and for being in a same league with the former President Bush.
‘The News’ correspondent came out with an interesting headline: ‘Zardari joins the Shoe Club with Bush’. What happened inside the hall was supported by hundreds of people protesting outside the hall against the visit. According to ‘The News’ report, ‘Some demonstrators held up shoes to pictures of Zardari, while others held placards reading, “1000s dying, president is holidaying”, “Thousands killed, millions homeless, what president is laughing for?” and “Are the Zardaris enjoying England while Pakistan drowns?”
In line with the PPP tradition the party leaders have come out in force telling white lies and totally denying any knowledge of the incident of shoe throwing; although initially Qamar Zaman Qaira, Minister Information condemned the incident. He confirmed the incident took place. Hundreds of people which include dozens of journalists witnessed the incident; and yet PPP leaders have nerve to deny any knowledge of it.
Later on the shoe thrower was located by Geo TV in Coventry where he lives, and his live interview was broadcasted late at night. This time the government behaved like a totalitarian government and stopped transmission of the Geo TV and ARY Digital; and despite this clear evidence the PPP leaders were brave enough to tell white lies and still continued with the denial of shoe throwing incident.
Because of the political culture in Pakistan, people try to find a conspiracy behind every incident. Many think the incident was managed by the Pakistani agencies; and fingers are being pointed to the elite agency of Pakistan. The purpose of this plot, according to the conspiracy theory, was to defame the President Asif Zaradri and destabilise his government, as if Asif Zardari is famous and his government is stable.
Some critics think opposition parties were behind this conspiracy and that is why Baber Awan, Minister of Law threatened that PPP workers also wear two shoes, implying that in future they will also target opposition politicians with shoes.
Some allege that Lord Nazir Ahmed, because of his close contacts with the Pakistani agencies, was behind this shoe throwing incident and the demonstration outside. In view of these people, Lord Nazir Ahmed has a clear anti Asif Zardari stance and close working relationship with the agencies and he managed all this while keeping himself out of this
However in my considered opinion all the above views are wrong. The demonstration was arranged by different political parties which included Kashmiri nationalist parties; and the shoe throwing incident was an act of one individual, although some believe that there was a meeting in Midlands one night before the rally in which this thing was discussed.
The man behind the incident, Sardar Shameem Khan is a friend of Mohammed Nazam Bhatti, President of Kashmir National Party in Britain. Nazam Bhatti confirms that there was no one behind Sardar Shameem Khan. Opposition parties, Pakistani agencies and Lord Nazir Ahmed have no role in this incident. Nazam Bhatti is the one who arranged all the interviews of Shameem Khan, including exclusive interview with Murtaza Shah, of the Geo TV.
Some people point out that this incident should not have taken place because it has brought shame to Pakistan as well; after all, Asif Zardari was an elected President of Pakistan. But one could argue that the target was not the President of Pakistan but Co Chairman of PPP, who holds two posts, despite clear conflict of interest.
The PPP leaders always take a similar position. Whenever Asif Zardari makes a blunder in his speech; and people protest that as a President he should be neutral and must not make a partisan speech, his followers claim this speech was delivered as a PPP Co Chairman.
Anyway, Nazam Bhatti says Shameem Khan belonged to the PPP, but he was angry with Asif Zardari and his government, because of what they have done to Pakistan and for their wrong Kashmir policy.
He cautioned Azad Kashmiri leaders to ‘stop shoe licking of Pakistani leaders’ and work in interest of Kashmiri people, else they will not be allowed to hold any public meetings in Britain in future.
Shameem Khan thinks people should not tolerate this corruption and looting by those who hold public office, and they must be held accountable for their actions. He says best way forward is that public should take off their shoes and discipline these leaders who have looted the public funds. He says like the slogan, ‘Pakistan khapay’ we should say ‘Joota Khapay’; and this campaign against these leaders must continue until they change themselves and become servants of the people in real sense.
He says, until this transformation takes place, people should not give them any funds because these funds will never reach where they are needed; and these leaders and corrupt officials will misappropriate these funds, as they did at the time of earthquake and will become millionaires.
Shameem Khan says, until such time people should give funds to those who are tried and trusted in the field of welfare and service to the needy. He said people should give funds to Kashmir Awami Foundation and Edhi Foundation.
Writer is Director Diplomatic Committee of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs.Email:firstname.lastname@example.org