Editorial: New governor for Sindh

WEB DESK: The news is not that former CJP Saeed-uz-Zaman Siddiqui has been appointed governor of Sindh; the news is that Dr Ishratul Ibad who weathered three Presidents, five prime ministers, four chief ministers and several corps commanders has been asked to call it a day.

For 14 long years while his bosses in Islamabad, contemporaries in other provinces and subordinates in Sindh kept changing he stood his ground. Was it his amiable demeanour or his skill never to run afoul of powers-that-be or his exceptionally high-caliber governance that ensured his survival, the question remains unanswered.

One would be too naïve to believe that his spat with Mustafa Kamal last month, when the latter called him criminal who “played with people’s lives and destroyed generations,” triggered his downfall. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif wanted to do some good to his old friend Saeed-uz-Zaman Siddiqui and therefore made him governor; that might be the case but one is not sure.

Dr Ishratul Ibad was recommended by MQM supremo Altaf Hussain and appointed by General Pervez Musharraf as Sindh governor. He happily co-existed with President Zardari and was tolerated by Nawaz Sharif – all of them having not much in common. That is a measure of his survival. All these years he was close to the Establishment and therefore unshakable that too is only an opinion, because was it so he would have stayed on in the colonial-era mansion for some more time. And then, as some say, Mustafa Kamal too drinks from the same fountain. Maybe, the charge that he was involved in the May 12 massacre has stuck. Given lingering turbulence besetting the capital city of Sindh, Karachi, political survivability of Dr Ibad is indeed a textbook case.

Will Ibad’s successor get a chance to play a long innings also, one is not sure. The portents don’t appear to be positive for Justice Saeed-uz-Zaman Siddiqui, in that both the principal political stakeholders in Sindh, the PPP and MQM, have expressed annoyance for not being consulted over his appointment.

He is branded as Nawaz Sharif’s man, though that was also the case with Dr Ibad who was Altaf Hussain’s, but the difference is that while the latter had full backing of the party then in power in Sindh the former does not have that advantage. It is also a myth that Justice Siddiqui refused to take fresh oath of office as Chief Justice of Pakistan from General Musharraf – the truth is that he was not called for the oath-taking, probably because the General feared that in the wake of Zafar Ali Shah case as Chief Justice he would decide the case against him. Perhaps, it was his ‘revolt’ against the then Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, who had earned the reputation of being anti-Nawaz Sharif, which earned him the prime minister’s love and respect.

How deep that love and respect was his bid for presidential office in 2008 following resignation of Pervez Musharraf must have been a bit disappointing experience for him. In 2013, however, he could have been easily elected as president but Nawaz chose party loyalist Mamnoon Hussain to contest the election and eventually become President of Pakistan. But he has been compensated now and all that should be behind him. As governor he is confronted with a variety of new challenges.

For instance, age factor is one. Justice Siddiqui was born in 1938 and he is expected to be in step with half his age chief minister. It is a fact that the party in power in Sindh is not the one that has appointed him governor of that province. Then he is also expected to remain equidistant between the political government and the Establishment, which his predecessor successfully could.

And that is certainly a formidable challenge given peculiarity of the security situation in Karachi and some other cities and his oath of office as governor of Sindh to “preserve, protect and defend” the Constitution of Pakistan.

Source: Business Recorder