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Pakistani citizens cutting across class, ethnic, sectarian and ideological divisions have taken to the streets in protest after rumours of the new Pakistani President, Mamnoon Hussain, being a ‘Pakistani Manmohan’ swept through the Islamic republic.
There was considerable disquiet to begin with over the India born President’s name sounding similar to that of the Indian Prime Minister. That some Pakistani commentators were pronouncing it as ‘Manmoon Sain’ did not help matters either. However, a video recording of the new President softly saying ‘theek hai’ was enough to light the accumulating powder keg of anxiety and trigger a flown blown conflagration of street protests, agitations and arson across the length and breadth of the country. It was a surreal sight indeed – liberals and Islamists, Pashtuns and Mohajirs, Punjabis and Sindhis, Western educated youth and their Madrassa educated counterparts, Shias and Sunnis, even SRK fan-boys and Salman Khan’s supporters – all sinking their differences to rise in unison and vent their fury against the state over the elevation of Mamnoon Hussain.
“We can live with drone strikes, crippling power shortages, no jobs, debilitating sectarianism and even India humping Pakistan in cricket but we certainly can’t tolerate a Pakistani version of Manmohan hoisted on us,” raged Javed Mosharraf, a Lahore based student, as he hurled stones at a Pakistani government office.
The situation was so grave that even the Pakistan Army Chief, General Kayani, had to step in and seek clarifications. “We are looking into whether he indeed is a Pakistani version of Dr. Singh. If that is the case, the Pakistani army will take over and impose martial law to protect the nation’s ideological frontiers,” he tried to assure the public.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has belatedly attempted to quell the panic. “Of course he’s a bit of a pushover but I want to assure the Pakistani public that he’s nowhere close to the genuine article,” he said during a televised address. The Pakistani PM privately nurses hopes of getting the equivalent of Dr. Singh to become the next Pakistani Army chief but knows that is next to impossible. No semi decent institution, let alone a professional army, will ever produce a leader like Dr. Singh. For he knows that only flawed democracies, characterized by dynastic succession and rule by proxy, suffer such ignominies.