Departed souls that add to the wintry sepulchral sadness
By Afzal Hussain Bokhari
The sudden death of the head of the Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) Allama Khadim Hussain Rizvi came as a surprise. According to reports, he had a fever and felt difficulty in breathing. His condition worsened on November 19. At about 8-45pm he was taken to Shaikh Zayed Hospital, Lahore, where he reportedly suffered a heart attack. Sources in the hospital said that the scholar had already expired before reaching the hospital. They further said that those who brought him to the hospital did not know the history of his ailments. From President Dr Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan to COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa the messages of condolence started pouring in. As far as his life-sketch was concerned he was born into the home of Haji Lal Khan on June 22, 1966 in village Nakka Toot of district Attock in Punjab. At an early age he became a Hafiz-i-Quran from madrassa branches in Jhelum and Dina. Later he went to Lahore where he completed Dars-i-Nizami from Jamia Nizamia Rizvia. His followers respected him in his capacity as the Shaikh-ul-Hadith. He had a command over three inter-connected languages of Arabic, Persian and Urdu. After a traffic accident his mobility was reduced and he could not walk without support. From his residence in Sabzazar Colony an ambulance carried his mortal remains to Minar-i-Pakistan. The funeral prayers were offered in Greater Iqbal Park Ground of Minar-i-Pakistan opposite the Badshahi Mosque. Khadim Rizvi’s son Hafiz Sa’ad Hussain Rizvi led the prayers. In the Minar-i-Pakistan gathering it was announced that Hafiz Sa’ad Rizvi would be the next head of TLP. The senior party figures noted that the late scholar in his lifetime had been grooming Sa’ad Rizvi to be his successor. After the prayers it was in the Minar-i-Pakistan ground that Sa’ad Rizvi took oath of office as the new head of TLP. As a security measure the local Metro Bus service was temporarily suspended from Shahdara to MAO College. The late Khadim Rizvi was laid to rest in the compound of the Madrassa Abuzar Ghaffari adjacent to the Rehmatul-lil-Aalemeen Mosque on Multan Road, near the Chowk Yateemkhana (orphanage), Lahore. To mourn his death he left behind a widow, two sons and four daughters. His younger son Mohammad Anas aged 18 is completing Dars-i-Nizami in Lahore. For many years he served here as prayer leader. Two days before his death, a document was signed in Islamabad between the government and the TLP to end the three-day long sit-in staged at the Faizabad Interchange. Political scene in the country continues to remain chaotic. The federal government and the 11-party Pakistan Democratic Alliance (PDA) appeared to be heading for an eyeball-to-eyeball standoff. The powers that be chose to keep a safe distance. The PDM leadership said that its public meeting planned for November 22 would proceed as per schedule. They even selected a venue on Ring Road. Top leaders from major parties visited the place by night and reviewed the arrangements. The local administration refused to give permission for any public meeting. When the general public woke up on Sunday morning, the Kabootar Chowk on Ring Road hummed with activity. About 10,000 chairs had been laid inside the closure. Some 4000 volunteers of Ansarul Islam had taken positions for the security of the participants. Roadside stalls had emerged selling fruit, foodstuff, soup, tea and sugarcane juice. Apart from masks, the flags and headscarves belonging to various parties were easily available. The ANP leader Asfandyar Wali Khan advised his followers to wear red caps and converge on Bilour House from where they would be taken to the venue. Similarly, PML-N activists were told to gather at the residence of Ameer Maqam from where they would proceed in a procession waving party flags. Meanwhile, the traffic authorities announced that the stretch of road from the Garhi Qamar Din flyover named after the freedom fighter Abdul Lateef Pir of Zakori Sharif up to Charsadda Road had been closed with large containers placed on both ends. Travel advisory was issued to those arriving from other cities. Addressing the public meeting, PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto spoke of PTI’s bad governance and the one-sided accountability of opposition leaders by the NAB. Others who addressed the rally also shared the view that it was probably the time to send home the failed government. Speakers from ANP, QWP, PML-N and JUI-F were more categorical and harsh in expressing the same sentiments. It was with a collective sense of grief that PDM leaders received the news that the mother of Mian Nawaz Sharif, Begum Shamim Akhtar, passed away in London on the morning of November 22. She was said to be over 90 years of age. It was in February this year that she went over to Britain to live with her eldest son. Due to dementia and Alzheimer’s, she had not been feeling well. For the past three months, she had been facing age-related complications. Of late she suffered from acute chest congestion. Her dead body would be brought to Lahore, once the Westminster magistrate issues the death certificate. PML-N lawyers in Lahore are approaching the court of law to grant bail on parole to the imprisoned leaders Shahbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Sharif at least up to Shamim Bibi’s ‘soyem’. PML-N sources said that on arrival in Lahore the mortal remains of Mian Mohammad Sharif’s wife would be kept in a hospital. It is not clear how the death of Shamim Bibi may affect the future strategy of the opposition parties but PDM plans a rally in Larkana (Sindh) on November 26 and another one in Multan on November 30. ANP leaders like Asfandyar Wali Khan, his son Aimal Wali Khan, Senator Zahid Khan and Mian Iftikhar Hussain felt concerned at the developing situation in Dir, Buner and Waziristan where cases of kidnap-for-ransom had been rising. In an interview on November 21 with woman anchor Farzana Ali of Aaj news television channel, Aimal Wali Khan politely appealed to the security forces to take notice of the banners which had recently appeared in Dir, Buner and Waziristan telling female students not to come to the universities in future. Aimal Khan referred to a case of xenophobic misogyny in which a woman in Waziristan travelling in a Qing Qi rickshaw was pulled down by anti-social elements and beaten up for not staying indoors.