The 6th Karachi literature festival that otherwise stages soft discussions around literature and arts became a political combat zone when the incendiary rhetoric, ‘Are we or are we not in a state of war’ was broached upon by Aitizaz Ahsan speaking on Jalib’s politically flavored poetry.
Asma Jehangir flared up irresistibly when Chaudhary sb put the question across, retorting, ‘If we were at war, we wouldn’t be sitting here.’ Shortly after it, she accused him of siding with the anti-democratic forces in the country. ‘We keep waiting when the army is going to storm in. Even today, in this so-called democracy, if a general orders them to do something they wouldn't dare defy him. Their power is such that they dictate everything in this country as per they wish and no one can do anything about it.’
Aitizaz Ahsan defended PPP’s decision to support military courts the best way he could, ‘I never sided with the military ever in my life. I topped civil services exams and turned down the job, because I didn’t want to be a part of a military dictator’s machinery. The reason why we’ve chosen to give military courts a chance because we are at war- our children are under attack-what worse could happen. And so extra-ordinary times call for extra-ordinary measures.’
Explaining that military courts will not function independently he said, ‘Military courts will only work on cases forwarded by the federal government and hence will operate corollary to the state institutions.’
If only all this could appease Asma Jehangir who rebuked, ‘Everyone is entitled to keep their opinion, and in my opinion, you’re nothing but a puppet- a puppet in the hands of the military.’
After repeated attempts, Mujahid-Barelvi – the moderator managed to bring the discussion around Jalib once again but if Chaudhary sb would not have back-stepped from the debate, people wouldn't have missed a live political-talk-show-turned-feud.