Governor Ebad’s 14 years

Dr Ishrat ul Ebad is no longer Governor Sindh, how all this happened particularly at a time when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif himself is facing a crisis situation is quite significant.

Prime Minister Sharif has finally decided to bring someone more close to him and Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N). In a way it’s a bold decision, though, not easy to find a replacement to match with the kind of qualities Dr Ishrat ul Ebad had, despite all kind of controversies he has survived in his long tenure.

He perhaps become the victim of playing the lose shot like any tied batsman after staying at the wicket for so long. Let’s have a look at his tenure and reasons which led to somewhat unceremonious exit.

When Dr Ishrat ul Ebad, was nominated as Governor of Sindh in 2002, by former President General (retired) Pervez Musharraf with the consent of MQM chief Altaf Hussain, no one would have thought that this young MBBS doctor would create history by serving the position for record 14 years.

His successor, former Chief Justice Mr Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui, is a man of integrity and has had a clean career, but, in the changing political scenario in Sindh, may not be the right choice. However, he enjoyed the confidence of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from the day he refused to take oath under Pervez Musharraf’s PCO.

Dr Ibad is a man of many qualities but perhaps, he should have quit the day MQM founder Altaf Hussain had expressed no confidence in him and Dr Farooq Sattar, accused him of not looking after party’s interest in 2015.

There could be three reasons for his exit. (1) His recent and somewhat ‘soft remarks’ about Altaf Hussain. (2) His overreaction to Mustafa Kamal’s outburst, which did not go well within the establishment, and (3) Bilawal Bhutto’s offer to him to join PPP.

Besides, Dr Ebad, at present has lost the confidence of almost all the factions of MQM, and that could also be the reason why PML-N government wanted someone close to the party as governor.

Dr Ebad, played a long innings of almost 14 years as Governor, and as we say in cricket, got tied and played a lose shot and lost his wicket.

Ebad’s exit in the changing political scenario in urban Sindh, attached great importance, but perhaps in the recent controversy lost the confidence of the establishment in the post August 22nd scenario.

His overreaction to Mustafa Kamal’s accusation apparently resulted immediate reasons and that his ‘soft remarks,’ towards Altaf Hussain.

Sources said, the ceasefire between Kamal and Ebad, came after the former City Nazim was not only assured that in future governor would play any role in trying to stop anyone in joining PSP, and secondly, an inquiry be held on his accusation.

Dr Ebad was very disturbed after Kamal’s first outburst. Later, he reportedly got assurance calls from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and some most important people from Rawalpindi, which restored his confidence.

On the other hand Mustafa Kamal also informed relevant quarters, that the Governor was playing a role in MQM-Pakistan and has stopped some MNAs and MPAs from joining PSP.

Kamal also accused his role in the raid at the house of PSP leader Ashfaq Mangi and creating problems in the release of PSP President Anis Qaimkahni.

Thus, the change of Ibad as a Governor, would certainly give political and moral boost to PSP and Mustafa Kamal. We may see a more pro-active role of PSP in the coming weeks and months.

Dr Ebad, was against the formation of PSP, and in his meeting with the concerned quarters opposed the move and was of the opinion that it would turn out to be nothing more than a better form of MQM (Haqiqi).

However, in the post August 22nd, scenario and with further faction of MQM, the PSP’s recent General Workers Meeting at the local ground in Tariq Road and later in Hyderabad, forces the concerned quarters to change their view and they believe PSP has potential.

On the other hand MQM-Pakistan too is active and intends to hold a public meeting on December 25th to show their ‘show of strength.’

PSP accused Dr Ibad, of playing a hidden role in strengthening MQM-Pakistan and also trying to fence its differences with MQM-London, something which both denied.

Interestingly, Ibad also has very cordial relationship with former President General Pervez Musharraf and also with former President Asif Ali Zardari. His exit as Governor would be a setback for both in the future political scenario.

It is difficult to say about the political future of Dr Ebad, but, his recent meeting with Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in the presence of Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah draws mixed reaction from political circles but certainly did not gone well within PML-N, particularly in the context of tension over, ‘Panamagate.’

Dr Ebad become the Governor of Sindh, as a result of a compromise between MQM and Pervez Musharraf, the former President, who is once again in the news after his meeting with MQM-Pakistan, leader, Khwaja Izhar ul Hasan.

MQM, had not supported Musharraf from 1999 to 2002, and did not even vote for him in his referendum. It joined the coalition after 2002 elections after the than establishment disbanded MQM (Haqiqi), Musharraf agreed to give ‘administrative powers’ to Governor in dealing with Karachi and Hyderabad, and third would give full financial support for the developments of the two cities. As a result, MQM supported the minority government of Chief Minister Arbabab Ghulam Rahim.

Dr Ebad’s role in his long tenure has been appreciated by successive rulers including Gen. Musharraf, Asif Ali Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif. He also managed his position well in crisis like May 12, 2007 and MQM confrontation with former Home Minister Dr Zulfiqar Mirza, but the last three years have been some of the most difficult in his long tenure.

He remained a ‘blue eyed boy’ of the establishment and brought them out of crisis on many occasions but handling of MQM founder Altaf Hussain during the ongoing Karachi Targeted Action, become problematic for him.

After 2013 general elections, MQM chief Altaf Hussain wanted to fence his difference with the than establishment and later with the Army Chief General, Raheel Sharif and ISI chief, Lt. General, Rizwan Akhtar.

Dr Ebad failed in convincing Altaf Hussain that his repeated speeches could create huge problems, not only for him but also for MQM. Perhaps, Altaf misread the situation and when Ibad and other top leaders met him in Lodnon, MQM founder suspected Ibad and others for playing in the hands of the establishment.

Later, MQM, distanced itself from Ebad, but, he did warn MQM leadership about the possible consequences of Altaf Hussain’s speeches, which finally resulted in serious action and ultimate crisis, which the party is facing, today.

Dr Ebad’s emotional exit from his long stay at Governor House, may open door for his new political venture and may continue to play an ‘advisory role,’ both for establishment and successive governments in dealing with Karachi.

One can only hope that one day, he must write a book on his ’14 secretive years as Governor’ to one of the most politically disturbed province.

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