Fauzia Wahab: Removed for having an opinion?

Published: February 19, 2011
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The Pakistan Peoples Party government is facing pressure from all fronts. The core issue seems to be the Raymond Davis case and the pressure from the US to release him on diplomatic grounds, paired with the pressure from the local media and a large segment of society that he should pay for his actions.

But another thing the PPP is facing is embarrassment.

The cause of this embarrassment is a seeming lack of ability to control what some call ‘loose cannons’ or are they simply people who have an opinion of their own – an opinion that does not necessarily toe the party line. Another reason the party is facing embarrassment is the senior party members’  inability to maintain party discipline.

Take the example of former information secretary of the party Fauzia Wahab who resigned from her party position after making controversial statements about the Raymond Davis case.

Presidential spokesperson Farhatullah Babar told the media that when Wahab said Raymond Davis was a diplomat and that he enjoyed immunity she was only stating her personal opinion, not that of the party or the president.

This is not the first time that the PPP has distanced itself from one of its members. Earlier this year Sherry Rehman submitted a bill about amending the Blasphemy Laws which the party later said she submitted in a private capacity. The latest case of the party cutting off one of its members is of former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi who recently held a press conference his own.

It seems that the PPP starts to implode when faced with tough choices and is unable to handle members who disagree with the top command. This was also reflected in the recent falling from grace of Sindh MPA Nabeel Gabol.

The party then goes into damage control mode and that is exactly what happened after Wahab’s statements as well. The PPP Core Committee issued a notification putting a gag order on its ministers and advisers and other officials. Only relevant people were now allowed to comment on the Raymond Davis case.

Shouldn’t that have been understood and something that was obvious to “senior” party leadership?

Apparently not.

Maybe that is why Fauzia Wahab felt it was her job as party information secretary to talk about the Raymond Davis case when we had the Foreign Office, the Foreign Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the President’s spokesperson and the Prime Minister’s secretariat to issue statements, which I think this was quite sufficient.

With all these official avenues available there should have been no need for Wahab to come out and state the party position (or what she thought was the party position was).

Fauzia Wahab has now ‘resigned’ from her position as information secretary but was the move just a last ditch effort to avoid further embarrassment for the party? Perhaps the reason she had to take this fall was not because of what she said – after all Interior Minister Rehman Malik said pretty much the same thing – but shady power politics.

If Firdaus Ashiq Awan has retained party favour, and Salmaan Taseer never bit the dust for saying anything and everything about anything and everything, what did Fauzia Wahab do that was so wrong?

I hope I am not the next one that gets fired for having an opinion!

khurran.baig

Khurram Baig

Business Editor at The Express Tribune. Baig has worked at Dawn News as a host and news anchor and was city editor at The News. He writes on sports and current affairs.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.