But how to make that smell go away?
Conventional wisdom says that if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, talks like a duck, one should go out on a limb and call it a duck. But we could hold out passing a judgment on the story that Reuters filed the other day about the military wanting the president out of the current dispensation, though without a coup. Immensely respected a news agency it might be, one not known to be lax with journalistic standards and protocols, it is still not above making a mistake or even having malafide intent. If the army denies it, who is to arbitrate on the matter?
The veracity of the story notwithstanding, it does represent the deep rooted malaise present in the republic at the moment. And the whole thing does sound familiar (the slew of “minus one” conjectures from 2008, anyone?)
The news item speaks of a “legal” way to oust the president. That would be a bit of a problem. Because even if they manage to stick something on to the president, there is the issue of his immunity, a bulwark that will come in handy even in case of an unsavoury verdict in the memo case. The only legal way of removal would be impeachment. That is not going to happen. True, the ruling coalition (specially the PML-Q and the MQM) are a jagged alliance, but the PPP legislators are more than one-third of the parliament even without the steadfast ANP.
The statements from both the military and judicial top slots rubbishing talk of a coup were in response to the premier’s uncharacteristically unrestrained outbursts from the day before. Both the institutions seem to have been caught off-guard by the nature of the language used.
It is unlikely the aforementioned responses are going to put anyone at ease in the government. Because they deny possibilities of coups and military rule. What are allegedly being contemplated here are not the garden-variety martial laws of yore but neither-fish-nor-fowl mutant models of government. A consensus government (an oxymoron if there ever was one) has always been a penchant of many. Many within the government fear that the powers that be are infatuated enough with the idea to take a crack at it.