Will the furies have no mercy on the champions of doom and gloom in the country? Will the national addiction to drama – the Republic’s poison of choice – be allowed to go cold turkey? For the memo affair was to be the stuff of national tumult, upheaval and inter-institutional crisis. It was supposed to topple the government or, at the very least, rid it of several apex members.
Nothing of the sort happened. Not even remotely.
The opera, say the Americans, isn’t over till the fat lady sings. True, no one says never in our neck of the woods. But Hussain Haqqani, the principal accused in the memo scandal, has been allowed to leave the country conditionally. As milestones within the crisis go, this is a pretty big one.
A look back at the crisis would do everybody a whole lot of good. It all started when Imran Khan revealed the exchange between Hussain Haqqani and US national Mansoor Ijaz at his rally in Lahore. Parenthetically: when PTI leaders were subsequently asked on TV how Mr Khan was privy to such information, there was much nervous sputtering, never a straight answer.
Public discourse, by then ripe with allegations of high treason (to the uninitiated: the heads of state and government conspiring against the military), the PML(N) decided to milk some political mileage out of the situation and decided to file a petition in the Supreme Court on the issue. In the process, the League also jettisoned a significant chunk of the democratic credentials that it had acquired.
This was followed by the premier’s candour to a Chinese daily about his views on the army chief and his spymaster’s direct correspondence with the SC. All that led to a staring match, with the ISPR running a press release of its own, contradicting the chief executive.
The first sign that the episode showed of fizzling out was Mansoor Ijaz’s refusal to come to Pakistan to testify in the court. This was despite his being given assurances of safety from various players within the entire circus. And now, former ambassador Haqqani has also been given time out to meet his family.
It appears that both sides have decided to let things be; the premier’s taking back (sort of) his statement about the COAS is indicative of that. Both sides, it has to be mentioned, have drawn blood. The military lost its defence secretary; the government, its tireless ambassador in the US.
The whole episode is a profile in the media’s perpetual quest for an issue and the efficiency of the powers that be to create one.