Method in the Madness | Pakistan Today

Method in the Madness

Like Nawaz Sharif, system too is getting a rope long enough to hang itself

I was sitting at my desk twiddling my thumbs wondering what to write given the utter confusion that has overtaken us with something new happening worldwide at least twice a day, when I heard an odd chattering coming from my roof. I wondered whether it was Nawaz Sharif’s alien beings coming to visit. So I went up to find out and found a parliament of monkeys sitting there chattering away. I hoped that my friend Maverick the Monkey, Commander of the Monkey Brigade of the E-7 jungle was there, for he had not visited for some time to impart his wisdom. I looked hard and there he was.

“Maverick,” I shouted, “where in blazes have you been?” He looked up and replied, “I was on holiday. I’m back now and thought we would all come to your house since parliament has been dissolved and all these former parliamentarians were making a nuisance of themselves. First they would only make a nuisance of themselves in the National Assembly; now they are making a nuisance of themselves in the jungle
and destroying its social equilibrium, so I brought them here. But don’t worry; we know how to deal with them. We have clear laws.”

“But how are you old chap?” asked Maverick. “You look worried, confused”

Call it historical forces if you like that you have talked about for long — are making conditions ripe for an intervention by the most powerful force and people will be so fed up and concerned that they would welcome it.

“Worried and confused is right. I look confused because I am worried. I think a suicidal madness has descended upon us. We are caught betwixt a rock and a hard place. Hold elections on the given date for which we don’t seem to be ready and it could lead to chaos. That’s the rock. Delay them and it could lead to anarchy. That’s the hard place. What is going to happen?”

“There is a method in this madness, Humayun. I’m surprised you don’t see it. You should be happy because what you have wanted for years is happening: the self-destruction of the system.”

“Enlighten me, Maverick old friend. What is the method?

“Okay. Listen carefully and you will wonder why something so obvious as this didn’t occur to you.”

“Yes. There is indeed a method in this madness. Natural societal and political evolution — call it historical forces if you like that you have talked about for long — are making conditions ripe for an intervention by the most powerful force and people will be so fed up and concerned that they would welcome it. So would the international community because:

1.      “Who wants to deal with the regional fallout caused by chaos in Pakistan with no powerful force at the helm to handle it?

2.      “Pakistan has a pivotal geo-strategic location and chaos will make peace in Afghanistan impossible. A confused America has recently again realized that for successful talks with the Afghan Taliban Pakistan
has a vital role to play.

3.      “Pakistan’s massive nuclear arsenal could fall into the hands of some idiots. Even an ‘elected’ government would be a desperate government given that economic failure is round the corner, so it could do something silly, like selling nuclear weapons and/or technology on the quiet, as was tried in the Nineties with Iran and Libya. No way Jose.

4.      “Playing a vital role in Afghan peace would firstly help to buy us a reprieve from our debt servicing so the immediate crisis will be averted for a time and, secondly, it would reduce India’s growing influence on our western border.

“Let natural evolution do its bit and things could get so bad that any intervention would be welcomed domestically and internationally. This is just what happened in Thailand and Egypt and nary a squeak about ‘democracy’.”

“On the face of it, Maverick, your theory makes sense. And by the most powerful force you mean the army?”

“Yes, but not necessarily,” said Maverick confusingly. “There’s another armed force, the extremists. Luckily the extremists are a polyglot, not a monolith. The danger then is that the various terrorist groups could parcel Pakistan out into their own areas of influence, a sort of confederation, but that is not easy in such a huge country. It will add massively to the anarchy. But it could happen if the army continues to contemplate its navel. They are contemplating their navel because they don’t seem to have the stomach to intervene, but their ultimate oath is to save Pakistan, come what may, and the tipping point, when reached, could leave them no option. But if they are not prepared and don’t have a plan about what to do, the confusion could get worse compounded. So waiting for the present system to collapse is all very well, but what comes in its place that has legitimacy is another matter. So we are in a very difficult situation.”

“Maverick, my friend, you have been very helpful but also left me in greater confusion. Do we have to wait for a Black Swan event to get things moving? Another serious conventional skirmish with India perhaps? Will we than have the government to handle the situation? Will we be burdened with another Nawaz Sharif to scurry to Washington to fall at the feet of the U.S. president? I hope not. The air is pregnant will all sorts of possibilities and we have no idea what’s in the womb of historical forces. God help us, but God may be getting fed up by now.

Humayun Gauhar

Humayun Gauhar is a veteran columnist in Pakistan and editor of Blue Chip magazine.