Politics of bankruptcy | Pakistan Today

Politics of bankruptcy

  • Romance by the night, tantrums by the light

“The path of life is strewn with many perils and the folly of knowledge is one of the greatest dangers. Wisdom is a treacherous weapon, little master, for it is sundered from compassion. All too often the end of the journey gains more import than it should and the wise become blind to the road and the method of their passing.”

                                                                                                            Robin Jarvis: ‘Thomas’

The Multi-Party Conference (MPC), held on September 20 in Islamabad, brought together a variety of people, all smitten by the hate-Imran bug to intense degrees. Hidden behind the facade of congeniality were sharp differences with regard to both the objectives of the huddle and the methods for achieving them.

On the one extreme was Fazl-ur-Rehman insisting on the need for tendering resignations from the assemblies and dissolving the Sindh Assembly, thus building pressure on the government to hold fresh elections. The two mainstream political parties, the PML(N) and the PPP, would have none of that, and were instead advocating a more pragmatic way to move forward. Notwithstanding the demands outlined in the final declaration, the conference decidedly reflected the absolute bankruptcy of the opposition politics. Whatever they included in the resolution issued at the conclusion of the MPC gave one an impression that most of them may have lost their memory. Asif Zardari is on record for having claimed suffering from dementia to escape punishment. The rest may also have been infected with the ailment.

One thing is now established beyond a shadow of doubt that convict-absconder Nawaz Sharif was never as sick as he and his cohorts made it look to be. True to the (lack of) character that he has demonstrated throughout his political career, he used all his resources and trickery to escape the dragnet of justice. Whether the government is able to bring him back to face the law remains a matter of conjecture. But, since he is an established convict, and the court has also declared him an absconder, the UK government would be under immense pressure not to deal with him the way they dealt with the likes of Altaf Hussain and his terrorist gang

According to convict-absconder Nawaz Sharif, elections have always been rigged in the country. His outpourings were a scathing and venomous criticism of the military, holding the institution responsible for just about every ill which has ever struck the country. If I may ask, where does this convict-absconder come from? Who made him the finance minister of Punjab in 1982, chief minister of Punjab in 1985 and 1988, and then prime minister of the country on three separate occasions? Has he forgotten his mentors and benefactors, Generals Jilani and Zia ul Haq, potty-training him through various stages of assimilating the vile tricks of the trade which he later practised to their damndest worst?

Next he blamed the judiciary. He should because he is used to working with judges who take dictation over the phone. He always manoeuvred to purchase their loyalty by sending cash-filled briefcases their way so that they could then be used to subdue the judiciary. Any remnants of resistance were dealt with by assaulting the institution into submission. The frustration that he is not able to do so any longer may have prompted him to issue the indictment.

Then he dubbed NAB as ‘stink’ and asked for its abolition. Lest he forget, it is the same NAB that, during his tenure as prime minister, he used treacherously against his political opponents, including the party that hosted the MPC. He lives by employing inconceivable criminal tactics when he is in power only to accuse others of transgressions when he is out.

There were three different groups that emerged from the MPC. The first is the desperate one, insisting on burning the boats. This group is led by Fazl-ur-Rehman who has the least stakes in the sitting assemblies. Then is the group of convict-absconder Nawaz Sharif who knows that his days in politics may be over, but cannot overcome the hallucinations of his grandiose days of power. The pragmatic group is led by the Zardari clan. Though critical, its stalwarts managed to couch their comments, Machiavellian-style, in language that will be readily retracted. Together, the three groups made a madding crowd of sorts.

But there is a cardinal ailment that binds them together: the ailment of hypocrisy. Just a few days before the holding of the MPC, some leaders of political parties had met the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) to discuss various matters with him, political and others. The DG ISI was also present in the meeting. Shahbaz Sharif, Khawaja Asif and Ahsan Iqbal were there from the PML(N) side. Fazl-ur-Rehman’s son represented him. Sheikh Rashid was there, as was Bilawal Zardari with a couple of hangers-on. They were given a briefing by the COAS about the delicate security situation and the challenges Pakistan was facing. Gilgit-Baltistan’s future was also discussed in terms of its incorporation as a separate province of Pakistan. When the matter regarding the legitimacy of elections was raised, Fazl-ur-Rehman’s son was told to ask his father why he had sought votes from the same assemblies as a candidate for the office of the President.

The message from the military was clear and candid: “don’t drag us into politics”. The military will follow the elected government’s orders and had nothing to do with institutions like the NAB and the Election Commission. Electoral reforms and other legislation fell within the domain of the elected government and the military would not interfere in these matters.

Less than a week after this meeting with the Army Chief in the thick of the night, the parties of the opposition went on a confrontation course, blaming the military for protecting the existent government and for virtually all that is wrong with this country. What would you call this attitude: romance by the night, tantrums by the light? Quite earnestly, it is this character which has brought the country to its current sorry state. Let me repeat what I wrote a couple of weeks ago: “if an opportunity were offered to any of these political leaders even now to ascend the citadel of power for a price, they would kowtow to lick their (military’s) feet to grab it. The ‘khalai makhlooq’ would instantly transform into the new-found benefactors”.

It has now emerged that some other members of the PML(N) have also been meeting the military high command to secure reprieve for convict-absconder Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Safdar. When the PML(N) went into a denial mode, the military spokesperson, in a television interaction, personally confirmed two such meetings that Mohammad Zubair had with the COAS in the recent past. Sheikh Rashid has claimed that Bilawal Zardari and Fazl-ur-Rehman also had one-on-ones with the COAS.

Even graver than the politics of bankruptcy is the bankruptcy of ethics and morality that all parties of the recently-launched Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) are afflicted with. This, in fact, defines their brand of politics which is singularly focused on saving their illicit billions stashed here and in foreign lands which the government is determined to retrieve for the state. This is why there can be no compromise with the opposition and all their overtures to the government in this context have been rejected. The current desperation is indicative of their failure in nudging the Prime Minister to strike an ill-intentioned compromise.

One thing is now established beyond a shadow of doubt that convict-absconder Nawaz Sharif was never as sick as he and his cohorts made it look to be. True to the (lack of) character that he has demonstrated throughout his political career, he used all his resources and trickery to escape the dragnet of justice. Whether the government is able to bring him back to face the law remains a matter of conjecture. But, since he is an established convict, and the court has also declared him an absconder, the UK government would be under immense pressure not to deal with him the way they dealt with the likes of Altaf Hussain and his terrorist gang.

The writer is a political analyst and the Executive Director of the Regional Peace Institute. He can be reached at: [email protected]; Twitter: @RaoofHasan.



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