ne can say that the PPP government reached its nadir of stability last week. Nawaz Sharif declared he will put on the warpaint and possibly hit the road, although it could just mean another party rally where he would give vent to his by-now rather tired spleen for the benefit of his nest of hawks in the party. But the message was taken seriously by the PPP. It patched up post-haste with MQM in Karachi amid scenes scarcely credible in honest politics.
No one is ethically immaculate. The MQM got a better deal possibly over the dead body of ANP but whatever it got it must be considerable for Altaf Hussain in London to wax eulogistic on Qaim Ali Shah’s leadership in Sindh. Stormy petrel Zulfiqar Mirza flailed about the air once again; this time not against MQM but against PMLN which was making ready to kick the PPP out of its most abusive partnership in the Punjab coalition.
Zardari at the centre is obviously bothered by a real prospect of getting his party ousted from government through a no-confidence vote in parliament. He saw the opening when Nawaz Sharif, instead of exploiting the PPP-MQM split over target-killings – during which Altaf Hussain threatened a strange mix of French Revolution and a Paki-style coup d’état against the PPP – attacked Altaf Hussain, causing a most lurid moment of personal defamation among hawks on both sides, mostly centred on accusations of lack of proper male sexuality of both leaderships.
Was Nawaz secretly reluctant to sink the boat and was playing to the gallery of his mostly unimpressive but abusive hawks led by Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan? No one can tell. His style remains gauche and strangely clipped. No one can predict whether he will go for a Long March or simply wait out the days between now and the next regular national election. The great riddle is why then is he cutting the ground from under own his feet? His relative Ishaq Dar must have told him that by opposing the RGST and oil price adjustment the PMLN could bring down the government. But why should he have not told him that by doing so the country will sink deeper into a hole that Nawaz Sharif could never claw out of after winning in 2013?
One can never understand why the politicians keep congratulating themselves while standing on the deck of the same sinking ship. Zardari was crucified by the circular debt that the subsidy of Musharraf bequeathed him; another mountain of debt left behind by Zardari will disembowel Nawaz Sharif. Nawaz Sharif’s rightwing instincts are not expected to bail him out either. The Saudis may not cough up the kind of big money he will need; the Sipah Sahaba may not be able to persuade Al Qaeda to bless Nawaz Sharif and leave him alone; and the world and expat Muslims may equally find his comeback distasteful.
(20 Feb 2011) Ardeshir Cowasjee wrote: ‘Under the watch of our man now in Washington (his flaws and faults notwithstanding) Pakistan has secured from the US, for the first time, a multi-year commitment for massive civilian assistance a total of $7.5bn over five years. For those who think US aid is paltry, they must remember what happened when Nawaz Sharif, inspired by the
champions, declared that Pakistan could live without aid by raising funds from Pakistanis. The
Qarz Utaro, Mulk Sanwaro
campaign resulted in raising a mere $167m against an outstanding debt at the time of $58 billion’.
The media is going crazy accusing liberals of being fascists and attributing terrorist attacks to the US even when they are clearly carried out by the Taliban. There was such a crescendo of this kind of thinking among frothing TV anchors that the Taliban, sick of being called instruments of America’s anti-Muslim policy, decided to kill Col Imam to teach Pakistan a lesson. Col Imam was a semi-literate ISI officer who never tired of supporting the Taliban; the other ISI officer who was killed earlier was a pro-Taliban officer with added allegiance to Al Qaeda. The TV anchors should be careful linking the Taliban to the Americans and Indians. Hakimullah doesn’t like it!
The PPP is a species behaving funny when threatened with annihilation. The twitch it has developed is not new: it is that of corruption. If the world was expected to sympathise with it because of its ‘normal’ attitudes in foreign policy in general and in South Asia in particular, the cases of corruption revealed against its members on a daily basis have put it off. On the other hand, if the world was exhilarated by the activism of the Supreme Court, it is now beginning to be scared of it because of its single-minded harassment of the PPP and its dabbling in the economy, armed with archaic views on how it should be run. Even the winners are behaving abnormally!
Pakistan has always been politically unstable after democracy returns to it. Elections when fair always destabilise it whereas fixed ones stabilise dictators and help the national economic go belly-down for a while. The country is bankrupt and has decided to defy the IMF after accepting to go into its oxygen tent. It is being tormented by a clergy that interfaces with the terrorists and their patently unreliable appeals to Islam. Anyone who can get his money out is doing so and buying houses in London and in the US while baying for the blood of CIA agent Raymond Davis. And that includes some of our very popular TV anchors.
Just before the latest volte-face of the MQM, political bedfellows were maddeningly promiscuous in their cohabitation. The PPP allies had deserted and its majority in parliament was gone. The deserters were talking to people they were not wont to talk to in the past, which looked like orchestration by evil spirits. MQM was talking to Jamaat-e-Islami; it was also talking to PML of Pir Pagaro. JUIF and MQM were talking to PMLQ to hear Chaudhry Shujaat say he will not throw a lifeline to Gilani. The trend towards toppling was so strong the PMLN may have had to reconsider not toppling. Nawaz Sharif had rebuffed two moves in the past; also a move by Pir Pagaro to unite the myriad Muslim Leagues to bring about change of government.
The ‘naraaz’ (alienated) PPP faction has been swelled by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi who got carried away doing his job as the foreign minister of a poor, deeply indebted and internally endangered state, and started striking Metternichian poses with big-power players after getting hopelessly stuck on Raymond Davis. He used words like ‘qaumi viqar’ and ‘zameer’ talking to mediamen already fed fat on dozes of ‘ghairat’. Behind his back, the national economy went on being completely ‘bay-ghairat’, which is something that the Supreme Court too must take cognizance of.