It was never about the New Hero.
He was just the pretty face that made the khakis palatable in the face of the newly empowered youth who were shaped post war on terror, post Benazir Bhutto assassination, post completion of a democratic term under the PPP and post APS. And these are just a few of the many traumas that the country has lurched from.
Sickened from the PPP-PML-Dictator merry go round, it was abundantly clear the people of Pakistan had had enough. Enter the country’s heartbeat, the hero of all heroes, this New Hero. The man, the messiah, a much more acceptable shade than khaki.
Catapulting him into the desi version of the game of thrones, it became apparent that they’d gotten it wrong so many times. Religious peddling ending gruesomely under Zia and enlightened moderation under Musharraf wasn’t as enlightened or moderate as planned.
Let this New Hero Play Nice with the Old Man who was riding on his wave of popularity, albeit from a distance, having ousted Musharraf. And why not? Keep the two occupied while we make hay!
Except New Hero didn’t quite turn out to be as savvy. The jewel that is Punjab saw a dismal appointment in the form of Buzdar, the Good Wife turned out to have Bad Friends and New Hero had a massive stubborn streak. Plus he had one too many tantrums on the streets and much too much of an attitude problem with his friends.
Never mind, never mind. Children can get away with a lot as long as the grades – votes in this case – kept coming in. As long as he made the khaki acceptable. The game was always to keep Old Man at bay, he was the real headache.
As long as New Hero kept Old Man on his toes, it was all very good. Just Play Nice, they kept telling him and the world – Punjab – is your oyster. We’ll handle everything for you, Play Nice.
But young ‘uns grow up. And when they do, ultimately when they do, they want to do Adult Things. Certainly the Good Wife with the Bad Friends did. And Playing Nice only works when one wins. Plus the Rule Book, tattered as it may be, still stood its ground like gold which didn’t quite let him win. And we all know gold is far more acceptable than khaki.
See that’s where it keeps going wrong. The merry go round was still the same, the players may have changed but the game was still the same. And slowly but surely, the New Hero had had enough. All that glittered was certainly gold but it wasn’t his. It was the Rule Book.
Keep Quiet, Play Nice. Play Nice, Keep Quiet. Lots of hay to be spun. Lots and Lots of it.
Old Man saw it all happening from a distance and saw the parenting falter when the New Hero bawled and howled at jalsa after jalsa. Inflicting wounds upon friends who advised him and coddled him, the playground wasn’t as much fun anymore.
And now when the Rule Book has hit hard, the New Hero’s friends long gone into the shadows to lick wounds, Old Man stands from afar, safe and sound in his knowledge that the New Hero was but a mere speck on the horizon.
From religion to enlightened moderation to New Hero. It’s all collapsed spectacularly. What now?
Unleash the Biggest and Baddest of all. It was never about the New Hero, anyway. Flicked, ousted, done and dusted.
The beef was always with the Old Man. And now we see it happen again. Unleash the Biggest and Baddest.
Maybe this time, that Rule Book which lays in tatters can actually be done away with. After all, plenty of hay to be spun.