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Let us see who blinks first

Let us see who blinks first
View from the gallery
Amir Mateen
Wednesday, August 27, 2014


ISLAMABAD: The PML-N government was back to its trademark style of staying away from parliament. Why keep the National Assembly in session when none of the leading lights from the government could spare time to attend the proceedings.


It is left to us pen pushers to pass through the messy security checks with one eye towards the PAT hordes who tried to storm Parliament the other day. You never know that might be the ultimate goal by the time Tahirul Qadri’s deadline passes. The neighboring Supreme Court managed to get its entrance partially opened but nobody cares that the entry/exit gates of the Parliament House are still blocked by ‘non-violent’ PTI/PAT rogues. Neither the Parliament dared to push the ‘revolutionaries’ back nor the Supreme Court took notice of this gross sacrilege.


But then PML (N) bigwigs had more urgent things to attend, the biggest being the investigation report of the Model Town massacre. In a fit of fistful oratory, Sher-e-Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif had offered to resign if he was found guilty. Now Tahirul Qadri was asking for his scalp. This is perhaps the biggest test for Nawaz Sharif. Many thought this ‘small sacrifice’ before the ‘big sacrifice,’ as Sheikh Rasheed had predicted, might save the day for Nawaz Sharif. This might also wash away the dynastic mooring of the PML (N) besides boosting the ‘adle-Jahangiri’ image of Nawaz Sharif.


People forget that Nawaz Sharif was not comfortable to make Shahbaz Sharif Punjab Chief Minister in 1990 but had to bow down to his late father’s wish. The trend never stopped since then and the Sharif family is now increasingly criticised for running a family empire. Perhaps time is ripe for the correction.


The political crisis is hardly over and it will take a while before we assess the consequences PTI/PAT rallies. But some immediate impressions can be easily drawn. The biggest lesson is: the PML (N) government stands deeply shaken. People are vulnerable and want easy solutions to their daily issues. This is where the PAT and the PTI got the public attention, besides well-orchestrated game plan by dubious characters. It is not just about inflation, load-shedding but also the unjust system that favours the mighty and the powerful. The PML (N) can’t go on with its complacent attitude and the archaic ‘thana-katchehri’ patronage antics. It will have to launch massive administrative and judicial reforms, perhaps starting with the much-delayed local body polls.


Whether democracy got strengthened or weakened only time will tell. Of course, the Parliament created history by sticking together against one black sheep that wanted a regime change through foul means. But it were khakis who saved the Parliament from the PTI/PAT storming. The PTI has definitely weakened the political class, which will not be able to assert itself for some time.


Our pundits say the PTI still has time to conclude its Azaadi March on a positive note before its resignations are accepted in the National Assembly and its government gets possibly changed in the KP. Imran Khan shook a few power pillars but may have damaged his image irretrievably. He can’t become the Prime Minister by this bull-in-China-shop image. He can take the credit that he uses street gossip in the national discourse charging people in high offices without any substance. We should thank Ms Shireen Mazari for that.


PTI insiders say the real culprits are those who assured Imran Khan that they had Rawalpindi-wallas on their side. The most crucial moment was when Imran Khan broke his promise by entering the Red Zone. Chaudhary Nisar was all set to fall in the trap by resisting the mob with power. It was Nawaz Sharif’s sagaciousness that saved the day, and perhaps his government. Any large-scale violence might have given the excuse for the adventurers to move in.


Imran has still not given up the hope. He has been naming names of serving khakis openly who should be called and checked why they were not intervening. The PTI lives in two different worlds. There is a world inside the container where Imran keeps pressing that the ‘change’ is around the corner; everything has been settled; Nawaz Sharif is on his way out; the PML (N) is crumbling out. The skipper keeps showing trailers of the inside movie from the container rooftop. He seems to have become hostage to his own propaganda, largely fed by a Saraiki non-elected advisor and Sheikh Rasheed. Funny that the Sheikh is now talking about the in-house change, as if they have any ally left in the National Assembly!


The outside world may have a changed a lot. Imran’s young fans remain enthusiastic but the saner world needs substantive alternative solutions. It is all about his ego now. Otherwise, what is the logic of having a PML (N) Prime Minister other than Nawaz Sharif. As if the new PM will do anything different from Nawaz. Why can’t Imran spell out the reservations what the government will do to manipulate investigation of polls rigging? The law of diminishing returns seems to be at work. Old-timers are convinced that it is all going downhill for the PTI if Imran fails to take a safe exit - and soon.


But it will also depend on what lessons the PML (N) government will draw out of it. There is a divided view on PML (N) rallies. Some thought this was a deterrence to show the PTI - and Pindi-wallas - what might happen if Nawaz Sharif is thrown out. Others fear that this could lead to some confrontation. This might be exactly what the dubious lot is looking for. But right now it is all about the scalp of re-born Habib Jalib. Hum daikhain gae!

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