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Has the tide turned?

Has the tide turned?
View from the gallery
Amir Mateen
Wednesday, September 03, 201


ISLAMABAD: It was obvious from the word go: the tide had turned against those who wanted to have Nawaz Sharif forcibly resign from the Premiership if the National Assembly’s dissolution or martial Law was not possible.


Democracy seemed to have bounced back through the ruptured walls of Parliament as those insinuating khaki role in the agitation were suddenly on the back foot. Javed Hashmi’s disclosures gave more credence to the theories that Imran Khan was relying on the much talked about Umpire. Call them what you may - bluffers, elements linked with the khakis or a quartet about to be retired. The attack on PTV headquarters turned out to be the tipping point, as if the attempt on the PM House and the sacrilege of the Parliament were lesser affronts. Parliamentarians openly questioned why were agitators allowed to regroup on Sunday night to attack the PTV building the next morning. Maulana Fazlur Rehman went on to ask why PTI/PAT assailants were not arrested by the khakis when they found them involved in sabotage. The anger was palpable.


It was not a question of if but when, and how, the agitators camped outside would be removed. Good that Parliament was not in a rush to pass just another meaningless resolution. The issue was being seen in a broader context of why it came down to that: was it the PML (N) government’s fault that did not fix the problem in the nick of time or was it the nonchalant attitude of the Prime Minister who did not care to attend the Senate for 14 months and ignored the lower house until the demons came for his neck? Was it an international conspiracy to stop us from our $35 billion worth leap toward China and was it actually a result of possibly rigged elections?


The large-scale public clamour, even if it was partially manipulated, seemed to have jolted Parliament. The much-needed introspection even touched deeper concerns about economic disparity: why the PML (N), which has been in power in Punjab and Islamabad for decades, has not been able to deliver on governance; why were the politicians as a class unable to address the basic public issues of health, food and education? Credit had to be given to the rogues outside for triggering some anti-status quo thinking in what remains the biggest status quo monopoly gathered in the august house. But then Aitezaz Ahsan was at his sarcastic best when he laughed about the revolutionaries camped outside: “Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri have the very people standing on their left and right against whom revolution is required.” Was he talking about Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Jahangir Tareen, Khurshid Kasuri, Pervaiz Elahi or Sheikh Rasheed, quipped a colleague? Perhaps J Salik and D J Butt.


Whatever the case, the opposition would not let Nawaz Sharif have a feeling of victory. The Prime Minister had to virtually undergo a course-correction training programme through one barb followed by another. It was much needed, as Nawaz never attended Parliament for a good 14 years, even if we take 1999 as the cut-off date, which brought down the heavy mandate largely because of the similar attitude.


Obviously, Aitezaz Ahsan loved being in the much-cherished lower house than sitting among mostly senile senators. He ensured that Nawaz Sharif should know that the PPP was supporting him more out of their love for Parliament than the shenanigans of Shahbaz Sharif “who continues to run Punjab with a ruthless attitude.”


MQM walked on a tighter rope balancing between Qadri the friend and Imran the enemy - not to forget the establishment and the PML (N) which continues to retain its Sindh Governor. But Khalid Maqbool had a point when he said what if the MQM had asked for civil disobedience and non-payment of taxes. “We would have been immediately dubbed as Raw agents,” he said aptly. “You use rubber bullets when it comes to Punjabis and the actual ones against MQM.”


Fazlur Rehman was not far behind in asking that if Sufi Mohammad could be tried for treason what was different about the PAT and PTI rogues. The Maulana wanted at least three PTI scalps by accepting the resignations of those who delivered them personally. This prompted a few shouts accusing a female PTI member of using foul language in the Speaker’s chambers. But saner elements prevailed, as the general mood was to bring back the PTI, though everybody spat venom on Qadri.


The saner elements got strengthened when Javed Hashmi made his dramatic entry. But he disappointed those who thought that he would breath fire against Imran Khan and the PTI. The ‘baghi’ maintained good taste by confining himself to his differences with Imran Khan over his clear inclination towards depending on khaki shoulders. The crux was: Imran Khan was as much a victim of sycophancy as Nawaz Sharif. “They think they are gods when they have power,” said the baghi as Nawaz was seen squirming on his seat. Hashmi went on to announce his resignation. This created quite a stir. Even the Prime Minister went over to him to cajole him - and perhaps to refute Hashmi’s accusation that Nawaz too was a “stone-hearted brute.”


Will Hashmi take back his resignation? Perhaps not, as it there was a big possibility that he would return to the House as an independent. It would be difficult for the PML (N) to oppose the ‘baghi’ who opted out in the name of principles that saved them. Hashmi left the House as a hero confirming that peace was being ruptured in the name of peace and the Constitution was being violated in the name of preserving the Constitution.


Obviously, the Model Town massacre created all the mess. The PML (N) found its hands tied while the rogues had fun burning half of the Red zone. Nawaz Sharif now needed Parliament’s help to untie the knot. The question is: will there be any more cost that Nawaz Sharif will need to make? And here I am not talking about Shahbaz Sharif’s scalp. Whatever the cost, everybody will emerge as a victor if Parliament gets down to its actual business and Imran Khan could be brought back to the House. Whoever suggests the best remedy for Qadri will be my hero!


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