Memo mayhem and manipulating mercenaries are mercilessly mauling a meek government and a once malleable and now missing president. The mercurial nature of Pakistan’s mostly messy and often medieval Machiavellian politics is once again on full display, presenting mere mortals with a set of unenviable choices to choose from.
In this side of the ring is the financially-compromised, competency-challenged, rapacious, weak and lying government. Facing it is the all-powerful, omnipotent, snaring and hissing Establishment. In the middle is the sleazy, devious and probably wired Pakistan-American operator with an ego the size of Minnesota. The referee is brandishing a lethal gavel which resembles Thor’s hammer. Let the games begin.
Tomorrow all gather in the capital’s Colosseum to plead the lost innocence they never had. The Wise Men will sit in judgement on the memo and perhaps on the future of the republic too. But something funny is happening. The hearings, already begun in the court of public opinion, have turned into a trial and the trial has turned into a circus.
M for Mayhem? Consider this: M is for the Mystery why all the statements submitted to the Supreme Court (SC) are out there in the public arena to debate, discuss and dissect. Mansoor Ijaz’s 81-page submission was circulated within hours of being received. The much-awaited responses from the government, COAS and DG ISI were splashed across screens moments after they were handed over to the registrar. Then James Jones’ sworn statement was promptly released to the media by Husain Haqaani’s lawyers. Now everyone can compare, contrast and make his own judgement. Who needs the CJ when I can be my own CJ?
M is for the Military which doesn’t even pretend to go along with the government version. The COAS may spend three hours with the PM, closeted in a one-on-one meeting, and the government may issue conciliatory sounding statements after the Kayani-Gilani huddle, but this doesn’t wash the ink off the military statement to the SC. In fact, it’s rather interesting to compare and contrast the statements of the COAS and the DG ISI. While the former has taken refuge in bland language and non-committal positioning, the latter makes it clear the memo is a real deal and SC should demand forensic examination of computers and BlackBerrys.
M is for the Methodology of submissions to the SC. There was breathless anticipation about how the government and the military would approach the court. If the military decided to send its statements directly to the court through its JAG Branch, would it mean it was differing with the government’s version? As it so happened, the pundits were yet again trumped by the military. The GHQ killed two birds with one stone. It sent its reply through the attorney general, but still took a completely different position than the government. Here’s another puzzler: COAS’ statement is signed by a brigadier of the JAG Branch. The DG ISI’s statement is personally submitted, signed “A.S. Pasha”.
M is for the Maddening machinations of the Monaco-based Mansoor Ijaz and how he has got the politics of Pakistan spinning around his manipulative fingers. His meticulously-timed morsels of information for the media ensure the plot continues to thicken with every twist and turn. The one-man PR machine that he is, Mansoor has now fired off a rejoinder to his friend James Jones’ testimony, thereby ensuring that the former NSA’s attempt to puncture his narrative is called to question.
M is for the Media and its undisguised glee at playing the role of judge, jury and executioner. From chronicler to conspirator, the media is driving, defining and even destablising the volatile situation as it unfolds moment-by-moment. Now media mandarins will also appear in court to testify if the petition by the PML-N’s Ishaq Dar and Khawaja Asif is admitted for hearing. A Mansoor-Media-Military conspiracy? The government would gladly agree.
M is for March and the Senate elections due that month. The oracle of our times, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, is peddling the theory that March is when all the mayhem will reach a conclusion. The Ides of March threaten the government, he says, because the government will ultimately step on to the memo minefield and be blown to smithereens. March, however, is still a long way off. Tomorrow is not.
So M is for Monday when the morbid, the macabre and the malicious meet to mull the matter of the memo.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 18th, 2011.