Shame on us

Published: January 14, 2012

The writer is executive director special projects at ARY News and was previously director news at Dunya TV (2010-11) and Express News (2006-2010). He can be reached on Twitter @fahdhusain

Generally speaking, there exists a general consensus that generals should confine themselves to the General Headquarters. So far, they have done exactly this — kind of — to the general relief of most and sundry.

But are the janissaries of the Triple One off “internal security” for good? Generalisations about the intent of generals are generally a bad idea in Pakistan. This explains why the resolution moved in the parliament by the government is general enough in wordings so as not to mention the generals. Practical political wisdom still prevails among the politicians. But is the ebb and flow of time altering the contours of this wisdom? Are the politicians getting better at handling the generals? Is there a new appreciation for the limitations of power that each institution and office commands?

Manic Monday may provide a sneak peak at what’s cooking in the country. Yes, Monday, the 16th of January 2012 AD may be remembered in infamy. Not because political heavens will be torn asunder, but because a simultaneous play of events will pit power players against each other in hallowed forums.

At the Supreme Court, the larger bench kicks off hearings on the NRO in the smouldering backdrop of the six options presented by the previous bench. A short distance away, the Memo Commission will move into higher gear with its hearings, while Mansoor Ijaz keeps his travel plans under wraps. Nearby, parliament will convene to discuss, deliberate and debate the government resolution, and possibly vote on it. None of these three events will throw up any final conclusions on this Manic Monday, but what they will do is expose the emerging fault-lines within Pakistan’s power structure.

Who dares wins?

Winning entails someone losing, which makes it a zero sum game. At this critical juncture, a zero-sum game amongst Pakistani power players is the last thing the doctor would order. The alternative is a compromise — howsoever uneasy and temporary — which allows the players to step back from the brink and survey their losses. The most likely compromise may be this:

One, memogate loses steam as Mansoor Ijaz is unable to come to Pakistan due to “security reasons” and the judges disallow video testimony. Husain Haqqani ends up being the sole casualty. Two, the government writes a harmless and diluted letter to the Swiss government which is full of form and devoid of substance. Three, the opposition agrees to let the Senate elections be held peacefully in return for government announcing a schedule for general elections immediately after the Senate polls. Four, the DG ISI walks off into the sunset when his term of office expires in March. Five, all power players live happily ever after, which means till the elections.

Bonus: all political parties agree on a caretaker setup, including the new prime minister and the role of the president.

Too good to be true? It probably is. In the absence of laid down rules of the game, each power player is jostling to get the best deal for himself while mouthing off principles of democratic co-existence. Truth is, none of the players smell of roses.

The government has proved it can’t govern. The judges have proved their judgements are selective. The generals have proved they still answer to no one but themselves. There is only one term to describe this situation: collective failure. A failure of the leadership to grow beyond its own personal, political and institutional interests is a failure which opens up the country to charges of being a failed state. Pakistan is not a failed state because Pakistanis are not a failed nation. The failure lies with the politician who is a prisoner of his own severe limitations. The failure is of the judge who is burdened with a messiah complex and who is unable to heal the personal injuries inflicted by a dictator. The failure is of the general who cannot change his world view despite knowing that the world itself has moved on from that view.

These power players are now locked in a mortal combat whose relevance does not go beyond their own restricted spheres. But its toxic fallout pollutes the whole nation, bringing the running of the state to a grinding halt. The world scoffs at us for a reason.

Shame on the world?

No. Shame on us.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 15th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • Seizure
    Jan 15, 2012 - 12:15AM

    1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, that’s exactly what’s going to happen on Manic Monday. Our ruling and opposition parties have been running on a ‘compromise and procrastinate’ policy. It would be foolish for these power hungry politicians to detrack from it just before the senate elections.
    Unfortunately, nothing will ever happen in the interest of the people.

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  • Javed Afridi
    Jan 15, 2012 - 1:12AM

    I would rather say ‘Shame on these players’, playing self-centered dirty games.

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  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Jan 15, 2012 - 1:23AM

    Excellent article, must read for all power brokers. .

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  • Falcon
    Jan 15, 2012 - 3:11AM

    Good article. Between the clash of so called political victims, messiahs, and powerful guards, there will be a lot of noise, but no casualties. It is not a good situation to be in, but on the flip side, coming out of it, a new power equilibrium will be established between institutions, which will be healthy in the long run.

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  • Zoaib
    Jan 15, 2012 - 4:29AM

    Good writing though I disagree with you about the judges. If there is any fault of theirs it is that they have applied way too much patience with regards to implementation of their orders.

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  • Jan 15, 2012 - 6:26AM

    @Seizure:
    dear Sir,
    analysis is excellant but results or consequences may need revisiting contemporary world. todays world we should redefine old jargons. especally in the context of civil military relations. now everyone who have some stakes in a state should be consulted to devise governing policies of that state. if you agree then change your stance. to me the major concerns are too much ideological dominance by orthodox right wingers withen ruling tricon. modern, progressive and liberals are missing thier representation at that level, the result is so obvious.please carry on your efferts becuase you are exceptional to that dominance;
    regards

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  • plaintalk
    Jan 15, 2012 - 8:15AM

    Best! But it may well be shame on the world, because we are beyond shame.

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  • Qasim
    Jan 15, 2012 - 12:17PM

    @Zoaib:
    Perhaps patience with PPP but TOTAL amnesty to Sharif brothers and company.

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  • Nasir
    Jan 15, 2012 - 12:43PM

    “Collective failure” is the term to describe the present situation. I agree.

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  • Usman
    Jan 15, 2012 - 4:18PM

    Agreed on all the pertinent points raised but we cannot absolve media on it’s role
    which it played in accentuating the problem on manic Monday

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  • jai zardari
    Jan 15, 2012 - 5:04PM

    a realistic analysis.the only problem is disproportionate blaming of government and only mild criticism of judiciary and army they are all to blame in equal measure

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  • florentine
    Jan 15, 2012 - 5:27PM

    great article…very well written and analysis is spot on

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  • Hasan Bin Hamza
    Jan 15, 2012 - 6:44PM

    Also …

    The failure is of the journalist … by allowing the politicians, generals and judges to use the media for their own specific agendas … instead of siding with the truth!

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