The Supreme Court has found out that the voters’ list is crowded with erroneous and bogus entries, but that did not invalidate the overall results of elections held in February 2008; although holding of bye-elections on the basis of the same list was surely not justifiable.
If nothing else, the government should condone their holding by furnishing validation provided through a constitutional amendment.
The Zardari-Gilani government didn’t feel very upset with the decision. It was not wrong to presume that even without the support of the PML-N it had numbers to amend the Constitution.
Without any homework, though, it summoned the National Assembly in haste and only discovered during the past two days that its allies were playing hard to get. Little wonder – amending the Constitution was not put on the agenda of the sitting that was called for Wednesday evening.
Almost each political party that has representation in the Assembly had its nominees elected through bye-election. In the end, they will say yes to validating the amendment. On what cost, however, is yet to be seen.
Like it or not, while chasing numbers for the proposed amendment, the PPP-led coalition is again miserably dependent upon the whims of the MQM. The street-hardened leaders of this party want to couple the MQM’s support for the 20th amendment, with the presentation of another amendment that facilitates the creation of two new provinces.
The PPP is already too committed to create a separate unit for Seraiki speakers. It’s the demand for the Hazara province that exposes the government’s vulnerabilities. The Pashtun nationalists of the ANP are averse to the idea of carving out a new province from their territory. Their leader, Asfandyar Wali, was seen standing like a rock to protect the Zardari-Gilani government, when it appeared to be falling due to the sudden illness of Zardari along with Gilani’s problems with the praetorian elite.
Both Zardari and Gilani would hate to reach a point where the MQM and the ANP start confronting them with either/or questions. With the clear intent of preventing this dilemma of choice, the dovish messengers of Prime Minister Gilani are pampering the “sober and saner” top figures of the PML-N.
Nawaz Sharif prefers listening to some of them, somewhat sympathetically. Shahbaz Sharif is the problem and has been turning rather hawkish, almost obsessively, and yet no one in this government could build bridges to reach him.
We, thus, will have to endure more days of absolute limbo, when it comes to the question of passing the 20th amendment.
The political dire straits for this government appear doubly ominous if you consider another set of whispers that claims that somewhere in the middle of this month, “a bigger scandal than Memogate is about to explode”.
Despite trying very hard, yours truly failed to even gather some credible lead to the widely expected scandal. Like most of my colleagues, I have yet to find out as to how an evident showdown between Gilani and the praetorian elite was cooled down.
During the height of tensions between the two, I had it from highly reliable sources that Yousaf Raza Gilani cut a telephone call short with the Alpha General. All this happened when he had gone to inaugurate the Sports Channel of PTV. Gilani was doubly furious after noticing that minutes after his cutting the telephone call, news channels of the same “official TV” started running tickers that revealed details of an ISPR press release that warned of “grave consequences” over publication of some remarks which the prime minister had made to a Chinese newspaper.
Without the indulgence of some powerful mediators the possible showdown didn’t look avoidable. I have nothing on the presumed “mediators and guarantors”. I know for a fact, however, that a well connected real estate tycoon had confidently told two owner editors of an English daily and a privately run news agency that tensions between Gilani and the praetorian elite would defuse “on the 25th or 26th of January.”
And he said this precisely on the day Gilani had gone to the Supreme Court to appear for a notice of contempt.
While leaving the parliament house Wednesday evening, a news-hounding minister whispered in my ear before sitting in his car: “Try to find out what Shaukat Aziz (the former prime minister) did to soften Mansoor Ijaz.” I have been calling various numbers since. No luck, so far.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 2nd, 2012.