Disregarding the size and color they reflect on political spectrum, all our politicians who have any stake in power games instinctively knew that they could just not block the Nato supplies.
These supplies were to be restored, one way or the other. For appearance’s sake, however, the state of Pakistan needed to generate the feel as if it negotiated a ‘new deal’ before restoring them. The street-smart government of Zardari-Gilani duo shrewdly dodged the responsibility of taking the final decision in this regard.
It suddenly discovered that the sole strength of its legitimacy was the ‘sovereign parliament of Pakistan.’ In all humility, the government then approached an all-party committee headed by Senator Raza Rabbani to guide it on the question.
For around four months, the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) diligently pondered over the question of whether or not to restore the Nato supplies. Finally, on March 20, 2012, it produced a neither-here-nor-there sort of document that appeared facilitating the government to restore the strategic dealings with the US and its strategic allies.
Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the PML-N nominated opposition leader in the national assembly, surprised every one by almost rejecting the PCNS document, when Rabbani finished the laborious reading of its 8 pages on March 8.
Doing so, he conveniently forgot that a trusted aide of Nawaz Sharif, Senator Ishaq Dar, had been hyperactive in all proceedings and deliberations of the PCNS. He played the spoiler and the game he had initiated compelled Maulana Fazlur Rehman as well to viciously play some hawkish cards of his own.
After all, he represents a constituency that already appears to be increasingly slipping from under his grip, thanks to ganging up of hardened anti-American mullahs in a recently-established Difa-e-Pakistan Council.
The rhetorical show that the PML-N and the JUI-F had been sustaining for more than three weeks eventually forced the Zardari-Gilani government to fly ‘solo.’ It started dropping heavy hints that it had suffered enough of “parliamentary sovereignty.” President Zardari opted to act in the said context and Tuesday night, called leaders of all the allied parties to his office.
He clearly told them that on Thursday parliament should adopt whatever the PCNS presented as its final document, “come what may”. Raza Rabbani asked for a last chance for reaching a consensus, however, and he was not that wrong. His long wait and humble handling paid off.
Realising that Pakistan’s parliament was acting hard to get, the US ambassador in Pakistan also felt the need to employ some diplomatic charms and persuasive arguments. He had lengthy meetings with Nawaz Sharif and Fazlur Rehman. We would never know what was really discussed in these meetings; perhaps we should wait for a new edition of the future Wikileaks to find out the truth. But the impact of these meeting was somewhat visible on Thursday when the PCNS assembled at 11 am to get a ‘consensus document.’ The committee met until 7 pm, with a two-hour break in the name of getting in-house consensus of the concerned parties. At least on three occasions, some weighty members of the PCNS were seen slipping out of the committee meetings to make frantic calls to Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif. So many hours were consumed, not to write a document that should assert our ‘inviolable sovereignty and national honor.’
Almost each member of the PCNS was rather taxing his brains like an old professor of linguistics. They needed suitably deceptive words for a document that should look as if prepared with consensus and defending national honor while facilitating the government to move on with restoration of dealings with the US and its Nato allies.
I am not qualified to dissect the document that Raza Rabbani started reading after forcing us to wait for three hours in the press gallery and parliamentary lobbies. Yet, a quick glance of it compels me to state without any fear of contradiction that our too sovereign parliament, on Thursday, had finally discovered that it could not work for ‘the executive.’ There are decisions that only an elected government should take. Supplies to foreign troops via Pakistani routes can now be restored any day of the next week.
Don’t ask me about the drone attacks. The lesser said, the better, on this count. For the moment relish the sadistic pleasure of watching our politicians getting away with playing deeply dubious games.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 13th, 2012.
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