Tails we win, heads you lose

Published: April 27, 2012

The writer is editor of The Express Tribune Magazine zarrar.khuhro@tribune.com.pk

Corporal punishment is frowned upon in my household. So, when we want to punish our six-year-old for, shall we say, refusing to write an apology note to his elder brother for destroying his Xbox games, we tell him to ‘stand in the corner and think about what he did’. It seems the Supreme Court (SC) had much the same approach in dealing with our prime minister, with the difference being that our punishments usually last a little longer and also entails a loss of all ice cream privileges for a designated period of time.

Seriously speaking, this verdict is the very personification of the much-extolled but rarely witnessed ‘win-win situation’. The worthy justices of the Supreme Court can now rest easy knowing that in courtroom number one, as well as in the court of public perception, they have ignored political expediency to see justice done. Their supporters and detractors both win, as those who had begun to doubt the will of the SC can draw heart from this admittedly historic verdict, while those who always suspected the SC of having a political bias are also vindicated.

As for the PPP, it’s as if all their prayers have been answered. Faced with the near impossibility of producing an actual martyr in order to bag those precious sympathy votes, the party had put all its hopes on the prime minister taking the judicial bullet and thus providing them with a perfect rallying point. One should now expect the siyasi shaheed slogan to be screamed from the rooftops to rally the jiyalas and rile the talk show audiences. Prime Minister Gilani can now look forward to a long and fruitful political career with the PPP, as can Aitzaz Ahsan, who has so clearly chosen his side after several years of playing hard to get.

In fact, our canny prime minister already foreshadowed this decision by earlier announcing that he would rather face death than compromise on his principles, taking a cue from Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari who advised him to ‘lose your government but…do what is right.’ And the one thing the PPP does right is martyrdom.

So this now gives them an opportunity to whitewash the disgraceful governance of the past years with the weather-resistant paint of shahadat, a word that is rapidly finding itself in the dictionary of most abused Pakistani political terms.

As for the PML-N, this gives them the opportunity to coin a few new political slogans, as ‘Go Zardari Go’ was getting a little old. They can now scream ‘criminal prime minister’ at the top of their lungs to all the patwaris and schoolchildren they can muster at one of their rent-a-rallies. For Imran Khan and his Tehreekis, this is yet another validation of their stance that everyone in Pakistan’s entrenched political elite, except for themselves of course, is corrupt and unworthy of power. I’d put this in the ‘win’ column for them, but I don’t think there was ever any debate on the issue in the first place.

Finally, the greatest winners here are (no prizes for guessing) our standing army of talk show hosts and the ‘I’m not an air crash specialist, but I play one on TV’ all-topic analysts. I can literally hear a great sigh of relief from this lot, who now no longer have to do actual research (beta, Google ‘black box’ for me please) and can go back to having a bunch of screaming politicians abusing each other on the 10-11 pm slot. Life is so much easier when all you have to do is announce commercial breaks.

So let’s rejoice as the circus that is Pakistani politics finally has a new attraction! Everyone wins. No prize for guessing who just lost.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 27th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (19)

  • Zohaib Ahmad
    Apr 27, 2012 - 1:14AM

    This was the best thing that could have happened to the ppp. They have another siyasi shaheed now to use at election rallies and jalsas. The narrative of victimhood that the ppp has aggresively propagated now has a new star.The ppp will milk this to the fullest,they will gain sympathy votes all around the country. Our public has a lot of uneducated people who can’t understand the tactics being used by the ppp to gain sympathy from the voters.

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  • Malaiz
    Apr 27, 2012 - 1:28AM

    Ordinary people!!!

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  • Ali Raza
    Apr 27, 2012 - 1:29AM

    What a massive victory for the PPP!! It seems Eid came early for them this year. All the sympathy votes are theirs as can be seen in the Multan victory, people are falling for the slogans of the latest siyasi shaheed. This will seriously damage nawaz sharif’s chances in the next election and the ppp will exploit this situation to the maximum.

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  • Mirza
    Apr 27, 2012 - 1:46AM

    No matter what, this PCO SC is keeping its ignominious history of going against the elected governments and always siding with the establishment. You are right in a way. After this decision even the people and liberals who were walking away from the PPP would come back to the mother party. They know again and again that if not PPP then there is always mullah/military/judiciary alliance. The choice is clear for secular and liberal people including all smaller sects and minorities.
    The same day by-election win of PPP candidate from a constituency where PML-N has always won is a proof that things are not bad for PPP; in fact they are better for the next elections. It is not the urban elite who decide the fate of the country but the rural majority which elects a govt. Thanks to IK and PTI, the electoral lists are not as bogus as Gen Mush and PML-Q made them. It was not obviously to favor PPP but to keep them away from power. Now the PPP would gain a bigger majority in the next elections. It is not surprising that the rightwing haters of PPP do not want to wait for the next elections and want to do away with the elected govt in an undemocratic backdoor move.

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  • Usman Shahid
    Apr 27, 2012 - 5:42AM

    Really a nice one

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  • Usman Shahid
    Apr 27, 2012 - 5:50AM

    @Mirza: You are a good comedian, its hard for a normal person to think like you

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  • s shah
    Apr 27, 2012 - 8:11AM

    @usman shahid: I agree with Mirza. I have found his posts to be well reasoned and analytical.

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  • Adeel Syed
    Apr 27, 2012 - 9:00AM

    @Mirza:
    Name one thing that the PPP government has done right in its four and half year rule and you will have my vote.

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  • Apr 27, 2012 - 10:07AM

    18th amendment 19th amendment at the reequest of SC and @adeel Syed so it is two things. and remeber that President was never going to give away the power guess what he did.

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  • Aryaman Bhatnagar
    Apr 27, 2012 - 11:01AM

    No doubt that this verdict would be used as propaganda by the PPP during the next general elections. But is it going to be powerful enough to actually gain votes for the PPP? Or in other words is it actually going to overshadow the failures of the PPP-led government over the past 4 years?

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  • Parvez
    Apr 27, 2012 - 2:00PM

    Nicely explained. When ‘ bad ‘ triumphs over ‘ good ‘ every time, it signals that a radical change has to come.

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  • asad
    Apr 27, 2012 - 2:07PM

    The only votes the PPP will be getting are the ones they have directly bought and paid for.

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  • Shoaib
    Apr 27, 2012 - 4:27PM

    The by-elections….the turn out was 22%…PPP got 50% of the vote…which means 11% out of the total registered voters approved of PPP….

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  • elementary
    Apr 27, 2012 - 5:38PM

    @Mirza:
    Why would liberals ever want to side with PPP?.It can continue to suck the life and sense out of poors of the rural sindh and blissfully bank on them to reach the corridors of powers again.

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  • Civilian
    Apr 27, 2012 - 6:46PM

    the PPP Chairperson is Bilawal and not Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari

    PPP has indeed got a syasi shaeed because it is being vicitimised by the Courts where as military, opposition, allies of the PPP and anyone from the media are not only let scot free but their genuine cases are never called to hearing.

    Jeay BhuttoRecommend

  • Anis Amir Ali
    Apr 27, 2012 - 8:17PM

    I think it’s too early to call him a siyasi shaheed. I think SC did a great job of preventing just that. By giving a symbolic punishment they made a precedence and set a history. Also by not giving him extended jail time they made sure that he does what he does best… “shamefully grab the seat of PM”. Now, an honorable politician would immediately resign, as Gillani himself once said in interview but he is not gonna.. that’s exactly what going to benefit PTI and they can take out an honorable rally against PM. PML-N on the other hand is totally corrupted because they are in the position to dissolve the government by launching strict protests but thats obvisouly not happening

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  • Syed
    Apr 27, 2012 - 9:52PM

    @Adeel Syed:
    Benazir income support programme

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  • vush
    Apr 28, 2012 - 12:00AM

    @ the author: very well written. 30 seconds for jailtime, after my father told me the news made me the news. it made me it infuriated me! and got me thinking what can we do in 30 seconds
    1 answer your door bell (if your are in a bird cage!)
    2.answer your cell phone (if your are holding it) it takes me 30 minutes to find it
    3. say hello/salam to a friend
    4. pickpocket? (leaders are doing that too)..
    but the tinest things are not even possible in 30 seconds like
    . finish a cup of tea
    2 put on socks and shoes!.

    thirty seconds for someone who has appeared in the court twice before, and was showered with flowers rose petals. a cursed nation, at the brink of being slayed!

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  • sd
    May 1, 2012 - 1:38AM

    @vush you are so right!!
    good article.

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