The Zardari-Gilani government never seems tired of reminding you and me that it functions under absolute command of a uniquely sovereign parliament.
The way it conducts the parliamentary business, however, fully exposes the hypocritical heights of this claim. One is rather feeling doubly annoyed over its recklessly casual and indifferent attitude during the ongoing general discussion on budgetary proposals these days.
The house was scheduled to start its proceedings at 11am on Wednesday; it started late by 33 minutes. But a vigilant member of the PML-N was discreetly counting the number of members sitting on their benches from a dark corner in the opposition lobby. He sneaked into the house after feeling doubly sure of his count and after taking his seat, forced the chair to adjourn the session for the lack of quorum. He employed the same tactic after the house reassembled after a while. Hectic and desperate phone calls finally helped the government to keep the required number present in the house and we suffered speeches which were neither here nor there.
Living up to its schizophrenic reputation, the PML-N behaved somewhat “friendly” the day after staging the shouting scenes on Tuesday. Very close to concluding moments before lunch, a relatively small group of its members entered the house to shout slogans against the convicted-by-the-Supreme-Court Gilani. The chair had to adjourn the house for another day anyway and Kundi did the same after enduring two minutes of sloganeering. Yet, the PML-N members appeared as if they were going to their homes after attaining a huge victory. It is but obvious by now that the PML-N would let the ruling party go through the ropes of budget-passing without much ado. Off and on, they would still resort to staging disruptive shows, only when the prime minister is present in the house.
Notwithstanding the carefree conduct of this government’s parliamentary managers, things remained dull in the National Assembly on Wednesday for another reason: all eyes were riveted on an epic-touching drama that was being staged in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
In this column, we had indicated that nonstop but insidious whispers in Islamabad were hinting at the eruption of an explosive scandal. Finally, it came out in the open late on Tuesday night when the Chief Justice summoned his own son to appear before him the morning after. From now on, it should remain between Dr Arslan and the apex court. But as a humble reporter, one feels professionally compelled to report that the scandal was originally designed to blow up through a story that had to be printed in a prestigious London-based newspaper, precisely on the day the Chief Justice was scheduled to reach the British capital to receive a much-coveted award.
Through his inimitable contacts with a set of hyper socialites of Lahore, Chauhdry Aitzaz Ahsan found out much about what had been brewing. He rushed to Islamabad and through a series of discreet meetings with a set of powerful persons ensured that the planned story should be nipped in the bud. While he succeeded in his mission, few self-proclaimed protectors and promoters of the independent judiciary against the doings of an “immoral government” opted to flood media with what they presumed were “preemptive and preventive” hints and comments. Then a 38-minute long interview of a seasoned journalist was posted on youtube. While running their talk shows from 7pm to 12 pm on Tuesday, no anchor of any worthwhile network could afford disregarding the said interview and the Chief Justice was left with no choice but to summon his own son via a late night notification the same night.
There still is time for the self-appointed protectors and defenders of the Chief Justice to realise that they would not be able to achieve what they desire by only selling the spin through a visibly “sting operation.” A business tycoon friend of Asif Ali Zardari conspired to malign Justice Chaudhry. It’s time that they realised that the person they are focusing at to project as the ultimate villain is a die-hard sincere-to-none-but-friends-to- all type. Asif Ali Zardari is not his one and only friend in this country. Shahbaz Sharif is equally close to him. Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan never felt comfortable about it, but he could not succeed in breaking ties between the two. The villain-looking real estate tycoon surely appears to have designed and financed “the entrapment.” What about some telecom-related stuff, however, that some wagging tongues have been referring to for the past 48 hours? Things can also turn dirtier and less manageable, if the “killed story” comes into print on the coming Sunday in a globally-respected newspaper of London. We all have to wait and see.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 7th, 2012.