Nawaz and Zardari: Smiling through gritted teeth

At the upcoming dinner, Sharif and Zardari will once again take part in the fakest-smile-in-the-world competition.

Sadaf Khan December 14, 2010
The stage is set for two of the most important leaders of the country to meet again. A banquet is to be held with the Chinese prime minister in attendance, and Nawaz Sharif and President Zardari will once again take part in the fakest-smile-in-the-world competition.

Since it is not a formal meeting, we will probably be spared the usual rhetoric that is issued in a joint statement. But the leaders are meeting beneath the dark cloud of the impending RGST and so TV channels and talk show hosts will analyse and over analyse their body language and gestures.

The only tangible result of the meeting will be yet another shot of an over enthusiastic president, smiling wide, shaking hands with Nawaz Sharif who will be smiling in equal agony.

I know that Mr Sharif and his clan have been going on at considerable length about the president’s corruption and incompetence, but that heated bile is best saved for public gatherings where poor old sentimental masses are around to raise slogans in their favour.

Catering to the audience

In VIP settings, sitting across each other, our leaders nod and smile, perhaps in acknowledgment of the dirty game they are playing with the unsuspecting public.

In front of the masses, the Sharif brothers can quote Jalib and talk about making history, but be it Zardari’s visit to Raiwand to discuss the limit on holding prime minister’s office for the third time or Nawaz Sharif’s visit to the presidency after the 18th amendment, the results of their discussions are always in their own favour and never in that of the public.

Endless politicking

While one talks of the politics of reconciliation, the other takes cover under the guise of friendly opposition, and much needed decisions are never made. Apparently when you are a “friendly” opposition, you can only make symbolic gestures. So instead of movements and resolutions in the National Assembly, all we see are Chaudhry Nisar’s hour-long speeches.

One by one, issues are raised and the opposing parties are blamed. Nawaz Sharif calls upon the federal government to curb terrorism and blames it for everything that is wrong with law and order in Pakistan. But memos are issued from the capital, the public is reminded that the security situation in cities is a provincial matter and of course, with Rana Sanaullah allegedly associating with extremist groups, the PPP doesn’t even have to make an effort to point fingers.

The blame game goes on and on but when the party leaders meet, they are all smiles through and through.

Today's burning issue: RGST

The president’s party is doing everything it can to impose the tax, while the PML-N, is thoroughly enjoying it as an issue to play on. Quoting flour prices from a decade ago, they have called their own era a legendary one and have not pulled any stops to rub the economic failure in the current government’s face.

The never ending anti-government statements and the constant demands for change make the opposition actually look sincere this time

But if that is the case, then why has the party chosen to overlook the new powers granted to it in 18th amendment? When taxation is now the domain of provincial governments, why hasn’t the Punjab Assembly passed a resolution against it?

But how can it?

The MPAs in Punjab are busy tracing the governor’s whereabouts. After all, it is Salmaan Taseer’s geographical location that is the real issue of national importance.
Sadaf Khan A broadcast journalist based in Islamabad who was formerly associated with Geo News and Dunya News. She blogs at
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.