Can the Maulana from the MMA manage to move back into mainstream matters of the state by masquerading as the man with the macabre plan out on a mission to unhorse Imran Khan from the cart of the government?
Many mighty men of the marginalised kind have manipulated events to magnify their importance by manufacturing opportunities that can merge their material interests with those whose moorings have been unhinged along with theirs. Fortune favours the brave, but should the brave be in such a hurry?
If in doubt, dial M for Maulana.
And so the scene shifts to Lahore where Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Chief of his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-e- Islam (F) has arrived on a mission that involves two other men both of whom are also to be found in this city. One is the chief of his faction of the Pakistan Peoples Party and answers to the name of Asif Ali Zardari. The other is the chief of his faction of the Pakistan Muslim League and is known as Mohammad Nawaz Sharif.
Three men. Three parties. One city. One mission?
M then is for the Maulana’s mission to mate his well-marinated ambition with men who mirror his desire to march against the Khan and his merry men (and women). The Maulana wants to convene an All Parties Conference which brings together Sharif and Zardari on the same table for the same purpose. Many minor maulanas from the major Maulana’s flock of well-managed manpower have been meeting mandarins of the Muslim League hailing from Model Town to make nice for the moot. The major Maulana’s fear of political irrelevance in the wake of his electoral defeat has infused fresh energy in his efforts to hasten the downfall of the man who hastened his downfall.
M is for the mediocrity of manner in which the PTI has gone about managing the mandate of its maiden match in government. What a disastrous start for a prince who promised paradise to the people whose patience wore thin. The magician could not maintain his pre-election momentum once he stepped into the minefield of the multitude’s multiplying expectations. Day after day, event after event, U-turn after U-turn, Khan’s government struggled to find footing, find traction and find momentum. It found neither. What it did find was a maulana smelling blood.
M is for the machinations of Asif Ali Zardari as he feels the heat from the money-laundering cases and turns up the heat against the Khan government. Why else would he be dropping broad hints about moving against the government with ominous intentions and sinister numbers knowing well his intentions are not backed by his numbers. And yet let it be known that you make the mistake of mocking the menace of Zardari’s matrix at your own peril.
M is for the muzzle that has muffled the mouth of Nawaz Sharif as he meanders his way through the muddied waters of the measured and minted cases against him. It is this muzzle that the manoeuvering Maulana wants to yank off so Nawaz can roar like he used to and charge up his party like he used to. But there is a method to Nawaz’s measured mannerism and there is a method to Maryam’s maximum muteness. For now, the sword will remain sheathed; the gun will remain holstered and the rhetoric — yes that sharp, pungent and cutting rhetoric that lacerated the Opposition in the heady summer days — this rhetoric will remain firmly leashed.
M is for the mounting pressure that the Maulana feels to reappear in the realm of relevance. A successful All Parties Conference will help relieve this pressure and bring him back in the game. A successful All Parties Conference — with an outcome that has teeth — will also be a warning shot from Zardari for all and sundry who may want to heed this warning. But a warning is nothing but hot air if not backed by the metaphorical artillery and cavalry. A conference with Raja Zafarul Haq in attendance in place of Nawaz would be a conference full of dire warnings without any cavalry. A return to the realm of relevance requires more than repetitive rhetoric.
M is for the management of matters in Punjab and how miscalculation about the merits of power sharing is generating a perfect maelstrom that can devour the minute space between the mandate of the government and the Opposition. For some strange reason, the PTI seems to be transforming Punjab into its Achilles heel. And yet the Paris in the Opposition’s army shall not fire the arrow to target the heel. Not yet. Not yet. Is the maverick Maulana listening?
M is for the melodramatic media that marshals its resources to make an impact in a market bereft of ideas but bursting with agendas, and yet fails to manifest in its content much that the maulana and his minions could take solace from. Media is so busy managing the threat of becoming mute, it may not be in a position to add fuel to the fire that the maulana wants to light under a lightweight government. Mainstream media can manage the mathematics of marathon transmissions and manufactured agendas when majoritarian consensus has its back. Lone crusaders and media mandarins do not make a marriage worth consummating. Is the miffed and moping Maulana listening?
M is for the Muttahida Qaumi Movement whose members in the National Assembly wield value far outweighing their paltry numbers. The Muttahida shifts and the government goes down. The Muttahida moves in mysterious ways. The Muttahida milks every drop of its muscled mandate. The Muttahida has mastered the art of managing its manuscript to suit the mapping of manoeuverable realities. The Muttahida means more than the sum of its parts. For now the parts are holding the sum together. Can the maverick Maulana weave his magic on the Muttahida?
M is also for the Elephant in the room. Elephants are patient and they have long memories. Enough said.
Still in doubt about the mission in Lahore? If so, dial M for Maulana. Better still, Dial D for don’t.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 28th, 2018.