A few hours of torrential rain combined with gusty winds on Monday morning should not have paralysed Islamabad. It was not something unusual here.
The majority of our representatives live in the Parliament Lodges built right across the Parliament House anyway, but only a few of them could reach the house when the National Assembly resumed its session. After much waiting, the sitting had to be adjourned for lack of quorum.
Journalists waiting in the press lounge were more anxious to find out details of the recent order that the hyper and ever vigilant Supreme Court passed to protect, empower and embolden Zafar Qureshi. The pleasure most reporters appeared savouring over it was almost sadistic. The orders were rather billed as ‘another humiliation’ for the Zardari-Gilani government.
These orders have come in the wake of mind-boggling developments in Sindh. It all started with another delirious statement by Dr Zulfikar Ali Mirza some weeks ago. That provoked the MQM to leave the federal and the provincial governments once again. Their quitting looked more ominous this time around; for unlike the past separations, the governor Sindh also left Karachi after sending in his resignation. The PPP also seemed ‘prepared for it’ by immediately announcing the return of commissioners and deputy commissioners for Karachi and Hyderabad and we began worriedly waiting for a showdown between the self-proclaimed turf-holders of the rural and urban Sindh.
A Somalia-like meltdown of our state was imminent, if ‘our representatives’ were given the freedom to keep on playing their games. Our ‘geo-strategic’ positioning on the world map is both a curse and blessing, however. The shortest and the cheapest route for supplies to Isaf-forces fighting in Afghanistan begins from Karachi. The British were compelled to blow the whistle and announced the intent to restore order in the most populous metropolis of a ‘sovereignty-conscious’ Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
Thanks to their no-nonsense plan to ensure order in Karachi, both the MQM and the PPP are fast taking U-turns. In the process, Asif Ali Zardari has now provoked the Sindhi nationalists. The diehard admirers of the MQM must not feel too good about it, though. I have it from a highly credible source, sitting in a minister’s chamber on Monday that Altaf Bhai’s boys were all set to rejoin the federal and the provincial government. There still are last-minute attempts at behaving hard-to-get.
To ensure ‘lasting peace’ in Karachi, the PPP is being asked to pull Manzoor Wassan out of Sindh’s home ministry and hand it over to the MQM. Since joining the Musharraf-led setup in 2002, the MQM considers controlling the ministry of shipping and ports almost for granted. They are certain of getting it back, but in addition are now demanding full control of the ministry of gas and petroleum as well. The PPP, my source insisted, is just not ready to surrender the Sindh home ministry. “With Dr Asim running the ministry of petroleum,” the sources went on, “the MQM must not ask the control of it, so audaciously.”
Although I kept telling my source that the MQM might delay its rejoining the government until after Eid to buy some time for pacifying its hawks, the source was adamant that it ‘has to happen, sooner than you imagine’.
In vibrant democracies, political parties not in the government viciously try to take full advantage of the chaos and confusion hitting the governments. With 90-plus members sitting in the National Assembly, the PML-N was ideally placed to prove its worth and relevance these days. It, however, continues to appear like a clueless outsider, when it comes to fear-inducing developments in Sindh.
Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, its very vocal and experienced parliamentary leader in the National Assembly, remained mysteriously missing from action. After weeks of having stayed put in England, he had quietly reached Rawalpindi on Monday morning. Sources close to him claimed that his return had nothing to do with Shahbaz Sharif’s recent visit to London. Khwaja Asif is also not given any credit for his return.
Nisar, I was told, decided to land back after reading stories which tried to project an impression as if he had left out of the fear of Haji Nawaz Khokar. As reported earlier, this former deputy speaker of the National Assembly is working overtime to win from NA-52. All resources of a real estate tycoon have been put at Khokar’s disposal for this venture. The friends of Nisar, however, claim that he had not left Rawalpindi for the fear of Khokar and Malik Riaz. What really annoyed him were not one but two meetings that Nawaz Sharif reportedly had with the real estate tycoon. He didn’t expect ‘this’ from, Nawaz Sharif, a friend since the early 1980s.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2011.
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