There has to be a plan right? This has to be all part of some brilliant diabolical scheme, so deviously concocted and so labyrinthine in its complexity that to truly comprehend it is to risk insanity. We cannot see the outline for we are too close and even if we were to get the requisite distance, what to us would seem like a chaotic tangle of murderous buffoonery is in fact a tightly woven tapestry of intrigue. That is what I want to believe. That President Zardari is in control of all the elements at play. Indeed, that those elements are only playing because he gave them the toys and the instructions that go with them. I need to put stock in the idea that what is occurring is exactly according to his plan, a plan that will become evident only once all the chapters of this story are complete. That he plays politics the way Batman out-thinks his rogues gallery; several steps ahead and just watching us all tread along the paths he has laid out for us towards our inevitable conclusions. That way, at least we aren’t watching insanity unfold across our television screens.
See, if Zardari is indeed in control, then Zulfiqar Mirza makes sense. I don’t mean what he is saying is coherent and full of actual logical content. I mean his actions can be understood in a wider context. He is unleashing a diarhhetic onslaught of truthiness because he has been instructed to do so. This will alienate the MQM and vilify them in the public perception (the public that, it should be noted, has been conditioned by local dramas to be manipulated by grotesque overacting). Once cornered they will be offered a chance at relief if they simply agree to the PPP’s terms of rejoining the coalition government without any more of their posturing and if they guarantee certain key results and unconditional support in the senate elections. Meanwhile, the increasingly alienated Sindhi nationalists have a new urban hero to put faith and votes in. If all goes according to the cunning plan, then Zulfiqar Mirza will disappear, his anger will abate and all will be forgotten. The only memory we will have of the entire affair is that a fruit salad of insults were thrown at Rehman Malik and his skin is thick enough to deflect it all anyway. The PPP will be that much closer to senate majority, their damaged credibility with Sindhi nationalists will be repaired and we can all go back to fearing gunny bags.
If, however, there isn’t a plan in place, then we are witnessing a free-for-all in cuckoo land. Then we have to come to terms with the fact that the president just lost a close ally who chose to instead fashion a hat out of the Holy Book before going on a tour to publicise his nervous breakdown as a form of performance art. It means the ruling party has had such a collapse in discipline that it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the major players all start standing at street corners and yelling at passers-by, declaring every square foot of land a new province and then launching themselves out of cannons at the MQM headquarters.
What’s frightening is that I don’t know which potential reality I fear more. The former means the PPP is guaranteed a victory in the senate and possibly the 2013 elections as well, crafted by a president who plays politics of a level that makes his opponents look like toddlers with learning disabilities. The latter means the biggest political party in the country is on the verge of implosion with no one strong enough to clean up the resultant debris. Or maybe there is a third option. Maybe we have all gone insane ourselves and are suffering a mass hallucination. I think I prefer that.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 8th, 2011.
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