The opposition in any parliament of the world excitedly waits for the government to present its budget for a fiscal year. After much hassle, its parliamentary managers do everything to extract two full weeks, with morning and evening sittings of long hours, to discuss the budgetary proposals through the general discussion.
They viciously exploit these sittings to elaborate and blast the economic policies and fiscal management by the government. After doing so in general terms, it moves on to focus on the performance of key ministries while pushing cut motions against the budgetary grants as demanded by them.
In our uniquely sovereign parliament, however, the PML-N led opposition is just not willing to go through all these ropes. It wants the resignation from a ‘convicted prime minister.’ And if he ever dares coming to the house, the PML-N agitators create embarrassing scenes for him by rowdy slogan-chanting and provoking scuffles and fist-fights with ruling party members. On Monday, they changed tactics.
Instead of coming into the house, they held a road show by marching towards the president house by chanting “go Zardari go” slogans. No opposition leader could explain the purpose for going into a different mode. Did its leaders finally realise the diminishing returns of their ear-piercing but lung-straining chants during the assembly proceedings? Although, some of us seriously suspected that the PML-N decided to stage a road show to tacitly express thanks to the PPP for behaving well in the Punjab Assembly, when the Shahbaz-government unfolded its budget there.
If the answer to this question is in the yes, then we also have to give some credence to rumours, which claimed that mainstream parties were keeping the backdoor channels open to sustain some sort of working understanding between them. One has to take the same rumours a bit more seriously by observing the laid-back conduct of the government. Taking advantage of the opposition’s no-show strategy, it should have focused on rushing through the budget passing ropes with the get-it-over-with mindset. It miserably fails in even collecting enough ruling party legislators that sustains the quorum. We have to wait and wait for the house to begin and then suffer mostly also-ran type speechmaking.
The empty house motivates journalists to sneak into the ministerial chambers for gossip hunting. A full-blown scandal, involving the son of Chief Justice, has grabbed everyone’s attention anyway. We all want to find out the real ‘movers and shakers, behind the explosive scandal. So far, few self-declared defenders and protectors of the Chief Justice have almost convinced most people that a manipulative friend of wily Asif Ali Zardari manipulated a Shakespearean tragedy for Justice Chaudhry through a deadly web of sting operation. The idea was to get back at fiercely independent judiciary of these days.
I have nothing concrete to accept or reject this most popular interpretation of the ongoing saga. Often, one feels compelled to recall that the known and named real estate tycoon can be friends to all yet sincere to none. His type is conditioned to please everyone with any power to thrive and survive. Also important remains the reality that the same tycoon is friends to Shahbaz Sharif and Pervez Elahi as well and most of our civil and military elite do not hate him either. Why should he be sticking his neck out for a government that is nearing completion of its tenure? No wonder, the same kind of skeptic questions have started many in the conspiratorial drawing rooms of Islamabad to feel as if Arsalan essentially became a victim of ‘institutional memory.’ Justice Chaudhry’s keenness to address the issue of missing persons helps supporting this view. Although since Saturday night a peculiar set of known wheelers and dealers of Pakistan’s capital are being reported to have lost their sleep over fears that Arsalan was set to face some deadly questions regarding his dealings with telecom sector. I know it for sure that some rooms in headquarters of one of the leading telecom companies were specially opened Sunday and they had visitors from very important quarters. Before finishing let me also report that the real estate tycoon had also succeeded in passing on ‘the evidence’ to Nawaz Sharif before leaving Dubai for London last week. No credible source has yet confirmed a physical meeting between the two, however. The PML-N leader’s absence from the country and studied silence on “Arsalangate” is helping many to vend insidious kind of conspiracy theories.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 12th, 2012.
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