The two most powerful men who wield power in this republic both uttered on the 65th birthday of the Islamic Republic that is Pakistan. The one who controls, unchallenged, the chaotic and dysfunctional political scenario, expressed his concerns as to the ongoing attacks against the Constitution and parliament (l’etat, c’est moi?). We all know what co-chairman-cum-president Asif Ali Zardari meant. Well, he can easily put an end to one attack by merely instructing his current prime minister to put pen to paper as ordered — or does he really believe that the honourable justices of the apex Court are in violation of the Constitution?
The man with the guns and butter, Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, now in his fifth year in the position thanks to repayment in kind by this government for his participatory role in installing it with power, spoke at midnight from the Pakistan Military Academy (near where, perhaps, two years ago, on the same night Osama Bin Laden could hear the booming loudspeakers). General Kayani actually admitted that the war being waged against “militancy and extremism” was Pakistan’s war against itself. “No state can afford a parallel system or a militant force.” Good. And he did not ignore the civilian government, which was responsible for the collapse of the economy (the military being the only safe and sound budgetary recipient), expert corruption (in which rumour has it that certain of his civilian relations indulge), the ruinous state of civic amenities and the absence of legislation to deal with the militancy and general lack of law and order.
The army produced an ‘advertisement supplement’ on August 14, “Azadi Parade at PMA Kakul”, overtly gung-ho and, naturally, singing the praises of the mighty army and its famed deeds — valorous and otherwise. But in this day and age, not all of it washed well and it certainly had its moments of dubious taste and wisdom. To quote from one contributor, a ranter and raver on a par with the best of them, “The Hindu India emerged as the biggest enemy of Pakistan. From day the one India tried to block Pakistan’s progress and well being. India imposed on Pakistan three wars and tried to dismantle Pakistan Army (sic.) ... What today’s Pakistan is facing is the outcome of that conspiracy, which is hatched in New Delhi in collaboration with the CIA, Mossad, KGB and MI6 ... ”.
From the absurd and the destructive to a bit of realism, a sentence from a recent Huma Yusuf column: “The only conspiracy against Pakistan is the one being hatched by politicians who lack the strength, vision and credibility to bring about genuine social and economic reform in this country.”
Yes, that is the problem with the politicians as we have them — and criticising them in no way indicates a yearning for dictatorship or military rule, merely a yearning for democracy as it should be and as is practised elsewhere.
Our former prime minister, who laid down his office in defence of his party chief and of not writing a letter, declared last Sunday that his party will not take a second removal — that of the inconsequential and irrelevant Prime Minister Raja Parvaiz Ashraf — “lying down”. Well, even if they are all standing up, what do they intend doing? Storming the Supreme Court (it’s been done before) or simply defying it? Does it matter a whit if Mr Ashraf goes? When Yousaf Raza Gilani went, there was no crisis, nothing was jolted and he was replaced smoothly and immediately. After all, co-chairman and supreme commander Mr Zardari, in presidential style, has announced with aplomb that he has three other party stalwarts queuing up for the job (thinking of their CVs and the lifelong perks they will receive even if in office for a single day).
And, remember, oracle Aitzaz Ahsan has spoken: however many prime ministers may go, that many will come.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2012.