Lose-Lose

Published: August 24, 2014
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The writer is a lawyer and partner at Ijaz and Ijaz Co in Lahore saroop.ijaz@tribune.com.pk

The writer is a lawyer and partner at Ijaz and Ijaz Co in Lahore [email protected]

All is well now. The natural order of things has been restored in the Fatherland. The interruption is over, the armistice has ended. Power completely returned to where it belonged, the journey of few miles from Islamabad to Rawalpindi has been made. Boys will be boys. And the ‘boys’ like to be in control, not merely in a supervisory capacity, but to have complete authority, to dominate and intimidate. The democratic experiment discredited. Discredited first on the streets of Model Town, Lahore, then on the television screens and now finally being turned into a cruel joke in the Red Zone in the Capital. This fight does not have protagonists; however it has a winner and will have many losers. Some will lose a lot of face, some a little less, however all of us will lose; perhaps have already lost. The last and only laugh is currently being had in “Aabpara”, sighs of relieves, smacking of lips, remarks of “what bloody idiots”. The only civilian who can possibly come out of this as a bit of a winner is DJ BUTT.

Everybody wants it to stop, except maybe Mr Imran Khan. One can only speculate on how those who truly care for him will be pained to see all this happening to him. It is all heading towards ending with a whimper; any banging sound will only be made by heads. The trip has to end; the flake has to blow away. The maximalist position retreated from, loss of face cannot be saved, however his politics can still be salvaged.

His holiness Tahirul Qadri was never serious about change or any such thing. His annual vacation plan is to display strength, more accurately nuisance. The demands of both Mr Khan and Mr Qadri are deliberately impossible. They intentionally or if one is very generous unintentionally want the “system to be packed up”, “derail democracy”, “non-democratic intervention” and several other such euphemisms, basically a military coup, in case you are wondering. There is a distinct possibility that Mr Khan and the Shaikhul Islam are following a master script, yet, the sad part (for them) is that if there is a master script, their roles end in the Red Zone.

A coup would be surplus to requirements. The intervention has already been made. One statement from the ISPR urging everyone to get their act together is sufficient. Mian Shahbaz Sharif can meet the “Chief” all he likes. Survival perhaps will be granted, however on harsh terms, survival is rarely granted on anything less.

The gains made by democratic dispensation in the previous five years have been reversed. Five years without political prisoners now being replaced by containers and arrests. Mr Khan and Tahirul Qadri are not playing fair, they never do, however Mian Sahib, this comes with the job. Mian Nawaz Sharif is not blameless. Negotiations could have happened earlier, regardless of the ridiculousness of the demands. Underestimating to begin with, and overreacting to end with is a habit which Mian Sahiban have maintained.

Mian Shahbaz Sharif’s police did kill fourteen people. The dangerous politics of Allama Tahirul Qadri aside, innocent people were killed by the police in broad daylight, telecast on the media, and we have not heard why. Why do the Mian Brothers have to wait and lend helping hands for a problem to become a crisis, and the crisis to morph into apocalypse before they act?

The purpose of the march in Mr Khan’s head is that he will become the prime minister. The only real objective of Mr Khan’s protest is “de-legitimisation” of the 2013 elections. The 2013 election was rigged, all elections in Pakistan are. There was pre-poll rigging in favour of both parties to the present stand-off, Mr Khan and Mian Sahib, by the TTP, essentially by killing and intimidating their political opponents. However, have there been elections which have been more rigged in our history? Yes, 1990 and 2002 are just two examples. Is there evidence of systemic rigging, following a master plan? No, there is not, all we have is Mr Khan’s words and beliefs, and evidence of irregularities in some constituency. However, all of this is increasingly becoming moot. Mr Imran Khan has learnt the model of the Sharif politics, which is that urban Punjab is all that matters and Mr Khan is keener on fighting for four seats in Punjab than governing the entire Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Mian Sahib had the law and some of the facts on his side to counter Mr Khan. He did not; the de-legitimisation of the 2013 election is fast becoming complete in the Punjab urban middle class. It does not imply that Mr Khan has necessarily gained; it does mean that the faith in the democratic process has taken a major blow. Mian Nawaz Sharif’s first order of business was to defend his mandate, defend the elections. However, the Punjabi model of politics is to rely on formal mechanisms to deal with political crises; Police for Dr Qadri, Courts for Mr Khan. This has not worked.

The positions have become so extreme that politics has been reduced to a reactionary, personal business and it is quite ugly. The temptation is to defend Mian Nawaz Sharif since the adversaries have become so unsavoury. However, how does one defend the ASWJ holding rallies in favour of the great democrat, Mian Nawaz Sharif? Of course, one can and many will. Similar to how many defend Mr Khan’s language and fluid deadlines and flexible stands. Nothing is indefensible now, no mistake too grave, politics is personal first and last. We are heading back to the 1990s. Criticise Mr Khan and you are receiving bribe money from Mian Sahib, ask for accountability of the PML-N government and you secretly want a coup.

Mian Nawaz Sharif’s cold detachment is matched only by Tahirul Qadri’s Messiah complex which is overtaken only by Mr Khan’s ego, the size of Punjab. It is a battle of egos that is the highest imperative in this fight. The cost is not only the survival or weakening of this government. It is the loss of faith in the democratic experience and electoral process. All political forces have to come together not only to save the “system” but to ensure that the democratically-elected government of Mian Nawaz Sharif be held accountable at every step and now comes forth and defend its mandate. Mr Prime Minister, it certainly should take less than a siege of the Capital to compel you to attend a Session of the Parliament. The “boys” have won this round already and Mr Qadri and Mr Khan have facilitated that. On to the next round, Prime Minister, display the intent to put up a fight, to make a comeback.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 24th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (28)

  • ModiFied
    Aug 24, 2014 - 1:29AM

    Democracy is not in Pakistani DNA. Had that be the case, there was not partition in 1947 and then 1971. Its extremely difficult to change DNA.

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  • sallman
    Aug 24, 2014 - 1:57AM

    What a nutcase.
    Seeing “the boys” behind every move.
    Rubbish.
    The elections of 2013 were the most rigged election in the history of Pakistan.
    Perhaps all elections are rigged. However it is only because of PTI that we now know to what extent PML-N had been abusing the system.
    So please Mr Saroop, do not say Mr Nawaz Shareefs government is democratically elected.
    He gaimed the system and now Inshallah the people of Pakistan are going to throw him out.
    Inshallah.

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  • Arifq
    Aug 24, 2014 - 2:00AM

    Sharif & Sharif Brothers have always relied on power politics, groomed on steroids of subsidies, SRO’s and bank loan write-off they have never been in a situation where they are being compelled to be answerable to their mandate.

    World has changed, social media is playing a major role across the globe and with material impact on countries with weak political structures, in Pakistan we have a functional democratic system but its primary weak spot, Sharif’s political mediocrity made worse by their family business style of running all affairs and then their lack of respect for every democratic principle.

    June 17th massacre in Model town Lahore was not an isolated incident, whenever Sharif comes to power, attack on religious minorities increases and religious extremism increases. Show of support for PMLN by ASWJ is a clear message of intimidation by Gullu Butts with beards, does not bode well for the country.

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  • Aug 24, 2014 - 2:19AM

    There is an immediate need for a full medical check up of Nawaz.
    ‘..cold detachment..’ spells it. A ruling emperor is kept under wraps.
    Erratic decisions. Even a ‘Dehati Aurat’ will not make. Not good.
    Hand held notes. 10 days in Saudia while country is at war? Then
    5 days at Raiwind. There need to be a full mental facilities check.
    His health effects this country. Reagan comes to mind.

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  • realist
    Aug 24, 2014 - 5:52AM

    Franly, I dont understand, why are the election rigging issues being raised now for an election held almost 2 yrs ago? Why not just keep talking about it but make sure it is rigging proof for the next election 3 yrs down the line.

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  • Lahori
    Aug 24, 2014 - 6:21AM

    Lets read this article again in 2 months time and see how much truth did it hold!

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  • Anjum Arshi
    Aug 24, 2014 - 7:07AM

    A very good sum up, indeed. Thanks!
    Is there a way to keep the boys out of politics? The 1971 humiliation did not teach them a lesson. They must have control over this unfortunate country.

    If Pakistan had continued democracy like India from the beginning, with only a few dedicated leaders, it could have progressed like India. Its literacy rate would be over 90%, and its population would have stabilised at just 100-110 million around 1990. These two factors could have steered us toward development. Now, with over 200 million people, two-thirds of them having no schooling, we have no hope. The most tragic lesson to learn is that IK and TUQ were able to misguide a sizeable proportion of educated middle class, just like MQM did in the 1980s. God help us!

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  • nrmr44
    Aug 24, 2014 - 8:37AM

    It’s never been different.
    Pakistani politicians have always been tearing into each other when put in charge of the country.
    And when the Army is in power they have always been setting the stage for external forces to tear into Pakistan.
    Syria, Libya, Iraq, Pakistan. You’ve heard of BRICS – for building? Now meet SLIP for ……… ?

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  • Mirza
    Aug 24, 2014 - 9:34AM

    A balanced and pragmatic Op Ed by ET. Thanks for that. All this hoopla is to make the elected govt as weak as possible. In the last coalition govt it was the SC CJ who with the help of rightwing terrorists who made sure that the govt never worked without fear. Now for this govt two leaders whose families are settled overseas playing the role of spoilers. Everybody knows that even if not four but 40 seats are given to IK he cannot become PM. However it is enough to weaken the elected govt and keep the powerful establishment happy. Even though Zardarii and Sharif govt are weak and puppets of establishment but the establishment is still not happy about them in power and stable.

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  • WhatthePakistan
    Aug 24, 2014 - 10:36AM

    @realist: now? Imran Khan has been asking an inquiry into just 4 areas from day 1. Nawaz Sharif’s govt kept ignoring it.

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  • Asif
    Aug 24, 2014 - 10:51AM

    Dear Saroop, I have more fear for this 63 years old Boy than the boys, who is very much now flying off the handle. Out of his desperate and untimely march on the streets of capital in my view no one else will lose except that Boy.
    If the Democracy gets shaken by these sort of uncalled for so called, Azadi Marches, sit-inns then I am afraid it is not a Democracy which we should worry to lose.
    I wish the lunatic Qadri, before unleashing his fury at PM and wasting his energy for coming all the way down to the Capital, would be giving his sit-inn against the CM who is the real culprit for the mass murder. It would be far easier and justified for him to launch a strong campaign, and gain the mass support, against the Chotay Mian Sahib as the public at large are still unable to comprehend the reason behind that massacre. And I am sure by doing so if he had little success against the small IDOL he could go for the big hunt. But, unfortunately due to his irrational offensive against the capital he is too losing all but his lunacy.

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  • Parvez
    Aug 24, 2014 - 11:20AM

    All our politicians had to do to hold off the boys……was to provide GOOD GOVERNANCE for the people to have them on their side……and they failed to understand this simple truth. It is true that ‘ pride and greed leads before a fall ‘.

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  • Altaf
    Aug 24, 2014 - 11:44AM

    I dont know how delusion can b cured…on mass level.We still think power is with the masses.But in garrison state like Pakistan, Power arises from the barrels of the guns, not from ballots. To make the shift from barrels to ballots, evolution is the key. Power has to b reclaimed inch by inch just like Turkish people did it.Those who think revolution is the key should look toward Egypt. Revolution is like playing at the hands of khakis again. Political forces has to sit n make the system more transparent n efficient. Make it more resilient n flexible to thwart off the boots.

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  • RHS
    Aug 24, 2014 - 11:58AM

    Spot on as usual Saroop Ijaz. The 2013 elections were already rigged by the TTP in favor of the PML-N and the PTI. But nobody seems to want to discuss that. It is the ANP, the MQM and the PPP which should be holding Dharnas…

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  • shahid
    Aug 24, 2014 - 12:12PM

    The gains made by democratic dispensation in the previous five years have been reversed.

    Really !!! Corruption, loot, nepotism, absence of governance, whole sale selling of the country to foreign interests, killings and murders galore, etc., etc., etc. And you call it “gains made by the democratic dispensation”? Yes, all the corruption done prior to 2008 of both PPP and PMLN have been pushed under the rug and the corruption for the past six years is not even considered corruption while new schemes are brought daily for more looting of the country. And you call it “gains made by the democratic dispensation”?

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  • Zab
    Aug 24, 2014 - 12:51PM

    Its really strange to read such pieces. People of Pakistan generally associate ppp with extreme corruption. They voted in NS thinking that they have gotten rid of the corrupt king last year, now both AZ and NS are sitting on the same sofa. This makes NS and AZ partners pursuing the same agenda of loot and plunder.

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  • Zab
    Aug 24, 2014 - 12:52PM

    Everyone is a beneficiary of this system, the news papers, tv channels, the lawyers (writing such pieces) and judges (likes of ex-CJ chaudry and Justice khawja sharif), why would they address such issues, law enforcement is for the weak, for powerful this system needs to stay under the slogan of “save democracy”.

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  • Zubair Khan
    Aug 24, 2014 - 3:49PM

    Extremely brilliant Saroop Ijaz. You said what all was wanted. However I do not see any visionary Pakistani politician to undestand all this. Here all is done with personal and selfish motives. And that is the biggest reason smart “BOYS” keep on playing with the destiny of this nation. However one thing you missed. Those serriously observing these happenings have learnt some lessons. And “those” include certainly some politicians also.

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  • Anonymous
    Aug 24, 2014 - 4:32PM

    IK has made it quite clear. He does not want to be PM, he wants accountability as 2013 elections were rigged and he has been asking for 2013 elections to be audited from day one and nothing has happened. Elections being rigged means government is not democratically elected and does not have the right to sit in the parliament

    How else does one ask for justice if one has asked over and over again? And TUQ, he has been asking for the FIR which despite court orders has not happened. How else does he ask for justice?

    PM is there to serve people not the other way around so who ever looses in the end, what matters is who stood for what is right and winning and loosing is just a matter of perspective and in this case yours is quite baseless.

    A man who does not stand for what he believes in, falls for anything.

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  • Akhtarttak
    Aug 24, 2014 - 4:34PM

    Shareefs and former CJ never recognised mandate of PPP Both virtually kept that government paralysed. Imran is doing the same to nawaz and there is no doubt that rigging took place. It is now MORAL duty of nawaz to dissolve the parliament and call new election This will strengthen the system and not weaken it.

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  • murad malik
    Aug 24, 2014 - 5:11PM

    @realist:
    ya only if this much common sense was there in our politicians..this is disgusting

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  • Feroz
    Aug 24, 2014 - 5:48PM

    Get the Military accounts audited, all mysteries will vanish. Pakistan is not a Democracy, the requirement of any democracy is that source of every Dollar earned must be known and record of every Dollar spent must be recorded and audited. Monarchies and Dictatorships follow no such rules. Pakistani citizens must stop prejudices from affecting their thinking and demand information to make informed decisions.

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  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Aug 24, 2014 - 7:48PM

    Mian Sahib is a great survivor. God bless him and save him from any harm. If he is thrown out, he will come back, but 62 years child is not returning. He has made so many mistakes that no stake holder will ever bet on him. He would have been dumped when he failed to gather one tenth of the people he had promised. He is still dancing because “they” want best use of every penny they have spent on him.

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  • Khan
    Aug 24, 2014 - 8:48PM

    Great Mr. Saroop, once again you have produced a great article. Insafians will be at your throat soon !! Mr. Imran has not only re-established Khakis hold on power, he has also made some old faces (zardari etc) relevant in the present scenario. Imran has really disappointed us.

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  • Destabilization
    Aug 25, 2014 - 12:06AM

    One sided, tendentious article. To be fair while you mention ASWJ holding rallies in favor of NS, why do you conveniently forget that Qadri is representing Mujlis Wahdatul Muslimeen? So how do you justify your lopsided analysis?

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  • Farrukh
    Aug 25, 2014 - 7:13PM

    Divide and rule is at the core of the script written by our dark forces. First politicians were divided and then media. Now general public is completely polarized. Next step is to make fissures in the judiciary. And then all pillars of the state will have been annihilated. So far the script is playing out as intended. Congratulations to the dark forces.Recommend

  • lala
    Aug 26, 2014 - 12:44AM

    Funny how in all of this Pakistan Peoples Party is portrayed as the ‘hero’… just shows how credible the rest of your analysis is…

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  • Mohsin iqbal
    Aug 26, 2014 - 11:30PM

    P.S this is the 4th time I am submitting my response to your article, please have the courage to accept difference of opinion, which most liberals like yourself are short of, let’s agree to disagree!

    Dear Mr. Saroop,

    With all due respect your opinion, perspective and understanding of the subject situation seems to be only an extension of a particular (now rejected) mind set in Pakistan backed by a band of “boys” of a media group who proclaim themselves as being the defenders of “free speech” and (furthermore the most widely misused perception and notion of your so called) “democracy”.

    The two root causes of this crises are firstly the model town massacre and secondly the utter refusal of us as a society, nation, government or country to address our mistakes and errors.

    The tradition of “mithee pao politics” and “saving derailing of democracy” need to be erased from our memories, the Sooner the better. The elections must be audited, decisions of ministers thoroughly scrutinized, plundering of tax payers money on projects like metro bus for personal glorification stopped and cabinets held accountable for white collar crimes taking place as we so passionately debate (most probably in vain).

    It’s time we decide whether we wish to carry on as the next best thing to a banana republic or stand up for principles and the rule of law.

    In the journey of nations, events are more significant than individuals and today we should not concern ourselves with false notions of your so called “boys” and a clandestine war between them and some self appointed glorified neo-liberal forces of liberalism and freedom like yourself.

    The time for us to choose our destiny is now! And I believe the common man on the street has got it righty today and Mr. Saroop you and others like yourself are standing on the wrong side of history.

    We must focus on addressing the issues at hand and bringing justice to the masses.Recommend

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