The recent media lapse into a crashingly boring somnolence has this week been broken and some normal excitement restored — thanks to our ever-smiling, ever-cheerful former president (a far cry from what now exists in the hallowed presidential halls). Asif Ali Zardari has broken the spell, thank goodness.
Of late, what have we had to entertain? The Axact affair, nothing new or of particular interest as it is nothing but old hat involving a few freshly-named compatriots making a substantial quick buck out of an illegality. That is done everyday by the high and mighty and the relatively lowly — a jaded story, one of the many we have learnt of for some 68 years.
The tit-for-tat adolescent verbal exchanges between our large and ambitious, this time miffed by the China deal, neighbour and our dim-witted leadership are again old hat. What’s new on that front? Much has been made of Narendra Modi’s telephone call to mega-motorway constructor Nawaz Sharif to extend Ramadan (fashionable spelling) greetings but then, reportedly, he did the same to the Afghan and Bangladesh leaders — so no big deal, no (again to be in fashion) game-changer.
And surely to heaven we are fed up with the inanities issued as statements by the interior and information ministers, tired of reading that the army chief and the prime minister (order of national precedence) met to ‘discuss matters of mutual interest’, we are somewhat short-changed on the ISPR news of the anti-terrorism front as other sources of information seem non-existent, banning and restoring an NGO is merely crass, and as for the occasional tit-bits issued to the press on what has been uttered by the inmate of the presidency the less said the better. Balochistan is seemingly insolvable by the present lot, and the sore point that is Karachi with its massive mills of corruption, its murders and mayhem — already known facts have been revealed by the leading law-enforcer, the Rangers chief, but when and how he intends to act is so far unknown.
So well done, Zardari, you have set a spark which, if we are lucky, might move things on. And apart from that his address to his Fata members was highly entertaining. But yet again, the ‘list’ he threatens to flaunt will be nothing startlingly new, as is not the ‘character assassination’ of himself and his party which has been in full flow since its pathetic showing in the last disputed general elections. The list, well, since the inception of the country and the refugee property grabbing thereafter, our mighty men in khaki have been making the most of their exalted and ‘special’ national position in various diverse fields of gain and prosperity. As said AZ, the list is long, very long. One rather amusing (perhaps just a bit of a lark) tale is told of his time in office when on a call to the presidency to read him a bit of a riot act, a senior military official, now retired, was silenced when Zardari pulled out of a drawer a file and showing it to the officer asked him how his brother was doing.
One remark made by Zardari in his tirade leads on to a sentence in The Express Tribune’s editor, Kamal Siddiqi’s column written that same day. Said Zardari to the generals : “You stay in office for three years, then you go home. On the contrary we are here to stay. We never retire.” Wrote Kamal, with which none other than the subjects must strongly agree : “We desperately need a new set of leaders who are honest to Pakistan.”
We do, we do. But whence will they come? As Zardari said, they are here to stay. They hang on for decades and at each election are voted in by the feet of the electorate. They are all relics of the last century. We can make all the noise we can — they care not a damn.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 19th, 2015.
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