Pakistan’s meaningless and confusing confrontation

Pakistan may be experiencing a marrow chilling winter, but its political mercury is on the rise. Allies in the federal government, who thrived on privileges and fanfare, now believe that it’s time for them to establish a distance from the corridors of power.

Political expediency seems to have made them reach this conclusion thereby furthering instability in an already crisscrossed governance structure peppered with severe corruption and charges of administrative ineptitude. Whatever may be the fate of embattled Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani and his cabinet, there won’t be many tears to shed on his exit but the nation should be prepared for another episode of ceremonial change, hollow promises and a telling tale of how elected representatives have failed to overcome their personal ambitions and make them secondary to national needs and necessities.

Though the ire at the moment is for the sake of browbeating the adversaries, who incidentally are allies as well, be it the Muslim League of Nawaz Sharif, Muttahida Qaumi Movement of Altaf Hussain or Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam of Fazalur Rehman, the equation can sooner than later boil down to the collapse of the entire functioning hierarchy. President Asif Ali Zardari, who sits arguably confused at the pinnacle of allegations of a biased administration, will be the logical target of allies and the opposition. Given to understand Pakistan’s Machiavellian way of doing things, this brewing anti-government momentum may have many strings attached from powers-that-be at home and abroad. But it goes without saying that this Peoples’ Party led dispensation cannot evolve into a martyred complex.

Thus as President Zardari indulged in chest thumping on the third death anniversary of his spouse, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto right under the shadows of her majestic tomb, the rug under his government was being pulled by his allies. The Karachi-based political entity had an axe to grind against the president himself and his strongman in Sindh, who had apparently been mandated to speak against the MQM to serve petty politics, and it did that conveniently by making its ministers quit the federal cabinet. But that is not an end in itself. That is just the beginning of a nervous breakdown session whereby the party, which is quite capable of bringing down governments, can make its indispensability felt, and that too with a wish list and timeframe of its own. Irrespective of the fact whether the Urdu-speaking party is won back into the folds of beleaguered coalition or not, it has spurred an anti-government movement, which is bound to reach a logical end. The most fearsome factor of this rising uncertainty, coupled with the rhetorical tug of war between the PML-N and the MQM, is the possibility of an ethnic conflict between the Urdu-speaking and Punjabi communities, nostalgically bringing to fore the horrors of yesteryears civil commotion. Though hardly anybody would be bothered with a change of guard in Islamabad, as well as in provinces, but getting to the point by damaging the communal and ethno-linguistic fabric of the country would be a highly despicable act.

This cobwebbed togetherness of Mr Gilani and Mr Zardari will, nonetheless, be remembered for inaction and failing to usher in a new era of development and rapprochement. Whatever ensued in the name of reconciliation was a mockery of justice and more a testimony to nepotism, to say the least. The nation reels under the burden of abject poverty and lawlessness, and more specifically a culture wherein national institutions have been marginalised and politicised to the core. More than 5 million unemployed people, 2900 suicides committed in the last three years, and a soaring double-digit inflation remain the hallmarks of this 33-month democratic governance. Notwithstanding what twists and turns the political landscape may take, it seems this brewing heat is not without a purpose. This meaningless and personalised confrontation, indeed, comes as an opportunity for playing and provoking the constituency card as a faceoff for the next general elections, whether they are held next year or later. But as far as the people of Pakistan are concerned, they long for an interim setup of impeccable characters who can clear the Augean stable by bringing back to the national coffers the billions that have been swindled in the name of politics and perks. There are no two opinions to this desire and agenda – KhaleejTimes