Last week I narrated the events leading up to our revolution. This week I take the story forward from that point in time to the present day.So: how was the revolution consolidated? In one brief phrase, effortlessly and on its own irrepressible momentum, such is the magic of people’s power. There was no need for the cabinet and the prime minister (PM) to resign, or for parliament to be dissolved. They all simply became irrelevant, and were heard from no more. The flip side was an awkward politico-legal conundrum.Should the old constitution be declared dead and buried, and Imran Khan (IK) be anointed Ameer-ul-Momineen? Should the constitution be amended? If so, how and by whom was that to be done? Or, should a provisional constitutional order (PCO) of some sort be promulgated? The reality is, every government needs a legal framework. But would not the chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) (given his past pronouncements) be in more than a little spot of legal bother whatever was done?
The solution decided upon was to say nothing at all on this fundamental issue, but fudge matters for the moment. So IK went on TV to make an impassioned speech, urging all government functionaries to return immediately to their pre-revolution duties, and the public to go back to normal life. All problems, inshallah, will be addressed and taken care of in the new dispensation. There would now be no room for distinctions such as that between rulers and ruled.The people heard, understood, were satisfied, and obeyed. For the time being. Gradually, a semblance of normalcy returned. Temporarily.Possibly you are wondering what happened to those familiar faces of yore. So here is a little peep into the supposed dustbin of history. The president simply disappeared, with no one knowing to this day exactly when, how, and where to. Like the Scarlet Pimpernel of fictional fame, “they seek him here, they seek him there”. Altaf ‘Bhai’, under a strong-arm tactics deal brokered by the British government, was allowed to return to London on his private A-380 as quid pro quo for forswearing politics. Rumour is he is now living in style in a Belgravia mansion, and much in demand for his unique impersonation of you know who while making theatrical after-dinner speeches on the Bavarian beer-hall circuit.
The Sharif brothers too did their own deal, though they vehemently deny any such hanky panky. Did they not always adopt an asooli muaqif [principled stance]? But they reluctantly accepted the invitation from Altaf ‘Bhai’ to catch a lift on his A-380 up to Jeddah. And, in a departing gesture of extraordinary generosity, Shahbaz Sharif, as promised, donated the only thing he owned in life — the jacket he was wearing — for auction, the proceeds of which were to be spent on the welfare of the ghareeb awam [poor public].The Sharifs may have arrived in Jeddah penniless but you cannot keep good men down. Within the year, bankrolled by a consortium of Goldman Sachs, Bernard Madoff (operating from a NY prison) and certain Saudi royals, they stunned the international business elite by successfully acquiring for a pittance — after a bitterly fought hostile takeover bid — the worldwide steel empire of Lakshmi Mittal. Raiwind HQ has since moved to Kensington Palace Gardens.And their latest move is a multi-billion dollar bid to a cash-strapped British government, for the freehold of Hyde Park. WikiLeaks reports that the trio of Altaf ‘Bhai’, Lord Nazir, and Baroness Warsi have secretly been retained as facilitators (‘consultants’) to the offer.
But, sadly, it is my duty to record that here at home, on the all-important issue of the welfare and economic betterment of the people, our revolution followed the predictable historical pattern: economic mayhem with no signs of recovery in sight. To become trapped in this rapid downward economic spiral was the all too natural outcome of months of chaos and uncertainty, when all business activity (including exports) came to a halt, tax collection was impossible, foreign aid was rejected on principle, remittances nose-dived, the exchange rate rocketed and the economy became hostage to hyper-inflation.And, much as expected, it proved impossible — for reasons all too obvious — to deliver on that pledge to bring back those ghostly ‘looted billions’. It is true that the new leadership set a shining example of personal austerity by shunning all the old extravagances. But the money so saved proved to be a drop in the ocean.Also, other well-intentioned efforts to raise money by auctioning off bulletproof cars, opulent official residences like PM and Governor House, and confiscated private mansions and estates, proved futile. Who dared come forward to buy, and thus provide evidence of hidden wealth? The cars are gathering dust. As for the present ruinous state of the mansions — the consequence of occupation by hordes of squatter families — “They say the lion and the lizard now keep/ The Courts where Jamshed gloried and drank deep…”
The economic meltdown inevitably produced a political crisis in due course. “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown,” Shakespeare had said. And, for sometime now, IK had good reason to be suspicious of the ambitions of Dr AQK. Matters came to a head when the good doctor, through his media admirers, made his power play: was he not the only one who could salvage the economy, by selling through his old network our nuclear assets and know-how for a much needed $100 billion?That media campaign proved to be a disastrous mistake. Pouncing on the opportunity presented, IK got the chief of army staff (COAS) to publicly denounce the plan as another American plot, and a serious attempt to undermine national security. The doctor was charged with high treason by the CJP under Article 6 of the old constitution (notwithstanding its obscure current legal status), and arrested. As a local trial would be too controversial and divisive, he was got rid of by being handed over to the ICC (“But what does Dr AQK know about cricket?” asked a puzzled IK. “Huzoor, it’s not that ICC but the International Criminal Court,” replied the CJP). IK remained unconvinced. Would the CJP be next for the chop?
As the situation became increasingly desperate, and public unrest escalated with a vengeance, with monthly inflation now topping the million percent mark, the burning question was what should be done?You will remember I had been forced to give up golf. I had amused myself since by taking up that idle pastime known as ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking. So, as a patriotic citizen, I one day suggested to the COAS in an off-hand manner (Aapas ki hi baat hai) that the solution lay in asking Nawaz Sharif to return as Ameer-ul-Momineen, bringing his trillions with him. After mulling it over, he agreed.When he put the proposition to the powers that be, IK rejected it out of hand. “That’s not cricket,” he said. The CJP seemed more receptive, especially as it would also resolve that old beastly corruption in the Steel Mills case. Besides, had not the Khan been recently acting in an unacceptably imperious manner?And so it came to pass that the ‘triple one’ brigade put IK under house arrest in Bani Gala. Simultaneously, a full bench of the SC passed a carefully worded resolution that was little more than a thinly veiled NRO favouring the Sharifs. And, yes, the CJP and the COAS were both give open-ended extensions in their tenures so that they may jointly appoint and supervise an interim national government of technocrats.I reflect that revolutions are a funny business.Damn and blast! There goes that bl**dy electricity again, before I can add the finishing touches to the story – Dailytimes – Munir Attaullah