More ramblings

October 26, 2017

Whatever is happening in the ‘Land of the Pure’ is enough to generate the feeling that we are living in a place much like the one that Alice went to, through the ‘Rabbit Hole’. It was days ago that first the Senate and then the Lower House, passed legislation allowing a disqualified Prime Minister to become the Head of his Political Party. In what can best be described as ‘grim mockery’, another bill seeking to strike down its predecessor has now been passed by the same Upper House. The move is being viewed as a red herring or in the opinion of some, a face saver for the Combined Opposition, which knows without a shadow of doubt that the Lower House is dominated by the Ruling Party and the bill will never get through. The only point of academic interest in what is going on, is whether the rebellion within PML N ranks in support of Mr. Shahbaz Sharif, will wean away some votes, when the bill is put to the ballot.

In another significant development of the week, the Election Commission passed a verdict in the Gulalai Case reference seeking her removal from the legislature. The decision, did not come as a surprise since the impartiality of this national institution is already being questioned by many quarters. The lady and her sponsors, need not rejoice prematurely since much water has yet to flow under the bridge, before they can even smell success (if there is one).

There can now be no two opinions that the Sharif Family defense team is successfully engaged in delaying the NAB Court proceedings as much as they can. The ongoing legal shenanigans remind one of the time, when we used to justify are late arrival in school with excuses such as a bicycle puncture. Sometimes these excuses assumed creative proportions depending on the mental agility of the student concerned. The PML N appears to have an effective think tank to this end. It would be wrong on my part to have any reservations on Begum Kulsoom Nawaz’s illness since I know that she is indeed very unwell (and everyone sincerely wishes her a complete and speedy recovery), but it is the perfect timing of her move to the UK for treatment that may be of interest to historians.

With over four decades of experience in dealing with people and how they react to situations, I have come to the conclusion that when faced with undesirable public or media criticism, it is often best to remain silent and eight out of ten times, the ‘talk’ will die its own death. However, when a party responds to what is going around, then there is a fifty percent possibility that these stories have an element of truth in them. Vociferous denials and statements by Ms. Maryam Safdar to the effect that there is no rift between her father and his younger sibling are much akin to case studies in my career, where ‘most denials turned out to be the product of a guilty conscience’.

The US Secretary of State Mr. Tillerson has come and gone, leaving behind a message of do more or else … While public statements by our Foreign Minister were ‘cocky’ (no surprise, since they were meant for public consumption), the nation would like to know what was exchanged behind closed doors. As far as the average Pakistani is concerned, we have had enough of the US ‘Do More’. It is time we tell the Americans that what we have done against terrorism stands unparalleled in world history. We have reached a stage where US dictates and the litany of ‘do more’ does not impress or influence us anymore, nor does the notion that our survival depends on US generosity. We must convey in clear terms that our emphasis is on developing strong security and economic ties with those within easy reach – like China and Russia.

There can be no better conclusion to this week’s piece than a long ago conversation between myself and a Russian (then Soviet Union) diplomat during dinner. This gentleman ambled up to me and said something in Russian. I gave him a blank look with the words that I did not speak the language. The enormity of his counter response, became starkly evident, when viewed in the current geopolitical environment - “America so far yet you speak such good English, Russia so near, but you do not know Russian”.

The writer is a freelance columnist.