Perhaps the most perplexing part of all this madness is that we are forced to take it at face value. The obscurity is so complete, that we have to find our moral opinions in tactical moves, in cause and effect, in TV shows day to day, and not in end games. Few are entirely sure how they feel; there is a tedious familiarity to this feeling. The sense that there was a script, written somewhere well beyond our reach that is now coming to life. After events of Saturday night, the bigger picture has been laid to rest, because the only man who could bring this country face to face with it is nowhere to be seen. This isn’t the time for disappearances, this isn’t the time for dignified silences. Say something, Nawaz. For the love of God, say something.
What this protest project has proven, is that visibility is the most relevant political power these leaders have. Nobody expected the government to hold back resistance as a mob stormed the peripheries of its national institutions. It was always inconceivable. Sure, we can ask a myriad of questions. Why was the army simply holed up inside the buildings? What about Section 245? Who gave the nod? Why was the police called in? Were they called in too early? Why was the media targeted? The point is, everybody knew violence was coming once Qadri and Imran decided to proceed deeper. Everybody knew something had changed the game; after repeated assurances Imran rather spontaneously broke his word. He changed his mind. He lied. He shrugged his shoulders and went with the flow. It was a low point for his integrity. And yet, even at a moment when the narrative could so easily fall in favour of the government, when sympathy would be squarely with the PM, Qadri and Imran emerged the victors in the public imagination on Sunday morning.
Let’s talk about government failure. Governments that fail within a year of being voted into power don’t fail because they couldn’t deliver on their election promises. It’s just not enough time. They fail because they failed to engage; because they were unwilling and unable to be visible, to be politically shrewd at the right time. Model Town, where was Nawaz? IDP crisis, where was Nawaz? Run up to the Islamabad protests, where was Nawaz? 30th August, Where was Nawaz? He has always been missing tactically at the critical junctures, and somebody else, whether it is the army or Qadri or Imran, has always been there to occupy his space. It is his relentless absence that has engulfed him, ravaged his legitimacy and torn him apart politically. Are we just waiting now, for the final nod to the executioner? Yes. Yes, we are.