Overheard in a café the other day. Two guys were debating the upcoming polls. One asked the other: “Don’t you think the Lion’s girding his loins once more and will have a big time in the Punjab again - or for that matter in the whole country?”

 “I do. But first I’d like to make a simple observation,” replied the other.

“What’s that?”

“Don’t you see in a jungle like Pakistan, only the king of the jungle will reign?”

“How do you mean?” asked the first one.

“It is simple as pie. In a land where there is no rule of law, where the only law is the law of the jungle, where human beings are treated like cattle, where the angel of death savours a dandy harvest each single day, where there is no justice at all, how can you expect any change?” said the other.

“Perhaps you are overlooking the Bat factor.”

“No, I don’t. I have seen and heard of PPP’s Arrows piercing through the body of the Lion. But the prospects of the Bat to squash the Lion down are very dim. I don’t think the PTI would break the current status quo and achieve a sizeable number of seats to form the central government.”

“Hmm well, how about the atomic scientist’s Missile then? It can kill the fabled creature, can’t it,” asked second guy with a giggle.

“No way. The Missile is only there for the fizzle. I don’t know why just everybody’s so bent on saving the country, while what they need is to save their own skins in these hardest of times. It is true both for the scientist-turned-politician and for the commando. I ask you. Was there any need whatsoever for Musharraf to return to this Godforsaken country?”

“None, I guess.”

“Or if he had to return, and return he must, why didn’t he wait for another two years? Given the psyche of our nation, I am sure the public would have greeted him with a historic reception by then,” said the first guy.

“I agree,” replied the other.

“Then just why don’t our retired men enjoy the leisure of their retired lives and leave this country alone, for God’s sake?”

“Perhaps, everyone fancies a messiah in himself. That is why,” answered the first man smilingly, asking still further, “what about the Arrow?”

“The Arrow was broken into two the day BB lost her life. Thanks to his father, it seems now Bilawal will have to resuscitate the PPP’s dead horse. An impossible task, one must say.”

“Well, if both the Arrow and the Bat would fail to rout the Lion, how about the Bicycle?”

“Huh, the Bicycle is only a cyclic party with flat tires in need of yet another commando to make it go.”

“And the Scale?”

“Seems even on the surface, but is tilted toward one side, i.e. extremism.”

“And the Book?”

“The best friend of a man and woman. But in the wrong hands of the Maulana.”

“And the Lantern?”

“It is needed. Too frequent power cuts, you see!”

“And the Kite?”

“Now who can compete with the Kite or cut its cord? It will ever sour up in the sky. All it requires is to cut its contacts with the crooks, though, and make Karachi a peaceful port city.”

“And the Falcon?”

“A Falcon encaged isn’t a Falcon at all. It is more like a sparrow. I pity him, though. The Sharifs made a good move by forgiving him. Shows their sheer large-heartedness.”

“So what do you most like about the Lion?”

“Its clout in the media and its control over the masses.”

“And what do you dislike about the Bat?”

“Its overconfidence, simple-mindedness and bat-like blindness with regard to the prevalent quagmire.”

“What if the Bat still steals the show and forms the central government?”

“That would be a pleasant surprise. But of all things, it will first have to decide whether the war on terror is ours or not. Apparently, the Boots have an altogether different take on the issue. Recall the COAS’ address on the Martyrs Day.”

“I second you there,” said the first man, ready now with yet another question. “What is your view on the live debate between the Lion and the Bat? Should there be one?”

“Why shouldn’t there be. Only a cat would fear a thing like that. Or a paper Lion. Otherwise, he should confront it head on. But while the Sharifs won the high moral ground by their large-heartedness, they are kind of losing it by their lame excuses in this respect. This will definitely undermine their position.”

“It seems - contrary to the common perception - that the Bat has inflicted more harm on the Arrow’s vote bank than on the Lion’s. Don’t you agree?”

“I do. But only if BB was alive.”

“No, methinks only if the PPP had survived.”

“Whatever. But enough of these ifs and buts. Let’s move on. I now ask you a question. A simple one. If there were two leaders. One a tried and tested one. The other a fresh face, but with false notions. Who would you go for?”

“Hard question, boy. Reminds me of a quatrain by Khushal Khan. He said: ‘I prefer a wise widow/Over a stupid and ill-mannered virgin/The former will go about in her life reasonably/The latter will go about in hers whimsically’.”

“Ha ha. Quite a quatrain. But I am still confused. Don’t you realise a major chunk of the young generation supports the Skipper.”

“I know, they do. But so do the old back the Sharifs. And tell you what? The wisdom of the old is always preferable to the fervour of the youth.”

“I know what else you would add. That the Lion also got some baby cubs in his club.”

“Of course, it does. Young blood like Maryam Nawaz and Miftah Ismail are a breath of fresh air. Especially, Maryam, the lioness. I can say with some degree of confidence she got loads of tact, intellect and insight.”

“Huh, that is what you think. Not me necessarily. Anyhow, how would you sum it all up?”

“That whoever wins, should go for an alliance with the like-minded parties, get united on a single platform, make justice their sole goal, the menace of terrorism their topmost priority and deal with other serious issues on war footing simultaneously. That is it.”

The writer is a freelance columnist.