A new year has begun and our days seem like a ball of wool that a naughty kitten is having fun with. We seem to have several issues at play simultaneously and the kitten is not sparing any of them. All the short-term benefits of a few important decisions taken by those at the helm of our affairs in the recent past have now run their course and the issues raise their heads again, begging for long-term solutions.

Despite the cold, foggy weather and the energy shortage one has the feeling that it is this year that will see us make a new beginning which will pave the way for sorting out our priorities and problems. The ball of wool that the kitten is unraveling fast includes the NRO, the memogate, Pakistan US relations, our stand on the war on terror, new regional realities and the civil-military imbalance. This is apart from the economy which is now close to dry, with its own resultant implications.

I wish there was a way by which all that we are about to witness in terms of court decisions, the resultant disagreements and animosities, the upheavals etc. etc., could be ducked and we are able to emerge at the other side of this difficult time unscathed - with the system in place, better leaders at the helm, more resolve in our hearts and better facilities for the common Pakistani. In my imaginary gardens there is so much more encouragement for poets, writers, creativity and the performing arts. Each child has the ability to express himself/herself to the fullest. My country makes Bulley Shah and all our Sufi poets an essential part of its educational curriculum and there are laws that are obeyed. There is justice and food for all irrespective of their social status or religious beliefs and there is peace and harmony between our regional neighbours. We are going this way but I wish we could fast-forward and arrive there at once instead of, as the poet says, ‘aiesta, aiesta’.

The Supreme Court is at the centre of addressing these issues and theirs is not a bed of roses I’m sure. What with the likes of Asma Jehangir and Babar Awan and their penchant for barbed insults and media-savviness. It makes a lethal, not just legal, combination for the SC to face. Asma Jehangir goes all out at every opportunity to get at the military, with or without provocation and Babar Awan does the same with the SC in defence of the President. While one has admired Asma’s brave stands on human rights, with a particular reference to women so many times, her wish to defend HH is not quite comprehensible. It seems she is doing it primarily because the faujis are among the other side. Just as all of us know the downside of military rule like the back of our hands, everybody also knows the personal history of HH which does not need a detailed recount either. Had Asma chosen to defend just any isolated underdog it would have been expected of her, but to go out of her way for somebody who played dirty tricks on BB and later wanted to be Information Minister in Musharraf’s team and who cannot be reinvented by her, despite all her brilliance, is essentially the surprise. Her abilities at her profession are not in question though and it will be interesting to watch and hear the case argued by her on one side and by Akram Sheikh on the other side as Mansoor Ijaz’s lawyer. As a Pakistani I wish for nothing else but truth to emerge from the shadows and for truth to be the ultimate winner in this and every other case.

The present government has said that elections can happen anytime this year after June. The Election Commission, thus, will need to get its house in order quickly to remove the recognized stumbling blocks in way of the free and fair that people want and expect. If ever there was a time for change and a fresh start it is this year. It is also true that we have used up all our chances and we either have to have the correct answers and win or lose never to play again.

Post Script: Follow up to the last column wherein I had said that a group of more than 100 retired generals were ready to make a collective statement in favour of General Musharraf in the first week of January. Well guess what? They have been asked to put this idea in cold storage for the time being. Feathers got ruffled and much persuasion and tactics were used, with a back and forth between Rawalpindi and Dubai and the meeting called off. What is not off so far is the decision by Musharraf to return as planned by the end of this current month. Just as HH and Zardari are within their rights to get a fair hearing for their alleged crimes, so must Musharraf get a chance to defend himself when he comes back. It is, perhaps, all those who advised and aided him during his tenure at the Presidency who are more worried about his return and would rather say that he stay safely abroad. The veils are going to be lifted from many cases if trials are undertaken and we will see a lot of people without clothes in Musharraf’s hammam. I wonder if Asma Jehangir will agree to become his lawyer.

    The writer is a public relations and event management professional based in Islamabad.

    Email: tallatazim@yahoo.com