This week’s column is a deviation in format, as the views expressed here are not mine. These have been gleaned from stuff overheard, whenever two or more of my countrymen have gotten together - in front of pan shops, in restaurants and driver hotels, during weddings and at every other place where people gather. These discussions centre on, what can be justifiably termed as our most popular national pastime, i.e. politics, and frequently spiced with conspiracy theories and unprintable notions spawned by prevailing environment.The recently concluded elections were a disappointing exercise for many, as they manifested the same old faces and not the sweeping metamorphosis that everyone was hoping for. Nonetheless, change did come about in some significant ways - it revealed itself in attitudes wherein the party, which swept the polls at the national level, allowed the majority party in KPK to form a coalition and nationalists to do likewise in Balochistan. Bitter political rivals walked across the floor to congratulate the new Prime Minister, amidst a general feeling of ‘let us put our act together this time’. What remains to be seen is, if these positive signs are symbolic of a sustained change or merely a result of ‘euphoria’ or (to keep the conspiracy theorists happy) part of a game plan hatched by strategists of the majority party.The Musharraf case, continues to generate interest, but is causing bad press for those who are hell-bent to see him ‘burn at the stake’. The saga continues amidst speculation that we may soon hear the news that the former President has been allowed to proceed abroad for humanitarian reasons. Nevertheless, focusing on ‘getting’ Musharraf only, while casting a blind eye towards a long list, whose crimes are more obvious and heinous, would be a grave mistake. The three key ministries of Railways, Power and Interior have finally got veteran PML-N men at their helms. The job description of these gentlemen (notwithstanding the perks) is unenviable, provided they are committed to effectively take issues head on. If, on the other hand, they are of the same class as a former Minister, who on assumption of office, told his Federal Secretary to run the Ministry because all he (the Minister) ever wanted was his ‘package’, then we can toss our hopes outside the window.The Lahore Metro Service caused a sensation that is gradually turning into a nightmare because of subsidies being injected into operating the facility. What defies intelligent reasoning is the Punjab Chief Minister’s obsession with metros and elevated trains, when what Pakistan needs at this point in time is quality education, law enforcement, speedy justice and freedom from economic deprivation.Jama’at-i-Islami’s support of Nawaz Sharif at the centre, while in a coalition with PTI in KPK is an act of pragmatic politicking and not a demonstration of fickle-mindedness, as some quarters are labelling it to be. This party has a diehard following in the conservative religious segment of society and nothing can move these supporters away from their commitment. As long as this party continues delivering objectively towards the process of law-making and resorts to nothing radical, it will be tolerated by everyone including liberals.The PTI was forced to come up on social media and clarify its position with regards to Ms Fauzia Kasuri. Notwithstanding what the two sides are saying, the actions of Ms Kasuri contradict the impression that she was not interested in reaping material recognition from her party leadership, but genuinely believed in Imran Khan’s quest for good governance. How Ms Kasuri will justify her contacts with representatives of PML-N (if such contacts be fact) as alleged by the media will be matter that she has to muse on, for the sake of her political future. My most thought-provoking ‘eavesdrop’ came from a ‘driver hotel’ on GT Road, as I stopped there for a meal of fried dal and roti. A group of truckers sat on a charpoy discussing (of all things) a scenario, where the new government did not deliver and things deteriorated further. I now wish I had recorded what one of this group said, as he arose to continue his journey: “In that event I shall put myself and my entire family to eternal sleep.”

The writer is a freelance columnist.