So last year around this time, Imran Khan and Dr. Tahir ul Qadri decided to march to Islamabad against 'rigging' in 2013 elections, insisting that their mandate has been stolen. The "Azadi March" was based on the premise that Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) was involved in systematic and intentional rigging of 2013 elections in which Najam Sethi, Geo News and Election Commission were all in on. Dr. Tahir ul Qadri, who doesn't even have a parliamentary status of any kind in Pakistan, arrived from Canada (the irony is unmistakable) and joined Imran Khan at Pakistan's capital. His premise was based on the Model Town incident in which Punjab Police clashed with Pakistan Awami Tehreek workers; the clash resulted in 14 deaths of PAT workers.

What went on in the next one hundred and twenty six days was mind-bogglingly historical. Khan and Qadri both sat inside their containers, Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif sat inside his Parliament/PM House, TV anchors sat inside their studios and people like us sat comfortably in our houses. The political temperature is rising, we kept hearing. Imran Khan was spouting fiery revolutionary (?) speeches atop his container with deluges of Abrar's beats whereas Qadri kept giving deadlines every four hours, complete with theatrics of coffins and shrouds and angry waving of the Constitution of Pakistan (which he insisted was written by Quaid e Azam). 

The people who were on the streets (a lot of them paid by the day, along with food and transport) were mostly lower or lower-middle-class individuals and/or Qadri loyalists. They sat in rain, in chaos, they even became bandits for hire when, from within the container, Mr. Khan and Mr. Qadri nudged them to storm into Parliament House, attack PTV News, Geo News, not to mention harass the reporters present in the 'dharna'. Imran and Qadri demanded that Shahbaz Sharif and Nawaz Sharif resign. Political parties tried talking sense into them. No one listened. More drama. More statements. Civil disobedience (oh that one was actually funny). Send money through hundi. PTI clashing with PTI. PAT workers desperate to go home but couldn't because their ID cards were being held hostage by PAT leaders. 

And so it went on for days. For one hundred and twenty six days. Every day a new deadline. New vitriol. Parliament members convened, nothing happened, expensive dinners and big cars shuttling back and forth from mediating political parties. And then more of the same.

It took December 16, 2014 for the political (and military) landscape to change. The horror of that day echoed loudly enough for everyone in Pakistan and around the world to hear and be shell-shocked for days. (I, for one, still haven't gotten over it.) Raheel Sharif was scurrying off to Afghanistan, PM Sharif called for a "National Action Plan", death penalties and military courts  Mr. Khan was present, it seemed that the twains had met. 

Eight months and a judicial commission’s verdict later, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf was back into the assemblies. In the golden words of Khawaja Asif, the ‘sharam’ and the ‘haya’ were quickly absconded. Not only did PTI receive seven months of unpaid salary (which Mr. Khan said he and his party members would return), their resignations stood unaccepted. JUI and MQM joined in to oust PTI out of the assembly and urged the speaker, Ayaz Sadiq, to accept PTI’s resignation. But PML-N did not budge. So much so that Ayaz Sadiq called Altaf Hussain personally and a day or two later, MQM rescinded its opposition.

In the meantime, there was a score of background music, strong with the sounds of strategy. It was called the Karachi Operation. While it led to a lot of patriotic slogan-chanting and ‘sighs of relief’ from Karachiites, including #WeSupportKarachiOp Twitter trends, the Peoples’ Party, whose chief Asif Ali Zardari was heard launching a snide and angry tirade against military establishment. The speech was condemned everywhere but Mr. Zardari’s stance spun on its axis within the week. After presenting Sindh Rangers with 9,600 acres of land in Sindh, Mr. Zardari and his key cronies were safely in Dubai, conveying and relaying their messages of ‘support’ to Sindh Rangers as well as showing ‘satisfaction’ in their operation and tactics.

Within a similar time frame, Rangers raided Nine Zero and pulled out MQM workers and leaders. One incident led to the death of Waqas Shah, an unarmed civilian who was an MQM worker. Rangers pinned the death of Waqas on MQM, claiming that Farooq Sattar and top leadership in MQM even knew the alleged killer of Waqas: a man named Ali. MQM stated that Ali was picked up by LEAs earlier but was not disclosed until later, it also stated that it was Rangers who had fired at MQM workers during the raid.

Apart from this terrible casualty, MQM workers have been blindfolded in public, marched on streets like prisoners of war, handcuffed, humiliated, have been made into a human train and parliamentary leaders of MQM have been subject to unprecedented searches. No other party in Karachi has been offered such privileges at the hands of Law Enforcement Agencies. The not so surprising bit is how the Chief Minister and governor both show satisfaction over LEA MOs, however CM Shah showed discontent over LEA performances only when FIA started interfering in NAB’s affairs. 

The country’s politics is at odds again, though not with the theatrics of Dharna and minus the sound effects of Gullu Butt. It is however rife with Altaf Hussain’s vociferous tirades and PMLN’s all-zzz-well chant, even amidst a scandal as horrifying as Qasur’s child abuse ring. Add to this drumbeat the consistent self-righteous statements from Chaudhry Nisar who says things like, “Rangers are not to arrest any parliamentarians without asking me first”. 

While there are FIRs against Altaf Hussain all over the country for his ‘hate speech against institutions’, Kaif ul Warah and Qamar Mansoor were arrested for ‘arranging hate speech against institutions’, Imran Khan and Qadri currently stand scot free, patriotic parliamentarians even though they physically attacked Pakistan’s venerated institutions. The hypocrisy is to go down in history books.

From Saulat Mirza’s ‘leaked tapes’ from the depth of jail to Owen Bennet-Jones’ ‘expose’, MQM is on target, from Waqas Shah to Muhammad Hashim - Rangers say it is a conspiracy. The Prime Minister, in the meantime, is in Belarus. Conclude what you may.