On a short trip to Islamabad, where all is well, and all the troubles are elsewhere, one has the opportunity to sit back and tally the score of the Zardari government, as the midpoint has been reached and passed without any major hiccups.

The talk show hosts have already cooled off and have stopped prophesying the imminent fall of the government, through hackneyed phrases such as, ‘in-house change’ blah blah blah. While the politicians are busy hurling insults, fists and sometimes chairs in the manner of politicians in most countries, scandals, charges of corruption are rife, with the CJ issuing suo moto notices. But no one has started a fast unto death as in our neighbouring country.

The Zardari era will be remembered as a Cliff hanger of Hitchcock proportions. With the shrill cries of people running for cover, and applying for asylum, the few waiting in Dubai and other havens are realizing that making money abroad is not a simple matter, and the laws are stricter, not to mention the lurking taxman. The success of Zardari has been to ignore the screams in the aisles and to concentrate in protecting his loyalists, keeping them in the fold, which is enough to add to his numbers much to the consternation of his enemies.

Politicians are not nice people and Zardari has read them beautifully, the Mullah and Co, the military Inc or the Altaf Bhai Company for that matter, he knows the price as well as the pitfalls, when to negotiate and when to pay. To each he deals with the carrot or the stick and with remarkable success. The MQM somersaults were a treat to behold, and the ringmaster watched the performances and never scolded, but with the Sindhi’s sly banter ensured that the performer knew fully well who was obeying whom.

Meanwhile, Pakistan missed out on five years of progress that could have raised us to a higher level. Zardari succeeded in lowering the standard of everything— politicians, government servants, business, even the Armed forces. Pakistan has really hit the bottom, the rock bottom. It was fortunate that a true revolution did not take place. We should be grateful that the enemies of Pakistan have not taken advantage of a country laid supine by a single person.


Lahore, November 17.