Being sluggish and mediocre, my mind doesn’t have the capacity to imagine mystifying things like Franz Kafka. Yet, a weird wish got hooked in my mind while watching the Senate proceedings of Friday.

I kept expecting that someone from the opposition benches would take the floor to bravely admit that he or she had not stamped the ballot in favor of Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, when a serious attempt was made to remove the Senate Chairman, Sadiq Sanjrani, through a vote of no confidence, almost a year ago. 

After all, 64 senators had stood up to express support for the said motion, when it was tabled in the house. That comprised a brute majority and conveyed the feeling that Sanjrani was all set to lose, vacating the seat for Hasil Khan Bizenjo. But the final result, hardly an hour after boastful display of the said support, proved otherwise. 

In the solitude of the polling booth, at least sixteen senators from the opposition parties decided to ditch Hasil. Their decision rather produced a scandalous humiliation for all the opposition parties. Ironically and sadly, none of them ever cared to locate turncoats from among their ranks. Yet, senator after senator stood from the same benches Friday to pay glowing tributes to his memory, the morning after the news of his death. The news was surely not sudden but still shocking: he had bravely been fighting against lung cancer for the past one year. But instead of succumbing to despondency, he kept on enduring the painful sessions of chemotherapy with hope-driven vigor. With his usual smile, he also tried to bounce back in political battles by agreeing to lead the fight against Sadiq Sanjrani. 

He also accepted the astonishingdefeat with the veneer of a thick-skinned optimist and instead of naming and shaming the possible turncoats, betraying him in the end, graciously continued to acknowledge and laugh at ‘limitations,’ which a unique brand of hybrid democracy had brought to Pakistan.

Pervez Rashid, a compulsive loner from Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), certainly deserves some credit for sincerely apologising to Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, through his speech, for the betrayal he had endured from his own colleagues, on the day voting had been held on a motion of no confidence against Sadiq Sanjrani. But the rest of senators preferred to disregard the said ignominy like a bad smell among polite company. 

Hasil had remained one of my dearest friends since the late 1980s. Many years before my meeting him, I had also savored regular rather active contact with his father, Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo. Fondly remembered as “BABA” (Father), even his worst critics reverently acknowledge him as the iconic pioneer of the movement, which has a long history of undaunted struggle for the rights of Balochistan.

Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo had never been a chauvinist bigot. Being a Punjabi, I always preferred to approach him first to fathom not only the depths and nuances of Balochistan-related affairs but also some highly complex and complicated sides of the national and global politics.

Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo was a consummate politician with the sad history of spending many years in jails for sticking to his dreams. Without conceding an inch on this count, he also believed, firmly, that politics in the end was the ‘art of possible.’ Instead of waging the armed struggle for chasing the illusion of an “Independent Balochistan,” the political activists from that province should continue struggling, politically and peacefully, to get their rights as equal citizens of the Federation of Pakistan and must never feel shy to “negotiate for their rights,” with powers that be.

Firmly sticking to this position, he also played a very active role in drafting the Constitution of 1973 and its eventual approval with consensus. He consciously played the said role, in spite of developing serious differences with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the PPP founder, who had sacked the first elected government of Balochistan, established though the maiden adult-franchise-based elections our country had in 1970. Bizenjo was leading the said government as a powerful and broadly respected Governor.

The extremist fringe of the Baloch rights-activists never felt comfortable with fundamental thesis of Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo. He was often mocked and derided for presumably practicing a “compromised (read opportunistic) politics.”

Drumming the same story the extreme “nationalists” ensured his defeat for a seat of the national assembly during the election of 1988, held after the death of General Zia. That surely worked like a heart breaking shock for a towering icon.

Hasil, no doubt, was a true heir of his father and consumed all his life to diligently promote and defend his legacy. He had been elected to the national assembly, for the first time in 1997. After reaching there, he joined the second government of Nawaz Sharif as a federal minister.

Often, I used to rudely mock his decision of “collaborating with a capitalist from Lahore,” in spite of “pretending as nationalist-left-progressive etc.” Not for once, he ever felt annoyed. Sitting with groups of common friends, he would rather persuade them to invite me as well. “He (yours truly) will ignite energy and humor while constantly insulting me,” was the usual refrain he used for inviting me over.

Hasil had never attempted to defend his alliance with Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League while arguing with me. With self-denigrating humor, he rather behaved as if “appreciating” my “principled stand.”

From hearts of his heart, Hasil firmly believed that only a formidable politician from Punjab, with solid and genuine public support, could ensure that “provincial autonomy,” as prescribed in our constitution and later described, clearly, through the 18th amendment was delivered, in letter and spirit.

His unwavering support to Nawaz Sharif definitely annoyed the extreme fringe of the Baloch nationalists. Since at least 2008, Hasil had been living with a clear and seldom abating threat to his life. Yet, he always travelled an extra mile to “mainstream” the extremist fringe by engaging them in negotiations. His consistent support to Nawaz Sharif equally annoyed powerful quarters, setting and regulating the power games in Pakistan.

After losing the battle again Sadiq Sanjrani, he had begun to have second thoughts. The so-called “pragmatic line,” the PML-N had begun to pursue under the leadership of Shehbaz Sharif, visibly and increasingly disappoint him. But he hardly had any energy left in him to confront. Perhaps to prepare for the final battle, he rather switched his focus on combating cancer,which he lost Thursday evening.

His is certainly not the death of an individual only. Hasil had been a solid representative of a fast-dying tradition of politics, where you believed in some ‘ideology.’ This tradition asked for perpetual struggle, waged through sincerely engaging people in serious dialogue. Instead of demeaning and demonizing ‘the other’, it strived for inclusion and deeply respected all possible shades of pluralism.

For sure, an entirely different form of politics is in ascendance these days. And ‘tribute-paying’ speeches in the Senate Friday furnished the perfect but hollow example of it.