I don’t know, but ever since I have heard our premier making a naïve allusion to crows in his address to Parliament’s last session, Bapsi Sidhwa’s bestseller The Crow Eaters frequently comes to my mind. That is, perhaps, because the idiom “eating crow” means “humiliation by admitting wrongness or having been proved wrong after taking a strong position.”

Now the Pandora Box - otherwise, known as the NRO - is already in the apex court. One just cannot pass a judgment on the issue - either in its favour or in disfavour - even if one wants to. That, however, does not preclude one from making a general statement.

We have heard of hawks - political, military and religious. We have also heard of doves - a symbol of pacifism. But of crows? No, not at all! Thank you, Mr Prime Minister. You just added a new term to the political discourse. And tell you what? The public is fast catching up. We may be deficient in every other field, but not so in satirical thoughts, catchy slogans and conspiracy theories. We, as a nation, are just so superabundant and self-sufficient in this department.

For those who haven’t read or heard the Prime Minister’s speech, here is what he said in effect: “You ask [pointing to the opposition leader, Chaudhry Nisar], what calamity has struck us that we got together to pass the resolution in favour of democracy. I say, didn't all the 17 judges got together overnight at a critical hour? Even crows get together when adversity strikes. We are, after all, a Parliament.”

Chaudhry Nisar, who is known for his tit-for-tat, retorted with the same presence of mind and alacrity: “The Prime Minister talks of crows. We are not crows. We don’t circle around him like crows. Those, who do, are entitled to be called by any name.” Obviously, he missed the premier's point.

Crows or no crows, the fact remains that three vital institutions of the State viz Parliament, judiciary and army have locked horns with each other. Thanks God, crows don’t grow horns. If they did, it would be yet another spectacle: Crows locking horns like the Spanish bullfights in the lower house and in streets.

As for the man on the street, he is completely at loss and looks at the whole situation with confused amazement and bewilderment. “Give me a break, goddamn it,” he yells, “I am dying of cold, hunger, thirst, ethnic strife, sectarian violence, terrorism, disease, epidemics, power outages, gas loadshedding, hiking prices and unemployment, and there you’re fighting over vague and obscure treaties, ordinances and memos. Such legal jargon and technicalities are way beyond my mundane comprehension.”

It seems we are faced with a strange paradox. The stew, which was brewing in the national cauldron for the past so many months is about to explode. A Constitution is supposed to be a sacred document. It should provide a framework for a workable system. It should also bring together a scattering people and provide meaningful solution to real-life problems. At least that is what the very definition of the Constitution conveys. In our case, however, it is the other way around. Far from acting as a cohesive force, it works as a juggernaut - that is, to say, a veritable bone of contention. Either there is something wrong with the Constitution or with the men at the top.

Look, for instance, at the way the immunity principle is being handled and treated by our top brass. The President enjoys constitutional immunity in criminal cases, says one school of thought. The other claims to the contrary. Still the other, hangs in between. And so no one knows for sure which is which and who is who. Absolute confusion reigns the whole country. Or perhaps, we are just so fond of creating gratuitous controversies and cooking up fictitious melodramas.

Add to that the continuous bombardment of so-called breaking news, news alerts, news analysis, table talks, interviews, live updates and debates on our TV news channels, and there you got a perfect recipe for an unceasing and unremitting pandemonium. My God, how can one possibly live in such mayhem and remain in a stable state of mind?

Strange are the ways of providence. Stranger still are the ways of our body politics. Who in his wildest imagination, for instance, would have thought that the counsellor, who once so passionately and untiringly fought the case of a deposed judge, would appear in the same court - this time only to fight on behalf of a serving Prime Minister? That too in a hostile milieu. It is time the poet turned politician turned barrister write a sequel to his famous poem:

“Dunya ki tareekh gawah hai,

Adal bina jamhur na ho ga.”

This latest development, by the way, adds a new twist to the whole equation. The good barrister is reputed for convincing the bench by the sheer power of his communication skills and legal arguments. Would the apex court acknowledge his past sacrifices and withdraw its contempt of court notice to the premier? Or would the premier be disqualified and corruption cases against the President re-opened?

The barrister’s stand on the NRO, at least on the first glance, sounds logical and even-handed. Had the government heeded to his advice and had it not harped on its headstrong tune, things wouldn’t boil down to the present state in the first place. It satisfied the court’s demand on the one hand, and addressed the government’s apprehensions on the other. “The government should approach the Swiss banks/authorities. There is no harm. The President enjoys constitutional immunity - a principle recognised even in the Geneva conventions,” said he.

The next few days and weeks are crucial, in that they would determine the ultimate trajectory of our nascent democracy. Whether they would lead to the disqualification of the premier, dissolution of Assemblies, conviction of the President, an all-out political deadlock, early elections or something more sinister, no one knows. The Prime Minister was in the dock on Thursday and he explained his position in a docile manner. The impression one gets from the day’s proceedings is that the court itself may not want to drag the matter any further. After all, it is only been three years since the stepping of a military man. But who knows. The new motto, in any case, should be: “No hawks, no crows. We want only doves.”

The writer is an advertiser based in Islamabad.

Email: samiurn@yahoo.com