The genie, successfully put back in the bottle earlier by the government led by the Minister of Interior, has managed to break the cap yet again and re-emerge. Mansoor Ijaz, the star witness who one thought had been sufficiently cowed down by the powers that be both in America and here, continues to sing or give evidence; however you want to phrase it! Those of us who were following the scandal in the last couple of months were told in no uncertain terms by the detractors of the same that we had ended up with eggs on our faces for giving importance to an unsigned piece of paper. And it had felt like that, after what seemed like a timid whimpering down of the high-profile case with the no-show of the star witness.

But apparently things do not end till they actually do end. The Judicial Commission appointed by the Supreme Court decided to hear Mansoor Ijaz’s testimony via video link at the Pakistan High Commission in London. He remains unfazed and undeterred in his accusations and is now getting ready to face cross examination by Hussain Haqqani’s (HH’s) lawyers. HH’s lawyer tried his best to object to various non-objectionable things to disrupt the hearing, including pointing out that Mansoor Ijaz was being deliberately irritating by playing with his BlackBerry. (The BlackBerry marketing could not have hoped for this sort of free publicity in a hundred years of advertising campaigns!) Where this is going to lead to remains a question mark and can be compared to waiting for the end of a suspense-filled movie. The usage of code words like ‘bad boys’ and ‘boss’ have added to the truth-is-stranger-than-fiction feel. There are several things that are happening simultaneously in Pakistan and which are rushing towards their logical conclusions. If you look at them objectively from the outside, they appear like rivers which are all heading towards a huge ocean. The PM’s contempt of court case, the Balochistan case, the war on terror and our role in it case, the re-assessment of our relationship with the USA case, the Asghar Khan case etc. The ocean appears the leveller which, after all the rivers have joined it, will throw back only those who are clean enough to remain afloat from among all the institutions of the country, sacred or otherwise.

The 20th Amendment Bill was recently approved by the Senate, but not as easily as one would have assumed. The millions and millions of rupees given out to Senators as development funds for their areas eventually ensured the smooth passing of the bill because, as they say, money talks! The announcement of the previously lapsed funds by chief whip of the treasury benches in the Senate, in the midst of the proceedings, was received by loud desk thumping by the overjoyed Senators. As in the fable, carrots really do prompt better responses than sticks and in most cases are quite irresistible.

There is information that CIA is carving out a new role for itself in Balochistan. It has an interest in the area for many reasons. Ideally, it would like to keep China away from the strategically important port of Gwadar. It would also like to pep up any anti-Shia sentiment that impacts Iran next door. Now that some Baloch political parties, which are actively working towards liberating the province and are out of the closet, and the Pakistan Army, bound by its commitment to defend the territorial boundaries of Pakistan, are at loggerheads - the CIA thinks it can play the role of a mediator between the two and make its own position important and desired. With elections appearing imminent I wonder which, among our political parties, are debating and formulating policies to deal with the problems of this resource rich province of Pakistan.

Postscript: A genie of another kind was also let out of a bottle in the last week. The bottle of repression and the genie were the lakhs and lakhs of women, who participated in the women’s rally organised by the MQM in the vicinity of the Quaid’s mausoleum. Bagh-e-Jinnah has seen rallies of various types in rapid succession, since PTI had its rally there on December 25. There have been leftists, nationalists, rightists, ultra rightists, what have you groups speaking their hearts out at this venue, in order to capture votes for their particular political line of thought. But none of them could match the energy and vigour of the women’s rally, which is beyond description. There was magic in the air! The sight of so many women expressing their feelings and bonded together in their search for their basic rights was definitely reassurance itself that Pakistan is vibrant and safe. Just the slogan of the rally ‘Ba ikhtiar aurat’ or ‘Empowered women’ was a delight. There were women from all social strata and different regions and the folk songs at the end sung by Shazia Khusk were the perfect joyous touch. I participated in the rally from this side of my TV screen and decided to overlook a lot of Altaf Hussain’s faults, for being the first one to understand and unleash this energy and for using this caption. It is also to the credit of the huge numbers of the participants that no religious leader has dared to utter a word in objection to the event.

The writer is a public relations and event management professional based in Islamabad.

Email: tallatazim@yahoo.com