"What's New Pussycat?"

Mr Mansoor Ijaz, after fussing over security arrange to set foot in the country, finally deigned to make himself available via videolink, to record his testimony before the Commission. Although, it was predictable that his testimony would make headlines, it was more of a fait accompli from before the videolink switched on. The genuine interest in the case means that every time Mr Ijaz removes another veil, or pretends to, we are tittilated and fixated by the display. In the end however, a casual comparison of the substance of the news story accompanied by said headlines, with the contents of the memo itself and news reports from when the scandal first broke, show that Mr Ijaz really has absoutely nothing new to add to his rather fantastical claims. Perhaps his strategy is to continue to repeat his story, until it is reported enough times to be taken as fact, rather than an accusation. While this may be a viable strategy to continue to create doubt in a suspicious public's mind, it will not be enough to implicate the Zardari government or any of the others named in the memo scandal, with any success. Mr Ijaz continues to milk his publicity - but at what cost? Sure, it keeps Pakistanis distracted, but one wonders if Mr Ijaz's business partners are happy to see him making a fool of himself, flogging the dead horse that is memogate.

"You Can't Always Get What You Want"

Pakistan has restored supplies to Afghanistan, suspended since the Salalah checkpost incident, which saw 26 of our soldiers lose their lives. While Nato expressed regret, as did the White House, an actual apology was never received. A flurry of euphemistic words such as 'saddened', issued from press releases, statements and speeches to placate a distressed Pakistani public, adamant to receive an apology. Frankly, an apology should have come. Pakistan was right in asking for one and absolutely justified in expecting one. As the one in the wrong, President Obama should have issued one. But, it's election year, folks. So even though, we were right in asking for one, and President Obama ought to have given one, circumstances are such that he found himself unable to. The reasons are undeniably the pressure from the Republicans, but what will be remembered is that President Obama did not apologise for killing 26 people without reason.

"Who Do You Think You Are"

The Air Marshal Asghar Khan case is up for hearing on the 29th of this month. Cited as justification of why the Supreme Court cannot be called biased in favour of the establishment, it will be interesting to see just what happens. The balance of power between the army, judiciary and civilian government has shifted. It is no longer the same as it was ten years ago. In the current scenario, with all three struggling to find and make their own space - some recovering lost ground, while others try to seize an advantage where one did not previously exist - this is an example of a delicate balancing act. The case is being heard, a judgement will have to be written. That is all one can say for certain. Will it revolutionise the system? When has anything ever succeeded in doing that in Pakistan? But the right questions are being asked, in the open and being tolerated to be asked, by a public which would not mind hearing the answers either. That's a start.

"It's Only Castles Burning"

Balochistan continues to burn and apparently everyone knows exactly what ails it and how to fix it. That's nonsense. All who claim expertise on the subject have probably never set foot in the province. Claims of foreign interference are not something difficult to believe, but all who make the accusations ought to remember that the burden of proof lies on them. Until we can show proof, we cannot win our case and it will continue to seem that the xenophobic Pakistanis look for a scapegoat every time they get something disastrously wrong, through their own greed and stupidity. To all those who claim they have proof - what are you waiting for? Bring it before us, already. The APC that there are attempts to assemble, is facing difficulty even assembling a list of participants. "We won't talk to those who don't recognise the state," goes the argument. Well, there wouldn't be any need to talk to them if they did recognise the state, now would there? Isn't this exactly the kind of attitude Pakistan has been counselling the Yanks against, when it was announced that talks with Taliban were conditional on arms being laid down and a promise of no future attacks on American troops? Laying ground for a negotiation with a 'we will only let you participate in it, if you agree in advance to let us win every argument' is ludicrous. The whole situation will continue to remain absurd, until one day it isn't. And we'll realize what we ought to have done far, far too late. The answer is unconditional talks. Get everyone together and talk and fight and argue until you find a way to  live with each other, peacefully.

Email: rnizami@nawaiwaqt.com.pk