Fable reversing stuff is what Pakistani politics seems to be made of. Remember ‘Hare and the Tortoise”? Friends and foes of the government appear to be unified on a single point: PM Nawaz Sharif’s government was too slow to react to the storm visible on the horizon; it could have averted the disaster it faces today had it moved judiciously and nimbly. Yet, this unanimous verdict belies the conventional wisdom that lay in the stuff of fables. Remember ‘The Hare and the Tortoise?’ It holds no more. The Nimble shall inherit the world it seems.

I was one of the first voices, if not the very first, to call for Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s resignation in no equivocal terms over the Model Town killings back in June (http://www.nation.com.pk/columns/25-Jun-2014/what-do-you-mean-if). And whilst only a week ago I might have been self-righteously pontificating that had Shahbaz Sharif resigned in a timely fashion things might have been different today, ironically I don’t quite see things in the same light any more. Let me clarify at the outset: surely glacial speed and terrible political sense must have hurt the government; surely the PMLN government cannot be exonerated of stupidity; surely it cannot be exonerated of imperial behavior. But what has certainly become clear is that no matter how judiciously, fairly or fast the government had moved, it would still probably have been no match for its hydra-headed adversary.

Consider: During the tenure of the previous PPP-led government, the enemy launched Tahir-ul-Qadri in the last year of its tenure. Firstly, what was the point of mounting a challenge in the last few months of an elected government? It was clear as day that PPP was in for an ignominious defeat at the hands of voters anyway. Then why Qadri? Why? The target could only have been the process of democracy itself. The target could only have been the peaceful transfer of power from one elected government to another. There is no other conceivable reason for the satanic tableau that played out in Islamabad only months before the country was gearing up to go to polls in May 2013. Zardari, his party and his government were all deeply unpopular. Everyone knew they were all going home. Then why the drama? The Angels didn’t just want to send the government of the day home, they wanted to send the entire delusion home: the delusion of a system, the delusion of some semblance of democracy and democrats getting anything right, ever; and the possibility of Pakistan outgrowing the Angels and their shenanigans.

Fast forward to today. Despite the adversary’s best efforts and deployment of its best assets, the democratically elected government had proved too wily for the enemy in January 2013. Without guns or tanks, without artillery or 111s, it managed to out-maneuver the Angels in boots. And that is what seems to have brought the double onslaught this year. Last time, it was one joker in a container. Now it’s two. Both with separate constituencies, with separate appeals, with separate demands, but with a common goal: fall of a popularly elected government that the people of Pakistan want to work with.

Yes, the people of Pakistan want to work with an imperfect government; with an imperfect system. We do not deny the many faults of the ‘ruling family’. But guess what? The majority of us (please refer to the latest pew poll on the subject) want to bring change via holding our rulers accountable to us – not to the rabble that represents the Angels. And who is Imran Khan with a rabble of 20, 000 to deprive the majority of that? He insists that whatever he is demanding is within the confines of ‘jamhooriat’ (democracy). Really? Will someone tell him that the ‘jamhoor’ (people) voted the Sharif brothers in with all their faults? Will someone tell him THIS IS JAMHOORIAT: people are willing to work with the PMLN’s alleged ‘baadshahat’, criminality, nepotism and what have you. Will someone tell him we do not need him to take extra-constitutional measures on our behalf? Will someone tell him we are all aware of the fallibility of the ruling government? Will someone tell him that abuse and invective does not substitute for logic? Not for the majority, anyway.

Yet, no matter what anyone conveys to Mr. Khan or not, one knows it will not have an iota of effect. Because he is not really beholden to what the ‘jamhoor’ wants or needs. He is only beholden to his own ambition, which is unfortunately beholden to the Angels, beholden to themselves only.

Consider the narrative going round: Raheel Sharif and camp are sympathetic to PM Sharif and democracy, whilst the Zaheer-ul-Islam lot are not. Really? Notwithstanding the very real splits in the establishment, were it so simple, things would have had a very different complexion now. Would the army chief really be losing to his grip and writ on his own institution? The institution reputed to be the most disciplined by far in the country? But… what if?

Well. There is only one fork. And it truly resembles the tongue of the snake: either Raheel Sharif is in control and the institution is playing good cop, bad cop with us and our representatives, or … or he is not in control! Not in control of the five generals due to retire in October! The bets are on. I believe he is in control, at least insofar as the current political crisis is concerned. And the lesser and greater Angels are all on one page; the page being to derail the jamhoor and the popular will.

 The writer is a human rights worker and freelance columnist.

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