The current political scenario created by the two major parties which have ruled this country since the ouster of Musharraf’s government reminds me of a celebrated painting and a tale that I read a long time ago – the oil on canvas masterpiece was titled ‘After the Storm’, while the other was a novel (now long out of print) called ‘The Return of Alfred’.

The fading away of the national hero and celebrated Chief of the Army Staff into retirement appears to have caused the same effects as the painting mentioned earlier. Gone are the storm clouds of accountability that hung over politicians and wrongdoers alike, when he was around and one can almost hear them heaving a great a sigh of relief. A closer look at the painting however shows another bank of thunder clouds emerging from one corner of the landscape, indicating that the scene showcases a temporary respite.

All eyes are now turned to the new head of the apex court, who is expected to speak through his judgment on the Panama papers case and fulfil the demands of true justice. For the time being, everything is ‘hunky-dory’ for the ruling party, which is celebrating a strategy that was well-executed (albeit in a truly Machiavellian manner).

The return of Mr Asif Zardari timed perfectly with the departure of the former Chief, reaffirms the awesome impact that the latter had created upon those who left no stone unturned to loot the country. There is however a whisper doing the rounds that the former President’s body language is muted as if he is unsure of the future. The whisper may have grounds, since the change of command does in no way mitigate the arrogant challenge that had been thrown at the only institution in the country that has earned the respect of the people – and the strength of this institution lies in the fact that no matter who sits at its helm, it will do ‘the right stuff’.

Events also point to what may be a renewal of, what is usually referred to as, the old ‘deal’ between PPP and PML-N, whereby the latter would not extend its authority in Sindh. Nonetheless, I was very sorry to see a party that had become almost iconic through the charisma and leadership of its founder and later his great daughter, disintegrating into a sorry state. Gone were the numbers and the spontaneous passion on Benazir Bhutto’s death anniversary and what was touted as a roar turned into a whimper of an announcement to the effect that father and son would get elected into the fag-end of the sitting Parliament. From the PPP’s point of view, this may even be a decision designed to keep a wary eye on the PML-N leadership from close quarters and preempt violation of any new deal (if one has been mutually committed).

I am constrained to say that PTI has apparently lost critical ground with no one to blame but itself and its leadership. It should now begin introspecting on the lessons (if Khan Sahib has drawn any) of the past year and prepare itself for the 2018 elections. This must be done with the basic premise that neither PPP nor any other opposition party can be relied upon for support of any kind. Imran Khan’s political ambitions should be aimed at gaining enough seats that entitle his party to sit on the opposition leader’s chair in both the houses. If he plays his cards right and reaches this benchmark successfully, then he would be justified in setting a higher goal for 2022.

On the Chaudhry Nisar front, the cards appear to be stacking higher and higher. Out of the entire PML-N coterie of ministers, I hold Chaudhry Sahib in much esteem, because he does not appear intimidated by his leadership. On the contrary I sometimes get the idea that he does not take dictation from the media cell inhabited by the ‘singing quartet’. Whatever be the case, the return of ‘Alfred’ is not likely to bode well for the Interior Minister, who in my opinion will choose to stand and fight. Whatever be the case, we are passing through interesting political developments or in the words of a local political ‘pundit’ awesome drama. What the future has in store for us – only time will tell.

 

n             The writer is a freelance columnist.