By Sami ur Rahman
May 21, 2013
Eavesdropping is a nasty habit. It is condemnable in certain cases. But not so, when it comes to a political discourse; when the participants are just the common men; and the venue only a small dilapidated cafe. I just cannot help it. I’d listen for hours without end, enjoying the hot debate and the heated exchange of words. Here’s what I heard two guys talking about the post-May 11 events.
“Do you think there should be a friendly match between the two parties of PML-N and PTI, as Nawaz Sharif said the other day?” asked one.
“Why not? There should be one. After all, Imran has been a professional cricketer. He should not shy away from it. But it has only to be a cricket match and cricket match only. I am afraid what Nawaz actually meant was a friendly opposition. Not a desirable thing, one must say. We don’t want PTI play the same role as did PML-N during the former regime. The opposition party is a government-in-waiting. A shadow government, so to say. The more robust the opposition is, the more pressure it will exert on the government to deliver,” replied the other.
“I agree. That is the common impression. It was only after PTI held mass rallies in Lahore, Karachi and elsewhere since October, 2011, that PML-N got its act together and went for mass projects like the Metro Bus Service,” said the first guy, adding, “may I ask what did the man with the saffron turban meant when he said governance demands wisdom, rather than majority - after his meeting with Shahbaz Sharif in Lahore?”
“Huh, that is one big joke. What the Maulana actually meant was that he demanded the KPK government more than the opposition benches. The Sharifs are not that much fool to go for an alliance in a province worst hit by terrorism, though. They know fully well what happened to the ANP there,” replied the second guy.
“By the way, do you think PTI broke the status quo in the polls anyway, as it claimed?” asked the first man.
“Well, not really, but it did something close to it. Or may I say more than that. The rising of the youth, the awareness of the upper middle class and the elite, the emergence of the third force, the high turnout, the pocketing of considerable vote bank in the Punjab and urban Sindh, winning of strategic seats in Rawalpindi and Islamabad and the defeat of PML-N stalwarts like Chaudhary Nisar, Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan, Peer Sabir Shah, Amir Muqam, Hanif Abbasi and Anjum Aqeel, among others all point to the changing political dynamics. The winds of change, so to say, with far-reaching ramifications for the country in the long run,” replied the other.
“How about PTI’s rigging charges then?” asked the first man.
“Well, when the youth of a nation rise to the occasion, expect some action there. That is what’s happening at the moment. They will keep on their struggle in a forceful manner and would not let it go. But, for now, PTI should focus more on the future course than on the past follies. They should come up with the White Paper, as its leader says, register their protest in a peaceful manner and avoid any unwarranted street violence and discord. After all, five years is only the blink of an eye in the political life.”
“How come you called the PTI seats in the twin cities as strategic?” asked the first guy still further.
“For the simple reason central power rests there. The party held a mammoth rally in Islamabad’s D-Square right on the polls’ eve. The participants were highly charged, highly motivated and highly spirited. It seems now PTI would attract such mass assemblies of supporters anytime it wants. I fear the D-Square would eventually turn into the ultimate battleground, i.e. Pakistan’s Tahrir Square. Not now, but say two or three years from now on.”
“Precisely, that’s what the man with the black goggles also thought,” said the first man with a chuckle.
“Oh, you mean Tahirul Qadri? Well, he is no democrat. He boycotted the election, you see,” was the reply.
“And Imran is? Do you know the US pundits call him an ideologue?” remarked the first sarcastically.
“And we are more than ready to buy it. Tell me how many of us called Obama an ideologue when he made a vow before his nation in his election campaign to strike more drones attacks in Pakistan?”
“None, I guess or maybe very few, whose voice was never heard.”
“Here is the catch then. While they have some modicum of self-esteem and regard for their national interests, we simply don’t have any. No wonder then, we are an outcast and disgraced race among the comity of nations. If by an ideologue they mean someone who believes in an ideology, we are all ideologues. The very foundation of our country rests on that.”
“How about Nawaz Sharif’s invitation to the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, to attend his oath-taking ceremony and his retreat from the statement moments later?”
“Well, that is his very first political summersault. There are many in store. But I won’t comment on that, except to quote a simple couplet by Khushal Khan Khattak, the legendary Pashtun poet warrior: ‘when you make an enemy a friend, you make a friend an enemy’. That’s all.”
Sami ur Rahman is a freelance columnist.