“O God, please defeat America’s allies on May 11,” said the imam at a Friday congregation in my neighborhood mosque in Islamabad. Some of the worshippers said, ‘Amen.’ Others were quiet.
Later in the evening, at a reception where they also served alcohol, some of the guests said the same thing, although they worded it differently. “The Americans have dumped PPP. They are now backing PML-N,” said a guest.
“What if America does not have a favorite in this election?” I asked him. This attracted others too and they joined the conversation.
“You want us to believe that the Americans have stopped interfering in Pakistan?” asked Mr. Chaudhry, the deputy editor of a local newspaper.
“Perhaps,” I replied.
“Rubbish,” said Mr. Khan, an architect who works on several US-funded projects. “Pakistan is too important a country to be left alone.”
“Don’t we give too much importance to ourselves? Perhaps, the Americans have other important things to do as well,” said I.
This triggered an agitated discussion on conspiracies.
“Who sent Musharraf?” asked a guest.
“That too was a conspiracy?” I asked.
“Obviously,” he responded, “he has been sent to weaken the Pakistan army.”
“And how would he do that?” I asked.
“See, how because of him the army is being attacked from all sides. If this continues, the people of Pakistan will start hating their armed forces and that’s what America wants,” said another guest.
“Why would America want that? I asked him.
“They are withdrawing from Afghanistan and have helped build a huge force in that country. On the east, there’s India. On the West, there will be Afghanistan. This will force Pakistan to do whatever the Americans want them to do,” said the guest.
“Someone suggested that PML-N is their favorite. If it is true, it means Nawaz Sharif shares their views and he too wants Pakistan to be sandwiched between two adversaries,” I said.
“Well, who knows? All of them are in America’s pockets,” said yet another guest.
Fascinated by these talks, I decided to take the conversation to the bazaar and engaged some while visiting Banni Chowk and Kirtarpura, two old markets in Rawalpindi.
“Imran is the only one who is not an agent of a foreign power,” said Zeb Khan, while offering a plate of delicious mutton tikkas at Bala Tikka House, one of the best in the federal capital area. “He is against the drones.”
“I am not so sure,” said his friend Nasir Malik, “he too has lived in the West, had a western wife.”
“Maulana Fazlur Rehman is not an agent,” said Abdul Hameed, a man from Mansehra who works at a grocery store in the nearby Raja Bazaar.
“Maulana Fazlur Rehman not an agent?” the other two cried out.
“He was paid millions of dollars to reform madrassahs,” said Zeb Khan.
What he said next contradicted his claim that the maulana too was an agent but nobody seemed to have noticed this contradiction.
“The Americans fear that religious parties can form an MMA-type government in KPK and want to stop it,” he said.
“Why should they be scared of their own agent?” asked I, while reminding him that he said Maulana Fazlur Rehman was an American agent.
“He may be their agent but they do not want a religious government in KPK while they are busy withdrawing their forces from Afghanistan,” came the reply.
“Does it mean that they will prefer PTI or PML-N to dominate the next KPK government?” I asked.
“Yes, perhaps,” said Mr. Khan.
“But you just said that they too, were American agents,” I reminded him.
“Yes, all this is very confusing but one thing is clear, all these politicians are in their pockets,” he said.
“If whoever is in power will work for America, why should they care who wins the election?” I asked.
This started another animated conversation and all four participants, through some twisted logic, concluded that the Americans do not want the May 11 elections. The army too opposes it as does President Zardari. So, the elections will be postponed with the judiciary’s support.
“Now you are saying that the president, the army and the judiciary all work for America,” I reminded them.
“President Zardari? Of course, he does. The whole world knows that,” said one of them.
“The Americans also have had close links to the military. But I am not so sure about the judiciary,” said another.
“I will not be surprised if they too were American agents,” said the first.
“O God, please defeat America’s allies on May 11,” I repeated what I heard at the mosque as I moved out of Bala Tikka House.
“But then, who will run the country if all are agents?” I asked myself. ——————————————————————————————— The author is a correspondent for Dawn, based in Washington, DC. ——————————————————————————————— The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.