DID I say last week that I was on an up because the news was that the country was progressing towards the restoration of the illegally and unconstitutionally removed judiciary? This despite the fact that we Pakistanis were still strapped to the rickety roller-coaster that we have been tied to ever since the birth of our country? A roller-coaster that has given us the ride of our lives for every one of those 60 years, losing us half our country during its mad progress?

Well, one week later I am on a down because the roller-coaster is hurtling downwards so fast that it can only spell doom for all the hapless souls trapped in it. We must note that whilst the controls were in the hands of the establishment heretofore, they are today in the hands of the newly-discovered leadership of the PPP made up mainly of Ms Bhutto and Mr Zardari’s personal lawyers.

These people simply do not understand, and if they do they surprise one with their attitudes, that the astute politician Benazir Bhutto is no more. That there is not much time left for little pranks and littler too-clever-by-half moves. That if they let the Commando off the hook on which the people of Pakistan have strung him up the country would have lost and they will have won a very short-term, very Pyrrhic victory.

They simply must understand that the main aim and objective of the establishment for the last four decades has been, and remains to this blessed day, the destruction of the People’s Party. That it was only the popularity of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and of his beloved daughter that has thus far prevented its unravelling despite dictators doing their damnedest.

That by playing their foolish little games they are playing right into the hands of the Commando who retains the position of grand-daddy of the establishment (read army) because of overt American support. They simply do not realise that in the absence of the truly benazir Benazir they are sure to fall flat on their faces, taking the party down with them. That for them it will only be a short joyride enjoying government planes and plush limos and fragrant offices before they are kicked off/out of them.

They should be made to realise by those who have been with the party for far longer that the present time is a great time for the PPP with the second-largest party in the country, the PML-N, a former adversary, sincerely on its side. The parties together can get a lot done, especially with the country in the mess it is in. Just look at one aspect: the lies told by the previous government about the economy and the fact that subsidies granted just to win votes have now to be withdrawn. Is it not a boon for the PPP to have Ishaq Dar as finance minister who is not only a brilliant man but also has to take all the hard decisions?

Let’s see this another way: what happens if, say, the new brilliances of the People’s Party succeed in scuttling the judges’ full reinstatement according to the Murree/Bhurban accord? What happens if, as a consequence, Nawaz Sharif walks out of the coalition because he has a promise to keep? Does the PPP think it will be able to stay on in power by coming to an arrangement with the PML-Q and the MQM?

Think again, boys. Quite apart from the fact that it will be well nigh impossible to run any kind of halfway government with a large, and by then an even more popular party like the ‘N’ sitting outside the government, do the bright sparks who are taking the party to the edge think the PPP/PML-Q/MQM/Commando combine will last long? That the MQM will not demand its several kilograms of flesh in Sindh, to the chagrin of the majority, for support in Islamabad?

No sirs, no. Get off that cloud you are riding and realise that the brilliant Benazir who might have pulled the party out of the problems into which you are forcing it has departed this earth, she is no more. Don’t, for God’s sake, try and become cleverer than half. Keep the promise made in the Murree/Bhurban declaration; for, after all, you did sign it!

While all this argy-bargy goes on with new and ever newer PPP tamashas being reported every single day, the PML-N goes about doing the right thing. The Punjab government is already feeling energised: as you get off the motorway at Thokar Niazbeg you see the petrol and CNG stations being moved back from the land they had encroached upon.

Apparently, these encroachments prevented the contractor from working on the flyover that was to connect to the motorway. It took the new government just one night and one day to remove the encroachments and get the work going, but at a high cost to the exchequer. Construction delays cost more money due to escalating prices and Punjab will now have to fork out Rs800m more to complete the project just because of the corruption of the previous government. And yet the Commando has the gall to say things are bad because the present government is not giving the country good governance!

By the way, there was no earthly reason for Gilani throwing a lavish dinner for the army’s formation commanders, and then to add insult to injury, to regale his guests with a musical evening. Is this the time for fancy banquets and music when the poor are struggling to survive? Why, I bought flour for the house five days ago for Rs980 per 40 kg, up Rs340 inside of three months.

There was even less reason, or call, for Gilani to say that the army also had to defend the ‘ideological frontiers’ of the country. For God’s sake, prime minister! Fifty years have we tried to disabuse the army of its arrogating this duty to itself! And yet you go and do this! What the devil are ‘ideological frontiers’ anyway? Seeing the ugly, hateful place our country has become, hasn’t it had enough of ‘ideology’? An aside here. It appears Sharifuddin Pirzada is still a frequent visitor to the presidency. Asked quite recently why he represented military dictators, he replied that he was a lawyer (gun?) for hire, simple as that. So, who is paying the man now? Has the Commando apportioned massive funds for the presidency’s ‘secret fund’ of which there is no accountability? Or is one of Musharraf’s wealthy arms-dealer friends footing Sharifuddin’s surely considerable bills?

Bushism of the week: “The United States has suffered terrorist attacks on its soil, as have Russia” — President George W. Bush; Sochi, Russia; April 6, 2008

kshafi1@yahoo.co.uk

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