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Famous, infamous: The discomfort of home

January 01, 2013

RIGHT from day one, Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani had been apprehensive about the Prime Minister House’s closeness to a cold cell inside the prison. That is the fate he would have preferred. Instead, he ended up on Jail Road Multan – in the discomfort of his home at some distance from those he had fought for.

Much has been said about Mr Zardari’s guile and his ability to strike the right deals with the right people. Clearly, the president has been found shuffling his close associates as a groping man would change his pair of glasses. The old set comprising the prime minister and the law minister is replaced with a new one and the president’s vision changes suddenly. Now he can see the merits of writing a long pending letter.

Where does this leave the main component in the old, used set? In the middle of a difficult terrain, with plenty of sympathy (reference all these ‘wow’ tweets about Gilani’s supreme sacrifice by Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari and her siblings) and an uneasy feeling of having been ditched.

Things could have been so much different and the sacrifice so very meaningful if the parliament had turned out to be as supreme as Gilani had made it out to be. In this case the two supremes – the sacrifice and the parliament – were trumped by another entity going around wearing the same ‘supreme’ title. Gilani had taken too defiant a stance. Additionally, the case of Arsalan Chaudhry had placed the public focus on SC’s next move. The prime minister had to go.

Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani is a veteran in the old mould – from an area where Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan’s, generally, not-so-loud style of politics serves as a model. Sacked and later denied the glory of a man falling for a cause, he is required to do some urgent rebuilding.

The family’s politics, boosted by the Gilani kin who had made it to the assemblies while the elder Gilani was in office, has to be guarded before it can be further consolidated. The give-and-take formula has to be dusted and modified to strengthen old inter-family links the politics in Multan still thrives on – just as it did when the elder had begun his career all those yeas ago. The Seraiki province demand has to cast Gilani in the pivotal role.

Multan needs to be consistently reminded of all these bridges that came up during the ex-PM’s term. It is the city’s turn now to take him across. Above all and over the compliments he received from BB’s children, the party needs to be constantly reminded of Gilani’s importance to its campaign. Already, Mr Zardari has been pulled out of the presidency to cajole and reassure his restive former prime minister. More such displays of honour would be required to indicate just how indispensable Gilani is to the PPP.

A man just bitten is so vulnerable to threats and he may be liable to imagine a few around him. Of the real dangers lurking over the house of Gilanis, the one from the court trying Ali Musa in a drugs quota case is extremely significant. It is one thing to be punished for your loyalty and quite another to be convicted of corruption.