ISLAMABAD: “A former ambassador seems upset with the political developments in the country,” comments a journalist sitting in a café.

“How do you know” asks a friend sitting across the table.

“Read one of her articles,” says the journalist.

“Why do you think she's upset?” “Maybe because she is not becoming the caretaker prime minister,” conjectures the journalist, stretching his hands towards a cup of coffee in front of him.

“Which caretaker setup are you talking about… The legal or the illegal one?” “The illegal-unconstitutional one - the three-year caretaker setup of technocrats - whose propagandists were promising rivers of honey and milk to flow in the country,” elaborates the journalist. The friend nods in an oh-I-see fashion and asks: “What's this ambassador's claim to fame?”

“General Asif Nawaz Janjua,” announces the journalist.

“May his soul rest in peace,” adds the friend reverently.

The journalist continues: “According to Asif Nawaz's former staff officer, the general had great respect for the ambassador's techno-views.”

“Really!” exclaims the friend questioningly.

“Yes. Whenever the ambassador was in a meeting with the general, the staff were under strict orders. The general was not to be disturbed,” says the journalist.

Digesting the information, the friend offers his two bits of analyses: “So the intellectual charms of our technocrats have not worked on the present establishment.”

“Doesn’t seem so; unlike Kayani, General Asif Nawaz was too westernised and had a weakness for Islamabad's drawing-room-talkers,” surmises the journalist.

“So what are the twenty-odd Rental Technocrats going to do now?”

“Nothing much. Hibernate for a while, lie low, write articles, appear in talk shows and just wait for the next opportunity to strike again,” says the journalist in a seen-it-all-before manner.

“So basically technocrats never go out of style,” says the friend striking a fatalistic note.

“Nope…they are like the cannabis plants that grow around the city's nullahs …whether you like them or not, it doesn’t matter, they are just part of the city's social flora and fauna,” sums up the journalist.

The friend as if bored with the direction the conversation is taking, demands: “Tell me something gossipy?”

The journalist taking another sip from his coffee cup responds: “You have heard about the videotape of a politician…”

“That's old news…” interjects the friend yawning, not interested to hear another word on the subject.

“But you know who is behind it” the journalist says excitedly, deciding to leapfrog the introductory details.

The friend feigning interest looks back. The journalist, without wasting a second, lets the cat out of the bag: “Supposedly a man who was reputed to be Musharraf's hitman … tasked with arm twisting the dictator's political opponents.”

“But why would he fall so low,” wonders the friend.

“Believe it or not: just to become eligible for a party ticket, to contest elections in a northern Punjabi locality.”

“A convoluted career move,” says the friend incredulously, finding it hard to believe what he is hearing.

“Yes and the move could quite easily short-circuit,” predicts the journalist.



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