For a while now we have been carrying links in our middle column to what was featured at ATP a year ago and two years ago. If you look at the headlines for today, you will note that exactly one year ago today the lead story at Pakistaniat.com was Uncertainty Rules Pakistan and two years ago it was a post about the then-recent sacking of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and a video of the then-living poet Ahmad Faraz’s Mohassra. It seems that nothing much ever changes in Pakistan politics. Except, maybe, to get progressively worse.
I had started my post exactly a year ago, about Pakistan’s political uncertainty, with the following words:
Explaining what is happening in Pakistan, and why, is never easy. Never has it been more difficult than it is now.
I may have been wrong. It seems even more difficult today than it did a year ago.
The talk then was about Gen. Musharraf calling a session of the Assembly, the supposed agreement between Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif on Gen. Musharraf but the lingering questions about who would be Prime Minister and about what will happen to the deposed judges. Today, the question seem to be even more confounding:
- Would the ‘Long March’ of the lawyers movement be able to start, as it is supposed to, tomorrow? The Punjab government and some major PPP voices seems bent on not letting it happen. News suggests mass arrests as well as strong statements. Oddly, the questions that come to mind are: Would the lawyers’ movement actually be strengthened if it is somehow stopped from happening? And, if it did happen would the results be any different from the last ‘Long March’?
- Would the real – and really dangerous – battle now between the PPP and theÂ PML(N), whose Punjab government was recently ousted, has this ‘Long March’ now really been co-opted by the Sharif brothers and is more about vindicating their cause than the original lawyer’s movement?
- Even if not, what is to become of the Punjab government fiasco? Everyone seems to be escalating the game with every move in what seems to be a rather silly game of ‘Chicken’ being played by our politicians as the nation sits and waits – knowing that no matter who blinks it is they who will be pushed over the ravine, especially if nobody blinks!
- What will happen toÂ the very future of the PPP as Asif Ali Zardari takes one big gamble after the other? Another major leader of the PPP old-guard – Raza Rabbani – has resigned after being overlooked for the Senate Chairman’s position. The handling of the Punjab government has been obviously bungled. Even Prime Minister Gillani seems to be getting impatient. And so much more is going so very wrong in so many ways.
- One wonders, also,Â if Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani just made the speech of his life? Or was he merely conveying the deal already made? One refers, of course, to the speech he just made saying that he will advise the President to call a session of the Punjab Assembly to select a leader and also on ways to resolve the judicial crisis. Is he sending Asif Ali Zardari a message? Or is he conveying Asif Ali Zardari’s message to the rest of us?
- And what about the Pakistan military in all of this? This being Pakistan, they seem to be all over all of these stories, and yet no where to be found. Given our history, that is ominous in itself.
Too many questions. Each central to Pakistan’s political future. No answers in sight. Uncertainty can kill. And it may well do just that to Pakistan politics.