May 242008

By Fakir S. Ayazuddin

The newly appointed Governor of Punjab Salman Taseer, having climbed the ladder of success with so much hard work, and not too many trampled competitors, on his way up, was rewarded by Musharraf for loyalty. For Salman to be Governor Punjab (the dream of every Punjabi), for the aura of history, skulduggery permeates every nook and cranny of that magnificent building, is a burden none the less .The house was host to many men, some outstanding, some not so, but all, when enveloped by the building, grew in stature, or seemed to, so that the long line of governors are now perceived as giants, amongst their fellows – especially those that never made it, to the governors chair.
It is important that the new incumbent has realised his position, and is making sure that he is moving towards a more neutral stance – in keeping with the office. Please let Lahore be, it can never be a Paris – nor God forbid – a Larkana.
Asif Zardari is now beginning to realise that the large mandate given to the PPP on February 18, was large enough to bring Nawaz Sharif to play the junior role, but it has not been smooth sailing at all, for both. The presidency it seems has a strong mind of its own, and will protect its old powers. Invoking its erstwhile supporters, the Q league, who were marginal to begin with, and more so, after their spectacular defeat, into a display of political legerdemain seeming to grow into a credible threat to the coalition itself. This threat is multiplied by the number of Talk-show hosts who are analysing the spectres lurking behind every statement issued by the Army House, and some not issued. The media is revelling in the many nuances that can be read into a situation, more so than the number of channels themselves. Zardari’s new team has brought his attention to the high intrigue being conducted in the corridors of power. It must be very difficult for him to jump from the politics of the PPP to the deeper more murky and more dangerous waters of National politics, where the players are many more, and more substantive, with more power and access to information coupled with access to media doctored and un-doctored.
These high stakes have resulted in a slowing down of the political process with the judges’ restoration being used as the magicians ace – now you see it, now you don’t. Either way – you lose. Zardari must press on regardless for already the markets are haemorrhaging, with the market dropping 585 points in one day, according to news reports. The Rupee slide against the Dollar is something alarming, and will effect every Pakistani sooner than later. These are facts that traders around the world will be watching before they put their money into Pakistan or worse take their money out. The presidency is sending signals that it is still in control, and is seeking to consolidate its grip. These signals are contrary to the democratic process, and the PM must be told to exercise his control through his Min Info – the competent and glamorous Sherry Rahman. Not on the media but on the media spokesman of the presidency. For this gentleman is doing a great job as spokesman ISPR in conveying the message of powers in the presidency – where none exist. It is the ISPR connection that should be redefined. The threat of 58-2(b) also does not exist, and it should be made clear to all. It is the biggest red herring of all and even the Americans fear it. Asif should now take the plunge for the threat of 58-2(b) cannot be applied in the present time, as, there would be an immediate reaction, for the times are different, and anyone believing otherwise has their head deep in sand.
The world, and the markets, international and domestic are waiting for a positive signal from Asif. This is the moment and he must seize it, and the people who are playing games will be the first to congratulate him. As in any card game when a bluff is called the loser will go off and hide for a long, long time. The funniest part of the whole scenario is that the man with the weakest hand on the table is raising the stakes, creating supporters from nowhere, while the major players are being bluffed into fault lines. This must stop. It is costing the country far too much.

Courtesy: The Nation, 24/5/2008

 Posted by at 8:52 am

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