May 262008

The big tsunami that awaits us is not the shock when the judiciary is restored, or when the Millennium arrives, or when any of the many things that can go wrong, really do, such as the food crisis really turning nasty, or the fuel shortages really hitting us (have you thought about fighting for food? In 23.5 hours of loadshedding a day? Truly only then will military men triumph at the head of the only disciplined organization in the country). The real tsunami that is round the corner is the advancing of the clocks.
The last time there was a PPP government, we advanced the clocks, and swore a collective “Never again!” But the first thing that the all-PPP federal cabinet did, after they were left alone by the PML-N ministers who resigned because they wanted to cause the President embarrassment, they brought back Daylight Saving Time. The PML-N people had to go, otherwise they would have wasted time extolling the reversal of the Friday holiday, which was how Mian Nawaz used his massive mandate of 1997, and the whole cabinet would have had to wonder whether rolling back that decision would save electricity.
This time, the PPP has used the saving of electricity to impose an agenda inherited from the second Benazir government. Everybody and his uncle, except cabinet members, believes that advancing the clocks is a bad idea, which didn’t work when it was first tried, and won’t work the second time round. But try convincing the members of the cabinet that any of Benazir or Zulfikar Shaheed’s ideas was not very good. And you have got a cabinet member who won’t talk to you, and that too out of fear.
The real question is whether the advancing of clocks is going to prove a ground of dissolution or not. If the President doesn’t like it, or rather if he thinks it bad for Pakistan, he will not only dissolve but reverse it, but if he likes it, or rather if he decides that it is good for Pakistan, liked by reformers and good for our image abroad, he will not only keep it, but try and claim credit for it, meanwhile scrabbling for other grounds of dissolution. Because he is seeking to dissolve; which is why he summoned Sain Yusuf Raza, at considerable expense to the floors of the Presidency, to tell him what grounds of dissolution he has already got, and which ones he is waiting for.
Note that this meeting was just before Asif Zardari provided so many grounds of dissolution, such blatant proof of the legislature interfering as much, or rather more, if possible, in the work of the executive as Chief Justice Chaudhry does, by breathing. The executive is responsible to run the War On Terror efficiently, and both the judiciary and the legislature are supposed to assist in this task. It seems that they won’t, and thus the crackdown by the executive first on the judiciary, and then on the legislative (which will happen soon, in the shape first of a dissolution, then the free hand to Q that it didn’t get in the last election, but which it will now, so that the Handshaker of Kathmandu can get the PM he wants, which is the only purpose of an election in Pakistan.)
This is one secret of the Pranab Mukherjee visit, which solved the problem of visa overstayers and casual border crossers, but not of Kashmir. One heard that Mukherjee was really scared by how casual Sain Shah Mehmood was with the floors. More important, he was more than impressed, he was infuriated, by how casual Sain Shah Mehmood was towards Shri Mukherjee’s compulsory Bengali summer-slippers (for summer is officially in full swing in India, and the monsoon has arrived there, and may well have arrived here), and has declared that come what may, he will settle the Kashmir issue as district Multan wants, and they are free to make as much comment on this as they want, but at least 20 feet away from his summer-slippers, and this goes for both Sains, assuming that they still hold their posts when the settlement is reached. If not, the deal’s off, for Sain Shah Mehmod and his unique diplomatic style are considered essential to a deal, otherwise Shri Mukherjee’s threat perception does not exist.
But all of them, Shri Mukherjee, the Hero of Kabul, and the rest, have all forgotten Enlightened Moderation, which is being practiced only by the colonel (retd) who is currently President of the Model Town Society. There have been a number of gates put up, which are thrown open on feast days like the good colonel’s birthday and Fridays, so that people may use the gateways to go to the mosques, which are more convenient than the Model Town one. Now they are kept closed, ostensibly to increase security. The result is major inconvenience.

Courtesy: The Nation, 26/5/2008

 Posted by at 6:55 am

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