A nation-in-waiting – By Amina Jilani

This is truly a nation-in-waiting, in both senses of the phrase. It is in thrall to the whims of an unelected person to whom fate has handed over a major political party and who has dedicated himself to toying with nation and party, confining both to a state of suspended animation.
Then, the nation is waiting for much to happen or transpire, but not patiently. Thinking and aware society • as opposed to the civil type • are voicing much anger, mixed with disgust and anxiety over the state of affairs both internal and external. The awam, suffering and tired, waits apathetically
What we all may finally have learnt is that the ballot box is no cure. An election does not per se denote democracy, it is merely a route towards democracy and if that route is flawed then obviously the end result is flawed. What the nation was offered in the election, an election fraught with a sympathy vote, was a choice between a selection of relics of the highly flawed 1990s. It was both illogical and foolish to expect that any good could come out of such an exercise. That it has taken the nation over four months to realise this speaks volumes for its perspicacity.
The nation is waiting for the non-elected co-chairman of the PPP-Z to stop smiling, as he has already been advised there is nothing to smile about, yet. The nation is waiting for him to decide whether his party and its ministers, voicing inanities by default, will remain in their present paralytic state.
Will he stand for election and become prime minister, or will he finally be given the all clear to oust President General Pervez Musharraf, ditch his constitutional amendment draft and move into the presidency? Will he amass all that the NRO has to offer plus the assets left by his wife and then decamp with it all to sunnier climes and leave the party to its own devices?
Will the coalition finally coalesce or will Mian Nawaz Sharif stick to his judicial stand and move out and on? Mian Sahib is sitting in London, enjoying the summer weather, with luminaries such as the most undesirable Rehman Malik, who does more damage than he can do good, calling on him to discuss matters of mutual interest.
He tends to make strange statements, accusing the MQM of being a creation of the ISI quite forgetting that he was hoisted to power through the IJI, very much a creation of the ISI.
Asif Zardari is in Dubai, summoning to his side all and sundry from the homeland PPP-Z. Even the Indian press had a good laugh at the nation’s predicament, with prime minister in “name” Yousuf Raza Gilani flying this month from Kuala Lumpur to Dubai, with a plane load of 40-plus, to meet with his boss, who had also summoned from Islamabad three cabinet ministers and a party spokesman. According to our press, this jaunt, one of far too many, has cost a total of Rs10 million. Rehman Malik, the unelected interior czar is a frequent visitor to Dubai, as is Senator Law Minister Farooq Naek. Presumably, their travels are also financed by the state. Then we have the prime ministerial Washington trip coming up, another exercise in futility as Gilani’s powers of negotiation are strictly limited by the US-Zardari-Musharraf agreement.
The nation also awaits some sort of solution or respite from the ever-advancing Taliban and the threat poised by the NATO forces on the other side of the Afghan border. There is much mention in the international and national press of US intelligence spokesmen mumbling about strikes against terrorist targets in the tribal belt and “hot pursuit” incursions into Pakistan’s territory. This seems far-fetched, but then one must suppose that no eventuality can be ruled out when Washington is indulging itself in a blame-game.
Spokespeople of the non-functional PPP-Z assure us that what passes for a government will have no truck with the militant Taliban. This would indicate that they will be dealt with using “other means”. Now, what is the size and number of the Taliban insurgents who are in occupation of various areas of FATA and the environs of Peshawar and Kohat? Has anyone any idea of the size of the force which must be dealt with either by the army of Pakistan or by the troops of NATO? We know that when the Pakistan army wishes to act it can act, we know that where there is a will there is a way. The army acted with alacrity two years ago come this August when it took out and eliminated Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti and his men. How different are the Taliban insurgents of the Frontier from the Bugti insurgents of Balochistan?

Then we have the ISI factor and the soured relationship with Afghanistan. There has never really been much love lost between Pakistan and its landlocked neighbour, right from the very beginning when Afghanistan voted against Pakistan in the UN. The relationship was only stabilised during the regime of the Taliban.
Who can vouch for what the ISI does or does not do? It makes its own laws. As commented The Times (London, July 9) after the attack on the Indian embassy in
Kabul: “Somewhat weakened in the past four years, the ISI may be trying to make a comeback while the ruling elite in Islamabad is engaged in internecine feuds.
The writer is a freelance columnist
E-mail: arfc@cyber.net.pk

Source: Nation, 20/7/2008

Leave a Reply