VIEW: The ‘party’ is over —Andleeb Abbas - Sunday, April 10, 2011

While the leaders of the country excel in their capability of grabbing every opportunity to go on a rampaging party scene, they must realise that in doing so they severely damage their own party’s sustainability 

After the frenzy of almost four weeks of cricket carnival, the aftermath is almost an empty feeling of being purposeless. That itself speaks volumes of the lack of direction and meaning we as a nation are passing through. Cricket has been and will always be a passion in the nation, but the way this world cup was latched on to physically and emotionally by rich and poor, old and young, men and women, is a reflection of the absolute scarcity of anything hopeful and forward looking happening in this country. That the 2011 World Cup was one of the most exciting in the history of the world cup had definitely a part to play in this obsessive following. We had a team that was a doubtful qualifier in the initial rounds and then went on to be rated as a potential cup winner; this added romance to the story. That traditional rivals India and Pakistan were pitched against each other in the semi-final gave it a melodramatic twist. Unfortunately, the crowning glory to win the cup to live happily ever after was missing and somehow left a sad and reflective post-cricket tournament feeling. However, the presence of the Pakistani and Indian prime ministers sitting side by side at Mohali was supposed to be larger than the result of the game. It should have been so, but it was not. The reason being the feeling of déjà vu at seeing so many of these shallow protocol events happening in the past with no real intention to make significant progress on the issues that are the root cause of disrupting any progress between the two nations.

As far as Pakistan is concerned, the domestic issues have been so grave that foreign policy has been a completely neglected area of governance. With the departure of the foreign minister, this ministry has become almost redundant. The government rightly feels that this ministry should be downsized as the ministry has so far acted as a post office delivering the commands of foreign countries to the government. The only policy stance that they have consistently followed is to let the US do whatever is needed and let India show aggression whenever required. Our response to this extraterritorial atrocity is that we will cut and paste protests against either of them and continue being driven by their interests rather than ours. If you think this is an exaggeration just look at the statements given by the government in the last few years. The latest admission by Rehman Malik blatantly admitting “we cannot do much about drones as it is an American move” is the biggest example of how shamelessly they own up to being helpless and powerless in their own sovereign land. As a minister of interior, when you are admitting to the fact that your job description has been made a joke by a foreign power, you declare your own redundancy. Similarly, India has been pulling the strings on Indo-Pak relations. After being bashed by India internationally post-Mumbai attacks, the Pakistani government jumped with glee when Manmohan Singh invited our leaders to the semi-final. Even if an acceptance of the invitation was a good diplomatic move, it should have been with some restraint and reservation. However, predictably overnight, the picnic bonanza to tour Mohali became a huge party of almost a century of people that included ministers, their cousins, friends and the friends of their friends. Despite strict media scrutiny and extreme public displeasure at the endless partying of these leaders, the prime minister could not resist the urge to give the Indians the impression that they were dying for an opportunity to go on an Indian shopping spree.

While the government continues to let the public down, the cricket team despite losing the semi-final definitely lifted the spirits of the nation with a performance that was beyond the expectations of its critics and fans. In fact it was this amazing progress to the last four that made people hope that their golden run will continue. However, the defeat against India ended almost a month of celebrations and partying that had been such a welcome diversion for a nation submerged in hopelessness on most fronts. This performance is all the more commendable when we consider the damaging role PCB has played in the run up to the world cup. Again, the attitude of the leaders of the country has also rubbed onto the leadership at PCB. Changing captains, chopping team members, declaring confirmed culprits as innocent, taking on ICC at the wrong time, persisting with failed players and so on and so forth is the predictable story of PCB. However, India’s performance in the World Cup is proof of the fact that a team that is disciplined and consistent in its selection and conduct can eventually defeat teams with more talent and potential but lesser systematic management and discipline.

On the home front, the trend to prove your own worthlessness continues. The ongoing cat and mouse game on increasing oil prices and then decreasing them on the pressure of the opposition or coalition partners has turned from a mocking satire to a pathetic desperation. This see-saw leadership style is perhaps a false attempt to cover the government’s only claim to fame of being a democratic government by backtracking on policies and decisions on popular demand. The recent visit of British Prime Minister David Cameron was termed as a triumph of the Pakistani government to bring the country at par with India as far as Pakistan and British relations are concerned. Everybody knows that whatever little gain the country will get out of this visit has more do with the sincere efforts of Baroness Syeda Warsi than any policy magic of the government.

While the leaders of the country excel in their capability of grabbing every opportunity to go on a rampaging party scene, they must realise that in doing so they severely damage their own party’s sustainability. As the party brand has become tarnished by its open plundering of the political and economic stability of the country, Bilawal Bhutto has been flashed around to revive the dying zeal and zest in the party profile. However, for any brand, political and non-political, to survive, a mere change of faces and packaging will not repair the damage of a faulty product inside. As the product fails to perform, change of faces, names and words become meaningless. The leaders in this country must realise that until and unless they stop having a party at the expense of a deeply suppressed nation, they may soon find that their ‘party’ is finally over.

The writer is a consultant and can be reached at

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