VIEW: A political love fest in Pakistan —Dr Syed Mansoor Hussain - Monday, April 18, 2011

Those of us that have faith in the democratic system and want that Pakistan eventually develops into a stable two-party parliamentary democracy hope and pray that Mr Nawaz Sharif is well enough to return to Pakistan at the earliest and take over once again as the real leader of the opposition 

Originally I was all set to write a bitterly cynical column about how bad things were in Pakistan but then the weather in Lahore turned really pleasant. As the temperature went down and the clouds and sprinkles of rain came around, the venom in my thoughts also dissipated. Perhaps something similar is happening to the politicians in Pakistan these days, as they say with spring, love is in the air.

The best description then for the political goings on in Pakistan at this time is a ‘love fest’, since almost all major politicians, except of course those of the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), are in an overtly loving mood. Mr Imran Khan of the PTI is suddenly full of brotherly love for Mr Altaf Hussain of the MQM; soon they will be brother Imran and brother Altaf for each other. The PPP was always full of love for any political party willing to support it in the federal government. The latest to succumb to this love is reportedly the Muslim League led by the Chaudhries of Gujrat.

Even former president, retired General Musharraf is making loving overtures to Mr Nawaz Sharif, and since both are in London these days, who knows where that might lead. Perhaps the most striking example of all the loving goings on was the recent trip to Afghanistan led by Prime Minister Gilani. It was indeed heart warming to see the PM lead (yes lead) a team that included the chief of the army staff as well as Pakistan’s spy master. And during the talks between the PM and Afghan president, love was definitely in the air. It almost seemed that during their joint press conference, if given the opportunity, the two leaders would prefer to give each other loving hugs instead of answering questions from the press.

First, let us take the political scenarios within the country. It is still two years to go before the constitutionally mandated elections, hence all this realignment seems a trifle premature, so why all this now? Perhaps the ruling coalition at the Centre has finally realised probably after some prodding by the ‘powers that be’ that it is time to try and fix things. To do so the PPP government will need a broader coalition to pass unpopular but necessary laws and to get the upcoming budget through parliament. This budget by any estimation will bring much pain to a lot of people.

As far as the PML-N is concerned, the younger Sharif might arguably be a decent administrator but he is no politician. Neither for that matter is the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly. Both of them are stuck on anti-American rhetoric which, considering the present state of the economy, is neither useful nor relevant. Everybody and his aunt in Pakistan would very much like to see the drone attacks stop and Raymond Davis brought to justice. But that is not going to help with the severe power shortage or the all-pervasive corruption. Nor will it decrease terrorist activity or improve tax collection.

Those of us that have faith in the democratic system and want that Pakistan eventually develops into a stable two-party parliamentary democracy hope and pray that Mr Nawaz Sharif is well enough to return to Pakistan at the earliest and take over once again as the real leader of the opposition. Whatever Mr Sharif’s detractors might have to say about him, he is without doubt the best ‘retail’ politician in Pakistan today and having been prime minister twice has the experience to unite the disparate groups that constitute the right-of-centre political forces in Pakistan and create a coherent and meaningful alternative to the PPP-led government at the Centre.

Now to ‘external’ factors. There are a number of situations that are directly or indirectly related to the Pakistani situation. These include the instability in the Middle East, especially in major oil producing nations like Libya and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), the nuclear tragedy in Japan after the earthquake, the US/NATO timetable to leave Afghanistan in the near future, the US financial crisis and the upcoming US elections.

Since nuclear energy is off the table at this time and the availability of oil is a little dicey, the developed and developing countries need the Central Asian gas supply and that can best happen through a ‘pacified’ Afghanistan and a cooperative Pakistan. Also, the US will like very much to be out of Afghanistan as soon as possible for political as well as financial reasons. For this the US needs Pakistan. The ‘spat’ between the CIA and the ISI over the role of these two spy agencies in Pakistan has evidently been resolved. The US might have to make some sort of a deal with the Afghan Taliban to be able to leave Afghanistan any time soon and for this the ISI becomes a necessary intermediary.

This US imperative was behind the rather contrived declarations of eternal love and affection between Pakistani and Afghan leaders on display during the recent bilateral talks. Whether this newfound love for each other will last beyond the US departure from Afghanistan is questionable. However, the ‘security establishment’ in Pakistan will do whatever it can to facilitate an early US departure even if it entails overt expression of cooperation with the Karzai government.

The relations between the US and Saudi Arabia and the role Pakistan might play in helping the Saudi kingdom to survive the present political unrest is a rather interesting story that is still evolving. What effect this will eventually have on Pakistani politics and the PML-N’s anti-US rhetoric remains to be seen.

Finally, all that I have written above might just be a figment of my imagination. The truth could well be that everything going on in Pakistan is really under the direction of the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg Group and the ever-present Illuminati.

The writer has practised and taught medicine in the US and Pakistan. He can be reached at 

Source :\04\18\story_18-4-2011_pg3_3

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