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Archive for September, 1993

D Minus 8 and Counting

Going into the final stretch, one is struck by the fact that while positive factors of the two major political groupings may be important for their success, the negative factors would be much more lethal for their failure. This is politics upside down instead of right side up but this is Pakistan 1993, that’s the way it is and that’s the way it’s going to be.

Ms Benazir remains a great crowd-puller and if the election gauges were to be calibrated on the volume of the crowds and the number of party flags, the PPP would be a sure thing at Ladbroke’s. However, the only thing that keeps betting shops like Ladbroke’s profitable is that people lose more often than winning. On the other hand, Nawaz Sharif’s performance has been extraordinary for a person whose previous record was largely believed to be propped up by Establishment support. Not only is he matching Ms Benazir crowd for crowd but he is the first non-Sindhi leader who has drawn a segment of support within Sindh during his repeated forays into the interior to deny PPP a complete sweep in the Province.

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Sacred Cows and the Vision

Determined to restore the vision envisaged by the Quaid in the concept of Pakistan, Moeen Qureshi has called into question the quality of our leadership over the past four decades. He has taken steps to bring those who aspire to be the rulers of Pakistan within the ambit of the rule of Law. Civilized society expects its leaders to be subservient to the rules and regulations they are pledged to uphold, not to be above the law they enforce for others. In Pakistan today, the laws of the land are meant to govern only those who are without money and/or influence.

Some of the names of the privileged elite has been published in the loan defaulters list and some will definitely be “mentioned in dispatches” in the utilities and tax default score sheet that we have been given to believe is to follow. While many are bracing themselves in anticipation of disclosure, in a perverse way it is a sort of a status symbol that denotes the person’s ability to not only take more out of the hopelessly over-burdened socio-economic infrastructure but also refuse to pay for the services acquired. In a manner of speaking, those who have not made it on one list or the other have failed to benefit from the “open season” on the national assets and can be classified as the great silent (and stupid) majority, serving only as extras in the grand act of the national drama.

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Magic Wand or IMF Stick?

What others would not attempt in a lifetime, Moeen Qureshi’s Administration has carried out in less than eight weeks. MQ has had the courage to face upto problems affecting the lives of a majority of the Pakistanis in supersession of the motivated interests of a privileged and elite minority, a class act by any standard of measure.

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The Men Who Would be President

The General Elections has evoked such focus of attention that the Presidential elections, most important of all in the context of the practical experience of politics in Pakistan over the years, has been virtually sidelined. The period between the end of the General Elections and the Presidential elections being less than a fortnight, the parties must at least indicate their possible choices, their actual preference could be announced till after the Elections. The present conspiracy of silence will give room for backroom manipulations. The Constitutional requirements about fulfillment of qualifications by the Presidential aspirants should be so transparent that not an iota of doubt or controversy should exist. Though his bureaucratic shortcomings were well known, Ghulam Ishaq Khan (GIK) made a fine start as President, succumbing later to his baser instincts and destroying the respect he had earned in the ushering in of democracy. GIK brought the country to the brink of political and economic apocalypse by manipulations that froze all government activity. Such tendencies for malfeasance and subterfuge must be examined thoroughly in the individual Presidential aspirant.

As the point man in the struggle against late Gen Zia’s Martial Law, Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan was the obvious preference of Ms Bhutto and her allies but he was ditched by her in December 1988 in fulfillment of the package deal (made in Washington, not in Heaven) she had to accept to come to power. Often derided for his lack of a popular base of support, the Nawabzada has been a necessary cog for the Opposition for the last three decades in combining against a ruler, dictatorial or democratic. As a COP leader, he saw the end of President Ayub Khan, as a PNA leader the last of Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and as a PDA leader, first the dismissal and later the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Respected among the politicians’ community, the Nawabzada nevertheless does not command that much admiration within military or bureaucratic circles as a potential President should. A possible candidate of the rapidly unravelling PDA, PPP’s political pragmatism may mean he is already deemed expendable. There are rumours that former CM Mir Afzal Khan, much more of a wily fox than GIK, may have opted out of taking part in the elections to the Assemblies on “health grounds” to remain a viable PPP candidate for President. His tendency to switch sides and principles on an “as required basis” are well known.

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