Now that the anti-status quo forces, led by Amir Dogar and aided by Shah Mehmood Qureshi, have vanquished the swarms of darkness in NA-149, it is but natural for the government to pause and think. And think it must. So the prime minister (PM) and his cabinet are thinking. And when they think, so do the underlings. When did they become a symbol of everything demonic in the Islamic Republic? Seems only yesterday that they were darlings of the state. What went wrong? Musharraf? Well, didnít their leaders spend a decade in exile to compensate? They thought, this time, they would deliver and build the nation. Why is nobody letting them then?
They also think of Imran Khan, of Tahirul Qadri and his minions. How their hatred refuses to die. And of Musharraf. They were his victims. So, when did they become the bad guys? And why is Musharraf playing the victim. He is at liberty to roam about in the country. Unlike them.
But sometimes, they also think of their PM. How aloof has he become. How unreachable. Always guarded closely by the bureaucracy. He is their PM, not the bureaucracyís. The babus will serve anyone who sits upon that throne. They brought him here. Shouldnít they be given the proper audience they deserve? But when they are given the chance, they all are tongue-tied. As if a veil separates them from their leader. If they knew the PM would listen, they would have told him what went wrong. Because they know it well. The tiny mistakes that the government made. The fact that their PM never quite recovered from the loss he suffered on the day of the military coup. And that he still hasnít come to terms with the fact that he wasnít allowed to participate in his fatherís funeral. In fact, just because of this, he considers everyone who joined Musharraf as his fatherís killers. The PM lived his entire life in comfort. For him, these shocks must be quite debilitating.
Now when they look at the Chaudhry brothers, Shaikh Rasheed, Qadri and others among the governmentís detractors, they realise they indeed were once the PMís allies. They joined Musharraf and the PM could never forgive them. But if the underlings could muster courage, they would remind him that it was he who left them behind and they didnít betray him until he didnít betray them. Perhaps, not his fault. But they are politicians; not their fault either. And they would tell him, if you think your fatherís loss was big sir, it wasnít as big as that of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) when his dear uncle, Hazrat Hamza (RA) was killed in battle. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) forgave the murderers. Why then, shouldnít you, sir? The PML-N government, they reckon, is far more competent and honest than the PPPís was. But where the PPP beats it is the ability to mend fences, best their egos and to reconcile.
And then they recall embarrassing moments. Like when the PM was found telling his minister not to forget to mention Geo. And the Delhi visit. Then they proudly tell you, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif is a good man, who just lacks tact. They worry that unlike his Indian counterpart, the PM hasnít given a strong statement on the LoC violations yet. They are cognisant that Nawaz Sharifís campaign is portraying him as being deliberately soft on India. The same India that didnít waste a minute in backstabbing him by cancelling the dialogue process. Kargil was one thing, but you are living in 2014, not 1999 sir, they want to tell him. And on the Geo fiasco, they honestly think the PM could have shown more empathy towards his DG-ISI. Not destroying the network sort of empathy, but still, some sensitivity. Likewise, the PM could have been more accessible to the media for interviews. They would have said this and much more. But they know when hurt or ambushed, he retreats to the inaccessible inner sanctum of power to lick his wounds. This, then, is their message in a bottle, which the PM should know about. They think if he knew this, no enemy would stand a chance against him.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 18th, 2014.