Losers All


By Rifaat Hamid Ghani

TO whom would you give the Monumental Stupidity Award? The Sharif camp for offering — if it indeed did offer — the incorruptible Imran Khan a bribe to shut up about PanamaLeaks; or Imran Khan for “disclosing” what can only remain yet another allegation?

It is hard to take up “facts” when they keep varying, but an aspect of the disclosure that intrigues me is that the emissary/go-between is said to be an individual long turned sadiq and ameen— maybe of the kind that turns kundun after having done much personally to feed the fiery flame? Of course such probity implies they can be trusted not to divert the lucre; but what of the moral philosophy that the bribed and the briber are equally heinous? Are middlemen blameless as mere facilitators or do they get it

from both sides on both counts?

To ignore the messenger– howsoever esteemed– and turn to message-content: If I were Imran Khan I would have accepted the alleged billions and forthwith transferred the massive deposits to the national exchequer. The bribe-money and its trail would be there for all to see; ill-gotten gains returned to the state; and Nawaz gone. Realpolitik. But Imran missed that chance and his preferred tactics seem initially to comprise extended replays of non-specific or punctured allegations with the good old rallies and dharnas in courtly intervals. With lesser politicos and bigger parties vying to outdo or match him.

All that might induce longings for some kind of forward march out of the loopy loop.

Unfortunately, our politicians are beginning to appear as crass as their mock-ups in the tasteless caricatures and take-offs our TV channels brainwash us with. Indeed, we might soon be able to do without those shows altogether, reality having been moulded by the virtual template. Political activity currently is rather like the electronic media bouquet— flick from dharna by JI at X chowk to rally by PSP at Y chowk to PPP jalsa around Z House, or should that be B? Press conferences serve as fillers and Marches– Long/Million/Train– promise a format change. Civil society does its bit with candle-lighting vigils and walks; powerful professional bodies and unions flex their diverse and often binary muscles in an awesome plurality. Meanwhile, nothing gets anywhere. Possibly we are letting off too much steam to build up the requisite horsepower. Will elections 2018 be feasible or credible?

Political stakeholders are already rendering census data-gathering and formulation controversial. The CCI appears at an impasse on major issues; and provincial development is too often calibrated in terms of federal demonisation. Grievances are not aired with a view to addressing them but as ultimatums to indict and flummox central governance. Rhetoric does not scruple at raising the spectre of mob violence. Alas even, or, especially, the mainstream parties rely on agitational politics and flamboyant demos rather than dull and laborious solid footwork in their constituencies.

Inflammatory speeches and deliberate civic negation and administrative paralysis are fostering an ugly political radicalization. That antagonistic mindset may emerge as more intractable to remedial counter-narratives than the ongoing quest for a counter-narrative for the so-called Islamism besetting us. Misused and misapplied secular political ideologies and demagogues also breed calamitous alienations.