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Tuesday, December 11, 2018
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Shaid Khaqqan Abbasi, Pakistan’s technocrat-politician prime minister, heading an emasculated government, ought to be named Casabianca – the boy who stands on the burning deck of a ship that is about to sink.
In this late, critical hour, he wants a “Truth Commission” to be established to “unveil hidden facts about all major incidents that took place in the country since 1947.”
The bolt-from-the blue call came on May 25 as he spoke to the media at his office. Without surprise, it has taken by surprise everyone in Pakistan who cares to listen to him and Pakistan observers.
For, as the initial reaction to his call goes, everyone knows what the ‘truth’ is, but there is no solution. In sum, the disease is known, but the diagnosis not acceptable.
Everyone knows why the country was created, in the first place. Then, why the ideals propounded by Mohammed Ali Jinnah were jettisoned once he died.
Everyone knows why the country’s effete political class having ambitions but little experience of governance, sucked up to the civil and military bureaucracy.
And everyone knows why the army takes power from time to time – and why it is not inclined at the current juncture. The reason for the present is that the army can manipulate the system without overwhelming it and taking its control.
Everyone knows why and how the judiciary has repeatedly endorsed army action of seizing power. And, to be fair, nobody has taken to the streets to protest even one of the army actions.
Protests have come only when people realize – again and again – in a cyclical action, why the army cannot govern, but in trying to govern, makes itself corrupt and unacceptable after a time.
Abbasi is the proverbial boy on the burning deck because the army-judiciary combine has thrown off the ship the actual captain, |Mian Nawaz Sharif, who was elected by a popular mandate.
Abbasi is merely holding a sick, dying baby that hopefully, will receive a new lease of life after the elections. But there is no guarantee if the baby will be healthy or sick how long it will live.
The military/judiciary naively thought that an ousted Nawaz will go home and take the Muslim equivalent of Sanyasa, and proceed to Mecca since the Saudi royalty likes him.
That has not happened. The government has been weakened and emasculated. Abbasi is having to listen to, and defend, howsoever weakly, his boss Nawaz, to the extent that his own credibility has been jeopardized.
It is not that he does not represent well Pakistan’s political class that has enriched and fattened itself with and without the help of the army.
The army tried to divide the Sharif family. That has not happened so far. The army created conditions where Nawaz could not but rebel. It failed to understand the man who has a record of opposing the military despite being its product and proxy once upon a time.
Nawaz has launched an open rebellion, criticizing the army and the judiciary and he is gathering crowds. So vehement he has been that even his supporters are unnerved. See the way even otherwise neutral media houses are now asking for his ‘apology’ to the nation.
Everyone fears that Nawaz is damaging the system and it could get destabilized. If that happens, the sick polity could get terminally sick, inevitably inviting the same doctor – the army.
But the army, as we see, is the dog in the manger. It will not resolve – but it will definitely control through its proxies.
Abbasi is ostensibly pointing to this ‘Truth’ and wants it debated so that others dare to see and talk about what he is seeing.
He wants such a commission to be formed in consensus with all mainstream political parties.
Can anyone imagine such a ‘consensus’ emerging from one of the world’s most corrupt and disparate polity?
Abbssi is asking for the moon when he and Leader of the Opposition, \khurshid Shah, cannot agree even on a caretaker prime minister to hold for till the elections are held.
Come to think of it, isn’t Abbasi a ‘caretaker’, except that N\awaz appointed him as one? And that is the reason he cannot be acceptable.
The prime minister said that in case of non-agreement between him and the opposition leader, they would send two names each to the parliamentary committee.
The five-year term of the government comes to an end on May 31.
Imagine, when the politicians cannot agree on one among their own ilk, the final choice will be left to the Election Commission that is constituted by retired judges and bureaucrats.
Why Abbasi wants a “Truth Commission”?
“All political parties should decide that what had happened in the country should come before the people. This will also help avoid repetition of blunders committed in the past,” he said answering a question during a press conference at the Prime Minister Office whether he would order any inquiry into recent revelation made by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif that he was forced to leave his office.
Has not Nawaz alluded enough? Isn’t it clear who his target is?
Abbasi said bringing facts before the nation “would not take days but a long time for which the process of dialogue should be started as soon as possible.
“The dialogue process on important issues should be a part of election campaigns of all political parties.”
So, OK, Abbbasi wants it to become an election issue. Will the military/civil establishment encourage it? Will the media air that discussion -- and how?
Abbasi is himself leaving things vague, even more than his boss Nawaz does at public rallies.
But Abbasi is of the opinion that what had happened in the country must be documented “so that people could be aware of the facts.”
Are the facts unknown to the people? Perhaps, he means a refresher course for the public.
Being a technocrat, Abbasi is perhaps more realistic and more aware than his vague suggestion conveys.
He is right when he says the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) would not boycott the polls due in end-July. A boycott is what the establishment would love, so that it gets its other proxies elected.
Asked why the ruling party leaders in flocks were joining the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, he said those who were leaving the PML-N had no concerns with Nawaz Sharif’s narrative “why he was removed”. “I know them very well; none of them has left on the basis of ideology but for their personal interests,” he added.
Abbasi is realistic enough to say why his flock is leaving him – like rats who desert a sinking ship – a ship that is also burning.
That makes him the world’s most tragic Casabianca. ... More
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