Articles of the year 2006

The New Champion
Published on January 01st, 2006

One telephone call has changed the entire political strata of Pakistan, and Altaf Husain the MQM leader in 'exile' has installed himself as the champion of the rural Sindhis, and the Baloch people. Even the body politic of the Punjab is grateful that they have been rescued from the vilification of the Punjabis that was gathering momentum throughout the country. He has succeeded in marginalizing all the politicians, some for the KBD, some against, and some fence sitters delighted that they no longer had to take sides, for in the you're with me or against me game, the against parties were about to meet the fury of the Federation, that when unleashed would leave no hiding place secure enough.

The other more important aspect is that now the consensus game will be played out, with all the confusion that a free for all that Televisions can create. As I said in an earlier piece the country has already been polarized, and positions taken. This confusion will only get worse. Both sides refuse to accept the validity of each others arguments, and will loudly defend their own position. The brilliance of the MQM move is to ask for, and get, breathing space for the Country. The Federation has backed away publicly from what one was afraid a unilateral decision, to build –regardless of any opposition. This has been the way of Islamabad for many many years, and while riding roughshod over the people has become the accepted norm, by both the riders and those underfoot, it is now apparent that the riders from Islamabad will have to convince the people and may have to think their moves out more carefully.

Altaf has simultaneously brought the Baluchistan problem into the National arena.. Both these issues were rapidly spinning out of control. The terrain in Baluchistan is impossible to attack, but very easy to defend with a handful of locals. This is a fact of History, from the British days ( and before) and three times it was tried, only to fail miserably, the only result being the increase in the sense of deprivation of the already poor Baluch people. No doubt Nawab Bugti will be sighing with relief, for at his age he could not be looking forward to leading charges, and nor would he relish the thought of Helicopter Gunships hovering over his Dera. A deescalation, we hope, has been called for, and perhaps now the Champions men can be sent to talk to the Nawab so that the deprivation issue can be tackled. The recently created Nazims, and the spending power that has been put at their disposal has seen many good men MNAs and MPAS resigning their seats in the assemblies to partake of the largesse being visited upon the Nazims, is indicative of the powerful lure of money. The money at his disposal, will quickly turn into disposable income, and vanish quickly leaving no trace, certainly no roads or schools or hospitals. The large number of Landcruisers, at a Crore a time shows which way the money is headed. Certainly not to make life better for the poor villagers. He knows his life is not going to improve. Indeed our new Champion may just be headed that way, for he realizes that his way into the history books will be through deeds—not words. In one way he has learned through the Supreme Court taking Suo Moto notice and action has bought it much goodwill, that there are many problems in Pakistan that can be taken on and resolved to better the lot of the common man. I am guessing that he will soon address the issue of the dreaded Hudood ordinance. His party has already declared its position, and now maybe is the time to put it through in Sindh to start with.

The whole KBD monster that has been defanged brilliantly by Altaf, President Musharraf, and the PM,not to mention relegating Benazir to rue the day a Sindhi leader has been flatfooted so completely by the MQM, and that too over an issue where the rural areas of Sindh were at stake. In fact as a diehard cynic I would say the operation was almost contrived, BUT as a realist I think that the danger lies ahead, and I wonder what new traps are being laid by the fertile minds in Islamabad. The next one may not be that easy to read. I sure the Champ's handlers have their work cut out for them--- but will prove equal to the task.