Where the de­parted dare

The Pak Banker - - MARKETS/SPORTS - Asha'ar Rehman

There is no end to Mian Nawaz Sharif's rel­a­tively new­found pow­ers to puz­zle and mys­tify and cre­ate an al­to­gether new niche for him­self. The lat­est, he has 'di­rectly linked' his own lit­tle run-in with the law to the grand scheme that seeks to show a treach­er­ous side of Gen Pervez Mushar­raf. The only thing is that, tech­ni­cally, he has done it through his daugh­ter, Maryam. It was she who de­liv­ered the words whereas the mes­sage was def­i­nitely Mian Sahib's.

Back in his home­town for a work­ers' con­ven­tion af­ter whirl­wind pro­ceed­ings in Is­lam­abad, the duo minced no words and pro­claimed that the trea­son case against Gen Mushar­raf was be­hind his dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion. The sup­pressed chants that had been dar­ing Mian Sahib to do more had been re­cip­ro­cated.

Here he was, throw­ing the gaunt­let, one more time, at what ev­ery­one here iden­ti­fies as the es­tab­lish­ment and fol­lows up with the equally es­tab­lished 'youknow-who' re­con­fir­ma­tion. De­coded, it means the mil­i­tary, or at least those who are at the helm of the mil­i­tary's af­fairs.

Who would want to buy the rather sim­plis­tic sce­nario in which Nawaz and Shah­baz are not shown to be at each other's throat? "We got a trea­son case reg­is­tered against Mushar­raf for ab­ro­gat­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion. But his case is still pend­ing and a ver­dict came in my case in haste," Mian Nawaz Sharif said.

"Will we see any court hold Mushar­raf ac­count­able for his crimes?" he asked: "I am hope­ful one day this will hap­pen." This may seem too dis­tant a propo­si­tion for a coun­try hus­tling and bustling and frothing at the mouth in search of ac­count­abil­ity for its rulers. So many oth­ers will be hop­ing that in the in­ter­est of jus­tice and pol­i­tics free of con­spir­acy the­o­ries those who can - mean­ing Gen Mushar­raf's in the es­tab­lish­ment - will call Mian Sahib's bluff not soon but here and now.

It was left to the logic at the dis­posal of Ms Maryam Nawaz to put two and two to­gether and give the work­ers in at­ten­dance a crys­tal-clear case to con­cen­trate their en­er­gies on. "When he [Nawaz] got reg­is­tered a case against Mushar­raf, sitins be­gan against him. Then came the news leaks and Panama Papers case and fi­nally he was dis­qual­i­fied on an iqama [work per­mit]. This hap­pened to my fa­ther be­cause he did not bow. It was easy for him to choose an easy path but he didn't." The woo­ing by cer­tain mis­guided pro-democ­racy sec­tions of Pak­ista­nis aside, bar the ever-in­ten­si­fy­ing tone, sub- stance-wise this was a re­peat of the ap­proach that the ousted prime min­is­ter and his equally ir­ri­tated daugh­ter have main­tained ever since Mian Sahib's lat­est, and by some ac­counts, fi­nal exit from of­fice. There was a slight change in the cir­cum­stances, how­ever.

The lat­est in the in­cred­i­ble se­ries of state­ments for the house of Nawaz Sharif came not too late af­ter Mian Sahib had re­port­edly un­der­taken an im­por­tant dec­la­ra­tion. De­spite some con­fu­sion on the is­sue it was gen­er­ally be­lieved that Mian Sahib had de­cided as well as spo­ken about his de­ci­sion to flag long-time heir ap­par­ent Shah­baz Sharif as his can­di­date for the prime min­is­ter's of­fice for the term sched­uled to be­gin in 2018. To make all this ap­pear plau­si­ble, a plane ar­rived here to take Shah­baz Sharif for a meet­ing with Saudi roy­alty.

This was ac­com­pa­nied by the usual noise where the pun­dits who mod­estly claimed to have been vin­di­cated were out­num­bered by those who raged that a deal had been ar­rived at. Each and ev­ery one of them was so sure that, fi­nally, a mo­ment had been reached which pro­vided them with a rea­son to cel­e­brate their own prow­ess at pre­dict­ing events. Shah­baz, they boasted, not nec­es­sar­ily out of re­spect for his can­di­da­ture, was set to emerge as the big­gest and the most likely suc­ces­sor to Mian Nawaz Sharif's and Shahid Khaqan Ab­basi's man­tle in Is­lam­abad.

Shah­baz's 'nom­i­na­tion' by Nawaz led in turn to some imag­i­na­tive and some run-of-the-mill sce­nar­ios - the most solemn re­ac­tion be­ing the one in which the in­cor­ri­gi­ble ro­man­tics rued the in­fam­ily trans­fer of the lead­er­ship ba­ton. For many, the for­mal­ity of Nawaz nam­ing his old run­ning mate as his suc­ces­sor in it­self was suf­fi­cient to turn the ta­bles - if such an up­heaval was ever re­quired - on arch-ri­val Im­ran Khan.

A stan­dard re­sponse to this de­vel­op­ment was one in which all the pre­vi­ously held fears and ap­pre­hen­sions were abruptly dis­missed in favour of Shah­baz win­ning hands down in Pun­jab and cour­tesy of that win, tak­ing the whole of Pak­istan in his fa­mous ad­min­is­tra­tive grip. This was now writ­ten in our stars, over and above the heap of con­spir­acy the­o­ries that had been ear­lier in­vented to cast the same ma­te­rial, Shah­baz, as tal­ent that had over­stayed its po­ten­tial by a few decades.

God knows what kind of ex­pla­na­tions the mem­ber of the knowl­edge­able bri­gade will now have to jus­tify the fall of Im­ran Khan from the imag­i­nary pedestal just half a step away from power in Is­lam­abad. The the­o­ries about Shah­baz Sharif hav­ing fi­nally won the nod from the es­tab­lish­ment, about Nawaz Sharif be­ing on a course that will de­stroy his PML, and lastly, the one where Im­ran Khan is tipped to be the next prime min­is­ter can­not co­ex­ist. Not un­less there are var­i­ous strands within the es­tab­lish­ment that are cred­ited for pur­su­ing each of these poli­cies separately. But as al­ways this will not de­ter us from choos­ing one pos­si­ble ex­pla­na­tion over an­other.

This is the easy way out. Who would want to buy the rather sim­plis­tic sce­nario in which Nawaz and Shah­baz are not shown to be at each other's throat? The el­e­ment of plot­ting and schem­ing and be­trayal adds so much spice to the story that thrives on clear he­roes and evil vil­lains. The feel-good sto­ries where even the so-called con­spir­a­tors are some­times at a loss to fully and ac­cu­rately pre­dict a win­ner, it would seem, are in lit­tle de­mand. It has to be in black and white. Im­ran Khan - or Shah­baz Sharif - get­ting the prime min­is­ter's of­fice as the es­tab­lish­ment wanted him to. Shah­baz - or Im­ran - fail­ing in their bids to be prime min­is­ter since the es­tab­lish­ment so de­sired. So pro­found. Tightly scripted to the last comma. As if this coun­try has not seen a prime min­is­ter dis­liked or even hated by the king­mak­ers.

When he [Nawaz] got

reg­is­tered a case against

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