By Ahsan Waheed
There is a big hype in the media about the Prime Minister’s fate at the hands of the judiciary. It is certainly news and a sad day for Pakistan but not the kind of catastrophe that it is made out to be. If he is convicted and goes there will be another Prime Minister and it will be business as usual. The majority feel that he should be allowed to complete his term and that writing a letter to a foreign government about an elected President is not what our government should be doing. In any case these matters are good for drawing room discussions and media speculations but do not matter one way or the other.
Then there is the furor over the memo, the so called memo-gate. This non starter from the outset started off with a bang, created some fireworks and collapsed with a whimper. It is being dragged along but no one is interested any more. If two functionaries had to depart then another two took their place. If there was some hard talk then it was followed by clarifications and assurance. The whole thing was and remains farcical.
We now have the drama of the ISI Chiefs replacement. This is a routine affair and there are clear cut procedures for it. If he gets another extension it will be good because he is a straight talking and straight shooting man who has done a great job. If he retires he will be replaced by a suitable lieutenant general selected from the panel of names given by the military. The US Ambassador has commented upon this change in his address in Massachusetts. The US is ‘monitoring’ this change as if it matters or as if it can do anything about it. One of the analysts from the many who make a living out of commenting on Pakistan has said that this change is very significant because the ISI is not just an intelligence agency but it actually makes policy. So has it made all the policies that are being implemented? All this does boost the ISI image by driving home the point that it is an obsession for many who are terrified by it. That’s not too bad-is it?
The US is talking to the Taliban and have allowed them an office in Qatar so that others can talk too. Everyone and his aunt know that the US is preparing for a face saving exit after being defeated and after failing to create any sustainable structures in Afghanistan. The Taliban and others are licking their chops at the prospect of tucking into the pathetic caricature that is the Afghan Security Forces. The suited guys in government are looking at getting out as quietly as possible to wherever they came from. After the US and NATO leave it will be business as usual in and around Afghanistan. Karzai will be ditched and will be history-not that it will make any difference.
There is the matter of who kept Osama under wraps. A bitter, sick retired general with an axe to grind has blamed Musharraf and everyone is running round in circles. A doctor recruited by the US to find Osama is being interrogated and the US is ‘concerned’—he is a Pakistani and not a US citizen. US ‘diplomats’ continue to be tripped up some where or the other-the latest being one caught at an airport with bullets in his bag. Every one wonders where his gun was hidden and whether they searched him thoroughly. Some mad cap ‘fundos’ with some misguided former position holders get up on a stage and make threatening noises and tremors go through the land and as far away as the US! The good thing is that Pakistan continues to tick over and Pakistanis cope with power shortages and soaring costs. If the NATO logistics resume through Pakistan the dollars will flow in—not bad at all.
What matters is Pakistan’s economy, its internal situation, its institutions and public sector enterprises, its relations with neighbors and the world, its people and internal security. This is what we should be focusing on because if we get this right we are home free. Till we can do that let us develop thick skins and not get tickled by all these meaningless straws in the wind.