The hate triangle


It may be too harsh a characterisation but given war like politics it is a fair description

There are three sides to this engagement: the PML-N, which is now in power; the PTI, which was displaced from power; and the Establishment, which sits astride this transition and is dealt its daily share of bouquets and brickbats depending on the flavour of the day

It is equally prudent to disambiguate dynamics within PDM as it sits in power

Asif Zardari only recently came out in public to dissuade any possibility of Nawaz Sharif succumbing to the beseeching Shehbaz Sharif and his cabinet to let them shake the albatross of governance off their necks in impossible conditions

Else, he’s been happy to restrict only to ‘constitutional’ positions and let PML-N take the lead and gather the barbs

Smart politics

It is the PML-N which is shellacked as it is found wanting and short of ideas in a political economy smarting from excessive inflation and a tanking economy

Asif Zardari’s PPP continues to accost harmless portfolios like the climate change or the foreign affairs, or the ever benevolent BISP

The Revenue and Finance and Trade are for the PML-N to grapple and gather the ire

So within the PDM government — falteringly called the unity government or a PML-N government to which the others have been graciously contributed to help struggling out of the political fracas — the chalice serves slow poison

And it is the PML-N consuming healthy potions of it

Shehbaz Sharif and his cohorts were taken in by the ploy even as the master simply sat by the ringside, Cheshire grin and all, devouring the sight of the slow roasting that has the entire PML-N running from pillar to post, including their man in London, for what providence has thrown their way in retribution for being the easy suckers

The PTI has had it as good as it comes

Having spectacularly failed at governance and what makes for easing common man’s predicaments in their turn in power IK has taken on in rewriting history by narrating idealised banalities from the past and in building narratives that lead people away from the ugliness of his failures

He has invoked imagined excesses and the romance of righteousness to turning his opposition, all kinds, into pariahs who are neither right by their intent nor their faith

Where religion helps he has referred to it profusely

While in power he waited for a bolt from the blue which would ease him out of his nightmare at the helm

He provoked, he jostled, he needled and he played the speculative game with controlled leaks which just might force an error from the opposing sides — the political opposition and the Establishment

In some ways both obliged and IK was saved his humiliation

He also secured his stakes for the future and kept his politics alive, now on steroids

IK now does what he likes most and does best which is to mobilise and agitate his support base like no other

He builds his narratives well and sells it to unsuspecting followers to the point of their blind capitulation

He asks of them to demonstrate in huge congregations turning those into mass appeal against his removal from power invoking foreign conspiracy with local connivance

He widens his arc of accusations to imply the role of Establishment in removing him and installing the ones preferred by external influences

Which is, of course, neither true nor anywhere in the domain of feasible but tell that to a faithful and be binned a traitor for life

With such ferocity in the narrative all bets are off on what the future may hold

His goading to ‘suitably treat’ those who have reneged is an invitation to violence while his call to gather unmatched numbers in Islamabad, in a reminiscence of his 2014 sit-in, could mean an implicit confrontation with law enforcement

Blood, as it flowed during the 2014 sit-in, makes for a harrowing possibility where events could take over and lead the nation into unwanted and uncharted waters

And while the PML-N serves a toughie as its Interior Minister he is known to have looked the other way as strategy when a challenge has beckoned

The Model Town massacre was an exception because those targeted were unarmed women and children who needed to be kept away from a march on Islamabad

When another group threatened to disrupt normal life in Rawalpindi and Islamabad the Rana conveniently let them amble along and passed the baby on to the military to handle followed with insinuations that the group was first facilitated by them

This was political footsie avoiding a potentially explosive situation as much as reinforcing extra-governmental influence among militant groups

What if he again looks the other side? There is already a rising murmur among PML-N sympathisers about an incomplete transfer of power and authority to the lot in the government

This is a common ruse to cover up for the inadequacies of the incumbents to manage challenges staring people in the face

Such sentiment also makes tangential references to a continuing covert support to a displaced IK as he gains strength by the day

It is misleading and insidious

It maligns the Establishment in an ultimate repose of all failing governments

The SS set-up clearly lacks the faculties and the moral, legal and electoral authority to wring in the policy remedies that their backdoor entry into power permits while the balloon of expectations around the person of Shehbaz Sharif is clearly overinflated

He is a good manager and that about sums up the extent of his engagement best suited to a province

So when IK brings on his march because he is not dithering and wants to prove a point — even if it costs lives and disrupts life for others, and because he can — it is possible that the PML-N will just look askance and pass the baby on to others

Maybe this is also exactly what the doctor orders for the Zardari brand of politics because that will put the military in direct confrontation with IK and his bands

The peace and stability, a given security concern of the military, means they will need to face it off

That will put the two in a direct confrontation leaving space open for the others to prosper unhindered

Between them, Zardari anyway has chosen the lighter way out of this complex chaos and will let the PML-N carry the flag of failing to face IK off

That leaves Zardari and his PPP in an enviable and uncontestable position for the future

Call it the Zardari approach to creating political space

It may be stratagem but hate opens the door to such manipulation

SS and the cabinet though in London is beseeching Mian Sahib to let them go; it was beyond them to manage the fracas in the state

Mian Sahib may want more out of them while in power including his vacation from conviction

Without it he would not relent and with it the PML-N is out of sorts with expectations beyond its capacity

It remains a laden future for the entire country

Published in The Express Tribune, May 13th, 2022

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Date:14-May-2022 Reference:View Original Link