On June 14, Islamabad was buzzing with foreboding and dark expectations. Ruling party’s town criers were predicting and promising doom. On June 15 PM Nawaz Sharif was to appear before JIT for criminal investigation against him for funnelling off huge amounts of money out of country illegally.
They also grilled him for the inexplicable but enormous wealth of his sons and daughter while they were still school going kids. A person who had built a dense halo of infallibility, trustworthiness and populism around him was nailed. He had made our gullible people believe in his spurious feeling for the common man’s woes, without ever providing them any relief or comfort. Nawaz and his alter ego Shahbaz Sharif went on to build one mega but elitist , high visibility, limited utility project after another like metro bus, Orange train, motorway, solar park, international airport in the middle of nowhere just as national carrier collapsed. While in the government hospitals next door, pregnant mothers delivered babies on the pavements or in taxi cabs, patient shared beds in the wards with others in twos and threes and people died because of non-availability of ventilator machines in the hospitals. Figuratively speaking, one pillar of the metro track can pay for literally dozens of ventilating machines.
Peasant families in the outlying villages kept committing collective suicides because of poverty and joblessness. Children kept dying by the hundreds at child birth or soon after delivery due to acute malnutrition and the police kept killing prisoners and protesters at point blank range with complete impunity. Schools became dairy farms and community centres stores for the local parliamentarians. But they kept patting each other and blowing their trumpet for the ‘performance’ above and away from the masses.
Except for the bottled water of a few international brands, the entire population of the country drinks contaminated water full of horrific levels of toxins. It is because the entire untreated sewage of the cities big and small is being wickedly drained into lakes and rivers polluting not only surface water chain through and through but also the ground water. Yet nothing moves these insensitive men.
With these unenviable credentials and detestable performance, Sharif was to appear before the JIT hoping to gain public sympathy by his feigned submission to law.
The next part of this great stage show was even more bizarre. It is related to Nawaz’s appearance before the JIT next day and the counterfeit optics of hurt and indignation created by his pack of relentless woofers and tweeters. The performance was comical and pitiable at the same time.
Even if Pakistanis know the whole show is fixed, they still see it with the same gusto and interest with which people watch a vicious bulldog fight. This time the show was scripted but the bulldog was not fighting another. Instead, the beast was chasing its own tail.
A legion of CDA gardeners, sweepers, road repair crews, electricians and painters descended upon and around Judicial Academy Islamabad. They were required to at least make the view of the surrounding look pleasant even though the proceedings inside may not be. They filled potholes in the road, pruned trees and shrubs, washed surfaces, painted curbs and even gutter lids. These legions were religiously supervised by the King’s men like CADD’s Tariq Fazal, Islamabad mayor, Hanif Abbasi, Danyal Aziz and everybody who was anybody in the Sharif’s court. These obedient servants were at their wits end to be noted by their monarch.
Except for those few who can afford bottled water marketed by international brands, the rest of the population still drinks contaminated water full of horrific levels of toxins
In a scripted but fake show of propriety the PM drove to the Federal Judicial Academy in three private cars while the whole neighbourhood had been virtually interned in their homes and offices shut down. This put up show could fit in well if his sons too had travelled in their own cars and the 1800 or so policemen were ordered removed from private Jati Umra Palace.
They grilled him for hours where going by his past public and not so public performance, one can imagine him fumbling into his pockets, rummaging through documents, stammering, feigning and correcting himself time and again while he deposed unassisted by his band of legal masons before those determined men. His famous short memory must have completely failed him as he walked up to the rostrum to deliver his written ‘victory’ speech. That in any case was a masterpiece of bombast, obliqueness and his trademark dumbness. Worst still he looked notably off colour and sounded hollow. One has yet to see a truly indignant man express himself through a doctored speech penned by a copy writer.
Most remarkable was the sight of his ministers and minions sitting dumbfounded before him in the spacious sitting room of the PM House, as if struck by the news of a delivery outside a labour room. A great farce of this magnitude really needs matching deviousness. They have a lot of that commodity and much to spare.
The writer is a retired brigadier of the Pakistan army and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org