Most people do not know what they believe; they only know what they wish to believe. This includes the media who are afraid of being accused of bias. Rather than reporting objectively, they settle for being even-handed, which is not the same. This “armed neutrality” makes it easier to detect various forms of hypocrisy. Partisan discussions are shaped by emotions and are made from egoistic ivory towers. They cannot yield objective outcomes because the ego keeps putting its own spin. When I see a person, therefore, I try not to look at their rank, class or reputation. In this way, I am able to avoid the reflection of my own prejudices. Who wouldn’t like to have someone on their side who is reliable and has a razor-sharp mind? What if he is an ordinary Joe, but seldom makes mistakes and keeps your secrets? Would you still have him if he is rough around the edges but stands by you in your darkest hours? I would. I have known him, mostly from a distance, and not for long. If he knows that he is being written about, as an interesting character, in an English newspaper, he would probably have a heart attack (without letting anyone notice). He is the Javed Miandad of Pakistani politics — no one reads the game better. He may not be your cup of tea but he is in your face on a daily basis. He hails from my native Lyallpur (Faisalabad). He is, of course, Rana Sanaullah. I was on a tour of the Punjab Assembly building in 2012 when I suddenly felt as if the building would crumble under the weight of the noise coming from the main chamber. I decided to take a peek inside, and observed Raja Riaz and colleagues hurling abuse and torn papers at a little man with a big moustache, who stood smiling and trying to get a word in. He had such an air of self-belief and smugness about him that I requested to meet him. People underestimate him, but Rana believes in himself. He does not try to convince others or seek their approval I was ushered to a room full of people taking turns to see him. He made no exceptions despite my heavy credentials and my minder’s assertions. On my turn, he kept reading the papers while I explained that I had no favours to ask. It was beginning to feel exasperated when I mentioned that I hailed from Lyallpur. He suddenly raised head, beamed his trademark smile and said, Kuddon aay jay (When did you come?). Rana Sanaullah had arrived. I have since seen him in meetings with Punjab CM Shehbaz Sharif. Nothing fazes him. He is the most relaxed person in the room and often appears to be dozing off. He comes alive only when required and offers the most rational riposte. This surprises those who judge others by appearances (including his Faisalabadi accent). When he is chairing, meetings finish early because he gets to core issues and their solutions without wasting time. I have noticed that he is usually right; whether it is about Nawaz Sharif not going to court in the Memogate or how the government might handle Tahirul Qadri. Rana is an archetypal Rajput with the old-fashioned values of pride, honour and loyalty. But he is no angel. He has all the failings of a traditional politician. He gets vilified often because he is self-made, takes the bullets for his boss, and has powerful enemies. For one, the military establishment has never forgiven him for how he stood up in the Musharraf era. He never ducks a challenge and fights with all the tricks learned in the back streets of Nazim Abad (Lyallpur). He has worked hard to get here — there is no way back for him. He likes to win at any cost, because he believes there is no consolation prize in politics. A famous ‘Electable’ (School friend) approached me in 2016 to facilitate his ‘respectable’ entry into PML-N. This was to escape harassment by the local administration on behalf of a current Minister of State. It was a bad idea (and I never do party politics) but his livelihood (and politics) were at stake otherwise. Before the media appearance with party leadership, a formal meeting with Rana was organised. Rana shocked us by acting in the friend’s best interest. He was advised to think about it and not join under duress, otherwise his political career would be finished. Rana also took care of the local administration with some difficulty and suitably informed the party leadership. This Electable has recently joined PTI with great fanfare. People underestimate him, but Rana believes in himself. He does not try to convince others or seeks their approval. He has the capacity to speak his mind when it hurts to bite his tongue. He can also pretend to be a fool but at the end of the hunt he is the one holding the gun. He has been wrongly accused, among other things, of supporting proscribed outfits and of blasphemy. Nothing will stick though, because he does not make mistakes. Some say Rana has passed his sell-by date, but I believe there is more life left in him. The writer is a Consultant Psychiatrist and Visiting Professor. He tweets @Aamer Sarfarz Published in Daily Times, April 27th 2018.