Saturday, November 10, 2007

Le Théâtre de l'Absurde

Events in Pakistan are flickering at an amazing speed. Every single day we have new developments from the theater of the absurd. Thursday saw ‘tight’ buddy Bush calling Prez Musharraf -- finally after more than 100 hours of the declaration of emergency. On Friday it became clear that Benazir -- the great elocutionist -- has effectively taken over the mantle on behalf of her democracy-starved countrymen and women [Those at CNN and Fox can’t stop praising her]. To start with, she has begun to tie her head scarf more securely now. She addressed her nation [a la Mush style] on Pakistan TV, because diabolical Mush didn’t let her step out of her Islamabad home. Actually the national TV showed a still picture of her, while her audio played in the background. In reality Ms Bhutto was addressing a handful of supporters outside her barricaded, barbed home – after the government thwarted all efforts for a march to Rawalpindi – the Military base of Pakistan – to lead a public rally.

In the evening the white house spokesperson was asking Pakistan to allow Ms Bhutto to travel freely. How it reeks of an ancient theatre? Allow Miss Bhutto to criss-cross the country! How about those mad-caps on prowl for her? They want to get her, we all know that. Right? US, it seems, has finally decided that Mush alone can’t pull it off for them. So they would need to back Benazir. I don’t think any other reason why a political figure -- under martial law -- would be allowed to say all kinds of nasty things against the Prez on PTV. Live! Time, my fave political magazine, puts it rather subtly, ‘The local-language press — generally cynical and conspiracy-minded — grumble about the theatrics of the whole event, pointing out the lack of visible grass roots support for Bhutto in both Islamabad and Rawalpindi’. Something is cooking, for sure.

The belated phone call from Bush actually seems to be working. Prez Musharraf said day before that elections will be held before Feb 15, as per the original plan. The cornered fox also admitted that he will ask his designer to stop making his military uniforms [which he doesn’t wear anymore] after the friendly supreme court validates [invalidation isn’t an option with them, now] his second term win. Automatically the constitution will be restored. That assurance seems to be placating Bush and his deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, who – in turn -- called Mush ‘indispensable’ last night. Miss Bhutto, since she is a highly qualified lady, understands that ‘indispensable’ means vital. Yet she would continue to make more noise. That is a little game of politics they teach you at Oxford. Miss Bhutto has been its alumnus. It is about her own relevance.

As for other players, Judge Iftikar Chowdary has been cooped, like Napoleon -- protector of the confederation of the Rhine at Saint Helena. His daughter was yesterday not let out to even sit for her exams. The ultraists are detonating themselves in the hills these days, outside government facilities and the queue to paradise is swelling, as reports suggest. Some of them are on prowl in the military town of Rawalpindi, if the police boss is to be believed [waiting for that pro-west female to come out in the open]. The media is reporting fine. At least the online media looks free. I get my daily dose of happenings in that country from the Pakistani online English press, which is largely accurate and not heavily censored, as one would imagine. Despite all western papers, in story upon story, reminding us that US bankrolled [$10 billion] Pakistan in the last 7 years -- to fight their war, to stitch their flawed policy tatters and to send Pakistani army in the restive tribal belts, for the first time in history to kill their own folks [They don’t tell you that, silly].

Going by the steady flow, the next few weeks are going to be more eventful. We can envisage more hair-raising acts in this ongoing drama. Nawaz – never to be left behind – may attempt something exciting. Benazir will continue to amuse. The Judge with a grudge is expected to say something sensational. Imran Khan, the born-again Muslim [biggety and no mass appeal] might send more emails from his hide-out to his estranged wife. The mad-gang would continue to blow their heads and capture more police posts in the mountains. Fazlullah [Radio-mullah] broadcasts from his private FM, calling for Sharia, could be available to more households. And the US will publicly make all the correct sermons, while privately continue to shape events in their outpost – Pakistan.

Updates to continue.