The age-old script

The ongoing psychological operation that we have witnessed on our screens looks very well scripted and synchronised

For those of you who are still unable to grasp the seriousness of this whole fiasco, I do not have much to add. I hope God keeps you happy and safe in your self-created universe. As an armchair analyst, let me categorically state that I hope I am dead wrong about all the doom and gloom I see ahead. I have repeatedly stated the same position on the popular micro-blogging website Twitter, voicing my grave concerns. A surreal game is unfolding and it would not be wrong to say that the powers have decided. This whole experiment of democracy and democratic norms (according to their opinion) does not fit the prescription of Pakistan. If I am not mistaken, we are perhaps going to read the obituary of this ‘alien’ concept very soon. In a metaphor of chess, the king is about to be checkmated and the board will perhaps be rearranged once again.

I am not trying to score any points but in my very first write up of the year, ‘When the sun sets’ (Daily Times, January 4, 2014), I had opined that Prime Minister (PM) Sharif was sailing into unchartered territory by trying Musharraf and his best course of action would be to pardon the former general and close this chapter for good. But, of course, neither the PM nor his yes men perhaps had time to read the opinion section of this esteemed publication. I have never been to any corridors of power anywhere but it sure looks like these venues are full of plenty of stiff necks and a lot of empty heads. What went down is common knowledge. Is that singular event the sole reason behind all of this chaos? Maybe, maybe not but I can say with relative certainty that it is one of the major contributing factors.

Did any one expect that it would unfold in this manner? Yes, a few people with some foresight did and kept on voicing their concerns on social media and the tube as well. Those voices were trashed and shunned, and given all sorts of derogatory names. Local and international events have meshed in such a manner that it is extremely obvious what lies ahead. The ongoing psychological operation that we have witnessed on our screens looks very well scripted and synchronised. It cannot be a coincidence that certain political forces met and charted their game plan in the land of our former masters. You do not need to have a doctorate or be a genius to decipher that operationally the optics were based on the blueprint for a war game. Both forces were brought into the capital to besiege the government and cause severe economic losses, one claiming the elections were rigged and the other promising an overhaul of the entire system. Their real agenda was behind the scenes: baying for the head of the PM.

I was amazed when, last week, I met with a few friends (and yes all of us discussed the deteriorating political situation) and most of these educated people just repeated the usual emotional rhetoric that they had absorbed from the tube. When I raised a few critical questions, there were very few responses and the narrative oscillated between perceived corruption, 14 dead and the “royal” attitudes of the rulers. Thanks to the electronic media, you can shape any narrative within hours. If these folks are so manipulated then one can imagine how the people on the ground truly feel. In politics, three words matter the most: perception, perception and perception. Perception can be manufactured with time and effort. I saw this first hand here when the US was about to launch its offensive in Iraq and how opinion was created, shaped and presented to the masses. We are no exception.

There is no denying that a terrible incident happened in Model Town, Lahore: 14 people were killed and many were wounded. That event was downright shameful. The apathy towards that one incident by the ruling party and the suppression of the evidence became one the major reasons to shape a counter-narrative. This incident was perhaps not part of the draft being written against them on the other side of the world. Had there been no Model Town the campaign to oust them was still going to be launched. This one incident gave it humongous moral high ground. To those who are sold on the idea of “independence from the ruling elite” and to those who are sold on the message of a “social welfare” state, all I can say is we have not learnt anything from our own history. We have been there and seen all of this before a few times in the past. The names, characters and slogans change yet the underlying script remains the same. To all of them I would urge a revisit to the archives of 1977; this script has a lot of resemblance. If my fears do come true, we may witness a political martyr, this time from the land of the five rivers.


The writer is a Pakistani-American mortgage banker. He blogs at and can be reached at He tweets at