Meetings in Dubai can have far-reaching impact

Salahuddin Haider

For the next 24 to 36 hours, the UAE’s nerve centre for business Dubai will remain focus of activities that may have far-reaching impact on Pakistan’s political scene.
Going there of Sindh chief minister Qaim Ali Shah was a routine matter, for he has been summoned by the top leadership for consultations, but arrival in Dubai or Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, as troubleshooter for prime minister Nawaz Sharif, has attracted attention from high to low, and from top to bottom.
He has, according to an official announcement from prime minister’s staff, been sent there by PM Nawaz Sharif to patch up with PPP. Now this is something new and really important.
There is no denying the fact that Nawaz, ever since his return from the long health Yatra to England, has been in a reconciliatory mood, which was evident from his first directive to Dar and colleagues to attempt a new peace formula on ToRs for Panama Leaks commission, or committee of enquiry.
That showed that solace in London, has given him enough time to think and act afresh or take a new look at the strategy he had been following so far for three years of his induction in authority.
He seems a changed man. Let us hope and pray that he retains his natural calm and composure and instead of being aggressive or picking confrontation with rivals, he must continue to show maturity and political sagacity. It would be better for him to remain cool even in the face of heaviest of provocations.
The astounding victory of his PML-N party in Azad Kashmir elections barely a day ago, has, apart from raising him to new elevations, also seems to have injected a new blood, a new and fortunate accommodative spirit in him.
Although the renewed dialogue with the opposition on ToRs for Panama Leaks issue, has brought nothing concrete, yet conversely it has been a boon for the premier and his party in the government. The opposition is now a clearly divided house, calling off the street agitation option for good, which is like a victory out of the blue for Nawaz.
If Imran Khan of Tehreek-e-Insaf is hell bent on launching the street agitation against the ruling junta from August 7, scepticism has already been voiced against its success. But predictions at this stage can be risky and illusive also.
The two main political parties of the country, PPP and PML-N, have by their strength and consistency raised the political level of Pakistan to those seen in America, or England, both having two-party system. Such a pattern gives permanence to nation’s political health, serving like tonic.
The premier has now rushed Dar to Dubai to speak to Zardari on Rangers presence in Sindh, and also whether bickering of the past between the principal stake-holders could be avoided under an agreement, following on the pattern of the Charter of Democracy of yesteryears. That COD has vanished into thin air, but, taking a leaf from Nelson Mandela’s life, a new chapter of cooperation and cohesion between principal political players can always be re-written.
If that happens, it will be an asset, an invaluable treasure for posterity, but let us hope and see it happen. That is the vital question.
It is still very fresh in memory, the fragrance and scent of COD treaty of London, which did work initially, but 5-years of Zardari’s misrule, doing damage to Nawaz power base of the Punjab, frittered it away. A new attempt has to be made, whose beginning we have started to see, and will have to wait for its outcome, hopefully a positive one.
The prime minister seems keen to avoid confrontational politics, lest it harms democracy and reverses the constitutional agenda of a country, founded on the basis of popular vote. Zardari and PPP, too, though have been attacking the premier and his party, but, have simultaneously assured him and the countrymen that they would not do anything silly, for that would be the end of rule of law and system of people’s governance.
That one-point agenda alone can lead to an understanding of unfathomable depth. Knowing from statements made by Zardari, and Syed Khursheed Shah, or for that matter, even from Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, it becomes clear that none wants democracy to be sacrificial goat. Parties can continue to fight for their motto, manifestoes, and for principals they propound, but agreeing to protecting democracy will be greatest service to Pakistan and its people. That alone seems to the main motive of Dar serving as Nawaz emissary to Dubai.
Zardari’s response could easily be predicted. He will be all for it, but whether release from prolonged imprisonment of Dr Asim Hussain, withdrawal of case against Ayyan Ali, can be placed as bargaining chips, is not yet known. Knowing Zardari well, such demands could not be totally ruled out. The question, to be asked, is the premier or his government in a position to oblige him. They surely are not. The shots are being called from unspecified locations.
Let us therefore keep our fingers crossed till the meetings take place and their results are announced. But these meetings are of paramount importance for political drama that is likely to dominate the national stage.
As for Rangers some sort of agreement can be worked out. No big deal. Bilawal and Zardari will not like to pick quarrel for long with the power that be. The Corps Commander, in a meeting with Qaim Ali Shah the other day in Karachi, had come to represent the army, and ditched the question, raised by the CM, for Asad Kharal’s arrest. General Naveed’s response depicted the army mindset. Will that change? Is a big poser!

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