These days it is hard to believe anything because of too much rumor mongering on social media. So I developed certain benchmarks which if met would mean that the grand bargain is progressing. One such benchmark was met yesterday when Asif Ali Zardari got a clean chit from NAB in his last corruption case. Legally and officially he is now sadiq aur ameen if he contests elections. Just a day earlier Asif Ali Zardari went on a media spree to declare Nawaz Sharif friend of India engaged in a conspiracy to create a greater Punjab. Going a step further than declaring him not only just Modi ka Yaar but also a partner in the balkanization of Pakistan. Another interesting thing that happened was that crusaders against corruption including Haroon Rashid, Orya Maqbool Jan, Arshad Sharif, Rauf Klasra, Dr. Moeed Pirzada, Dr. Shahid Masood and many others remained unaffected and unconcerned about clean chit to Mr. Asif Ali Zardari. Arshad Sharif even provided him his platform for PML N bashing and projected him as a nationalist Pakistani. On top of those social media revolutionaries that were hysteric about punishing corruption during Panama papers did not feel any compulsion to talk about NAB giving a clean chit to Zardari. PML N did not punch Asif Zardari back and their usual attack team Daniyal Mirza, Talal Chaudhry and Maryam Aurangzeb were missing in action.
All these were indications that confidence building measures are on track to allow political brokers to develop a grand bargain. But I am still not sure we have reached that stage yet so more benchmarks have to be meet in next few weeks. An important one is coming due in September. Yesterday I got a message from an old acquaintance in PPP. The person was a minister in last government and now a key player in Asif Ali Zardari’s team. He was trying to suggest my position was wrong. My response to the message was just one question which resulted in a silence from the other side.
I just would like to tell PML N and PPP central office holders that a grand bargain will not get them anything as times have changed. It was old times when bargains could be made in smoke filled rooms and everyone would fall in line for it. The better approach is still to explore a limited dialogue to develop a national consensus on some key questions faced by the nation. Mian Sb 12 questions are related to his personal case not the concern of the larger nation per se.
By Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi