For Tahirul Qadri, it’s a win

Published: January 19, 2013
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What he has accomplished is quite a feat for someone without a single parliamentary seat to his name. PHOTO: REUTERS

The revolution is over. Democracy is saved. Islamabad the green will become even greener, thanks to all the fertiliser. The ‘padri’ is now very much a player. The ‘former’ government is now a coalition partner, the ‘yazeedis’ are now buddies and Karbala, it seems, came with a conference-ready container.

Bad jokes and highly inappropriate references aside (hey, they started it), we can breathe a collective sigh of relief that it all ended without violence because, for a while there, it all looked very touch and go.

I’m also glad that the army kept its boots off, and didn’t tip the balance when the Chief Justices’s arrest orders for Prime Minister Ashraf miraculously coincided with TuQ’s speech. A meray aziz humwatno moment seemed imminent at that point. That it didn’t come is no small blessing.

Apart from a certain biscuit brand that can now benefit from instant brand recall (Tuc), a clear winner is the tissue paper industry. Up until yesterday, a certain Amazingly Asinine columnist and a Kriminally Krackpot anchor were using several dozen boxes a day to wipe the drool from their chins. Now they’ll be mopping tears of disappointment that Zardari’s head was not served to them on a platter.

But they’re not the only ones who have to swallow a bitter pill. Nawaz Sharif seems locked out of this set-up and he certainly won’t be pleased. The question of whether the President has pulled the wool over his eyes for the 15,864th time will very much be bothering him. Nor will he (or any PPP opponent) be glad to see that Qamar Zaman Kaira has emerged from the anemic ranks of PPP leaders as a man who can walk the walk and talk the talk, flip flopping with the ease and skill of a Cirque du Soleil performer. And all with a smile on his face.

Imran Khan, who has seen his slogan of change effectively appropriated by Qadri, did, in the end, the only thing he could have done, agree with Qadri’s intentions, but not his methods.

It’s an open question if he can once again tap into the simmering reservoir of discontent that both he and Qadri are trying to siphon and translate that into electoral gains.

The Supreme Court remains the ultimate wildcard. Pursuing what seems like an anti-government vendetta it has, in the past few days, not only issued arrest orders against the PM but also admitted the hearing of a (wait for it) blasphemy petition against Sherry Rehman that even the LHC’s Multan bench refused to entertain. What will the CJ make of this agreement, I wonder?

While the MQM has come under some muted criticism (all criticism of the MQM is muted) for kind-of-sort-of throwing in their lot with Qadri, this will make absolutely zero difference to its power base. Such is the indispensability of the MQM, that anyone wanting to form a stable government in Sindh will need them no matter what.

As for Qadri himself, it’s a win.

For now.

Having failed to make any serious inroads into Pakistani politics for decades he’s now going to be consulted (or is it consensus?) on not only the makeup of the election commission but also the choosing of the caretaker PM. Not only that, the discussions will take place in MQI offices! That’s quite a feat for someone without a single parliamentary seat to his name! Imran may be wishing he had marched to Islamabad instead of the border of Waziristan. This is of course if the agreement holds.

More ominous is the precedent that has been set. It seems that, in order to paralyse the federal capital and make the government bow to your demands all you have to do is march on Islamabad.

Be assured that others are taking note.

As for me, I’m raising money for a plane ticket (for me) and buses (for the rest of you) for a march to get YouTube unblocked.

Are you with me or with the Yazeedis?

Read more by Zarrar here or follow him on Twitter @ZarrarKhuhro

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Zarrar Khuhro

Is currently working at Dawn TV and was the editor of The Express Tribune weekly magazine.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.