Down to basics by Amina jilani

Ha, well, how stands parliamentary supremacy? Judging by what we hear, read and surmise, it is not in that hot a position. Let’s start at the lowest rung of the slippery political step-ladder, the MPAs; that meaningless bunch whose words and deeds carry no weight, whose actions are dubious and loaded with doubt as to their purposes and aims.

MNAs fare a little better. Who listens to them? Barely themselves. Yes, a few brave individuals who actually do consider that joke known as the national interest, have been effective in bringing in legislation that looks and sounds good on paper, but then there is the implementation and that is what falls short. And when it is evident, as in the case of the much-lauded Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, arguments over the wisdom of certain clauses very much exist, as does a certain amount of confusion. No, taken by and large, with the few exceptions, our MNAs are rather a sorry lot.
Chief ministers? Well, all one has to do is bring to mind those of Balochistan, Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. What is there to say about them? The prime minister — he is on to a good thing, perks and pelf-wise, but no one really cares one way or another or even listens to what he may consider weighty announcements or pronouncements. He is a mere non-entity in the service of his supreme party co-chairman.
And then we have the co-chairman cum head of state himself. Under normal circumstances, what he says or does not say matters not a whit, though people do sit up and react when he comes out with the odd bizarre comment, which at times he was wont to do. Of late, sadly, he has been but an irritating bore.
On to someone who really does matter in the peculiar scheme of things, who truly makes citizens sit up and concentrate — the most honourable chief justice of the not-so-honourable republic of Pakistan. If he speaks on a daily basis (which has more or less become the norm), he will make headlines on a daily basis; his pronouncements will be heeded, discussed, pondered upon and dissected. He is a news-maker and breaker.
But, oh, now comes the man who only utters in public sporadically, but whenever he does, he shovels aside our revered chief justice and leaps into the top spot with the lightest of ease. Let the army chief speak up and the nation is mesmerised. His words, sentences, paragraphs are analysed to death, interpretations are galore, even though each sentence, non-convoluted, conveys a simple straight-forward message, not requiring an unusually perceptive intellect to latch on to, absorb and comprehend what he is saying.
That is where supremacy lies, not in a half-baked parliament, which is barely functional and even ignored by its members other than when they are up in arms about ‘supremacy’. The army chief, whosoever he may be, commands — even demands — supremacy. It lies with the boss-man of the richest, the largest, the most organised and the most disciplined party of the land. As much as this fact may and must be abhorred by the many striving democrats and constitutionalists, a fact remains a fact. The General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani firecracker of Guy Fawkes Day and the national reaction — still continuing — tells it all.
Endword: That Groovy Haider — Iqbal Haider as he was officially known — has gone is a tragedy, a genuine tragedy. The most likeable of men, good-natured, never non-cheerful, deeply committed to any cause he espoused, was a rare and lovable bird. Politics, the law, human rights and of late, secular Pakistan were all in his domain and he put his heart and soul into it all. In his own little way, he was an institution. They do not make many like him. He was needed. Friend Groovy, who has shared many a jolly evening with many of us, we will miss you.


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