Conspiracy, craziness and cricket: This is Pakistan
In all the many years I spent failing at journalism in Pakistan I never imagined that one day intricately examining the ‘leaked’ videos of politicians would be part of the job description. And yet here we are. On this note I should report that the alleged video of Pervaiz Rasheed is indeed a fake, and not a good fake either-- the sort one could make with some free to download software. As for the alleged video of Senator Azam Swati, the parts that have made it into the public domain are obvious fakes. The FIA, the agency tasked with probing these sorts of things delivered its verdict within hours of Swati’s frankly heart-rending press conference, but it is unclear as to how the agency even obtained said videos given that he did not send them to the FIA.
This unfortunate chronology is presented here to encapsulate just how degenerate, and just how chaotic the political scene in Pakistan is. Every second day brings a crisis or a scandal or an attack that would, in normal countries and normal times, dominate the news cycle for weeks if not months. Here, the pace of events is now so rapid, that even an assassination attempt on PTI chairman Imran Khan less than a week ago is no longer headline news. Confusion abounds there as well: while the alleged attacker was arrested almost immediately thanks to the heroic actions of a rally-goer named Ibtisam, his ‘confessional’ video was leaked within a few hours, with another short clip surfacing a little later, and to this day the police – incomprehensibly – claims ignorance as to how that could have happened. As for the attack itself, a burst of automatic weapons fire can clearly be heard first in the footage while the attacker is carrying what appears to be a semi-automatic handgun. Given that the crime scene was not cordoned off, we cannot know for sure if critical evidence was collected in time.
Here the pace of events is now so rapid, that even an assassination attempt on PTI chairman Imran Khan less than a week ago is no longer headline news.
Then there was the deadlock over the FIR, with the PTI insisting that three names be added to the FIR and the police being reluctant to do so, to put it mildly.
Note also that this is the Punjab police, which is under the direct control of Pervaiz Elahi down to the postings and transfers of DPOs, and Elahi is the most allied ally of the PTI. Take a moment to be thankful for the fact that not only did Imran Khan survive and that an alleged attacker is in custody, but that the incident took place in Punjab. Because imagine, for a moment, that all this had occurred in the Islamabad Capital territory, which is under the federal government or in a province not controlled by the PTI, and imagine the kind of hell that would have been unleashed by now. Still, surprisingly few questions are being asked of the Punjab CM thus far.
Meanwhile, Khan’s ‘Long March’ to the capital is set to resume today, depending on which PTI leader you’re listening to. Whether it will or won’t will be solely Khan’s decision of course, but that doesn’t prevent some serious speculation which verges on soothsaying. The latter is sometimes indistinguishable from political analysis in Pakistan, given that so much of what affects us takes place behind closed doors and in meetings to which we do not have access. Tidbits and dark hints do filter out but given that everyone is feeding their own version of events to their selected scribes, it’s impossible to tell what is true and what is a lie.
And in the middle of all this dysfunction, all this utter and absolute and ongoing breakdown of social and political compacts and contracts comes the most utterly Pakistani thing ever: a near miraculous cricket win that puts us in the world cup final against all odds. And just like that…murders, assassination attempts and civil strife are forgotten and – for one glorious moment – we are united in jubilation while gleefully making memes. It won’t last, of course. It never does. But we enjoy it today, because tomorrow, the carnival will continue.
- Zarrar Khuhro is a Pakistani journalist who has worked extensively in both the print and electronic media industry. He is currently hosting a talk show on Dawn News. Twitter: @ZarrarKhuhro