A closer look at present-day Pakistani politics will reveal a strange, ironic similarity to a run-of-the -mill Bollywood flick.
Former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, reluctantly supports the ruling party mostly to keep his old nemesis, President Musharraf at bay. Ideally, he would like to be in charge and have his revenge on President Musharraf. While in power, he claims to have been betrayed by then General Musharraf and forced into exile. Now he is back to his motherland, thanks to the people of Pakistan. But uppermost in his mind is “revenge” – revenge for the wrong done to him and his family. His first and sometime only goal (usurping complete political power coming a close second) is to send Musharraf to prison and destroy him for good.
President Musharraf is hanging on to power in the fervent hope that Zardari and Sharif self-destruct, thereby facilitating his return. Thankfully for him, he is still best friends with a certain cowboy from Texas who has big bucks, weapons and armies at his disposal.
To complicate matters, the judges whom Musharraf fired are rearing to return. Zaradri and Sharif both have outstanding cases against them which could possibly send them both to prison. Understandably, they can’t seem to agree on the return of the judges despite a groundswell of support for it among the masses. Unfortunately, the current Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) is mostly a front for Mr. Asif Zardari, widower of Ms. Benazir Bhutto and can hardly dream of having his way even if he so wished to.
Bin Laden, the notorious international terrorist and his men are gunning for all three. He and his henchman are holed out in the mountains bordering Afghanistan. They have one overriding goal, to destroy the cowboy from Texas and his ilk. (Cracking his whip you can almost hear him booming, “Kitne Aadmi the!”)
And then there is Imran Khan , the eternally handsome, aristocratic playboy turned politician aspiring to clean up Pakistani politics. Between hanging out with the Godrej family, the who is who of India and the rest of the world, he does find time to make an occasional protest.
Then there is A.Q Khan the nuclear scientist who many believe was scape-goat-ed, betrayed and demonized by President Musharraf. On the one hand he too seeks revenge and wants to come clean before his death. On the other hand, there are international goons and spies from Iran to North Korea hovering around him for more “secret formulas”.
Last but not the least, there are billions of dollars in cash that the US is pumping into Pakistan. The Pakistan army thus far had a strangle hold on this liberal cash flow. With the democratically elected government in charge this bounty has to now be shared between the army, the ISI and the civilian government authorities.
Caught in the middle of all this (bless their hearts!) are the Pakistani people trying to lead their everyday lives in the midst of this unfortunate mayhem.
It is hard to imagine that this is not a Bollywood plot! There are villains, goons and terrorists chasing each other around in an eternal cat and mouse game. There is money, there are nuclear arsenals and secret nuclear formulas, there is violence, back-bitting, treachery and lots of hard cold cash. A few item numbers can be thrown in around the Imran Khan character to round off the Bollywood formula. If Imran were younger and one of the others involved had a daughter to round of his love interest….O, please I should stop now! (Btw, considering that this plot is unfolding in public domain on a daily basis and there are easily 10 characters to play, perhaps Kamalahasan would have done well to adapt this theme for his Dasavatharam !:-).
On a more serious note, there is little doubt that the current situation in Pakistan sounds very much like a familiar Bollywood script, except that the conventional happy ending seems next to impossible. In fact, it is a complete mystery as to where Pakistan is headed. Unfortunately, none of the current powers-that-be appear to know either.
Across the border, Indian politics is no better as the final climax of the trust vote is just round the corner.