Year 2018: Unresolved questions

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  • Recap of the year in the land of mysteries
If the US is the land of opportunity and Japan is the land of the rising sun, Pakistan is the land of mysteries, mostly of the perpetually unresolved variety. Year 2018 was no exception: Khadim Rizvi was arrested, and no djinns came to his rescue; Dr Shahid Masood was taken into custody, and it failed to trigger the Judgment Day (to name but two). But we are probably getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s begin at the beginning.
The year kicked off in fine style. The very first mystery of the year was so early that had it come any sooner, it would have been the last mystery of 2017. According to Umar Cheema, the foremost investigative journalist in the country since Kamran Khan, Imran Khan’s third valiant attempt at finding matrimonial bliss took place on the 1st of January, as opposed to the 18th of February as later officially announced. The discrepancy assumed earth-shattering importance since it pertained to the matter of iddah. As to whether the iddah was violated, and when the wedding really took place, we are still none the wiser twelve (or eleven) months after the fact.
Asif Zardari, who being a modest man dislikes advertising his love for the downtrodden, chose 2018 to explicitly put into words what shrewd observers had suspected all along. That his blood boiled when he heard about somebody wronging the poor. The N-Leaguers, who were never averse to listing instances of their undying commitment to democracy, were even more vocal this year about their sacrifices for the constitution and the rule of law. With such champions of the masses and such jealous defenders of democracy and democratic practices in the two major parties that have run Pakistan since as far back as most can remember, one wonders how the nation ever got into the mess it finds itself in: mountains of foreign and internal debt, a dysfunctional health infrastructure, education sector in a mess, the list goes on. A mystery if ever there was one.
Some issues are mysterious only to one group of people while everybody else sees nothing mysterious about them whatsoever. However, when that group is as large as to comprise a major political party of the country, those ‘mysteries’ can’t just be ignored. The Sharifs and their many undying supporters have consistently been demanding to know exactly what its leaders are accused of. Although year 2018 inherited the innocent question from last year, it failed to answer it to the satisfaction of the Sharifs and their numerous followers. That has obviously dictated the way they chose to defend themselves in court: by offering no contrary evidence whatsoever.
Talking of justice, Justice Gheba of the Lahore High Court Rawalpindi Bench recently rejected a writ petition to direct Chaudhary Nisar to take oath as member of the Punjab Assembly
Mysteries come in many sizes and numbers. There are ordinary mysteries and the slightly more complex ones. These are for ordinary mortals who have limited analytical capabilities. And then there are mysteries that are beyond the comprehension skills of even our anti-establishment intellectuals, who usually have the answer (the same answer) for every question in the world.  Coming back to Dr Shahid Masood, who we left in police custody in the opening paragraph, even the anti-establishment conspiracy theorists have been stumped by his arrest, especially when another former Chairman of Pakistan Television Corporation, Ata ul Haq Qasmi, only needs to pay a fine (even if his appeal against conviction is dismissed).
All told, the mystery of the year arguably was Maryam Nawaz’s rather abrupt transition from ‘Darte hain bandooqon waale aik nihatti larki se’ to complete silence, without passing a ‘Shaam ko bhoola shaam ka waada’ type complaint. Has a secret deal been struck (or in the process of being struck) with the establishment?  There have also been all sorts of speculations regarding the mental scars of the Adiala stint. There’s a legal angle to the mystery as well. It was demanded by many sensitive souls on the traditional and the social media how come Aleema Khan was let off after merely paying a fine whereas Maryam Nawaz had to do jail time and now needs to get her conviction overturned if she is to stay permanently out of jail. Indeed, that Maryam (by her own admission) had no property in Pakistan (let alone London) and that she lived with her father, who in turn apparently lived with his mother, while Maryam’s poor husband lived God-knows-where, undoubtedly makes it a first-rate mystery. Since we have complete faith in our courts of justice, let’s just say things don’t add up.
Talking of justice, Justice Gheba of the Lahore High Court Rawalpindi Bench recently rejected a writ petition to direct Chaudhary Nisar to take oath as member of the Punjab Assembly. The Honourable Judge remarked while giving the judgment, ‘There is no law in the constitution which binds public elected representatives to take oath in limited time period.’ (Nisar had won one out of the four seats he had contested in the general elections but has yet to take his oath as a member during the almost four months after the elections.) Since he was not summoned by the court, Nisar’s bosom remains the sole repository of the reason(s) of this reluctance, and only a press conference by the man can inform the nation. That press conference however is not forthcoming since he has yet to schedule the earlier press conference to announce the date of the press conference in which he will enlighten the nation.