Most people do not know that the Baboons living in South Africa barter their food. They exchange a banana for a bag of crisps they steal from an unsuspecting tourist. Just like those baboons, Pakistan’s rent seeking elite barters power and privilege. Unlike baboons, who barter among themselves, our political elite barters with an alien foreign force and when they are not bartering with that alien foreign force they want it to play the guarantor; at least that is what latest Wikileaks Pakistan Papers tell us.
While the newspaper reading drawing room analyst types (that’s almost all of us) already knew or suspected whatever goes in the corridors of power, we learned a few new things from the cables. Take this particular cable from 2009 for example, US considers PML (Q) to be the asli tay vadi PML because they have been referred to as plain and simple PML – with no ABCD affixed to it. PML-N, on the other hand, was referred to as such which must have rankled Khadim-e-Ala Punjab a lot. If the pattern of his belligerence is consistent, he must be reciting Habib Jalib’s Main Naheen Manta in his Raiwind mansion since the cables came out.
Some people are drawn to adventure and some are destined to play with fire. In Pakistan, anyone who takes over the president’s office is predestined to become obsessed with Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry or so says wikileaks.
If Pakistani political circles were an American high school, then CJ Iftekhar Chaudhry would have been the fat geeky nerd who would not be touched with a barge pole and all cool kids would stay away from him. US Ambassador Anne Patterson very clearly stated that “no leader in Pakistan really wants an activist and unpredictable Chief Justice.” Poor CJ, if he had to attend a prom, no one would have agreed to go out with him.
The cables also reiterated what we already knew – that PML-Q (yes, I continue to use this moniker because I am not a US diplomat) is the biggest mercenary of them all and would switch sides for a provincial chief minister ship, a senate chairmanship or to get the party leader’s son (as it eventually happened) out of trouble.
Anyone who thought that MQM is a small time party interested only in naddi nalay ki siasat (read elected local government bodies) had another think coming, Amreekis do consult them in matters of governments and coalitions. Apparently Altaf Bhai is as thick with the US envoys as the rest of them and wanted to know which way Ms. Patterson and her bosses move before coming out to support the presidential throne.
What we also learned from the cables is that no matter how many speeches Farooq Sattar would give in the parliament and take part in legislative processes, he would always be called the “in country” leader of MQM and not just the leader. We also learned that stormy relationship of MQM and PML-N is as apparent to the Americans as it is obvious to us.
The cables, sent out by the US embassy in Pakistan, lamented the fact that the US had no leverage over Mian Nawaz Shareef. If only they knew about a certain Ms. Kim Barker and her influence over Mian sahib, things would have been much easier for them. All they needed to do was to convince Ms Barker to accept that iPhone and viola, things could have been different.
We also learned that General Kayani is as adventurous towards Afghanistan as his predecessors and wanted “tactical Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs) to cover wide regions such as the whole of Afghanistan and Pakistan through remotely stationed operations rooms.” Seriously, Kayani sahib is not really a mean guy, he just wants to play Battlefield or Mortal Kombat through UAVs across Afghanistan and Pakistan. So what if it costs us peace in the region, the big boys would get to play the ultimate game.
PS: The cables were classified by Anne W. Patterson, for reasons 1.4 (b)(d)or reasons 2.8 (c). I would seriously like to know what those reasons were.
Originally written for Dawn.com