To the credit of the very congenial-looking Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari , he is trying to overcome the emptiness of the present by building the most cordial scenarios for the future. A future where he wishes Maryam Nawaz Sharif and he himself will thrive free from the brashness and acrimony of the past.

What BBZ craves, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is prepared to instantly deliver. In his reciprocal message to the scion of one-time much-sworn-against enemy, Shehbaz Sahab embraces BBZ as his younger brother. The next the outgoing prime minister gets down to creating that ideal Pakistan that this new brotherhood demands.

In their tone and significance, the meetings between Shehbaz Sahab and the opposition leader in the dissolved National Assembly, Raja Riaz, are a prelude to the ideal that BBZ appears to have in his mind. These scenes have been rare in the history of this country and lucky are the individuals who have been cast to play pivotal roles in this crucial juncture of our history.

This has been an auspicious start already. This is how Raja Sahab commented after his first meeting with Shehbaz Sahab to fulfil the constitutional responsibility of picking up a caretaker prime minister who would then be expected to hold a fair general election: “With a consensus, we have decided that there will be another meeting tomorrow (Friday).”

Great beginning, truly. This would have put paid to any uneasy feeling about any unresolvable conflict of interests between the two stalwarts. By all signs they have come a long way from the days when they would square off against each other, an essential part of the long-running battle between the Sharifs’ PML-N and, then Raja Riaz’s PPP.

Then, frankly, Raja Sahab was considered to be no match to the powerful Shahbaz Sharif known to be a doer. This coming together now to pick up the best man for the caretaking job was comparatively much more a meeting of the equals, borne out, again, by Raja Sahab’s uplifting words during the performance of this most important assignment of his career as a professional politician.

“I will deliberate on the names given by the PM, and similarly, the PM sahab will go through the names given by me … a meeting will be held again tomorrow,” he said after the round of talks with Shehbaz Sahab on Thursday. He chose not to disclose the names but was most reassuring in revealing that all those under discussion for the very demanding caretaking job were “respectable people”.

It is never a good idea to over- compare the present with the past given the inevitable strides of progress in between. It is indeed a hazardous tendency to try and find similarities between two eras. However, it has to be said that the serenity with which Shehbaz Sahab and Raja Sahab went about completing their feat would have been impossible if due care had not been taken to clear the stage of unwanted elements incorrigibly possessed by the idea of declaring all opposing politicians as dirty.

Obviously, as always, this situation won’t be without the haters not quite reconciled to a start that could ultimately have the rightful heirs to our political legacy, Maryam Nawaz and Bilawal Bhutto- Zardari, indulging in politics happily ever after. True to the tradition of bad losers, they must come up with their reminders about how the current pleasant atmosphere enveloping the old parties to the Pakistani political battle was a blessing provided by the phenomenal rise of the third option in the arena.

The assertion is a direct counter to our dreams about our chosen leaders and their gifted offspring leading us to an era in politics free of verbal violence and physical and psychological persecution of opponents right up to airport departure lounges and prison cells. And this attack on our right to act as civilized people does not stop here. Beyond the civil, it seeks to remind the romantic BBZ to not allow his feel-good stretch to extend beyond an occasional address from the floor of a dissolving assembly.

The fun-spoilers must work according to their own exercise book. They can hardly suppress the temptation to pinpoint what little role the celebrated political giants in the country did actually have in ensuring a less dangerous field for their heirs to operate in. They cannot help. They must convey to BBZ the sheer futility of wanting a peaceful existence of politicians and political dynasties without prominently including the mighty kingmakers in the list of those who must give the next generations a chance.


The writer is a senior journalist.

By Asha’ar Rehman

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