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Senate Sensation

by Newsweek Pakistan

Farooq Naeem—AFP

The powers-that-be have got their man in the Upper House

The Senate has chosen a Baloch independent who doesn’t even live in his home province as its chairman because Imran Khan decided to commit his Tehreek-e-Insaf party’s strength to his archenemy Asif Zardari, co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party. Balochistan Chief Minister Quddus Bizenjo could be laughing up his sleeve when he claimed that the choice of Sadiq Sanjrani strengthened the federation, but Quetta had not long ago succumbed to Zardari’s lure of big money and defected from Nawaz Sharif’s Muslim League. Senator Hasil Bizenjo of Balochistan, speaking after the Senate poll, thought the entire theater of toppling majorities was orchestrated by the powers-that-be. He touched his shoulder, where the pips are positioned, to indicate who had done it.

A lot of people defected to make it possible. The MQM, committed to choosing PMLN’s Raja Zafarul Haq, was vulnerable, party-wise and individually, to the narrowing dragnet against its underworld connection in Karachi. Zardari himself was vulnerable for similar reasons and must have been relieved to be bailed out first through the “Balochistan coup” then the Senate maneuver. Imran Khan came out saying his MPAs defected at the Khyber-Pakhtunkhaw Assembly by taking Rs. 4 crore each. (For good measure, his partyman Chaudhry Sarwar allegedly coughed up the same rate to buy some Nawaz League MPAs in Lahore to become senator.) But this umbrage was soon superseded by willingness to hand over his authority-to-choose to his declared enemy, Asif Ali Zardari.

The PPP had to make some serious sacrifices to allow Zardari to achieve his much-boasted victory against the Nawaz League. They got rid of their chairman Raza Rabbani whose universal popularity in the country had persuaded Nawaz Sharif to nominate him as his party’s candidate. The rank and file, including “showpiece” Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, had to eat their words and back off from Rabbani. The same sort of blackballing hit PPP’s Senator Farhatullah Babar who, like Rabbani, had raised his voice against the proxy rule of the establishment using elected politicians like puppets. Now vulgar slogans are raised as “political narrative” in Pakistan, and the abusive language applied to rivals points to the self-hatred of the state itself.

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