STRAIGHT TALK by Hafeez Khan

Our politics is in the dumps. Talk shows should be rated PG 18, given all the venom being spewed out and abuse being hurled around. Ms. Maryam Nawaz is on her home ground. Her expertise is to tell lies with a straight face, convincingly. I used to think it as arrogance born out of a sense “born to rule” mentality.

But following her more closely I realized she has a Machiavellian streak that dominates her politics. Machiavelli’s quote “It is better to be feared than loved, if it cannot be both” explains her aggressive, combative behavior. This is medically considered a precursor to onset of dementia. I wish her good health, however medical science is based on research.

In the 3rd tenure of Nawaz Sharif as Prime Minister in 2013, Ms. Maryam emerged as the power behind the throne. Keeping a low profile, she ran the media cell. This cell evolved into a powerhouse.

It was a three pronged attack. First, to cultivate, entertain and bribe, and win favor of established media names. Secondly, to put together a lethal social media team. Thirdly, put in place a strategy cell, the “nom de guerre” for dirty tricks. It was supposed to groom her as heir apparent and be the next Prime Minister. However Providence had other plans. Her positioning is inherited from her Dad, who blames Establishment for spoiling his grab to create a dynasty.

Ever since dawn leaks, and other PML(N) shenanigans especially during Panama leaks, the aggressive outbursts of Daniyal, Talal, Maryam Aurangzeb, Nihal Hashmi, all had her imprint writ large.

Calling them Godfather is disrespectful to Mafia. Her behavior is more akin to Bronx or Brooklyn hoods who take no prisoners. Maryam Nawaz’s bitterness is without borders. She’s willing to go to any extent. She acts like a spoilt and willful child, who would rather break a toy than share it. As PML(N) support base shrinks, she is relying on support from Bramdad Bugti, Hasil Bazenjo, Achakzai and now PDM.

The latest episode of dirty tricks is the one and half hour conference releasing the tapes on Judge Arshad Malik of NAB. She chose to be Prosecutor, Judge and Jury. Claiming at the end of her presentation that she has proved the point beyond any doubt, hence the Jailor should immediately unlock Nawaz Sharif’s cell and release him.

That is fantasyland. However she was able to stamp her claim on PML(N) leadership. She is the trendsetter. This is how PML(N) politics will unfold. Uncle Shahbaz looked on helplessly. All the biggies were in attendance had a bewildered look.

Maryam Nawaz is ignoring a basic rule of physics, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. She is pushing the limits, testing boundaries, threatening revelations, taking full advantage of our culture, tradition and belief system to respect females. But if you play rough you can get hurt.

Judge Malik is on thin ice. His fraternizing with a known criminal and PML(N) hood is dubious. Till the fate of any investigation is decided, he is under a cloud. He should be asked to step away from politically sensitive cases otherwise all decisions will always be controversial.

Ms Maryam laid a trap and unfortunately PTI walked directly into it. Without pondering the pros or cons or seeking legal advice, Dr. Firdous Awan jumped into the fray. She was going to have forensic tests done, hold inquiries and what not.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had to intervene and distance the Government from the entire episode. It has nothing to do with the Government, it is a legal matter for the courts to settle. It should never have happened in the first place. Dr. Awan is a persuasive presenter, but her love of being on the screen outweighs Governments best interest. Her jarring loud voice has fortunately toned down, yet she needs to less in your face.

IK has come into his own in taking on challenges of malaise seen in the Government. But he needs to control his teams trigger happy approach. His close associates, including twitchy fingered twitter users need a dressing down. The cowboys irking to break news need to be disciplined. Case in point, impending visit to USA. Prematurely releasing news of the trip before the official invite came out, gave opposition a chance to crow. After White House invite, Opposition has egg all over its face but that opportunity was unnecessary. Seeking limelight from premature releases shows adolescent behavior that hurts the Governments creditability. It needs to be curbed forcefully.

On the other side of the spectrum, Bilawal Bhutto is attempting to ridicule IK being a cricketer. A self defeating argument. To be a successful cricketer requires unflinching commitment, strong work ethic, intense physical training, and mental strength. If tested, 90% political leaders in Parliament will fail.

The trading community is giving a strong reaction to taxes. They consider the tax regime is intrusive. Not paying taxes is considered a way of life. I believe we never came out of colonialism era. We never owned our own freedom, we never became a nation, we never took responsibility. Running a Government needs funds which we all need to contribute to.

We have some serious growing up to do. Traders and middle men are so used to obnoxious profits, that a reality check has outraged them. Everyone has to wake up and smell coffee. There are no free lunches. Reality eventually catches up.

IK and his financial team is handling it well. Meet, express clear intentions, give the other side a chance to vent, accommodate their genuine grievances and diffuse the situation.

The overseas junkets details are an eye opener. Nawaz Sharif 135 trips in 4 years, cost­­­ ­1 Billion 840 Million Rupees. 30 Million in tips.  Gifts cost 60 Million. Asif Zardari 134 trips in 5 years, cost 1 Billion 420 Million. 20 Million in tips. 50 Million in gifts. It is a reminder of outrageous expenses of African, Latin American dictators, and Arab royalty. Cruel, selfish, self serving rulers of impoverished nations. They need to be ashamed and should be punished for this wastage.

The next challenge is Senate Chairmanship. It is the weakest link in the chain for the Government to keep control. There is no moral basis. Skillful navigation is required, but there is enough disgruntlement amongst Opposition for this attempt to fail.

PM is visiting USA later this month. Maryam Bilawal combine plans to cause disruption in public appearances. They have no awareness of strength IK’s cadre in USA and Canada, I do. Disturbers will be squished. My advice Avoid Adventurism.

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