Can Of Worms

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Andleeb Abbas

Don’t. Let it be. Let the sleeping dogs lie. Better not. Keep away. Avoid. Stop. These are all warnings. These may be alarm bells to ward off. These may be pearls of wisdom trying to save you from disaster. Or, these may be just a retreat call to can yourself with the same worms who have been eating you up for time immemorial. Whatever it is, once you open a can of worms, the worms will be all over the place. They will spill, spread, and go into areas not warranted. Then to catch them back and lid them again will be impossible. Pakistan is going through such a “lid off.” The can has burst, and the lid has slipped. The worms have crawled into unchartered territory and nobody really knows how to trace them, stop them, catch them, or capture them back into a can.
The political stratosphere is pregnant with controversy, intrigue, suspense and shock. It is like an unsophisticated version of House of Cards on Netflix. Every episode starts with a mystery and ends without an end to keep people hanging on for the next episode. For seven months, it was a clash between the ousted government of PTI and the new government of PDM. In the last few weeks, it has turned into a clash of the Titans. The biggest boss nearing this ending period and the new biggest boss being nominated. The speculated battle of who will be the next chief between the political parties; the speculated struggle between the establishment on how to assert their will. These may just be speculations but they are powerful enough to assume decisive proportions and important enough to consume every hour and minute of the people of Pakistan. The unlidding of the can has unleashed worms that are now encroaching “No Go ” territories:
1. Murder, Mystery, and the Culprits- The Arshad Sharif murder started this shock and react chain. The callous way in which he was murdered brought a reaction from the public that those who planned it never perceived. The sordid way in which his body has been handled and the apathy of the institutions to his crying and begging mother have made people believe that his murder was an attempt to stop him from revealing the dirty ways and dealings of the higher-ups. The institutions and the government avoided, denied, and diverted information in a way that outraged the people. In an outpouring of rage and sympathy, most of the public has now become detectives. They have analyzed every bit of statement and information and have started inching towards reality. The people behind this murder thought that this will die out but the public has resolved to get to the truth at all costs. Some people are also starting a fundraising campaign to go to Kenya to get more evidence. Then, the case of the assassination attempt at Wazirabad. If you want to make an issue a monster, just say that it does not exist. That is exactly what the government has done with the assassination attempt on PTI Chairman and workers. The home minister and information minister both have denied that Imran khan was hit by bullets. Couple this with the very obvious thwarting of the lodging of the FIR by the handlers and the public is all aghast and ready to turn to prohibited lanes, houses and HQs.
2. Media Standups and Sitdowns- The media is having a tough time deciding which way to go. The normal process was to go the government way. The media bosses want money. Money comes through government spending. Many channels in the past and present have always supported and been supported by the government. Some media houses have changed guards. The reason is viewership. Some channels have become the highest-rated channels as they took a stand on the curbs and kept showing PTI events and speeches. Some anchors who were banned have switched to Youtube Vlogs with an amazing following. The helplessness of the government and the handlers is visible. The latest revelation of the tax records of the spouse of COAS was first blocked and downplayed. But the worms, when out, make their way to other areas. The matter became so viral that the Finance minister had to announce an investigation, indirectly confirming the contents of the tax revelation.
3. Mighty come before a fall- Worms may seem small or insignificant but they keep picking and pricking till suddenly you realise that they have eaten up an important part of your being. That is what happens when the mighty rise and reach the top. They behave so far above everybody and everything that they lose vision of the worms that are coming from all directions to erode the base of their seat of power. Even Bhutto, with all his popularity, became history quickly as his last few years were infested with scams. Nawaz Sharif, despite having three opportunities, was always termed an opportunist. His latest refusal to come to Pakistan and instead go to Europe for holidays is probably his nemesis for a welcoming future in the country. Imagine with all the money and power you once had, you cannot come back to your country to live or even die. General Musharraf has to spend his last days in Dubai. Altaf Hussain in the UK. Previously, these were calm peaceful hideaways. With the present social media, these places are also full of noise and restiveness. Sharifs find it difficult to enter and leave their billion-dollar apartments in London. Maybe, they will be spending more time in other parts of Europe. But if events in Kenya have become so open in today’s world, there is no hiding place for those whose own people and land do not respect them.
You may be a Prime minister but not a leader. You may be a Chief but have no followers. As the story of the fortune-making methods of the “fortunate” people gets more and more told, the fall from grace rather than the seat may finally start to matter. When you can no longer walk out in the public at will, you are imprisoned. When you have to always look over your shoulder to see who is following you, you are lonely. When you have to furtively scan the people around you, you are stalked. This is true entrapment and enslavement. All the money in the world cannot take this internal mental hounding and haunting away. Freedom and respect are not for sale.