As 2010 comes to a close, a brief look back over the last year’s major events and some observations about who gained and who lost from each.
-1 Nawaz Sharif’s secret arrangement with Saudi Arabia:
This could have been something or nothing, but it does look bad for the PML-N chief to appear to be prostrating before foreign leaders. Imagine if the same story had come out about Zardari? The media would not have ignored that one, let me tell you.
-1 Media’s ‘Fakileaks’ story:
It wasn’t enough that they were obsessed with the petty name-calling in some of the documents and ignoring the more interesting stories underneath, our media was so hungry for sensational headlines that they ran a planted story that was proven fake within a day. While some of the more reputable media groups took the black eye and admitted their mistake, others like The Nation kept publishing the story, putting a final nail in the coffin of their credibility.
-1 Ahmed Quraishi, The Daily Mail and the whole Fakileaks conspiracy brigade:
Caught with their hands in the jar, these jokers quickly deleted a bunch of their fake news websites, basically admitting their guilt. But rather than go away quietly, we’ve seen an almost endless stream of pathetic excuses for hawking propaganda and exploiting the people’s sentimentalities. Where is the ‘Ghairat Brigade’ when you need them? These guys are a national disgrace.
-1 Hamid Mir scandal:
Here we have a prominent TV anchor who is so wrapped up in his relationships with militants and intelligence agencies that he can hardly keep straight who knows who anymore. Khalid Khawaja loses his life and Hamid Mir finds himself embroiled in scandal. Lucky Mr Mir, this scandal involves murder and not corruption, so the media won’t pay attention for long.
-1 Talat Hussain article about Angelina Jolie:
Really pathetic story, this one. Talat scribbles the most offensive sexist insults all in a botched attempt at playing to the gallery of anti-Americanism. He thought he would get away with it by writing in Urdu, but it turns out Urdu is not a secret code, but a language that intelligent people also speak.
-1 Jang Group operating as political party and not objective news organization:
Jang Group’s anti-government diatribes got so out of control that even the foreign governments started to notice. Not as off-the-charts crazy as some other media groups, there’s still time to fix things. The word on the street is that Mir Shakilur Rahman is trying to rein in some of the worst offenders before things get too out of hand. Lets hope so. Jang Group has a lot of young talent on board, and it would be sad to see some old has-beens sink the ship.
-1 Continued focus on conspiracy theories and silly predictions that never come true:
Despite the defections of JUI(F) and MQM, the government hasn’t been toppled. Gen. Kayani hasn’t taken up any mathematical formulas to subtract one or more Zardaris from the government, and the Americans haven’t invaded and tried to steal our nuclear weapons. Still, stories about CIA controlling the weather and suggesting that donors not give to help flood affectees because of corruption did more to hurt the nation than we want to admit. We’re not asking for a Daily Jiyala, but please, give us the facts without so much masala.
Forget Imran Khan, when will NFP start his own political party!
+1 Fasi Zaka article about Aafia Mafia:
Fasi Zaka’s article about the Aafia Mafia was exactly what we need more of from our esteemed journalists – a willingness to tell the truth even when it’s not the ‘popular’ thing to do and call out political leaders of all stripes when they start exploiting popular sentiments.
+1 Zardari signs 18th Amendment
Despite failed predictions that he was going to be a tyrant behind a wide grin, Zardari voluntarily returned powers that were grabbed under previous “leaders”. Some in the media swore that he would never sign, and when he did they tried to term it a trick. Give the guy some credit where its due.
+1 NOT abusing power
Let’s be honest, despite being heavily criticised by the media and judiciary, the PPP leadership did not abuse its power in the government by throwing out judges or banning anti-government media voices. Yes, some jiyalas may have gotten carried away and there is no excuse for that. Certainly some room for improvement, but considering the way past government have behaved facing much less animosity, I think these guys deserve a thumbs up.
-1 Zardari’s Europe trip during floods
Who signed off on this PR nightmare? Yes, I know such diplomatic schedules are difficult to rearrange, and yes I know that he was ‘damned if you do damned if you don’t’. But they had to know this was going to play badly at home.
+1 Zardari’s Europe trip during floods
While it was a PR nightmare, the trip might have been bad for Zardari and good for the nation. By meeting with UK PM David Cameron, President Zardari was able to secure trade concessions that will help the national economy.
+1 Nawaz Sharif’s support for democracy:
From saying that change should only come from constitutional means and the democratic process to coming out strong against Altaf Bhai’s comments about ‘patriotic generals’ to his support – even while being critical – for the government to at least finish its elected term, Mian Nawaz is showing a political maturity that is encouraging and welcome.
-1 Shahbaz Sharif’s “Spare Punjab” statement:
Um, Nawaz buddy, you need to talk to your little brother.
+1 Saying that he will only return to power if the people elect him:
In the beginning of his ‘comeback’, Mushy was playing the right tune and saying that his mistake in the past was ignoring the democratic process.
-1 Saying that the Army should have a constitutional role in governance:
Of course, it is hard for a tiger to hide his stripes as they are a natural part of his being. So it is with Musharraf, and it wasn’t long before he revealed his true colours by going back to calls for military governance.
-1 Altaf Hussain’s “patriotic generals” remark:
Come on, Altaf Bhai. If even Musharraf understands the importance of democratic process, so should you.
+/-? MQM pulls out from federal cabinet:
It’s a bold move and one that could either see MQM with a greater voice in the coalition, or continue being sidelined as part of opposition. Let’s be honest, even if new elections are held, MQM is not going to make any sweep of power. This one we’ll have to watch into the new year…
+1 Resolving 18th Amendment case:
Another nail biting drama from the highest court, but this one ending without causing a constitutional crisis.
-1 Taking up suo moto cases against everything EXCEPT the real problems:
Suo moto is a great power, and it essentially allows the court to decide the direction of the docket. So why so much focus on old politically motivated cases and almost no eye to the jihadi terror groups that are blowing up mosques and schools every day. Someone is supporting these beats, isn’t that the worst corruption case?
-1 Dragging out NRO cases:
These should be resolved quickly or dismissed. Dragging them along is a distraction that we don’t need with the security, economy, and energy sectors requiring maximum attention. It’s time to move on.
+1 Taking the fight to the jihadis:
Whatever interest the Americans have in getting rid of al Qaeda and leaving a stable and friendly Afghanistan, the war against these jihadi terrorists is our war and our sons of the soil are proving that Pakistan’s military is second to none in the world. Any accusations of not taking the jihadi threat seriously are obviously made by people who don’t have the facts correct. We’ve lost more sons and sacrificed more resources than anyone else. And when our soldiers go in to a militant enclave, they clear them out.
+1 Not repeating mistakes of previous generals:
Ten, twenty, thirty years ago this government would have been long gone. It’s a real testament to Gen. Kayani and his commanders that there have been no attempts to seize power from civilian government. Pakistan is a democracy in which the civilian government does its job and the military does its job also. Working together, we can’t be beaten. Seeing the military brass refrain from seizing power and the civilian leaders passing amendments to devolve power shows just how far we have progressed.
+1 Setting aside differences during the floods:
For a short time, we showed ourselves that when we focus on our commonality as Pakistanis we can do amazing things. Why does it take a historic disaster to bring us together? Let’s focus that same energy in 2011 to benefiting the country without waiting for a disaster to occur.
-1 Quickly forgetting the flood victims:
Everyone would give up everything for the flood affectees until the it was asked to update the tax scheme and actually put your money where your mouth is. It’s like when I was a younger man sitting and watching the TV when my mother came in to tell me that I was to begin working for Mr Y. the next day. What!?? I yelled. She said, “You told me you wanted a job, now go!” I said, “Yes, but I didn’t think I would actually have to do it!”
+1 Standing strong during a year of historic challenges and never forgetting the words of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah:
“In our solidarity, unity and discipline lie the strength, power and sanction behind us to carry on this fight successfully. No sacrifice should be considered too great…”
So that’s my 2010 year in review. I’m sure I didn’t cover everything, and I’m sure you have some different opinions also. But don’t be quiet about it – speak up! Who were the winners and who were the losers in 2010 as YOU remember?