Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa (left) and Pakistan’s former prime minister Nawaz Sharif PHOTO/Geo Urdu

Death by hemlock or a shotgun to the face is the kind of choice that can make you forget the result is the same.

Yesterday felt like a bit of both.

It wasn’t shocking. Only the naïve are unaware of what lurks at what we can only pray are the fringes of society.

The slow poisoning of state and society has turned explosive. From here, what will be, will be.

And for three weeks, we watched as the fringe dragged itself to the centre and raised itself into a miasma that has engulfed us all.

It wasn’t particularly surprising. There is effectively no government. And definitely no one who could handle this situation.

Civilian government or military dictator, ours is a top-down, personality-driven system. A figure in whom not only is the power of high office vested, but who also has the legitimacy or strength to wield that power.

Khaqan Abbasi is manifestly not that person. Shahbaz maybe could’ve been that person in this particularly hellish scenario, but we can’t know because he’s been too busy sulking.

For better or worse, there were only two potential wielding-power-at-the-very-top figures who could — could — have sorted this out before it snowballed.

But Nawaz has been stripped of office. And the chief, we have now learned, believes national cohesion is on the line because of violence by both sides.

It isn’t surprising the danger grew and grew.

From here, what will be, will be. Order, or the veneer of it, will be established, but what precedents will be set — in the streets and in government — we can only guess.

So let’s get back to the hemlock, the slow death, and the shotgun-to-the-face, the violent end.

There is no real secret to what happened. Consolidating election laws meant simplifying stuff without changing the underlying spirit.

None of our parliamentary pygmies dare dream of tampering with this particular spirit.

Because there’s no mystery or malice, it’s easy enough to explain. Babar Sattar has already sliced through it, reminding us how this originated with Musharraf.

Having decided to revert to a joint electorate — enlightened liberation and all of that — Musharraf was cornered by the hateful lot. So to save his joint electorate, he threw that wretched lot among us under the bus.

Redundant clauses were introduced in the election laws to let everyone know who among us is hated and exactly why. If you haven’t read Babar, have a look at The News of Nov 18.

The PML-N’s mistakes — mistakes only in that here we are, in hell itself — were threefold. One, the Qadri execution was hung around the government’s neck.

There’s reason to believe the N-League had to be coaxed into that particular execution, but the warrant had to be signed by them, so on them has been pinned political blame.

Dawn for more

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