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Sunday, July 06, 2008

On Autopilot - Q. Isa Daudpota

A balanced summing up of Pakistan's ailements by Qazi Isa Daudpota in Sunday Dawn.

PAKISTAN is like an airplane lost in a dark ominous cloud, running on autopilot. Its coordinates and destination were set by the previous crew members who have been forced to eject or have parachuted out. Passengers with gurgling stomachs and sweaty brows appear paralysed by the mayhem. They have seen a stream of crew members — mostly shady hunks in khakis with the occasional trustworthy face — pushed off the plane or bail out with a parachute. The captain, Asif Zardari, took over when his wife was forced off the aircraft. The first officer, Nawaz Sharif, is still hanging on propped up by his benefactor Gen Ziaul Haq. CIA operatives on board, as passengers learnt later, had forced Zia to jump off with a crate of mangoes tied to him. Every so often passengers are shown glimpses of the two self-assured, grinning pilots to reassure them that the plane is out of harm’s way. A sharp journalist on flight notes the lack of sparkle and empathy in their eyes and wonders if their bright smiles are a sham. Air traffic control is in the hands of Gen Pervez Musharraf supported by American engineers. They built the autopilot and are the only people with the flight plan. Suddenly, a violent pounding on the door disturbs the peace inside the locked control room. Outside, the deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and Aitzaz Ahsan having caught wind of the plot are trying to force their way in.


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