Apologies for the really cliched title, but there is no other word, apart from curious, to describe Mr Sher Ali and his role in the fake degrees pantomime (it’s much bigger than a drama now). People who’ve read a few posts on my blog know that my obsession with the Muslim League borders on the pathological. There’s a history behind it that i won’t go into, but as a short revelation of sorts, i was a Muslim League supporter till about 3 years ago. And by supporter i mean, i used to defend the Sharifs in drawing room conversations. Now that I’ve crossed over from the dark side, my obsession lies with, amongst other things, studying the characteristics most commonly found in a Muslim Leaguer. (Please see the Najam Sethi-Pervaiz Elahi interview to understand what I’m alluding to)
Abid Sher Ali looks and, before this particular incident, acted like a run-of-the-mill Punjabi Muslim Leaguer. He once forced Fauzia Wahab to walk out of Kashif Abbasi’s show with the use of some non-parliamentary language, and he’s generally come across as an expedient, conservative sort on most matters. Except this one.
Muslim League poster-boy, Abid Sher Ali (suited-booted version)
The fake degrees scandal erupted when Abid Sher Ali, who’s heading the relevant National Assembly Committee, forwarded the verification request to the HEC and the Election Commission. In short, he provided parliamentary legitimacy to the process through which members of parliament would be disqualified from their seats. Naturally, Ansar Abbasi would have you believe that he had the biggest part to play in this entire episode, but those of a less gullible disposition (the smarter ones) would have realized by now that the role played by Abid Sher Ali was both interesting and quite independent. The situation becomes even more confusing when you realize that the largest number of fakers are, in fact, from Abid Sher Ali’s party.
So, we here at RT would like to offer three possible explanations, and their respective critiques, that could explain ASA’s behavior:
1) He knew that the largest number of fakers were from his party, and he realized that a good way to move up the party ranks was by inducing a purge at the higher rungs.
This is a weak explanation because a) There is no guarantee that degree-fakers will have lesser influence even after disqualification, and b) In the case of Jamshed Dasti, the PPP has already shown that it’s unwilling to alienate local big-wigs for the sake of some floozy moral principle.
A contending critique is that Abid Sher Ali is already pretty far up Mian Sahab’s as….err….the party ranks. He’s getting more airtime than most other PML-N legislators, and he’s fast becoming the young-face of an otherwise pretty aging party.
2) He genuinely believes that these fakers should be kicked out. As part of the Young Parliamentarian lot (alongside Marvi Memon, and Sheikh Waqas Akram, who dyes his grey hair btw). he wants to clean up the image and the insides of the parliament in Pakistan. He was driven by an uncontrollable moral orgasm to by-pass all party channels and make a move for the verification process.
A Leaguer with genuine beliefs? haha. Yes, it is hard to imagine that a hereditary Leauger would do something outside the domain of realpolitik, But stranger things have happened. Although rarely.
3) My personal favorite: The hand of the establishment explanation. Abid Sher Ali has been plucked from obscurity by the invisible hand of our establishment and asked to push for the disqualification of a large number of MNA’s. This way the parliament might have to go through the process of holding mid-term elections, which would result in growing instablity and as we all know (by heart), the establishment thrives on democratic instability.
Naturally, this is the most vague explanation out of all three. There is no proof of any such thing, no, not even an op-ed cunningly pushed through as national news by Klasra and co. in The News.
All things aside, Abid Sher Ali’s actions could see him come out as either the smartest politician of his generation (not much competition there), or the stupidest (heavy competition there). Either way, stay tuned to see what happens next.