Friday, September 4, 2009

Subtle Signals

As a commentator on a private TV channel said on Sept 2…"We solve all our problems abroad. We send our children abroad for their education and the same with our political problems. We never seem to sort them out ourselves here at home." Thus the sight of our previous president jetting in to Saudi Arabia on an aircraft sent by the Saudi government and then being received with full protocol should not surprise us. Neither should we be surprised at the apparently coincidental arrival of assorted government figures in Saudi Arabia at the same time as a past president and not surprised either that they did not – of course they didn't – meet or have any contact whatsoever with him. And no deal regarding his future, or any trial, was even thought about let alone agreed upon and signed with a discreet handshake. No, nothing like that at all. Much turns for us on the Saudi hinge, and it has long been the antechamber in which out-of-favour Pakistani politicians have waited for a shift in the political winds allowing their safe return to the homeland and places at the top of the governmental tree. The Saudis are happy for this cycle to continue as it allows them a degree of control over our internal affairs – and here we were fretting that America is pulling our strings behind the scenes when it was our friends from the Gulf all the time. Our politicians are not averse to the idea of a political parking-lot either, because it allows them to do nothing about solving the problems that bedevil our political system; while appearing to be busy-busy rushing around signing MOUs and opening 150-yard stretches of freshly-laid tarmac road. The Saudis have an investment – literally – in our stability and will do what they can to preserve what for them is going to be an important factor in their own future food security. Parking past presidents and politicos in Arabian palaces suits all players. The theatricality of our domestic politics is for local consumption … the real drama is being acted out in a theatre across the waters.

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