Who's the boss?

Updated 24 Nov, 2016 12:01am
Illustration by Zehra Nawab
Illustration by Zehra Nawab

Who's the boss? Well, in the context of the world, no one's the boss. The world is quite boss-less at the moment — which is kind of scary. Thus, it's quite reassuring to know that such is not the case in Pakistan. We do have a boss, and, no, he's not the guy who was elected as the prime minister in 2013.

General Raheel Sharif is the boss. There's no hiding the fact. Nor was this ever hidden, as such. And neither is there any amount of treachery in claiming this. Even the prime minister knows this, though he is not all that comfy about it.

General Sharif is really good at what he's good at, unlike his immediate predecessor, whose definition of good meant the good bad and the bad bad, if you get my drift. He was suave too, but more like a king-making politico than a boss boss.

Technically, the prime minister is the boss of the boss. In reality though, well, we all know. However, despite some misgivings on the issue of who the world thinks is the boss in Pakistan, I believe the prime minister is largely fine with his technically subservient and realistic boss.

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He could not have gotten a better man. Because, so far, the boss hasn't played any of that shadowy politics which many of his predecessors were so fond of playing. Instead, he took the initiative to do what all our technical bosses, big and small, were not so sure about: he went to war with the very scary ones. And then he began to win this war.

So the prime minister, I think, is fine with that. Not entirely, but kind of. However, the boss has been rather confusing for a lot of other folks. He just hasn't been what he was expected to be. Most religious parties are not very happy with him. He's just not what the previous bosses were like: accommodating.

He even ends up confusing the not-very-pious-yet-posing-to-be-pious lot, such as Imran Khan and some very animated TV guys. They just can't make head or tails of his moves: when they expect him to move one way, he moves the other; when they expect him to do one thing, he does two very different things; when they expect him to come their way, he takes the highway.

When all of them run up to the highway, he goes to meet his soldiers on some remote mountain or hill which is only reachable by a helicopter.

He confuses the jamhooriat lot too. They desperately want him to behave like bosses usually do and did, but on many occasions, he has done what the jamhoories ought to have done but didn't.

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Someone recently told me that the boss reminded him of Ayub Khan. Yes, that capitalist, liberal fascist dictator. I don't think the boss is anything like Khan. Because he's just too quiet. Too reserved. Too busy. Nobody's really seen him speak. But they do all talk about him. As if he just had coffee with them. Or so they wish.

The boss is certainly not like the boss who followed Ayub Khan. The hefty guy who just wasn't good at what he was supposed to be good at. The chap who was more interested in listening to tunes crooned to him by the great Madam.

He is definitely, positively, nothing like that foxy boss who confused politics with piety, and then piously rearranged everything according to his idea of piety, making a pie out of piety and then eating it too. What an awkward boss he was. One can still see him in so much of what has gone so very wrong in the Republic.

Nor is the boss like the man-child who came in and tried to be like Ayub Khan, but ended being one long self-parodying skit!

You know, whenever I praise the boss, I get trolls coming from the far right, and trolls coming from the far left, pushing me right down in the middle. I'm fine with being in the middle. Because, I believe, that's where the boss is too — even though I still haven't had any coffee with him.

The writer is a cultural critic and senior columnist for Dawn Newspaper. He tweets @NadeemfParacha