Rolling out the Red Carpet

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Advice to Defectors

These days political defection is on the up and up. People of mark from significant and not so significant political organizations are falling away and joining Muslim League (N) or the PPP. General public identify these turncoats as opportunists and lotas (ewer), I don’t. I hold them in high esteem, as they are intelligent people who have a nodding acquaintance with trends in power corridors. They know and rightly so, that in number games, or for this or that reason, PML (N) or the PPP will remain in power. I dedicate this column to such wheeler-dealers.

I feel it pertinent and this is what I can do to equip the defectors with a patrimony—I can tip them off with some rough and ready thoughts. I want them to climb the ladder and go up in life and not get lost in milling crowds at the bottom rung.

You’ve rightly seized the opportunity, Mr. Defector. Your decision to turn your coat is indeed to suit the times. What could the Duke of Savoy do expect to turn his coat by turns when his lands passed into the hands of the invading French army first and back into the hands of the Spanish army? No one is patted as much as a political apostate. In politics, as on a sick bed, one tosses from side to side in the hope of getting better comfort.

Pedants might tell that success is for those who work hard; are courageous, tenacious, so and so forth. Wrong—absolutely wrong. Through and through, these are hidden landmines to destroy. Success comes only to those who circumvent these impediments by taking shortcuts. Concentrate all your faculties on one point—your success. The guy who cuts a wide path rarely cuts a long one.

You might have been told to abominate the filthy lure by some fox that failed to reach the grapes, or by those who want to keep it all to themselves. Do not build treasures in heaven, for they in heaven, I am told, have no need for cash, but live on their creditworthiness. Joining the ruling party is the right place to be wealthy. At the very least your bank loans will be written off and you also stand a good chance of becoming a minister.

Now that you’re in the ruling party, you must know that the two cannot go together—man and honesty; one gets broken. The Greek god Hermes was patron of both trade and of thieves.

Your decision to defect to the ruling lot and that too from the front door is hunky dory. All the good horses have been whipped away. Today’s insects are tomorrow’s stars. You only have to remember the rules of the game.

Invoke curses on the politicians who are without power and have been thrown out of the ring by the referee. You must find a sycophant to become a sycophant yourself. In the West dogs that look into the eyes are not allowed at public places. Win the ruling class with flattery and sycophancy. This will qualify you for a minister’s slot. And, remember, more people worship the rising sun than the setting. To his dog, every man is Napoleon. That is why dogs are so popular among the gentry. In today’s wheeling dealing people need those around them who wag their tails.

Stoop as low as you want if it is to pick up a prize (a slot of a minister or any other public office), for he that humbles himself shall be exalted here and hereafter. Everyone has his ego and vanity. There is nothing people need at the top so much as nourishment for their self-esteem. Flattery and sycophancy have always been popular with those in power and authority. When the Czar had a cold, all Russia sneezed, they say.

To pose big is half the way to success. To hide your crimes is the other half. Try to trump up some connections with Uncle Sam. You can learn from some cabinet ministers who rear such connections. Who else would know this better than General Pervez Musharraf how to swap country’s sovereignty? Go play golf with him and take lessons.

The successful politician surrounds himself with all status symbols—(un)attractive attire, mobile telephone, starched shalwar qameez, and a security guard with deadly gun. Keep in mind that is the way to impress. If you have status, what you say becomes important. Play the game on a grand scale. Keep an imaginary appointment with the man in uniform, the President or the Quaid of PML (N).

And pay court to the harem of the sultans in intelligence agencies. Today they make or unmake the politicians. Be useful to them for they obtain more often favors by your judicious efforts. You must be sweet of tongue and ready with a smile. And never make the mistake of making your demands modest. Always inflate them.

These are the days of specialization. You must try to become an expert, specialized in politics in some innovative ways. Old ways of getting kickbacks are now risky. Invent new ways of making politics as money spinning. Only sometimes men come by the name of genius in the same way that certain insects come by the name of centipedes, not because they have a hundred feet but because most people can’t count beyond fourteen.

These are the days of publicity. Publicity gives you the outsize figure. Send a dog in spaceship and he will return a celebrity. You will be a notability if you win media publicity on hollow slogan mongering. You will learn such flags of convenience from your new Party. Remember, when a goose lays an egg, she just waddles off as if she were ashamed of it. When a hen lays an egg she calls on heaven and earth to witness it by her cackles. Be a successful politician and thus a hen. You must cackle loud even if there is no egg. That is the norm today. (