Mirza factor comes into play
It is not yet clear exactly how this latest drama in Pakistan's politics will eventually play itself out. For some, the Mirza episode is a powerful reminder of Pakistan's continuing journey towards consolidating its recent but widely cherished democracy where the right to free speech must be a fundamental pillar..
But there is another element in this emerging picture which needs to be carefully examined. It is equally possible that the evolution of Pakistan's politics may have taken the country to the point where its political players are beginning to feel compelled to respond to the public's heartbeat.
Across Pakistan, the current ruling order has become the target of popular lament in a country where ordinary citizens feel marginalised, and for very good reason.
While Pakistan's political ruling class, now in power for more than three years since the departure of General Pervez Musharraf, continues to harp on the many gaps surrounding their rule owing to the country's undemocratic past, the number of takers of this line of argument are increasingly few. Today's ruling structure in Pakistan, tainted by allegations of corruption surrounding some of its key leaders, has failed to rise to the occasion.
For most Pakistanis, challenges of daily life ranging from galloping inflation to shortages of electricity and gas, have only fuelled popular complaints against leaders like Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. Instead, there is a rapidly growing yearning for a liberator.
In this background, Mirza's outburst, though unpalatable for the rulers, sounds like a long overdue breath of fresh air. Mirza's decision to publicly make comments such as his knowledge of the MQM's role in the widely publicised killing of a Pakistani TV reporter, has brought forward what is indeed a rare example of a bold tradition in Pakistan's politics.
Going forward, it is now up to Mirza to back his claim with continuing his venture by publicly revealing the evidence that he claims to have gathered. This will help to finally begin a new tradition of truthfulness in Pakistani politics.
More vitally, it will also lead to the restoration of the public's confidence in their leaders. Eventually, the final shape of Pakistan's political picture as a result of what has popularly been dubbed the Mirza factor' is yet to become fully obvious. But what is equally vital for the long haul, irrespective of the fate of the present day rulers, is the arrival of a new tradition and a new way of conducting politics. For too long, Pakistanis have lived under the shadow of one set of rulers surpassing their predecessors in matters like corruption and nepotism.
Though difficult to gauge tangibly, the loss of public confidence in their leaders has harmed Pakistan's interests in a colossal way. The mere fact that most of Pakistan's qualified professionals today prefer to head out of the country rather than stay at home speaks volumes not only about a continuing brain-drain but also the widespread disgust over the way the country is being run.
While rulers like Zardari and Gilani have failed to arrest the continuing loss of popular confidence, Mirza, to his credit, has demonstrated that there are still individuals in places of high power who speak the truth.
Farhan Bokhari is a Pakistan-based commentator who writes on political and economic matters.