For many decades now, civilian politicians have been little more than pawns on the chessboard of Pakistan’s politics. Their purpose has been to take the fall for the massive failures brought on by the misguided strategies of the ‘king’ calling the shots. Their manoeuvrability in the game has been the most constrained out of all the pieces on the board, they’ve been called upon to shield the heavier pieces in their own army, and to block the advance of the pieces in the opponent’s army.
But today — for the first time since this game began — a pawn on Pakistan’s chessboard has advanced and almost reached the end of its journey to the other side. If President Zardari crosses the finish line and advances into the last row of the board by completing his term, he may not become the most powerful piece on the board — but this pawn will certainly become a far heavier piece, with a far more expanded room for manoeuvre.