The latest Senate election offered a vital insight into Pakistan’s realpolitik: when they really want to do it, our politicians are capable of managing a constitutional crisis without giving any excuse for intervention to the judiciary, army, local terrorists, or any foreign power. The electorate’s brazenly corrupt ways, media’s wild sensationalism, Imran Khan’s naïve idealism, Zardari’s crafty vision, and Nawaz’s primitive alacrity produced gripping drama that, for once, had the happiest possible ending: the appointment of Mr. Raza Rabbani, the most reliable constitutional expert in recent Pakistani history, as the Chairman of the Senate.

Arguably, the Senate has been a traditionally protected playground for the political elite and there is nothing particularly novel about the eventual working out of the recent controversy. However, it is crucial to point out that this crisis, unlike most others, brought out the politicians’ ability to handle their PR with dignity while efficiently bargaining their vested interests. The Nawaz-Imran proposal for an anti-horse trading Constitutional amendment, its entanglement with the PPP’s traditional argument for secret ballot and Fazl’s technical argument against haste, the issuance of a fair-looking but alarmingly late Presidential ordinance changing FATA’s voting power, and the unopposed election of Mr. Rabbani — all reflected a keen awareness of the situation and a determination to play one’s best within both the written and unwritten set of rules. In other words, wittingly or unwittingly, the crisis revealed the real people behind the masks we are used to seeing and, perhaps for that reason alone, compelled those people to act with dignity and efficiency.

The Senate election stands in stark contrast with the General Election in May 2013 where, if the tsunami of PTI voters is to be believed, few efforts were made to safeguard against matters of dignity and efficiency. Indeed, it was not until the Model Town massacre in July 2015 that Nawaz Sharif earnestly realised that doing sustainable politics requires not only an effective method but also a plausible narrative. The recent Senate election reflects, among other things, Mr. Sharif’s functionally correct understanding of the matter, perfectly culminating with the appointment of Mr. Rabbani as Senate Chairman.

One hopes that the federal and provincial governments would opt for a similarly studied balance between dignity and efficiency, between rights and interests, between reform and status quo in all other areas of public policy as well.