CITY NOTES

The weather has been unseasonable. However, the impending failure of the monsoon, and the ruin of the wheat crop just being harvested, is as nothing compared to the relief from loadshedding. The relief was double, nay triple. First, there’s more electricity being generated. That means the second, that UPSs and other such devices have less time to work but more to recharge. And third, there was less need for fans, let alone airconditioners, meaning that there was less need for electricity.
There was a coalmine explosion in Soma in Turkey, killing 300. That may well be the fruit of privatization, for the mine was sold in 2005 by the state. Perhaps it’s a coincidence, but the sanitary workers of Lahore protested against the privatization of the city’s solid waste management, by sale to a Turkish company. One presumes that there will be no solid waste explosion, and thus no deaths of sanitary workers. I also hope none of Mian Nawaz Sharif’s aides is like Yusuf Yerkel, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan’s aide, who beat up a protester during Erdogan’s Izmir visit or that Mian Nawaz is like Erdogan, who called a protester AN Israeli agent.
I suppose the federal government is happy that the ferry disaster is no more its responsibility, not now that Bangladesh is no longer part of Pakistan. However, the best thing about the whole sad episode is that it did not involve any passports or ID cards. Altaf Hussain, who is now trying to get a CNICOP, the preliminary step for a passport, has been given the usual bureaucratic run-around. He should hand the entire business over to a passport agent. And he should understand that the passport people object strongly to anyone getting anything for free.
However, Altaf’s supporters want him not to have to pay anything beyond the regularly prescribed fee. So apart from shutting down Karachi, they are also creating a fuss in the National Assembly. The National Assembly seems to be carried away by all of the rhetoric about its being the font of all legislative authority and fresh bread. It passed a resolution against polio, which is something of a neologism. Now what would be impressive would be for the National Assembly to pass a resolution in favour of polio.
But before that could happen, a Pakistani would have to be appointed batting coach for the national team. Grant Flower had a rather undistinguished career for Zimbabwe, 3457 runs at 29.54 in 67 Tests with six centuries, and 65.71 at 29.52 in 221 with six centuries. Maybe somebody got him mixed up with his elder brother Andy, who was coach of England until its 5-0 whitewash last season. Now he was a better batsman in his time, scoring 4794 runs at 51.54 in 63 matches, which is still the Zimbabwean record. He was also a pretty good wicketkeeper, with 160 dismissals. If he had been picked, that would have made a kind of sense, with the chief selector also a keeper. Was PCB Chairman Najam Sethi a keeper in his time? It doesn’t really matter that we didn’t get the keeper; at least we got his brother.
But did we? Flower’s appointment is one of those which new PCB Chairman Zaka Ashraf has promised to review. Zaka is back for the third time, the second time a court order has put him back. One wonders that if the Islamabad High Court is so interested in cricket, why it doesn’t order the team to win at least something.
But perhaps Sethi is more concerned with his TV show, which appears on a channel which is these days in trouble, because there was blasphemy apparently committed on its morning show. The anchor has apologized. The channel is under a bit of a cloud, because not only was one of its anchors shot, but the channel itself accused of treason for the accusation of a ‘national institution’ for this attack. Treason followed by blasphemy! That’s a noxious combination. Of course, no court has found the channel guilty of anything. But still, there needs to be some caution, it seems. I won’t go into whether blasphemy is more serious than criticizing national institutions. I’ll leave those institutions to argue their own case.
Meanwhile, while the National Assembly prepares to have the 2013-14 Budget presented to it on June 3, India elected its own National Assembly. It gave the BJP a win, and made Narendra Modi its Prime Minister. Let’s hope he’s advanced enough politically not to force anyone to drink more tea.
And over in Afghanistan, Abdullah Abdullah was leading in the presidential poll’s first round by enough of a lead to make it very unlikely that Ashraf Ghani will win the second round. It’s worth noting that Abdullah will probably win despite having a double-barrelled name, and like Bashar Al-Assad is not just a doctor, but also an ophthalmologist by training. And like Dr Ayman Al-Zawahiri.
A doctor, a GP, not an eye specialist, was urgently needed in Karachi, where wedding guests fell ill after food. Yes, something was wrong with the food, not with either the guests, or their way of eating. The same can’t be said about the hostel-ites who got sick the night before in Peshawar. But then, food in hostel messes is hardly ever appetizing enough to make hostel-ites get sick eating too much. So it must be the weather