Somehow, I don’t think there has been any previous Pakistani head of state who has had a shoe thrown at him. In that respect, Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf has established a first. Admittedly, normally former military dictators do not run for the Prime Ministership, but he is doing so. The only former President to run for office again was the late Farooq Leghari, who founded the Millat Party. However, the shoe-throwing also brought out another first by Pervez Musharraf. It happened in a court, where Musharraf had gone to extend his pre-arrest bail. He must be the first ex-President who can only walk around in his own country on bail. It was a reminder that he was accused in not one, but two, murder cases, of a former Prime Minister, as well as a former governor and chief minister. But then, it should be remembered that he is a commando who can do anything. Including having shoes thrown at him? The shoe didn’t hit, but it seemingly hurt, because he was at pains to insist that ‘his people’ had beaten up the thrower. Not exactly what someone accused in murder cases should be saying, is it?

Or does he hope, like those accused in the Shahzeb murder case, to get the witnesses to withdraw their identifications? Perhaps the Army should do some thinking, for though he may not be the first ex-President to have a shoe thrown at him (George W. Bush was the first), he is certainly the first former Chief. He is not the first ex-Chief to hold party office (that was probably Tikka Khan, who was PPP Secretary-General), but he is certainly the first one to have a shoe thrown at him. Tikka swung a dashed efficient shoe at one of Benazir Bhutto’s pre-marriage functions, which is what Musharraf would want shoes to be used for, not flung about the place. Tikka may have undergone house arrest under Zia, but he was never a murder accused.

Those cases must make Musharraf envy President Zardari, because he would like to use presidential immunity in those cases too, just as the President has used it in the Swiss cases. By the way, no one has accused Bilawal of going abroad to spend the Swiss accounts money on the ‘use it or lose it’ principle.

The President should pay more attention to his son, the poor motherless boy, who has inherited a party much too early. He shouldn’t be writing to the Myanmarese interfering in their internal affairs, telling them to stop killing Rohingya Muslims. If he wants to write letters, maybe he should write to the US President, and tell him stop the drone attacks killing Pakistanis, who are Muslims to boot. Well, so is Musharraf to boot. Or should one say, to shoe? Anyway, if the President is concerned about Muslims, what about the Yemenis and Somallis also being killed by drones. Or would raising the issue of drones constitute an interference in internal US affairs? Shouldn’t he write now to the Sri Lankan government asking if it needed any help like that Pakistan is giving the USA over drones?

Well, let’s leave the President as well as the ex-President, and congratulate ourselves that we have not just got all the caretaker PMs and CMs we can have, but a couple of caretaker Cabinets. At the rate at which they are going, it seems that Punjab caretaker CM Najam Sethi will form his caretaker Cabinet by the next weekend. I suppose all TV talk show hosts are walking a little taller now that one of their number has become a CM, and now I suppose there are a few hosts who aspire to the caretaker PM’s post.

It’s interesting that Sethi has been a caretaker before, having once been a caretaker PM’s Adviser, about 20 years ago. So scan the lists thoroughly, of caretakers, if you want to find the caretakers of the future. I suppose there’s an appropriateness to a journalist being caretaker CM, because the media has an interest in fair elections, while politicians have one in winning. It would be nice if the elections are fair, but not necessary. In fact, that is how military rulers get politicians to support them. By saying that fair elections would yield governments which would not follow the ‘national interest. So it would be all right to have a government which might not be elected, but which followed the national interest which it defined itself.

I wonder whether Najam Sethi succeeds Shahbaz Sharif as Chief Minister, or Sh Ejaz Nisar, the retired judge who was the 1997 caretaker. Sethi had no chance of being elected, because Pakistan is as British in its dislike of the intellectual as anyone, and Sethi, who was a bookshop owner before becoming a newspaper editor or talk show host, is an intellectual. France likes intellectuals, and Sarkozy was the first French President in recent times not to have written a book while in office. So does India, where Vajpayee was actually a Hindi poet. Bhutto was a formidably well-read man, and there was some suspicion of his daughter, but there is none of his son-in-law, about whom it would be a great shock to learn he was a (Sindhi) Seraiki poet in hiding.