When the Supreme Court did not sack Raja Pervaiz Ashraf at the beginning of the week, how else were we to be told that Raja Rental still ruled, except by the electricity going off for no less than three hours? And the break was continuous, so that there would be no mistaking it for a coincidence. I know Raja Pervaiz was probably not the President’s first choice, but I think that he was perhaps not the right choice to make prime minister. I mean, what will happen if something bad actually happens to him? Like if the Supreme Court finds him guilty of contempt. They might turn off the power forever.
I don’t know if Raja Pervaiz has got much help from his Cabinet. After all, his deputy PM (and namesake) is the nephew and son-in-law of a man once charged with buffalo theft. But has anyone told Raja Pervaiz the difference between buffalo theft and contempt of court? Admittedly, buffalo theft gets one disqualified as much as contempt, being an offence involving what is called moral turpitude; but buffalo theft, in most villages, especially those along the banks of rivers, does not involve a lowering of one’s reputation.
But turning off the power forever is probably where we are headed. After all, that is why we are fighting the ‘war on terror’. Or rather, why Rehman Malik is fighting it. And why he will keep on fighting it. In fact, he is so necessary to the war that the PPP will win the next election, and thus create history, for it will win the election despite the inflation, the oil price hikes and the loadshedding. Even though there’s been no solution found to the latest round of joblessness.
But all of that should go to one side. People would be in danger of their lives if the dengue epidemic had been in full swing as it was this time last year. However, instead of an epidemic, we have the anti-dengue campaign, with Dengue Day having been marked on Sunday, yesterday. The anti-dengue campaign was accompanied by an anti-hepatitis campaign, which makes me hope that we can mark a drastic reduction in hepatitis, which had until very recently seemed highly unlikely. Remember, we still have polio going around, and smallpox was wiped out in Pakistan. That means that the last case of smallpox was caught in Pakistan. And polio will be wiped out here, if at all. So with that record, hepatitis actually might have stood a chance.
Mian Shehbaz Sharif actually reminds me of the USA, as it would like to see itself. Taking down one target while having already located the next one. Only Mian Shehbaz takes out diseases, the USA takes out Muslim countries. Dengue cannot be wiped out, just as malaria hasn’t, but like malaria, if enough of the human habitat is made hostile to the mosquito carrying it, it will not kill people. But dengue must be wiped wherever it is, which is in the whole world. Well, malaria hasn’t been wiped out, but it certainly doesn’t kill as many people as it used to. Anyone who remembers the days when people died of a fever either remembers the days when malaria was rife, or last year’s dengue epidemic.
But there was a time when people would wake up perfectly all right, and be dead of a fever by noon. When malaria and typhoid were fatal diseases, as were so many others. Though in that era, you didn’t have dengue, which was an African disease. However, now you have air travel and all that, and mosquito larva which travel by air, and so spread into new territory, where people haven’t yet built up any resistance. The dengue virus, it should be remembered, confers immunity, if of course you survive it. The only problem is that you have a number of dengue viruses, so to gain complete immunity, you need to be infected by all the viruses and survive all of them. Hmmm. It seems easier to do what is being done, and kill off the mosquito larvae. Or you could take the way out chosen by the Lahori who climbed a pole while trying to draw the attention of the rulers to the rising prices and his mistreatment.
Another thing we have going on is all of that construction. The Ferozepur Road in particular has been the subject of so much stress, what with two underpasses built, and a special bus lane being built. Is it too wrong of me to point out that all of these have led to construction sites, and there has been water standing around on many of them, all of which could provide refuge for aedus aegypti larvae? Dengue should not be the price of progress, especially when precautions can easily be taken against it. And perhaps that’s the worst thing about dengue; it’s so easily preventable. But as Mian Shehbaz says, we can’t rely just on the government, but must put in the effort needed ourselves.