City Notes

It is almost as if the Americans were replying to the Pakistani request, expressed by Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif to President Barack Obama, to stop drone strikes. While Tehrik Taliban Pakistan chief Hakimullah Mahsud was killed, it was almost as if Obama said, “No.” If that is the case, he certainly said so very loudly. And he also commented, almost in passing, on the Pakistani intention to talk to the TTP–he was against it. For not only did the attack kill Hakimullah, but it also killed the TTP Number Two. The late Bahar was new to the office, for the last Number Two was only recently in Kabul, where he was talking to the Karzai government.

Previously, those behind the drone attacks seemed to have been after the Al-Qaeda Number Three, who was usually either a Masri or a Libi. But now it seems they are going after the TTP Number Two. Overall, it seems that Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa is in trouble these days. Its government’s backer, Imran Khan, who wants a TTP office opened before talks take place, was all het up by Hakimullah’s killing, demanding that NATO supplies be stopped. It must be conceded that Hakimullah was a Pakistani citizen, and could not be killed by the USA. He was accused of killing Americans (CIA agents) in Afghanistan, but even an American court had not convicted him.

However, I don’t think the government is shutting down NATO supplies any time soon. After all, the last time they were closed, the USA had killed 23 Pakistani soldiers. Did Hakimullah belong to the Pakistan Army? Or does Imran Khan? Maybe Imran should think of closing down the KPK government for a day, or until the federal government caves in. He must be realizing the exquisite pain of being elected only to a provincial government on a foreign policy issue.

Then KPK had not seen the end of its woes. The father of outgoing Chief Minister Amir Haider Hoti, Azam Hoti, made the ANP the butt of ridicule, by accusing ANP chief Asfandyar Wali, and its KPK chief Afrasiab Khattak, of taking vast sums from the USA to provide support in the War on Terror. The only explanation that the ANP gave was that this was a family matter, which had come to the fore after Azam Hoti married again.

Marriage does not seem to help the family. Azam’s sister Naseem was married to Asfandyar’s father Wali Khan. One of Wali’s cousins, a daughter of his uncle Dr Khan Sahib, married a Sikh before Partition. The ANP has claims to be a proud upstanding party, and for it to be obliged to explain its leadership’s shenanigans by saying that family matters were involved, reflects well on neither the party, nor the leaders. Is the ANP’s opposition to the Kalabagh Dam project not based on principle? Or is it because of the family? All parties should learn from the example of Azam Hoti and Amir Haider Hoti. The ANP made one a federal minister when it allied with the PML(N), and the other the KPK chief minister when it achieved power there in coalition with the PPP. And what did the family get in return? Not a son speaking against a father; that always happens when a father with one or more grown (or even half-grown) sons contracts another marriage. But this washing of dirty linen in public? This does not happen even in the worst run and most ill-behaved of families. Frankly, even political families are better behaved.

Washing dirty linen in public is genuinely disapproved. So not even the trio of jailbirds who have recently admitted to spot-fixing would have anything to say about the one-dayer in Dubai, which was thrown away  towards the end, and the worst chokers in the history of the game, the South African team, won by a single run, and leveled the series to boot. The only thing that could have more pleased the Bombay bookies (now called the Mumbai matchfixers) was Australia and India going into the last one-dayer of a seven-match series with the series still evenly poised. But those who could make money from the Dubai match must have. Indeed, I wonder if the South Africans are really chokers. Maybe they had some money riding on the result. And I seem to remember that when South Africa developed the reputation for choking, they had the late Hansie Cronje as captain. He ultimately confessed taking money from the bookies. Of course, no one would expect A.B. Devilliers to do such a thing. What, a good Boer boy taking money from kaffirs? You might as well accuse the USA of killing Hakimullah Mahsud because they were against the government talking to the Taliban. Well, both Cronje and Hakimulllah are dead, and Pakistan has still lost the ODI.