Tallat Azim The month seems to have dawned with a wait and see feeling, like something hurtling towards a logical conclusion. So, while the bulk of us wait and watch how the NRO plays out, I am not going to add my two bits to the projected scenario. Instead, I am going to focus on how the mens club in the country, across all vocational and class divides, picks on or disapproves of women in ultra responsible positions. It has been a first for any woman to be in the coveted position of the principal secretary to the prime minister. Anyone who is anyone will vouch for the fact that this position can move mountains as far as getting anything done in this country goes. Everyone and his aunt want to be on best-friend terms with the PMs political secretary. Some concede that knowing the PS is even better than knowing the PM, because the PS has both the file and the PMs ear access. There is just one problem with a woman PS though, made worse if she is competent, focused and not prone to accepting undue favours. The problem is compounded further by the fact that you cannot soften or befriend her easily. It is the problem of not being able to share bawdy mens jokes; it is also the discomfort of proper behaviour as long as you are in her no-nonsense presence. So, what do the boys do? Surely, they cannot wait it out until she is due for another posting. They decide then to do what they do best and most easily. They start a smear campaign alleging lack of maturity and other equally non-verifiable issues. One serious accusation against her, and I am not joking, is that she does not take calls from people she does not know I for one think it is quite an unnecessary ganging-up by the boys against one competent woman just because they want one of a their own in her place. Hopefully, the PM will decide on merit on how to deal with this one. If merit alone was the criteria in Pakistan, there would be so much that would change. We would see no dynasties in politics. When I think of the future of the country it, indeed, seems funny that our children will be struggling with whom to vote for between Bilawal, Hamza and Moonis Perhaps, the most unpalatable among them is the in-law variety of a retired military captain, who became the Aide de Camp to his father-in-law. The transformation of a young army officer into a politician has left a lot of vacuum areas in between. Some things have to be deserved not inherited. (There are a whole lot of former ADCs to ex-presidents and PMs who have used their contacts with their ex-bosses to get very undeserving opportunities, but of that, another time). Similarly, there is a whole crop of women sitting in the national and provincial assemblies and enjoying the good life only because they are related, one way or another, to the men of their party. No grass roots struggle, not even minds of their own, just those overreaching silver spoons are responsible for this situation. The system of sponsored relatives, generation after generation, has to change. Political parties have to select their leaders based on their track records and capabilities instead of their family names. Perhaps, in this one way, the MQM is ahead of the others. Lets see what happens when Altaf Bhai has to be replaced. If his daughter is elected as head of MQM after him, then that party will also join the monarchies that have democratic pretensions In the same logic, it is often very amusing to see the younger generation of the gaddi nasheens practicing two vastly different sets of behaviour. One for when they are with their peers of the modern world and indulging in all sorts of temptations; and the other for when they interact with their followers who place them on undeserving pedestals because of their lineage. Again, the long-practiced policy of a quota system, meant for compulsory opportunity for those from remote areas, has harmed merit in its wake. The quota system is misused and all the well-connected duffers get in while the deserving ones have very few chances. Thus, one often sees some real innocents in important places at times, who are there solely because someone had to be there from their area Postscript: All the numerous fans of Lata Mangeshkar, the legendry playback singer of Bollywood, in the whole world and particularly in the subcontinent, have been delighted to hear of her receiving the top civilian honour from France for her contribution to Indian cinema and music. The award is Legion dHonneur and was presented to her at a ceremony in Mumbai by the French ambassador. It is good to pause momentarily in this world, torn apart by so much strife and discontent, to celebrate across all divides someone who has given so much joy to so many for so long. It has been heart-rending to hear of the unnecessary death of a beautiful three year old girl, Imanae Ali, who was brought to hospital for a minor burn injury but died due to being given high potency anaesthesia. While the management of the Doctors Hospital and Medical Centre has suspended four staff members after an enquiry that showed gross negligence, the Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court has also ordered an enquiry. The cases of wrong treatments and negligence have become so commonplace and cause so much havoc on a daily basis that one shudders at the thought of having to go to the hospital. Hospitals all over the world swear by the Pakistani doctors who work for them so what happens to them in their own country I wonder? What all can our independent judiciary fix? It all boils down to the subject that I wrote about at length in the beginning. We have to give priority to merit, instead of a thousand other useless reasons, in all facets of our lives. The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: tallatazim@yahoo.com