City Notes

The victory of Islam Karimov in the Uzbekistan election was a contrast to the loss of Goodluck Jonathan in the Nigerian. Jonathan was defeated, even though he was the incumbent. Karimov has been there since 1991, when the USSR collapsed. He has just been re-elected for a term expiring in 2020, by which time he will have been in office for 29 years. Of course, everyone is calling Jonathan a wonderful democrat, and Karimov one of the last of the old-style Soviet apparatchik dictators, but in the end, Karimov will still be President, and Jonathan an ex-President.

No one is celebrating both wins more than Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf, because the man who beat Jonathan was Maj Gen (retd) Muhammadu Buhari, head of state of Nigeria between December 1983 and August 1985, without the formality of an election, but after taking over in a coup. Nigeria has proved once again that there’s life after military dictatorship, with Buhari not even the first ex-general elected Nigerian President, the first being Lt Gen (retd) Olesegun Obasanjo. He was military President between 1976 and 1979, being elected in 1999, remaining in office till 2007. Going by Nigerian standards, Musharraf has some way to go. Buhari won on his fourth attempt, losing first in 2003 to Obasanjo. Musharraf has only made one attempt, in 2015.

The real problem is age. Obasanjo was 61 when first elected, Buhari is 73. Musharraf is 71. True, Obasanjo was an engineer, and Buhari is a foot-soldier, while Musharraf is a gunner. And neither was a commando like Musharraf. So if we are to fulfill our national destiny, and join Nigeria in electing as ruler a former military dictator, we had better hurry.

Buhari has probably got to handle the Indian crisis first, apart from falling oil revenues. It seems that a BJP Minister of State, Giriraj Singh, said that had Rajiv Gandhi married a Nigerian, Congress wouldn’t have made her its President, an office which Rajiv’s widow Sonia owes to her being white. The Nigerian Ambassador to Delhi has been up in arms against this racism. Note: he was not claiming Nigerians are white. Also note that the Italian Ambassador has nothing to say.

Another problem Buhari will have to handle is what to do about Nigerian revenues, what with falling oil prices. They registered an uptick, which was quickly passed on to the consumer, but Buhari is suffering for what the USA wanted to do: force Iran to do a nuclear deal. Which it has done. Well, it has done so after Lee Kwan Yew’s funeral. Yes, the architect of modern Singapore has passed away. True, he might have sought the path to national unity by imposing Mandarin, a Chinese dialect not spoken even by the Chinese diaspora in Singapore, let alone the Tamil, Malay or other minorities there. But he was a role model for a lot of statesmen who envied the way he turned his country into an economic power. Mian Nawaz is a big fan, for example. Of course, his was a city-state, strategically located, which makes it sound more like Karachi than Pakistan. The MQM might not concede it, but surely some extremist in its ranks has studied Lee Kwan Yew’s life and learnt some lessons.

Of course, the MQM these days is probably concentrating more on the NA 246 by-election, caused by the resignation of Nabeel Gabol, who had previously been in the PPP, but had switched to the MQM. Gabol did not join the PTI as expected, but the PTI has been fighting the by-election very vigorously. Fighting is right, for there was a party flag burnt, which it fought very hard.

Is that a fight the PTI wants? There is the fight to prove the rigging of the 2013 election to the judicial commission just set up. The commission ordinance shows the bias against the PTI. It demands evidence. I mean, isn’t Imran’s say-so enough? It should be.

Last week, I had said that Azhar Mahmood had been named Chief Selector, even though he was part of the team that lost the 1999 World Cup final. I was wrong, and Haroon Rashid has been picked. Not all that many people will remember his shambolic dismissal, run out for 15, having managed to break the momentum of a very stiff run-chase after the West Indies made 293, but which Sadiq Muhammad and Zaheer Abbas had gone after with a vengeance. Well, Imran was also part of that team, though he went on to better things in 1992. Well, though Azhar Mahmood got nowhere, Azhar Ali got made ODI captain. Misbah has been sacked, but remains Test captain. And one hears that Moin Khan has been enticed out of the nearest casino.

Why, I’m not sure. The Shebab didn’t want him for the Garissa University massacre in Kenya in which 148 were killed. Over here, they killed schoolchildren in Peshawar, but it seems African terrorists prefer to kill older students. Schoolchildren, they kidnap, as did the Boko Haram in Chibok last March. Jonathan’s failure to recover the girls kidnapped is supposed to have contributed to his defeat. So Buhari must count as a blessing not being responsible for the Garissa attack.