The battle has begun! The President landed in Lahore, the capital of the largest province of the country, day before and decided to give as good as he got. It has always been assumed that whoever wins in Lahore gets to form the government in the centre so the battle for the election prize of the heart of Lahore has begun in earnest. She will definitely be a most wooed maiden in the year ahead. For some time now, the PML-N has made Zardari out to be the reason for all the ills that have befallen us - at places, even crossing the line of acceptable language. Whereas the President formerly had Senator Babar Awan to take on the Sharifs, he has decided that the time to tackle them himself has arrived. So, all the stuff that we are trying so hard to change and which is so typical of our personal or political fights was brought out and hurled at the Sharifs - innuendos, inferences, references, threats et al.

Which leads one to the question of when are we going to grow up? Some element of civility/maturity must surely, albeit slowly, creep into how we conduct our politics. The cleverest moves are made by those who speak the least. Ours is just a huge shouting match - and may well have been conducted by two kakeyzai (no offence to the caste) neighbouring women, about whom it is said that they actually agree to take a short break amidst fights at sunset and begin anew the next morning from exactly where they had left off the previous day. It is a sad comment, indeed, that the level of debate or accusations between the two top political parties is the same as that of two illiterate women, who bring in each other’s relatives into their fights.

The mentioning of the number of people who attended Mian Sharif’s funeral was so unnecessary. It was another time and era. Just as it is in poor taste to speak about how the President’s father’s funeral was kept small for whatever reasons. It is high time that we focused on those who are alive and have their hopeless lives ahead of them. It has been so disturbing to hear of children committing suicide.

Suicide is a word or a behaviour choice, which children should not even know about. But last week, there were three school students who took their lives because they failed in their exams and one because his mother could not afford a new uniform for him. It is the basic right of every child to be loved, to play, to be emotionally nourished, to be provided for and be educated. As the gap between those who are privileged and those who struggle with poverty gets agonisingly wider with every passing year, the government needs to take steps to protect children. But, as it is being evidenced, this year will be consumed by who can mouth the better insult at the highest level because it is the lead-up to elections and remaining in power has to be the first priority.

Speaking of children, it is a much better idea for Bilawal to be positioned as a youth leader, who does some concrete work for underprivileged children and the teeming youth without education and jobs. This will endear him to people and help polish his insights as well as language skills. Instead, we are being made to listen to speeches with phrases that are too much of a mouthful and sound so unreal coming from him. It is so abundantly clear that politics is not Bilawal’s natural calling and that he is a likeable young man, who should be doing internships to discover what his strengths are. Just like the anxiety-ridden children of the poor should be protected, BB’s son, too, ought to be protected from having greatness thrust on him so much ahead of time. The bulk of the PPP looks kind of silly when they refer to him deferentially as the ‘Chairman’. All this almost monarchy business in what is professed as a democracy just does not gel. This holds equally true for all the sons, daughters and sons-in-law in the pipeline in all other parties too waiting to take over from where their parents left off! Whenever the complete history of the world is written in the future the case of the son-in-law in South Asia’s Pakistan will surely be a case study! But that is just a thought in passing.

Postscript: Rozan is an Islamabad based NGO that works for emotional health, gender and violence against women, children and youth. It is spearheaded by Dr Ambareen and has many years of good work behind it. Last week, they had a conference to mark the ‘national showcasing of media fellows’ work on flood and water issues in Pakistan’. At the dinner, which was a part of the conference, they invited Sheema Kirmani to perform for them on the theme of the relation between women and water.

Sheema, along with two of her students, enthralled the audience with an hour and a half of non-stop dance performance. It is not easy to keep an audience involved for this long in this art form. Sheema picked different ways of telling a South Asian woman’s connection to water. There was the romance of the monsoons, the fetching of water in villages and the joy of ordinary fisher folk and their debt of gratitude to water for providing them their livelihood. The tempo of the performance kept changing with beautiful sound and light effects thrown in. The last performance was based on Amir Khusrau’s Aj rung hai, which even though not having anything to do with water, is so connected to our souls with the ability to pull at our heartstrings. Sheema and her students received a standing ovation for creating magic in our lives, even though so briefly.

    The writer is a public relations and event management professional based in Islamabad.