Going by the standards of the PTI, that accusation is proof of guilt, the Speaker of the National Assembly, until last year Speaker of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, and his successor, were guilty as sin, of nepotism and cronyism. Not only has the accusation been made, but the KP Services Tribunal made this finding when it ruled on the petition of Kifayatullah Khan against the promotion of Nasrullah Khan as Assembly Secretary. The two Speakers should have no option but to resign until acquitted by a higher appellate forum, but they are clinging on to office. They had clearly been suborned by Mian Nawaz Sharif, just as the Pakistan cricket team did by going down to its second successive defeat to South Africa.

Another person clearly shown to be a corrupt element was the Sindh minority MPA, Dewan Sachanand, who was convicted in Tando Adam of passing a rubber cheque for Rs 10 million. He was representing the PTI, which should now strip him of his membership and substitute another in his place. There is no evidence that Dewan Sachanand knew Mian Nawaz, but where else did he learn such corruption? Also, he needs to be investigated by NAB. After all, even if it is a rubber cheque, anyone ready to pay Rs 10 million, should have to explain why. And the payee, Haji Ayub Rajput, should have to explain to NAB why he thought he deserved such a large sum of money. And both should have to explain why they did not deposit a large sum in the Prime Minister’s and Chief Justice’s Diamer Bhasha and Mohmand Dam Fund.

With Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar retiring in a couple of weeks, the whole dam position might need rethinking. The new Chief Justice, Mr Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, will hold office till December, when he is supposed to retire, giving way to Mr Justice Gulzar Ahmad, who will in turn retire in February 2022. It is something of a coincidence that the Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court, Mr Justice Anwaarul Haq, retired this month to give way to Mr Justice Sardar Muhammad Shamim Khan.

It’s a Now-or-Never moment. Mr Justice Khosa is from Dera Ghazi Khan district. Chief Justice Shamim from Bahawalpur district. The Punjab Chief Minister, Sardar Usman Buzdar, is from Dera Ghazi Khan district. A South Punjab province any time from now to 31 December, would not only deprive Punjab of its Chief Minister, but also of the Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court. Mr Justice Khosa would be retired by then, but even an earlier creation would not affect him, because there is no proposal that South Punjab either be declared independent or be merged with India. And it is possible Buzdar and Chief Justice Shamim find themselves on opposite sides after South Punjab comes into being, with the former a diehard United South Punjabi and the latter leading those calling for a separate province comprising the old Bahwalpur state, now Bahawalpur division. Buzdar would not want a separate province for Dera Ghazi Khan division, as the demand has not been voiced. But I have heard of the demand for a Thal province, comprising Sargodha division. So Imran would belong to that province.

But that is all in the future. More immediate was the New Year, which saw two killed in road accidents, and 20 injured in celebratory firing. I won’t look at the spirit which is so aghast at the coming of yet another year that one shoots in the air, even though there’s no hope of hitting it. There don’t seem to have been any casualties from the time-honoured custom of throwing crackers in a vehicle windows, neither startled drivers crashing their cars, nor throwers being beaten to within an inch of their lives because they made the mistake of throwing a cracker into a police vehicle. Though I wonder who is the Hercules who drives with open windows on a night at the end of December. He probably wants crackers thrown in.

One person who seemed conscious of the passing of time, and before the New Year, was North Korea’s Ambassador to Italy, who was supposed to return in November after his term was up, but who has disappeared along with his wife. He is thought to have defected, but he hasn’t turned up anywhere. Both he and his wife are the children of powerful Communist Party officials. No one has heard them criticising leader Kim Jong-il’s haircut, even though he has the worst in the world, except perhaps for US President Donald Trump’s.