The smog here is being blamed on many things, whether the Orange Line construction dust, the use of petrol and diesel by vehicles or the persistent fires of agriculture in East Punjab and Haryana, but whatever the reason, smog got us by the throat (almost literally) in the daytime, and we are now really waiting for it to rain, which will bring the smog to an end.

We were told to switch from petrol to gas because of the smog, and we got almost immediate results. But then the oil price hike made us switch back. Now the smog is back. And there is a terrible problem in India too, not just because of the gases produced by vehicles, but the burning of vast amounts of straw in the fields. The rumour that the smog had anything to do with Aleem Khan distributing the mooliwalay parathay to PTI workers that he had prepared for the lockdown is not true.

Whatever the reason for the smog, the cancellation of the PTI lockdown was not related. Generally, the reaction to the cancellation seems to have been negative, to the extent that it was asked once more, “Jo jihad karey woh ghazi, jo hathiar phenk dey woh Niazi.” That is a reference both to the 1971 surrender by Lt Gen A.A.K. Niazi in Paltan Maidan, as well as Imran’s being a member of the same tribe. Well, so am I, and especially on occasions like this, I don’t believe in tribalism, but I do wonder, if that event can cast such a long shadow, how long a shadow will be cast by the slaughter of Muslims in Homs, Hallabja and now Aleppo? I wonder who will be blamed by whom for what when. Imran Khan should be happy that the PML(N) is chortling individually, and not raised slogans of Aah bakri! or P’aid oye!

Anyway, the whole episode showed that KPK Chief Minister Pervez Khattak either doesn’t have TB, or was very brave in facing the smoke caused by the burning of roadside grass on the approach to Islamabad. Of course, that makes one wonder why the KPK PTI workers weren’t issued the tyres normally burnt on such occasions. Khattak was perhaps let down a little by his Revenue Minister, Amin Gandapur, whose car was found to contain not just weapon but bottles what he claimed was honey. Of course, some members of the Islamabad police differed, claiming they contained alcoholic beverages. Did policemen who sampled the honey because of their ticklish throats suddenly began behaving strangely? Or did they mean that Gandapur, either personally or on behalf of the party, was trying to revive mead manufacture in KPK? An alcohol made from honey, it preceded beer as the alcoholic drink of preference in England, before beer became so popular there.

Of course, the real disappointment would be that the thanksgiving rally was substituted for the lockdown because the Supreme Court decided to investigate the corruption issue. It should have ordered Mian Nawaz out of office, and made Imran PM instead. Without that order, there was bound to be the tepid response to the Youm-i-Tashakkur that was seen.

Well, Mian Nawaz was not the only politician facing obloquy because of corruption charges, though admittedly he was probably better off than South African President Jacob Zuma, against whom an investigation by a commission not only came to an end, but whose report also came out. And this was accompanied by the Ahmadinejad-era prosecutor being sentenced to lashing, which was then reduced the same day to a day. A Saudi prince was also whipped for an unspecified offence. I wonder if the offence was anything like that of a prince who had imported a load of whisky labelled ‘gold’, of which the bottles broke. He received a telephone from the customs people, telling him that his gold was leaking. Maybe Mr Gandapur should have said he had gold in those bottles, not honey. The find gives an odd impression of PTI Cabinet meetings in KPK. It also gives a lurid impression of what PTI federal cabinet meetings might be like. Imagine a nuclear crisis during a PTI government. I’d hate to be blown into a radioactive cinder just because the Cabinet was blotto.

The Indian Cabinet might not have been blotto this time because of the puritanical streak in the BJP, but a Hindu fundamentalist body celebrated Donald Trump’s victory in advance. Nobody told them it’s highly unlikely, though the last-minute surge in his favour makes a victory just possible. The last time somebody came from behind to win, though, 1948, the Republican candidate lost. Anyhow, we’ll find out soon enough. Even allowing for time differences, the results, even of a very narrow election, should be in by Wednesday or Thursday.

Before that result, tragedies have struck Karachi, and neither being blamed on militants. The fire in Gadani on board an oil tanker beached for breaking up killed 20, while 19 died in a train collision at Landhi station. Look, was Railways Minister Kh Saad Rafique in any way responsible, or was he too busy with the PTI lockdown that didn’t happen? It is worth checking whether the guilty driver had taken any of Gandapur’s honey before departure.

I wonder if militants can explain the Indian diplomats being withdrawn after they were exposed (by the Pakistani authorities) as spies. Or whether it was just a response of a kind to India’s expulsion of a Pakistani diplomat.