City Notes

Somebody pull that man off the container before he gets hurt! That was the feeling I got while Prime Minister addressed the nation the last time, and that impression was only strengthened this time. Of course, the container speeches were meant to build Imran’s image, so that he could be elected Prime Minister. Now that he is, he actually has to run the country. And it’s very water-stressed.

That meant that Imran got the Chief Justice’s Dam Fund merged into his own. The Chief Justice will probably comment on that takeover later. But when Imran raises funds, are overseas Pakistanis far behind? He’s mentioned a touch for the first time, $1000 per head. If the Shaukat Khanum fundraisers are any guide, the next step will be to invite celebrities from India to hold shows at which money will be raised for the Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand Dams.

The CJP can go back to ensuring that Sharjeel Memon is properly tested, as are the substances found in his hospital room. Honey and olive oil were in the bottles, not alcoholic beverages. Once upon a time, mead was made out of honey, and was drunk heavily by the medieval British. I haven’t heard of anyone using olive oil though. But has Memon been asked to touch his nose with his outstretched arm? Has he been asked to say “British Constitution”? Or has been found lying in a gutter somewhere? One hopes he hasn’t thrown up all over his jail superintendent’s desk. I don’t think he has, because he’s still with us.

Still, he is the CJ’s problem. The PTI’s real problem is corruption. Babar Awan had to resign as PM’s Adviser because NAB included him in the Rental Power Producers reference, because he was the PPP’s Law Minister at the time. The agreement was defective, so Babar Awan is having to explain things. Until he does, he stays out of the Cabinet, where he had oiled in without having been elected. Of course, if NAB is persuaded to accuse Imran of anything, he’ll have to resign, won’t he? The PTI seems to think accusation is conviction. That’s what Sharjeel Memon seems to be fighting. No one seems willing to give him credit for being able to stand up. Maybe he can’t move without falling over, but so what?

The PTI should remember that the “guilty if accused” formula in the Atif Mian episode. Right, that appointee to the Economic Advisory Council is an Ahmadi. Note, under that formula, it is not necessary to have done anything. Dr Mian has yet to give any advice. But his accusers say he could give misguided advice, because he is an Ahmadi. So the PTI has accepted that he is guilty, and booted off the EAC.

I see US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in town, and was able to meet anyone who was anyone. He couldn’t meet Jalaluddin Haqqani, however, because the latter was dying. Pompeo turned up with Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen John Dunford, who presumably had a cosy chat with COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa. General Dunford would have been concerned about the death of Maulana Haqqani, who was the founder and titular head of the Haqqani Network, though it has long been under the operational control of Haqqani’s son Sirajuddin. Secretary Pompeo was probably paying more attention to the death of Burt Reynolds, of Smokey and the Bandit fame. Reynolds played the typical Trump voter, and that’s why Pompeo would pay attention to his death.

Maybe Trump was paying attention to Haqqani too. Not only was he long supposed to have been an ISI asset, but he was supposed to have been working these days with the Islamic State. This comes at a time when the USA cut off oodles of foreign exchange from the Coalition Support Fund. Is there an ISI strategy to offer the USA ISI links to IS?

Pompeo is not suspected of being behind the New York Times op-ed piece, unsigned but ‘by an administration official’. That article confirms the latest book by Carl Bernstein, about the Trump White House, which portrays a White House where top aides, instead of implementing the President’s will, are busy frustrating it. I wonder if we will reach that stage? I doubt it. Imran so far has obeyed his handlers. Has Defence Day ever been celebrated this way? Maybe General Bajwa was telling General Dunford how to keep civilians in check. Or maybe denying the authorship of the op-ed. While it may suit Trump to have General Bajwa confess, Imran would view him with suspicion. I mean, anyone who authored anything, let alone a newspaper op-ed, would be viewed with suspicion.

I’m sure that was Imran’s main objection to Aitezaz Ahsan as President. Too much of an intellectual. Does the same apply to Maulana Fazlur Rehman? Well, he does hold a teaching position in Fiqh at the Qasimul Uloom Multan, which requires a rigorous intellect. On the other hand, anyone who has the support of a party which looks up to Mian Nawaz Sharif cannot have any intellectual pretensions. But then, Aitezaz has the support of Asif Zardari. His father-in-law may have had a formidable intellect, but I’ve not heard he does. He did play a mean game of polo, though.

The winner, Arif Alvi, is both bright and useful. Not only is he indisputably alive, something always in doubt about his predecessor, but if any Cabinet member has a toothache, he can always help.