City Notes

It’s perhaps a relief that when Indian godman Ram Rahim Singh was handed down a 20-year jail term, and a Rs 3.02-million fine for raping two of his followers, without anyone being killed. It shouldn’t be forgotten that when he was convicted in Panchkula, in Haryana, there were 32 killed by the cops, who tried to control his rioting followers.

Ram Rahim Singh isn’t just a godman, it seems. He made his followers make wills giving him their organs after death. Probably another money stream. Journalists who exposed certain deeds (like the rapes) turned up murdered, as did witnesses in the case. Well, journalism isn’t supposed to be fatal, as it may be in India. Kannada newspaper editor Gauri Lankesh, who had inherited her paper from her father, was murdered in Bangaluru. She wasn’t covering Ram Rahim Singh, but was a libel convict in the case of a BJP MP.

Well, Ram Rahim Singh had been convicted, but ex-President Asif Zardari was acquitted in a concealed assets reference, which was the last case against him. That left him free to sympathise with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife Sara, who may have to go on trial for ordering out on state expense. Instead of using the cook, she apparently used to order dinner and pay with taxpayer’s money. However, first Zardari wants to settle in new entrant Ziaullah Afridi. Afridi, formerly the Mines minister in the PTI government, headed by Pervez Khattak, himself a former PPP man, was removed from office for corruption.

Though Zardari may have been acquitted, Mian Nawaz has been charged, as have his sons, daughter, son-in-law and Ishaq Dar. Mian Nawaz might need Zardari’s lawyer. Remember when he engaged Aitzaz Ahsan? And while the Supreme Court here will hear his review petition about his disqualification, the one over there is considering overturning the ban on cow slaughter. I don’t know if the Indian Supreme Court sent out for burgers after their decision, but they should have.

Meanwhile, darker things are happening in Myanmar, where Rohingyas are being massacred. The Mynmarese government says they’re Bengalis. The Rohingya as well as the Bangladeshi government beg to differ. While this quibbling goes on, about 1000 Rohingya have been slaughtered (according to the UN, the Myanmarese government says that it’s ‘only’ 400). The Muslims of the world are puzzled, and their governments are all looking the other way.

The Pakistan government is trying to get attention drawn to the BRICS declaration blaming it for regional instability. China was the host of the BRICS summit, and allowed the declaration to go through. Of course, it told Foreign Minister Khwaja Asif that it wanted the world to acknowledge Pakistan’s immense losses in the War on Terror. I suppose it’s different for the agencies now that they simply can’t have the BRICS presidents (only India has a Prime Minister) ‘disappear’, as would happen to any local individual who dared suggest the agencies had anything to do with militants.

Though BRICS named Pakistan, militants seem to have been more active in Europe, what with knife wielders trying stabbings in London and Brussels. The one in London attacked a bunch of cops, but the one in Brussels tried it on soldiers. No wonder he ended up shot dead.

But those militants were probably not on Foreign Minister Khwaja Asif’s mind when he studied the BRICS declaration. He might well have turned away the US Special Representative, and himself decided not to go to Washington. But why were the Americans worrying about rabies shots? The Chinese aren’t, and have hosted Khwaja Asif in perfect safety.

But the Yanks might have found Khwaja Asif a distraction. They withstood the shock of Hurricane Harvey hitting Texas, and have to deal with Hurricane Irma, which has already hit the Leeward Islands, Haiti and Santo Domingo in the West Indies, and is hitting Florida, Georgia and South Carolina in the USA. Khwaja Asif would have just got underfoot. Irma is also going to hit Mexico, which is already reeling from an earthquake which killed 67 people. The Almighty seems to have decided to test Mexicans very severely.

But Americans don’t seem very concerned. They’re more concerned about North Korea’s latest nuclear test, of a thermonuclear weapon’s ability to be put on a missile that would deliver it to the USA. Well, at least to Japan and South Korea. And this is very serious, for it means that the peace of the world is in the hands of Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Il. Never trust even one man with such coiffures, let alone two.

But then, things got pretty hairy here as well. There was a decision announced in the Benazir Bhutto murder case, where Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf was acquitted. However, the then SSP Rawalpindi, Saud Aziz, and the SP Rawal Town, were both convicted of abetment for having the scene of the crime hosed down. This brings us to the possibility that, no post mortem having been conducted, no murder may have been committed. Remember the Musharraf government’s first announcement? That Benazir had committed suicide by butting a lever in the jeep she was in? Musharraf was declared a proclaimed offender by the court, something which happens to Kala Gujjar, as Musharraf’s lawyer, Ahmad Reza Kasuri, once said he was not, in the high treason case he oiled out of, spending a long time in hospital to avoid.