City Notes

M.A. Niazi

The gunman at the Sutherland Springs church, who killed 26 people by firing with an automatic rifle into the congregation, was not heard to shout “Allahu Akbar”, so he was not a terrorist. As a matter of fact, he was a former Bible Study teacher who had been discharged from the USAF for beating his wife. But he was not a terrorist. He was white, remember. On the morning of the shooting, he had sent his mother-in-law threatening texts. The shooting was at the church she normally attended, but she wasn’t there that day. I’m not sure this is where the USA wants to go. If you don’t like country music, shoot up a festival, as happened in Las Vegas the other day, when 59 people were killed. And if you don’t like your mother-in-law, shoot up her church.

US President Donald Trump has said the Texas shooting was not a guns situation. Right, though the shooter had 15 rifles and two handguns. Trump is also the guy who said that there isn’t any global warming, which was just a Chinese conspiracy. Right, tell that to the Lahoris afflicted by the smog, which has caused the postponement of the West Indies T20 series from this month to March. Well, the smog might lift in the coming week, if there’s rain. But while it’s here, not only do we have to put up with the usual colds, sniffles and sore throats, but if we escape all these, there’s a burning in the eyes and throat, not to forget the metallic taste in the mouth. Nothing too distracting, but still noticeable. The smog is supposed to be like smoking an unconscionable number of cigarettes, causing all kinds of respiratory diseases, up to and including lung cancer. That’s bad news for those who’ve stopped smoking, those who haven’t and those yet to start.

Some of those who got another, quite different, piece of bad news might have been smokers, but not all. In other words, those named in the Paradise Papers, which are like the Panama Papers, in being a list of those who have offshore companies. Queen Elizabeth is one. She will go on being Queen till she dies. So is Pakistan’s ex-PM, Shaukat Aziz. And he will probably go on being ex-PM till he dies, so no one seems to mind. Not even Imran Khan, who has not even protested that Shaukat has left office without him staging a sit-in. He should protest, because if there is no sit-in, how does anyone expect him to get married?

Corruptions seems to be spreading as an issue. Saudi Arabia, for example, where princes, ministers and ex-ministers have been arrested for corruption with one prince losing his life allegedly while resisting arrest. The fact that the corrupt (and Imran has taught us that accusation is conviction) included so many potential rivals to Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman shows that his elevation is righteous. Like over here, where not helping Imran take over means that one is a corrupt tool of the Sharifs, in Saudi Arabia, being a potential rival to the Crown Prince means being corrupt. And unlike in Saudi Arabia, over here, no corrupt person has ever turned up dead.

Corruption doesn’t seem to be an issue in the USA, though. Sexual harassment does. I mean, why else bring up allegations that actor Dustin Hoffman was a harasser? Not that the guilty should get away, but he is 80. And it’s not as if he had an unfair reputation for being a devoted family man that had to be destroyed. And another possibility has been raised by Mariah Carey’s ex-security guard, who sued her for having harassed him. Hmmm. Everyone assumed that harassment was something that men did to women. Now one man is saying that women can do it too. The initiator of the whole sequence of events, Harvey Weinstein, might want to consider that defence: all those women who claim to have been harassed, were the ones doing the harassing. Why should all of those women have harassed him? His charm, of course. A blind judge might find for him.

Of course, the Harrasser-in-Chief, President Trump, is there, and probably would lend a hand if it was needed. So long as he is President, nothing can harm any of the few hairs left on Harvey Weinstein’s head. I think that Imran and Trump would get along, swapping the smutty stories of their lives. Look, if harassment was taken off the books in Pakistani politics, Imran would have the most explaining to do.

His party seems to favour it. The parading of a girl naked in Dera Ismail Khan because of an affair her brother allegedly had with the paraders’ sister, has led to the KP Revenue Minister, Ali Amin Gandapur, he of the flowing locks, being accused of supporting them by the local PPP MNA. Gandapur should be happy he’s not in Wales, where the sexual harassment thing made former Welsh minister Carl Sergeant kill himself. He’d already had to resign as a minister, but his party was still after him. The PTI would have preferred staging a sit-in, and then everyone quietly going home.

Still, the USA stays one-up, having elected as Mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey, the Sikh Ravi Bhulla, living there for the last 17 years. It may be remembered that the first victim of a post-9/11 revenge crime was the Sikh killed in Arizona. The killer (a white male, but let’s not dwell on that) thought he was a Muslim. But Hoboken’s most famous son will remain Ole Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra. Unless someone accuses him of harassment.

Well, if the USA has got Ravi Bhulla, Pakistan has Farooq Sattar’s mother. There’s been so much confusion about MQMP and PSZP merger, that she was the only one to emerge with respect enhanced. There was unanimity about one thing: the agencies arranged the failed merger. They like one-window operations, it seems.