City Notes

People streamed into Lahore, after having spent since Friday in The Village, to find that Yousaf Reza Gilani’s son’s guard had shot a young man distributing meat in Defence. The guard belonged to Abdul Qadir Gilani, the young man not being just the son of a prime minister and the grandson of a minister, but a former MPA, in the last Punjab Assembly. Yousaf Reza might well be the gaddi nasheen of Musa Pak and Bibi Pakdaman, but he has been having a hard time ever since he was removed from the Prime Ministership. His son Ali Haider was kidnapped by militants during the election campaign, and now this. Anyone possessing three sons is considered lucky in the Subcontinent, even if he doesn’t become Prime Minister, but it seems that Yousaf Reza is being tested through his sons (even the trial through his third son, in the ephedrine scandal, ruined his time as PM). One can only join the family in praying that the trials through the sons come to an end. And for the poor young man who met such a gory end for the ‘crime’ of crossing the path of a ‘VIP’.

It is perhaps somehow appropriate that the party which promises to end such episodes, PTI, also ran into trouble in Multan, where seven people were killed in a rally there. For some reason, Imran Khan did not demand the registration of a case against the Sharif brothers, but Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the host of the rally did blame the DCO and the DPO of not providing security. Shah Mahmood, the gaddi nasheen of Bahauddin Zakariya, is the main local rival of Yousaf Reza. The rivalry is an old one, and predates the coming of the British to Multan, or the local council elections they held. However, in those days, neither Gilanis nor Qureshis were involved in any deaths. Ah, the good old days!

Then, it seems, there was no loadshedding. Well, there was no electricity, but so what? Well, it meant that the government wasn’t obliged to provide 24-hour electricity. That is what it has provided since the Eid holidays began, the main reason being that offices are closed, and are only re-opening today. In fact, with people heading back to the village, even homes were closed. Still, the government shouldn’t rely too much on people’s gratitude. After all, it is a poor reason for the government to expect a reward at the hustings.

Still, there was not just death in Multan. What did anyone in Multan have to do with those killed by poisonous liquor in Karachi. Apparently, Hindus celebrating Eid were the victims. Usually, liquor is poisonous because it has been spiked with methylated spirits. Methylated sprits are pure ethyl alcohol, with methyl alcohol added, to make it poisonous, and so that the alcohol is not drunk, but used only in industrial processes. However, if you want to increase the ‘kick’ of any brew, add alcohol. Only if you add methylated spirits, you create a fatal brew. It’s not just in Sindh, but all over India, that people periodically die from drinking poisonous liquor. Another cause of death is country liquor, which people brew from any local crop they can find and then add methylated spirits…

Of course, people who escaped being killed by poisonous liquor were instead killed near the Working Boundary by Indian artillery shelling. Of course, we aren’t really allowed to say so, not with the government working so hard to achieve peace, but India has been particularly restless ever since the BJP was elected to power. And it seems that Kashmir is the chosen dispute which the BJP government wants settled, not justly, but on its own terms. The firing should be viewed in the light of Modi’s cancellation of the secretary-level talks in end-August over the Pakistani meeting with Held Kashmir leaders.

However, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, which consists of a bunch of Norwegian parliamentarians, commented on the situation, by awarding the Peace Prize jointly to an Indian and a Pakistani. The selection of Malala Yousafzai caused frissons in her native Swat, and within the PPP, which tried to jump on the bandwagon by bringing out congratulatory ads. However, the real question that needs to be asked, is about the Indian winner, Kailash Satyarthi. What caste is he?

Depending on that, it should become clear whether the Nobel Committee is trying to shore up a serpentine Brahminism, or is striking a blow for the Dalits of India. I can’t forget L.K.Narayan, the previous President of India, who achieved that office after a career in the Indian Foreign Service. He will go down in history as the first Dalit President of India. Imagine, a lifetime of achievement, ending with the highest office the country can offer, and still, the fact of being a Dalit flung in one’s face. The BJP, which presently rules India, had previously put a Brahmin, A.B. Vajpayee, in office, while it was headed by another Brahmin, L.K. Advani. Narendra Modi, on the other hand, is a Teli, which means that his being of a low caste would be flung in his face at party meetings by all of those Brahmins and Rajputs there.

However, Malala would not really be part of this caste war. She proclaims her tribal identity in her name, which belongs to a province outside of the system. However, she should take pride in receiving the same prize as Barack Obama, who would have been described by the ancestors of the BJP’s current members as rakshis.