City Notes

It seemed that everything was focused on Quetta after the blast in the hospital there. After two massacres of Hazaras, this time militants targeted lawyers, starting with the killing of Bilal Anwar Kasi, the President of the Quetta Bar, and going on to the blast at the hospital where so many lawyers had gathered. 74 died, including leading lights of the Quetta Bar. While other courts may have gone on strike in sympathy, in Quetta, a lot of lawyers are not appearing because they are dead. And that wasn’t the end of it. There was another blast targeting the Anti-Terrorist Force escort of a Federal Shariat Court judge two days later, which left 14 people injured.

There was also confusion spread by the Balochistan Chief Minister about who was responsible. He blamed RAW. Then the PM’s Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz said it was Afghan intelligence. Whoever it was, our intelligence agencies were napping. The COAS expressed their response: that the National Action Plan was not being implemented. Yes, that explains why the Quetta blasts were allowed to happen.

It somehow seems unfair that the intelligence agencies should have to carry the can for the Quetta blast, but not for the kidnapping of kids in Punjab. If the Quetta blast was committed by militants, they deserve the blame for the kidnappings. People have been nabbing suspected kidnappers and beating them. The Punjab police is very worried about the rights of those caught, but hasn’t come up with the obvious solution, which is to catch kidnappers itself. The problem with such mob justice is that the wrong person might be caught. Even worse, because it can’t take money to let the accused go, this is a direct attack on the police’s right to afford a certain lifestyle.

Still, nobody has called anybody a security risk, even though militants are involved. Americans seem to be security risks, though. M.C. Barrett was one, and was so declared by the FIA, after he re-entered the country on a valid visa, one issued by the Houston Consulate, even though he had been expelled from the country in 2011, when he had been caught photographing ‘sensitive’ installations while carrying a map on which they had been marked. Another was Donald Trump, being so declared by a posse of Republican national security experts. Well, if Trump does become President, which is becoming increasingly unlikely as the campaign goes on, those experts probably won’t get a job.

Perhaps a bigger threat the US national security is the meeting between Turkish President Recep Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Even though the meeting, among other things, ensured cooperation in Syria, any friendliness between Turkey and Russia raises hackles in Washington.

Well, one thing that didn’t have anything to do with anybody’s national security was the end by India’s ‘Iron Lady’, Irom Sharmila, of her hunger strike. It wasn’t just any hunger strike, but had lasted 16 years. And what does she want to do now? Become Chief Minister of her native Manipur. Somebody should tell her that becoming a Chief Minister isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, especially in the Seven Sister States of the North-East. Arunachal Pradesh ex-CM Kalliko Phul, who took office earlier this year as part of a BJP powergrab at the head of Congress dissidents, apparently hung himself from a fan. Now four ex-CMs in Pakistan have been murdered in Pakistan, but none have ever committed suicide.

Another man who didn’t commit suicide was the great Hanif Muhammad, who died at 81. Hanif was the original ‘Little Master’, a title that Sunil Gavaskar and then Sachin Tendulkar later had, and which these days is vacant. Hanif was a family man, for he debuted as the third of five brothers, along with brother Wazir and young Mushtaq, then the youngest person to make his Test debut. Hanif scored both the highest first-class score of 499,surpassed only by Brian Lara (another man who could well have been called ‘LLittle Master’ but who never was) as well as the highest score by a Pakistani of 337, a record that still stands, though it is now no longer the only triple-hundred by a Pakistani. Most Tests most runs, most centuries, were the major records that were broken in time, but those records remained for a long time.

And he was a family man. Not only was he one of the three brothers who debuted from Pakistan, but he played on Sadiq Muhammad’s debut. Sadiq, like him, was an opener, but a left-hander. Hanif’s son Shoaib also opened for Pakistan, and in turn Shoaib’s son Shehzar plays for PIA, though not for Pakistan. Oh yes, and he was from Junagadh, that forgotten princely state.

Hanif would have well remembered that monsoonal day in 1947 when Pakistan came into being. He was not meant to see the Independence Day yesterday, when, with wheelies banned, the good citizens marked its beginning with firing in the air. It still seems Independence is not meant to mean independence from the British, because we are still ruled by their successors. Instead, it is supposed to mean freedom from manners, and even from life. The win against England would have chuffed Hanif, but the series result, 2-2, was only marginally better than the 2-1 when he first toured England, 62 years ago.