Well, theyve killed Dr Sarfraz Hussain Naeemi. And with that, the militants have crossed a bridge they have long faced, the killing of ulema. And within Islam, they have found a new kind of Muslim to kill, and they are doing so. But first of all, they have introduced to Lahore an idea which was made more familiar in other areas, particularly those of the NWFP, with Nowshera providing the latest example this very Friday, of the blasts in the Friday congregation. From one point of view it makes sense. The biggest congregations are on Friday, so hitting one of them means inflicting more casualties with yourself than any other target. But the corollary for ordinary Muslims who just want to fulfill a religious obligation is that the Friday congregations are not safe any more. Not even in this city, where they have always been safe (though there was a time when they were not safe, especially at Fajr, when there was a campaign against ulema of a sectarian bent). Well, the militants have broken a barrier. After Christians and Shias, now they have succeeded in going after Barelvis. The Barelvi-Deobandi division is within the same Hanafi school of thought, and is due to various madressahs tracing their origins either to the great madressah of Bareilly, or of Deoband. However, the Barelvis are a little closer to the Shias, while the Deobandis are a little more fundamentalist. Dr Sarfraz Naeemis late father, Mufti Muhammad Hussain Naeemi, the founder of the Jamia Naeemia, was a great Barelvi scholar. Christians are co-religionists of the Americans. And are also not Muslims. Shias are not Sunnis. And Barelvis are as Hanafi as any Deobandi, but Barelvis are not Deobandis. And that was another thing that the late Dr Naeemi exhibited before dying, the courage of his convictions, shown in the fatwa he issued, that suicide bombing was not recognized in Islam. This hit the militants at the basis of their appeal to candidates for suicide bombing, their promise of heaven in exchange for a successful bombing. If there is no heaven at the end of the line, who would want to blow himself up? Not even the most earnest of those who want revenge, which the Americans are busy creating by their drone attacks, and making well-settled, busy people IDPs. And now the military is making a cantonment in Swat. As General Musharraf put it, cantonments are beneficial, and demanded by those cities which dont have them. Well, now Swat will, and plots in Swats Defence should not only fuel a real estate boom, but should also provide a healthy retirement environment for those who are fighting so hard in the War on Terror, which has as its main purpose making sure that Americans are safe wherever they are, and that the natives (in other words, us) are duly respectful. Anyway, the militants now seem to be killing those who do not agree with them. The militants are revealing to the rest of us new dimensions of the doctrine of takfir, or declaring other Muslims kafir. Though our ulema are expert at this, it is actually a very serious business, and you are not supposed to do it without very strong reason. We have now seen the consequences of this doctrine, for without it, there is no way that those behind the operation could have justified Dr Naeemis killing. With all of this happening, the revelation of the Budget, or rather the really important parts, by the President, and the earlier revelations by PMs Finance Adviser Shaukat Tarin, made sure that the Budget Speech by the Minister of State for Finance was not very interesting. After all, why should she get all the glory when others were making the tough decisions? Be that as it may, she has become the first woman to present a Pakistani Budget. Somehow, women around the region, no, the world, do not get the finance or foreign affairs portfolios, though they are making women foreign minister in the USA it seems. Women in this region can get to be PM, provided they are a widow or a daughter, but neither Finance nor Foreign Minister. And though a woman read the Budget Speech, it was not as a full-fledged Minister. Perhaps we should be thankful, because the woman-hood thing was probably all that can be said for this Budget, which didnt provide any relief, and had Rs 69 billion in new taxes. Either a sign of the decline of the rupee. Or of the burgeoning of the Budget. Or maybe Im just growing old. Or maybe all three, but Rs 69 billion was more than the size of the Budget when I started out in this profession. And the Budget hasnt become people-friendly in all this time.