The combination of loadshedding, followed by the promise of an end to loadshedding, has made us much more sensitive to the going of light than we were before, in a more innocent age. Actually, this being our third bout of loadshedding, the first having been some in the end of the 1980s, and the beginning, those who can claim a loadshedding-free childhood are over 59. Much beyond that, childhood memories are of electricity for only a few hours a night, and oil lamps. Weve probably become much more resentful of electricity going than we used to be. But then, now we depend on electricity much more. No, not just to run appliances, but to charge them I mean, mobiles (of which we all have one, and She Whose Word Is Law two), cordlesses, laptops, and all those things we didnt have when I was a boy (which now seems such a long time ago, and in a galaxy far, far away). In those days, the absence of electricity meant that you didnt have light, and the fans didnt work. Now, and in this not-quite-autumnal-air, you dont need fans, but that laptop needs charging. Laptops are the bane of civilization, because they mean that the younger generation, which will be potbellied and running this world later this century, seem to have lost the art of penmanship. Of course, they no longer write, they text. And for that you only need a thumb, it seems, while for writing, you need a whole fist. True, computers have many advantages, but pens and ink didnt need electricity. So in the good old pen-and-ink days, you didnt have loadshedding, because you didnt have electricity, but you could practice your penmanship by the light of an oil-fired lantern. And those were the days of cheap oil. Really cheap. Ive never heard an oldtimer say they used to give away kerosene, but I do remember hearing an old gentleman now dead for many years reminisce about how they gave away free black tea, without milk, to give people the habit, as a promotion for it. Come to think of it, electricity is the bane of civilization, for though it is supposed to be used as a measure of civilization, we should remember that Ghalib thrived before electricity, and the electric era gave us not another Ghalib, but Jagjit Singh, and even he was killed by the Haqqani Network. Wasnt he? Well, the Network has been blamed for everything else, including both World Wars, by the USA, so Jagjit Singh seems a small charge. Of course, other things have been happening. Not only is Shah Mahmood Qureshi about to leave the PPP, but the irrepressible Sh Rashid, out of Parliament after 20 years, met Mian Nawaz Sharif recently. It seems the manoeuvring for the next election has begun. However, a lot of things have to happen before the next election happens. Most important, we have got to express our thankfulness to the Peoples Government for the boon of electricity. Specifically, we will have to thank Dr Rehman Malik, as he insists on being called ever since being given an honorary PhD by Karachi University. Perhaps we in the Punjab should call in Dr Malik to treat dengue, instead of all of those Sri Lankans and Indonesians. Of course, neither Sh Rashig nor Shah Mahmood have PhDs, honorary or otherwise, so even if they join the PML(N), its ability to fight the War on Terror will not be enhanced. This PhD must be a relief, for maybe Dr Malik was feeling before the degree that only the Americans knew that he was the Sole Warrior on Terror. But somebody should keep a watch on Karachi the next time there is loadshedding. Because Karachi is the most probable centre of protests. Its the centre of the financial district, you see, and since Pakistanis resolutely stayed at home during the Arab Spring, maybe now that the West is seeing protests, what with Rome and London succeeding New York, will Karachi still stay behind? There is one condition though, for the protesters to come out, and that is a plentiful supply of tires to burn. For what is a protest unless tires are burning? For unless you burn the person at whom the protest is aimed, he wont notice theres a protest. But if tires are burning (or he is), he cant avoid the smell, and will know whats happening. So the cities that stayed away from the protests on Saturday did so because there werent enough tires. Whoever is doing the watching, it shouldnt be Rehman Malik. Hes got enough to worry about, what with having to fight the War on Terror alone, which these days means he has taken on the whole Haqqani Network singlehandedly. And still the Americans are not happy, not realising that one man can only do so much. But lets leave aside Rehman Maliksorry. Dr Malikand talk about trade with India. Well, about our giving it MFN status. The government is agreeable, because the party is, and that is agreeable because the people are. And they are because the party is. And the USA is nowhere in the equation.