It’s March, and the weather is turning towards spring. All the signs are there. The days are longer, the days are hotter, the plants are throwing forth buds. And loadshedding is upon us.

True, loadshedding has not yet caused the fans to go still, because the fans have not yet been turned on. At the same time, there hasn’t been an end to loadshedding, though Syed Naveed Qamar has woken up again to announce (yet again) that loadshedding would be ended. He shouldn’t say such things, because they only make him look bad. In fact, he shouldn’t have taken the Water and Power portfolio, which is not just thankless, but also dangerous. The danger is of being sacked. Naveed Qamar need only look at the last minister, Raja Pervez Ashraf, now out on his ear of the Cabinet, seen skulking on the back benches of the National Assembly. Even his antics during the president’s speech, when he is said (by a highly unreliable source) to have whistled with fingers in his mouth at the beginning and stamped loudly during the Opposition walkout, and shouted “Encore! Encore!” at the end, are not going to earn him re-entry into the Cabinet. The same source said that Raja Pervez did not stamp, whistle or shout as loudly as Dr Malik.

The PPP is doing its best to shrug off the walkout, and it is true that an Opposition protest during the President’s speech has become a tradition, going back many years, back to the PPP itself, when it collectively shouted “Go, Baba, go!” to Ghulam Ishaq Khan, after having elected him. But the real dangerous aspect was a new PPP tradition, the walkout by one of the PPP’s own MNAs. Well, he may have made a mistake, being confused by the transition from Balochistan to Islamabad. Well, President Zardari didn’t want to hide his Urdu, which is certainly much more serviceable than that of Ghulam Ishaq Khan, but he might have had his own reasons for avoiding the national language, though those reasons may have more to do with the internal politics of Sindh, rather than of the national politics the President is supposed to represent. The MQM didn’t protest the bhatta mafia with a boycott, which She Whose Word Is Law likens to the kidnapper joining the search party after killing the victim. Remember, She Whose Word Is Law said it, not me.

However, though the Opposition probably had more to protest now than then, there was more ‘zing’ then than now, probably because Ishaq was certainly a Baba, which Asif Zardari is certainly not. It’s perhaps interesting that  despite his thick black hair (as opposed to Ishaq’s bald pate and hairy ears) the irony should not be lost Asif is the heart patient, which Ishaq was not, though he was over 70, and Asif under 60. It is also ironic that Asif, then an MNA, was part of the original protest, which means that maybe some future president lurks somewhere on the PML(N) benches now. I don’t think so, though, for none of the current crop of MNAs has married a future PM who will be assassinated. That is one of the requirements for the job, unless it is being COAS. Well, the COAS was in the House too, though in the Visitors’ Gallery rather than the House itself. Which is a reminder that Pervez Musharraf probably sat through a presidential speech before becoming president himself? He himself did his best to avoid this speech, and the one time he did, he was howled at, and ended up showing two fists, something which Zardari didn’t do. But then, Musharraf was a commando, which Zardari is not.

It was also worth noting that this was an election year speech, for it was the last that President Zardari will make to this Parliament. And since the speech is made on the advice of the Prime Minister, this is probably the last speech he will make on the advice of this government. By the way, I wonder how this advice thing actually works, what with the so-called figurehead being the head of the party the Prime Minister, and most of his Cabinet members, belong to. There wouldn’t just be the familiarity that should exist between two members of the same political persuasion, but also the superior-subordinate relationship that the PM finds so galling in the case of the Supreme Court, but apparently doesn’t mind for the President. Presumably, the President advises the Prime Minister (bindingly) of what advice he should give him.

But the speech didn’t make any provision for the next election. It should have. Look, every eye is on the Budget, expecting it to be an election Budget, but if the Presidential Address didn’t even mention that fact, maybe the budget won’t.

Well, the match in the Asia Cup between India and Pakistan is over. Its probably a good thing that Tendulkar had got his hundredth 100 already, otherwise this match would have probably been unbearable. It was just a normal Indo-Pakistan match. I wonder why, after so many years, there is so much Indo-Pak tension, when there isn’t any Pak-Bangladesh tension. Is the reason that Pakistan and Bangladesh aren’t as close as India and Pakistan?

But there was no surprise in the result. After all, the last time a Pakistan side led by a Niazi contested an Indian side in Bengal was in1971. So I suppose we’re lucky not to lose part of our country. This time, India has its eye on Balochistan, remember.