Well, it seems that we’ve got permission from Mufti Muneeebur Rehman for marking Ashura. We should not forget that the commemoration should be for all Muslims, not just Shias. If it ever becomes a commemoration for them alone, it would further mean the turning of an integral part of the community into a minority. Doing so would only serve American interests, because the USA wants to invade Iran and sees it as getting support from Shias. Actually, these divisions of sect among Muslims, while they do exist, are being fanned by the USA, so that the War on Terror can be fought more effectively.

Anyway, Ashura will be marked next week, by the kind permission of the Mufti and his merry men. And the new Muslim year came in with the head of the USA’s CIA, David Petreaus, not just on a platter, but on a charge becoming increasingly familiar, that of an affair. That was suspicious enough, but then it seemed that the cause of the revelation was also involved with Petreaus’ successor as Commander-in-Chief in Afghanistan, Gen John Allen. When you throw in the Asghar Khan case, and the National Logistics Cell case, you have a lot of generals suddenly in trouble. The American generals are apparently facing what in Pakistan would be charges of buffalo theft. As the case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and IMF had Dominique Strauss-Kahn showed, the sex scandal seems to be in the USA what the buffalo theft is in Pakistan: clearly untrue, and not likely to spoil one’s reputation in The Village. The difference is that the charges are true, and the sex scandal charges are used in the USA because you can get everyone on them. However, the beauty of buffalo theft charges is that they are patently false, and their being laid proves the power of the government.

However, as General Petraeus proved, though Rehman Malik is the Sole Warrior on Terror, the CIA too has a role, through the drone attacks it makes. Some say that General Petraeus was trapped because of the testimony he was to give a Senate committee about Benghazi, where the CIA interrogated (tortured) suspected militants at the consulate where the US ambassador was killed recently. Well, he testified despite resigning, and repeated his blame of terrorists, and keeping quiet about what the consulate was also being used for. Petraeus didn’t know what was good for him, or he would have asked Rehman Malik to help out. That he would have done, and most efficiently too.

No one should doubt that he would have done so even if it had meant taking his eye off Karachi, where there has been constant bloodletting, and where citizens go about in fear of their lives, deserves better. It was interesting that he ordered a ban on motorcycle traffic. Remember, this is the man who has ordered mobile phone providers to shut down on the last two Eid days, so ban on motorcycles was only a logical step. The Sindh High Court stayed the ban, and terrorists rejoiced. If the ban had been allowed, they would probably have had to switch to four-wheeled vehicles, as was mentioned in the Senate while discussing the stay. And as someone said during the debate, that would mean a ban on all vehicles. Except perhaps police vehicles.

The stopping of blanket bans is a good idea, because letting the Sole Warrior ban mobile phones on Eid let the agencies get after the mobile companies, who have passed on the heat to the phone owners, who are getting very polite messages to turn up at a service office, or else. I suppose the policemen are busy breathing down the necks of the phone companies, raring to go, by beating up a suspect, and willing to stop only if paid.

It might be a good time to mention the passing of Iqbal Haider, who was Law Minister and Attorney General in his time, and later an HRCP chief. Unfortunately, he did not see the return of peace to Karachi, of which he was a distinguished citizen. Nor did he see another death, in a port city that dominated Karachi, but had deep links with it. Yes, Bal Thackeray of Mumbai is no more, though the party he founded, the Shiv Sena, remains active. Perhaps that is the difference between Pakistan and India, that we had Iqbal Haider and it Bal Thackeray. And if there is any similarity between Karachi and Mumbai, apart from being ports and financial centres, it must be because we can find men of goodwill like Iqbal Haider in Mumbai, as well as people like Bal Thackeray in Karachi. Yes, those who order the target killings.

While all of this has been happening elsewhere, the winter has been creeping up. It has never been easy to distinguish between autumn and winter, unless you count the first winter rain. However, that rain not having fallen yet, all we can do is wait. I suppose by next month, we’ll have reached winter. I’m not one of those who find the winter bracing. I just find it cold.