The caption of this week’s column is what it is, because I could find no words that could do justice to what I wanted to say. I, therefore, used the easy way that most people in my line of work take - let every reader give a caption of his or her own choosing to the piece being read.
I have spent the last few days sitting in my verandah watching millions of rupees worth of trees go up in smoke. The Margalla Hills resemble a war zone these days as multiple fires race up wooded hillsides destroying government forests. It is hard to believe that in these modern times we have not been able to discover better means of nipping this evil in the bud. Perhaps, it is so because this evil is spawned by the Capital Development Authority and the Forest Department itself to hide their illicit and corrupt practices in cutting and selling quality timber.
The television did show the pitifully equipped CDA employees trying ineffectively to beat out the fires. But if the fire breaks had been maintained and monitored, and enforcement carried out diligently, these incidents could have been avoided.
I had begun to wonder as to the whereabouts of the Islamabad based helicopters that had been used in earlier times to fight lesser conflagrations, when I saw the comforting sight of one of these machines with its water container, flying low towards the hills. My elation soon turned to dismay as this aircraft disappeared towards Murree. A malicious yet comforting thought did cross my mind then that, perhaps, it was the Governor’s House at Murree that was being engulfed by a forest fire.
A couple of days ago, a newspaper headline attributed to the Prime Minister drew my attention. This headline quoted our worthy Chief Executive as saying: “Only conspiracies that threatened democracy will be foiled.” I have stopped getting surprised over such inexplicable utterances made by the gentleman in question, as anything said otherwise is now likely to amaze me. But just to carry the point further, did ‘our man from Multan’ imply that ‘conspiracies’ against national institutions such as the judiciary and others were kosher?
While other areas of Pakistan are suffering more acutely, Lahore and some areas of Islamabad are experiencing eight to nine hours of loadshedding out of 12. I called up the Islamabad Electric Supply Company Complaint related to my area and was amused to hear the frustrated official on duty deliver a choice expletive followed by the disclosure that they were without power too, as the loadshedding was being forced upon them by the main grid at Islamabad.
I could not help but sympathise with the individual, as the words of the Prime Minister rang mockingly in my ears promising the people that there would be no unscheduled loadshedding in the country. I still have not been able to decide what galled me more - no electricity or the fact that those who were running this country (and running it to earth) were liars.
The police of any country are supposed to be the front office of that society. Regretfully, in our case, our cops are not even fit to become the back office of this ‘land of the pure’. I dare the head of the Islamabad Police (let us leave the traffic side out of our argument this time) to randomly pick any 10 policemen from the roads of the federal capital and inspect them. What the Police Chief is likely to see are slouchy, unshaved, sorry looking specimens in wrinkled uniforms, loosely hung belts and caps pushed way back over greasy unwashed hair. Getting into a decent conversation with any one of them would be like talking to someone without an iota of courtesy. This image is accentuated, whenever these individuals are found standing next to the smartly turned out and alert army and military police personnel, who frequently line routes adopted by the Chief of the Army Staff.
Firemen have an almost legendary status in the Western countries and a hero like status in society. These individuals are specially selected on the basis of their physical fitness and psychological profiles. They are required to possess leadership qualities similar to the ones desired in young men aspiring to join the armed forces as officers. Once selected, they are trained in schools specially designed for their profession and then must maintain their physical and psychological standards throughout their service with the fire department. In contrast, our fire fighters, though faced with similar dangers as their counterparts overseas, have no status in society nor does their personal appearance inspire children to respond, “Fireman”, when asked as to what would they like to become when grown up.
The country yesterday received the news that the Supreme Court of Pakistan had unequivocally declared Mr Gilani unfit to be the Chief Executive. In more ways than one, this momentous judgment reflected the popular will of the people, raising expectations that it would set into motion a chain reaction of accountability to net a class that has evaded the process since long.
Nonetheless, while the judgment raised judicial esteem to new high, it also generated a sobering question - will the new Prime Minister (if the ruling party submits to the decision of the court) implement the previous Supreme Court judgment, which directs the writing of a letter to Swiss authorities for reopening cases against the President? If not, then are we to witness the beginning of another round?
I was recently labelled as a pessimist by an acquaintance, who went on to say that I should see half-full glasses, instead of half-empty ones. My response to the gentleman was that I would love to do so, given that those responsible provided us with tumblers that were, in the least half full. Until that happens, notwithstanding the fact that I may run out of suitable titles, I shall continue to hold forth in my own manner and the hope that this catharsis will help maintain my sanity.

n    The writer is a freelance columnist.