A new year begins

I think it would be impolitic to intrude on PTI chief Imran Khan at this moment of grief. No, not because of the passing of Zubeida Apa, who had elevated household totkas to an art form. The only totka he would be interested in would be how to get hold of the Fountain of Youth. Or something to help him in his married life. It has been reported that he got hitched for the third time to a spiritual guide. Does anyone remember how he claimed to have met his first wife when he went to her mother’s nightclub, where he had gone, he said, to spread Islam.

But he, if anybody, would be saddened by the passing of Air Marshal Asghar Khan, who was 96, and his predecessor as Next Prime Minister. Before the Air Marshal, the post had not existed, though now it does, Imran currently has it. The late Air Marshal was only 47 when he retired as President of PIA, back in 1968, a slot he had filled after serving a good seven years as Commander-in-Chief of the PAF. When Partition occurred, he had been the most senior Pakistani officer as a wing commander, having entered the Indian Air Force during World War II, transferring from the Army, where he had been commissioned into the Royal Decan Horse. His son Umar was commissioned into Probyn’s Horse, but left the Army to enter politics. Umar committed suicide after serving as Local Government Minister in Pervez Musharraf’s Cabinet. But it was not until 2012 that Asghar Khan merged his Tehrik Istiqlal into Imran’s PTI, and gave him the undisputed title of NPM.

Asghar Khan had been NPM since at least 1977, when the PNA had other and older partners than his Tehrik Istiqlal, but he was seen as the alternative PM to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. He was elected to a constituency in Karachi, but never took his seat due to the PNA boycott. His ticket for the 1979 elections (which were never held) was considered valuable, and among those obtaining tickets then was one Mian Nawaz Sharif. He was won over by General Ziaul Haq then, and became Punjab Finance Minister. Mian Manzoor Wattoo left the party in 1979, when he defied it to become Okara District Council Chairman. He was later Punjab Speaker a record eight years, and then Chief Minister. Other Tehrik Istiqlal alumni included Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri and Javed Hashmi, who moved on to the PTI via the PML-N (though Kasuri also passed through the PML-Q at a time when Hashmi stayed loyal to Mian Nawaz Sharif).

Asghar Khan never did make it to the slot of PM, even though he lived to see Shahid Khaqan Abbasi reach the job. Imran should learn. However, he would be too busy with his latest marriage. As a matter of fact, his wives should be learning. This would be the third woman to marry him on the assumption he would be PM. So far, no one has become a PM’s wife.

The denials of this marriage have been very firm. Yet no one has adduced the strongest argument: the PTI has not held a dharna lately. Of course, Imran might feel that Mian Nawaz’s ouster was enough to justify another marriage, but the event would have some sheen rubbed off by Jahangir Tareen’s disqualification. Is Tareen willing to do at Imran’s wedding what PPP Secretary General Gen (retd) Tikka Khan did at his party chief’s wedding back in 1987: dance. Tikka impressed then, but Tareen probably has better moves…

Another factor is that no one got injured by aerial firing. True, the wedding took place, if it did, on New Year’s Eve, and there were 24 reported injured that night by aerial firing, but that was from Karachi, while the wedding is supposed to have taken place in Lahore. Even in Denver, a cop, the original shooter and two civilians were killed in an attack on the police, and no one was saying that Imran got married there. The PTI has finally admitted to a marriage proposal. No one has mentioned Imran’s proposed sit-in outside the lady’s house until he is accepted.

Imran has got other worries, after the defeat in the first ODI by New Zealand. It should be remembered that Imran won the ODI World Cup, and feels that Pakistan should recall its most successful players. You know who he means.

The New Zealand cricket team is proving a weak link in the chain of the ANZUS alliance, by failing to give Pakistan the victory it needs to let it celebrate in the War on Terror. An even weaker link than US President Donald Trump, whose recent tweet has raised hackles in the Pakistani establishment. He was exercised over Pakistan taking US money while supporting its enemies, and wondering whether it thought its leaders were fools. Of course, he didn’t mention how low he had set the bar. He’s the sort of guy people are tempted to steal the false teeth out of whose mouth while he naps in the Oval Office after lunch. Even his supporters think his IQ is in the low double-digits. His opponents think it’s in the single digits.

Trump’s friends in India, in Jharkand state, were busy. They killed a Muslim labourer who objected to the music they played on the New Year. Music seems to be causing problems. Only last month, carolers in India were arrested by the police. Earlier, in France, there had been an attack on a Paris concert, and then on a concert in Manchester. Seems criticism has gotten more muscular ever since the militants came on the scene.

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