City Notes

It has been with great restraint that former Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who these days is hosting Islamabad’s political Jirga, dealt with the way he was treated on a PIA flight, when irate passengers took their anger at being held up for a ‘technical fault’ on him. That was clearly an effort to sabotage the PTI-government talks. Senator Malik was using the familiar privilege of making the plane wait for him when the passengers revolted, showing that people will get out of hand if given half a chance, and the harmful effects of the sit-ins, when people don’t recognize that some people deserve different treatment.

Getting on planes late is not just a political thing, but a police thing. The Interior Minister is in charge of all police forces, including the ASF, and policemen make sure he is not bound by such restraints as reporting times. But Malik has previously been FIA Director, which is when he must have developed the habit. Still, that might explain him, but what about Ramesh Kumar Vankani? I don’t think he was ever in the police. I wonder if he was the token PML(N) MNA meant to prevent Rehman Malik claiming political victimization. Still, that didn’t stop the cry of anti-minority discrimination going up. In that case, what price Rehman Malik? Which minority does he belong to?

Anyhow, the political Jirga did not make any statement about making PIA flights wait, even though it was almost deprived of Senator Malik’s services because of that. Instead it said the government must release arrested PTI and PAT workers. That means it wouldn’t arrest Imran Khan, who went and released arrested PTI workers by a raid. He shouldn’t have taken the risk: that’s how police encounters are staged. You know, people with guns come to release their arrested companion, who is then duly killed in the crossfire with the police. Now we don’t want anything to happen to Imran, do we?

A nephew-in-law (in fact, my wife’s only nephew-in-law), in the city for a wedding, revealed why the sit-ins have failed. The protestors may have made the atmosphere around themselves noisome. But they haven’t made Islamabad impossible to live in.

That might explain why flood affectees near Sher Shah, in Multan district, raised slogans against Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif. It seems flood affectees have been infected by Imran’s propaganda, that the floods are his fault. How? Well, the PTI has never been bound by the dictates of ordinary logic. That would not be true freedom, to be a slave of anything, even common sense. Perhaps that’s why Imran released those workers. The police had affected their Azadi by arresting them.

I don’t suppose affectees raised slogans against Bilawal Bhutto Zardari when he visited them, but he manfully waded through flood-waters in Chiniot, thereby paying a lefthanded compliment to Mian Shehbaz Sharif. Of course, Bilawal, being a bachelor, had it easier than Mian Shehbaz. No one to tell him of the ruin to the carpets caused by all of that dirty floodwater he was tracking in. But something tells me that Mian Shehbaz and Bilawal have both rediscovered the simple pleasures of boyhood, like splashing in puddles. And what is Punjab but one great puddle?

Why do I get the feeling that Bilawal might be fleeing the flood? I mean, he came to Punjab when the flood entered Sindh, though he’s back there now. It isn’t over in Punjab, not by a long shot. And the price of sacrificial animals will go through the roof this Eid. Now we know why flood affectees insisted on hanging on to their animals. No one would claim it’s still hot, but there is a gradual cooling down. No bobble hats, jackets or such like, but still, it’s possible to see winter coming. No one would claim that autumn is upon us, but none would deny that it’s very far. It’s a little like Scottish independence. After Thursday’s referendum, no one would claim it’s upon us, but it is still the elephant in the room. There’s also the tension in the Ukraine, where the pro-Russian separatists show another face of nationalism. And is it just a coincidence that MQM chief Altaf Hussain has raised a stir by calling for new provinces, or has he got an idea from his surroundings?

Maybe the Kashmir-American Council has a better idea. It will be holding a candlelight vigil when Indian PM Narendra Modi meets US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the UN Summit. Someone should send former Jamat Islami Amir Munawar Hasan, whois an expert at candlelight vigils. Remember the one he held at Mansoora when Morsi was overthown in Egypt? I don’t know if he held one for the dean of Karachi University’s Islamic Studies Department, Dr Shakeel Auj. Somehow, I doubt it.