City Notes

Well, it’s happened at last, and the world hasn’t blown up yet. Donald Trump has been inaugurated as President of the United States. But we shouldn’t be too gleeful that Americans now have to live with that botched dye job that forms his topping. I’m still confused what colour Trump wants his hair to be. If Trump was only the arbiter of the destiny of a large nation, it would be bad enough. But he happens to be the ultimate boss of the world, so the whole world, including Pakistan, cares about the hair of the person really ruling them.

We Pakistanis care more about his hair than Americans, perhaps because we know what happens when the head of government lacks hair on his head. Yes, I mean Mian Nawaz. Well, the one we knew in his first two tenures. He seems to have passed the time in exile getting a hair transplant. And it seems that Mian Shahbaz also took that path to pass away his time in exile. Exile can’t be the excuse of Aleem Khan, nor can imitation of his leader, for Imran has a head of hair that belies his years. Indeed, with a flick of his locks, he still gets the youth vote, and is still in search of a wife.

Imitating leaders might not be a good idea. Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal and Education Minister of State Balighur Rehman are, like Trump, graduates of the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania. So is Miftah Ismail, the PM’s Special Assistant and Board of Investment Chairman. He actually holds a doctorate from there. Interesting, but all have beards, ranging from Miftah’s closely trimmed one to Baligh’s bushy one (he sports what the late, great P.G. Wodehouse called a ‘zareba of hair’). All three beards are greying gracefully. Imagine if their owners decided to imitate their senior’s dye-job, and get reddish-blonde beards instead of white. If they were to imitate Mian Nawaz, then they would get shaves.

You need hair to be US President, with the last one to have an uncovered pate Ike Eisenhower, who was first elected in 1952, 66 years ago. That was the era of the hat. Or in this part of the world, the puggaree. The Quaid-e-Azam had a becoming head of hair, but even he occasionally wore a hat. Ayub Khan also was bald, though he wore a peculiar narrow Jinnah cap. Of course, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had got an uncovered pate. He tried to distract attention away from it, and was helped by his era, which was characterized by long hair, sideburns, broad lapels and flares.

His grandson, Bilawal, has not inherited his hairline. Instead, Bilawal seems to have inherited his father’s luxuriant growth. One wonders if he would take on that hairline if he could also get the popularity he had. One hears the Faisalabad rally was less than an overwhelming success. Back in 1986, before Bilawal was even born, his mother went not to Faisalabad but Toba Tek Singh. That’s the sort of place Bilawal should go to if he hopes to revive his party.

He forms something of a contrast with Mian Nawaz’s sons in his hairline, for they have both got more hair than Mian Nawaz even after his transplant. And the only reward for their filial duty has been to be dragged into court. The whole story, of sons sending money to their father, has provoked disbelief, which I find a little behind times. Our modern reality is that people go abroad, and remit money to their fathers. I find it entirely credible. I think the real question is whether his sons still have their passports, or whether they have burnt them and are now illegal. That’s what all those young men do who then claim they are saving the country by their remittances.

Apart from a non-existent hairline and an appetite for money, another thing that Mian Nawaz has given his sons is heart disease. Mian Nawaz must love his boys, but not only did Mian Nawaz himself undergo a quadruple bypass but his father died of heart disease, and thus he has passed on to them a very strong family history. One thing they should avoid is having any stenting done here.

Perhaps the stent scandal explains why Mian Nawaz had his operation abroad. But maybe that’s what went wrong in the first place. Remember, he first had a stent put in. Maybe it was substandard. With the high price of stents, why assume that the only fraud would happen here. I think it’s wrong to assume that when we go to the West, we can access their health care if we have enough money. All their dodgy doctors and sharp practitioners crowd around foreigners, who can’t afford court cases if they find out what has been done to them.

You know, it’s bad enough charging people incredible sums for stents when you have got them at a fraction of the price. What takes the cake is not implanting even the substandard ones, and thus saving the few thousands it would cost. Imagine going to all the trouble of knocking a patient out, and not putting in a stent because you want to save the price. (You carry out the procedure because you want to prove that you carried it out, and because you know that you can charge heavily for it).