While everyone is focused on the PTI rally in Islamabad on November 30, the PPP Foundation Day on the same day is in danger of slipping under the radar. The PPP has so far decided not to hold a rally, but only a workers’ convention in Lahore, which reflects the shortness of the notice, and gives an idea of how long a lead time is needed for a political success. While any PPP activity on the same day as the PTI rally would be seen as an attempt at distraction from the rally, what about the Jamaat Islami Ijtima-i-Aam? Is it a rival event, or is it preparatory? After all, the lead time would have to be such that it preceded the November 30 date. But whether or not it was preparatory, the coincidence is a happy one for politicians, and so it is an opportunity for the Jamaat leader to whip up the party faithful to turn up in Islamabad on November 30. After all, with the departure of the Pakistan Awami Tehrik, who is supposed to actually sit in? That’s right, the Jamaat’s loyal cadres.

A lot of parties have not got anything scheduled for November 30, whether the PML(N) or the ANP or even the MQM. Of course, PAT might want to return to the sit-in, now that Dr Tahirul Qadri, presumably refreshed after his sojourn abroad, is back in the country after having lived down the odium of having called off his last sit-in without getting the investigation into the Model Town firing started. Well, at least he got the FIR of his choice registered.

Meanwhile, in the lead-up to the rally, Imran held a rally in Larkana, which is a bit like Bilawal holding one in Mianwali. Also, it shows that the PTI is trying to replace the PPP in Sindh. It is already trying in Punjab, where voters are apparently tired of how the PML(N) keeps on winning, and are looking for a party that can beat it. However, now that the PPP is marking the 46th anniversary of its being around, and with Bilawal the first head of the party that can’t remember its foundation, because it happened before he was born, it should not be worried. It will probably see off the PTI.

Meanwhile, perhaps both Jamaat chief Sirajul Haq and Dr Qadri might wish to profit from the example of Rampal Maharaj, the Indian ‘godman’ now in a Haryana jail, who was arrested after a prolonged siege of his ashram by the Haryana police, after he ignored 40 odd summons. Neither Siraj nor Dr Qadri is charged with murder as Rampal is, and neither claims to be a reincarnation of Bhagat Kabir, as he does, but they should notice that he came off second best when he took on the state. However both have seemingly internalized the lesson that even the election of a BJP government does not save Hindu ‘godmen’, and so both are seeking political power for themselves.

It should be made clear that the expected cut in POL prices owes nothing to the sit-in, or any prayers by Siraj or Dr Qadri, or by Rampal Maharaj for that matter. The cut will come because the international prices have fallen. If the prices had risen, would the government have cut prices because of the sit-in? Imran Khan is claiming too much credit.

Thus we shouldn’t be too hasty about crediting the award of the Legion of Merit to COAS Gen Raheel Sharif to the War on Terror, or Operation Zarb-e-Azab. That medal would have gone to any COAS visiting Washington. The PTI has no credit for the medal, and unless it produces positive results on November 30, no one will be pleased.

Still, we should think about what the whole War on Terror thing means. Like the Miss Muslimah contest in Jakarta, which a Tunisian won this year. It’s a rip-off of the Miss Universe idea, which exemplifies the exploitation of women, and has been used to sell cosmetics in regions where the companies weren’t doing too well. Anyway, the Miss Universe seen is a bad one, with Miss Honduras not being able to take part in this year’s contest, not after she and her sister turned up dead after they disappeared just before she was to take a flight to compete. Does that mean that a Miss Muslimah competition will not be considered a true one until the corpse of at least one competitor is found?

I don’t know about beauty pageants, but babies are dying. The number of babies dying at the DHQ Sargodha hit 19 on Sunday, with nobody admitting responsibility. This is worse than the seven who died at the DHQ Vehari recently, which means that a DHQ hospital is probably not the place for a newborn in need of oxygen. True, health is a provincial subject, and the PPP presided over the deaths of 111 children in Thar up to Sunday, but Mian Nawaz Sharif is head of the government of the whole country.

I doubt if children dying in Sargodha were considered by the judges who decided that Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf should be joined by three others in the dock. Well, at least he won’t be lonely. If the trial gets under way, that is. If anyone remembers how General Musharraf holed up in the AFIC, it’s more or less certain that the proposed defendants will not make the arrest easy. One of them, Shaukat Aziz, is out of the country anyway. Another, Zahid Hamid, has resigned from the Nawaz Cabinet, thus ending an anomalous situation. But then, he has the advantage of another Nawaz minister to resign, Murtaza Jatoi, who objected to not having a free hand in his ministry, which is not as good a reason as being on trial for one’s life.