Parliament passed a Gas Infrastructure Development Cess, while the Shadbagh fire killed four children. The fire was caused by a short circuit, but questions over the response of the Fire Brigade, or why there was a short circuit at all, will not be addressed by the new Cess, even if its proceeds are spent on its stated purpose, developing gas infrastructure, instead of its intended use, plugging the holes in the Federal Budget. Actually, if it did plug those holes, it would be tolerable, but there is no way those holes could be plugged under the financial system as it is. Not with legislators thinking they have inherited the taxpayers’ money. Actually, they’re quite careful with inheritances. But taxpayers’ money they seem to think is meant to be wasted.

They would need a degree in Finance to handle the public’s money, and that they don’t have, not even from Axact, which is accused of selling degrees. Its offices were raided by the FIA, after an American paper reported it. The FIA doesn’t seem to have sent in any fat DSPs, who extract confessions to stealing any missing buffaloes in a jiffy, not to mention the dacoities in any given district since Partition. On the other hand, the FIA staff sent in are walking out with doctorates, presumably in buffalo husbandry. The former DG FIA, Rehman Malik, is reportedly checking his honorary doctorate from Karachi University, to see if it’s real. Axact, it seems, will have a hard time continuing its glorious subversion of the degree system.

That is the view that degrees are pieces of paper that, if they are the right ones, will lead to the right job, with learning seen as a byproduct of a degree. Now if one could get a degree without learning anything… That was the dream that Axact served. True, none of the degrees were sold in Pakistan. Probably because the degrees were not recognized by the HEC.

Muhammad Morsi also had a doctorate, in nuclear engineering, and not from an Axact university, but that didn’t stop him from getting a death sentence from an Egyptian military court. Apparently an ideal opportunity for Syed Munawar Hasan to hold another candlelight vigil, but now that he is no longer Jamaat Islami Amir, it seems Morsi doesn’t count. As for his being a nuclear engineer, well, the Foreign Office has come out with the gem that ‘The nuclear programme is for self-defence.’ It doesn’t match the 1989 statement by Nusrat Bhutto, then Senior Minister, that any Pakistani nuke would be for peaceful purposes, but it comes pretty close.

In a figurative nuclear blast, the Modeltown shooting’s JIT report not only said the Chief Minister was innocent, but that so were the police officers in the chain of command. Of course, the Pakistan Awami Tehrik would probably have only been satisfied if the JIT too had gnashed its teeth and said that he was on the spot, rifle in hand. Still, this is a country where a former Prime Minister was murdered, but no autopsy on her body was conducted. If ever there is a trial, the defence could claim she may not have been murdered at all. If the defence conceded her death, which it need not, it could postulate a death by heart attack. And without an autopsy, who could deny it?

Well, her killers were never caught, but the Sindh government has arrested the militants accused of the Safoora Goth massacre, as well as the killing of NGO activist Sabeen Mahmood. In neither case, nor in that of the other crimes the gang is accused of, is there a buffalo motif, which makes one feel the police is hopeful of a suitable gift from the accused’s heirs to prepare a weak case. The gang arrested seems educated enough, which indicates you don’t have to go to a madressa to become an extremist. You can go to IBA, Karachi. You can either kill Ismailis or become Prime Minister, as IBA alumnus Shaukat Aziz did.

Well, it isn’t all bad news for Mian Nawaz. There was the win in the PP-196 by-election. Presumably, the PTI and Imran Khan would claim that it was rigged, or else they would have won. Someone should be careful, because that claim is now not being made by the PPP. That claim is the basis of the sit-in and the Judicial Commission; that the PTI could not lose, and loss itself was proof of rigging.

Meanwhile, there has been a blast in Saudi Arabia, in a Shia mosque. That comes after a claim that the Rohingya boat people are actually Bangladeshis, not fleeing from statelessness but economic migrants. I suppose it would be wrong to point out that the Burmese Air Chief has been visiting Pakistan.

How can we forget probably the most important of all events, the resumption of international cricket in Pakistan? True, it was only Zimbabwe, and though the police terrorized the whole city, all Zimbabweans, including the guy from Muzaffargarh, survived. Pakistan duly beat them blue, and the militants didn’t bother to do their stuff. The first wicketkeeper I’ve ever seen wearing glasses. It seems that in Zimbabwe, to keep wickets, you have to do something spectacular. Like wear glasses, or your trousers outside your pads, as Tatenda Taibu did. You know, also the only keeper who took wickets.