I’m on the last leg of my pilgrimage, being now in Madina. And I cannot forget the words of the instructor at the training camp I attended: “Makkah is a journey of insistence, of pleading. But Madina is a journey of respect.”

Madina is also a Haram, made one by the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) from Makkah. Makkah’s having been a Haram, a sanctuary where worshippers are safe from acts of private vengeance, was ancient history in the time Madina became one; but Madina’s being one is something barely 1400 years old. And there must be some significance that the first blood spilt in the precincts of the Kaaba, in the Haram of Makkah, after Islam, was that of Abdullah ibn Zubair, Madina-born of Meccan parents.

He had been born after the Emigration, which is what I and other pilgrims repeated, even though it is not part of the Hajj. But for those of us from afar, this journey is a must. Not just because it gives us the opportunity of saying salaam to him, but because this is a once-in-a-lifetime journey.

However, this has been a very international experience. I’ve seen Black Africans in Malaysian caps, which are exceedingly colourful. Malaysians, and Indonesians, are probably the Japanese of the Muslim world, because an inordinate number seems bent on capturing key (and even not-so-key) moments on smartphones, either as photos or videos.

In other parts of the world, India deftly managed to move the debate away from the blinding of people in Kashmir to whether Pakistan was behind the attack on the Indian Army’s brigade HQ in Uri. This led to a war scare, until India seems to have realized that its own military wasn’t really ready, and that Pakistan was able to give a befitting response to an attack by it.

The war scare happened when Pakistan had hotfooted delegations to the world’s capitals to point out the Indian atrocities in the Valley, or when the UN General Assembly was to be addressed by Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif. Well, the Indian posturing didn’t stop Mian Nawaz from telling it like it is.

It was interesting that the PTI’s Imran Khan found the speech ‘balanced’. There are circles which insist the UN speech was not meant so much for the General Assembly, as for the Army, which is also accused of being Imran’s backer. Imran is building up towards his Panama Leaks march on Raiwind, where Mian Nawaz and MianShehbaz both live, and have a dharna. Now the dharna date has been announced, this 30th, and if the PTI has readied a bala force, the PML(N) has a danda force. This leaves the police in the middle, thoroughly confused, because they’re used to being the only ones having the force.

Imran may well find he has no choice but to hold the dharna, because the dharna is essential to his getting married. Fellow fast bowler Muhammad Amir got wed recently, presumably much to Imran’s chagrin, with his in-laws apparently having overcome their objections to Amir’s being an ex-con. Indeed, they probably see it as a distinction. I mean, how many of us can claim to have been imprisoned in  British jail As a matter of fact, maybe Imran could claim that Oxford is a British jail.

I don’t know if Oxford is a jail or not, but London Polytechnic isn’t, with its old student, Jeremy Corbyn, re-elected Labour leader, thus making him virtually the only major British party leader to survive Brexit, unless one counts Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish Nationalist Party.

The Modi government hasn’t just blamed Pakistan for the Uri attacks, but it has also merged the Railways Budget into the General Budget. From next year. For Pakistanis, that’s not so much a big deal as a big yawn, because our railways budget has not been presented separately for a long time. True, the Railways Ministry has been a step on the path to the Prime Ministership (at least in the cases of Muhammad Khan Junejo and Yousaf Reza Gilani), but that is probably not the path being contemplated by the current incumbent, KhSaadRafiq.

Of course, the railway budget is not all that Modi is going to exercise his mind about. There’s also Baloch rebel BrahmdaghBugti’s asylum application. That could be blamed on terrorism, couldn’t it? Like the bomber who was captured after injuring several policemen in the New Jersey area.

He was taken alive, but the man whose killing caused the protests in Charlotte, North Carolina, wasn’t. He was a black, and the local Congressman saidthe protesters hated white people for their success. Sounds like George W. Bush saying that terrorists hated Americans for their freedoms, which was his first explanation for 911. That the Americans didn’t have anything to do with it is amply proven by how Aleppo is being bombed.

But perhaps more important for most Americans is the fact that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, once known as ‘Brangelina’, are getting divorced. Expect a spate of divorces as fans in Bollywood and Lollywood follow suit.