Whenever there is a hung parliament, I am reminded of the advice to bureaucrats: “When in doubt, mumble.” Well, the Pakistani electorate has mumbled. That did not stop the Tehrik Insaf celebrating, with party workers showing off the special dance steps they had been saving up for just this occasion.
We didn’t have a totally peaceful election, what with the blast in Quetta claiming 31 lives. Still, there was none of the more usual crossfire somewhere in the boondocks of rural Punjab. However, not even their worst opponents accused PTI workers of celebrating the deaths in Quetta. They were celebrating the coming to power of Imran Khan. His journey has been a long one, starting with a ball hitting fellow pacer Asif Masood on the knee at leg-slip, back in 1971 at Edgbaston, in a match better known because Zaheer Abbas made 274 as Pakistan piled up 608-7 declared.
Perhaps something of his style of governance can be seen from the fact that there will be four by-elections because of him. I wonder if the vacated seats will be used to elect Zulfiqar Bokhari? I think a more useful candidate would be Naeemul Haque. He could then be inducted into the Federal Cabinet as Interior Minister. Or is only Imran supposed to beat up the bad guys? Since the PTI won, I’ve heard that Daniyal Aziz has gone into hiding. It would be nice if Naeemul Haque could be given the Privatisation portfolio, thus making it the first time that one minister has been slapped on television by his successor.
That wouldn’t be the first we’ve had, though. Imran is. He’s certainly the first Pakistani PM to have first captained a national team. The first Prime Ministers of Pakistan couldn’t have captained Pakistani teams, for they were Indians when of an age to play. And Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Muhammad Khan Junejo, Benazir Bhutto, Mian Nawaz Sharif, Yousaf Reza Gilani, Raja Pervez Ashraf and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi never won sporting laurels. The only previous sporting luminary we have had as PM was Zafarullah Khan Jamali, who played hockey for the Punjab University. Incidentally, he too is in the PTI. Are we about to learn of previous sporting glory. Who knows? Maybe Aleem Khan once played pingpong for Pakistan, and maybe Fawad Chaudhry is a former miler, while maybe Naeemul Haque’s event was the javelin throw. Jehangir Tareen might well have played squash in his salad days, while Khurshid Kasuri may have been dab hand at chess.
While Imran was providing Pakistan with one first, the Sharif brother’s mother, Shamim Akhtar, almost provided another. That she’s still around is good news for both her sons. She’s seen one son pass away, her youngest, and she’s seen her eldest go to jail. Well, she had also seen him Prime Minister, but now she’s reached an age where she goes to vote on a wheelchair, or if carried in to vote, and that makes news. If her son Shehbaz had carried her in to vote…. That would have been something.
Of course, she might get to see her grandson elected Chief Minister of Punjab, the third in the family to hold the job. Of course, she might instead see the PTI’s Fawad Chaudhry or Yasmeen Rashid hold the job. It will be interesting to see if she is indeed Imran Khan’s selection for the job.
Imran will have many slots to fill, but two will be a true test of his mettle. One is the Presidency. The other is PCB Chairman. Actually, he could do worse than retain the incumbent in the latter, provided his wife (a newly elected independent MPA) promises to support his Punjab CM candidate. For the former, it should be a tie between Sh Rashid and Shah Mahmood Qureshi. The latter would be a good choice, for his late father was Punjab Governor back in the day.
Still, the PTI win wasn’t enough to lead to the protests in Maharashtra over job reservations, which have led to three deaths so far, when men committed suicide to demand OTHER Backward Caste status for Marathas, and a quota for admissions and government jobs. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is himself an OBC teli, in his native Gujarat, but he was busy whizzing around Africa after attending the BRICS summit in Johannesburg.
He was doing backward things, right enough. He was addressing the Ugandan Parliament in Kampala, congratulating it for letting Asians back in after expelling them four decades ago. Earlier, he had been in Rwanda, giving its farmers 200 cows. Funny, nobody raps him on the knuckles for exporting Indian cows, even though they seem to be willing enough to kill Muslims even if they’re merely suspected of doing that.
Presumably he also told the farmers to protect the cows at all costs. Not necessarily the best gift for a country which went through so much tribal violence. Anywhere from 500,000 to 1,000,000 Rwandans were killed over a 100-day period in 1994 in Tutsi-Hutu violence. And nobody was dedicated to protecting cows. Then.
Speaking of Africa, maybe Imran should look at it more closely. It was about Africa that British PM Harold MacMillan said in 1960 that ‘a wind of change is blowing through this continent.’ He was talking about British decolonisation. Now, it seems, Modi has announced that India will open 17 new embassies in three years, adding to the 29 it has now. That will still be less than the 50 China already has. Even though Afghanistan has not yet been settled, it seems the Great Game has shifted, and has new players. Well, Imran should start playing if Pakistan is to hold up its head in the comity of nations.