City Notes

I was interested to see the great outburst of sentiment on Pakistan Day for the armed forces. Republic Day is not a military occasion in origin. It commemorates the passage of a resolution by a political party. A more civilian occasion, a more civilian action, it is difficult to imagine. Unless it is the passage of a constitution, which is why we celebrate it as Republic Day. In fact, we don’t have a parade on Defence Day, September 6, well, not a big one anyway. And we don’t have anything at all on December 16, which marks the greatest anniversary in our military annals, the surrender at Dacca. In fact, the military does its best not to mention it.

Instead, it focuses on the kind of feel-good that this year’s parade generated. Because this parade took place after seven years, we not only had a President who was a first-timer, but also all three chiefs and the Chairman Joint Chiefs. Pakistan also didn’t get the Chinese President to come to the parade, even though US President Barack Obama went to India’s Republic Day parade in January. Instead, we got the Emir of Qatar visiting, though he didn’t come to the parade.

It’s a bit of a coincidence him coming, because the Arab world is in turmoil. However, the Emir must take the view that, whether or not Yemen is exploding, he still has got LNG to sell. The turmoil has upset Pakistan too, because the delegation that Defence Minister Kh Asif was supposed to lead to Saudi Arabia, won’t be going. Well, that’s what they said, but now it seems it will be going, after all.

The delegation wasn’t going because we hadn’t decided to intervene against Yemen. Why not? Well, maybe someone woke up and realized that no one is attacking Saudi Arabia, and the Harmain Sharifain are not in danger. Maybe someone woke up and realized that Pakistan was the only non-Arab country in the coalition that Saudi Arabia was bringing to the fight. And that when the shooting begins, nobody is going to ask whether the colour of the blood of non-Arab Pakistanis is different from that of Arabs. I don’t get the sense that anyone has any qualms about our boys being killed so that Abdur Rabu Mansour can remain President of Yemen or not. I wonder what changed. Perhaps the fate of Pakistanis in Yemen is supposed to matter.

One man who did not live to see what was happening, was Makhdum Ruknuddin, a quiet man, who regularly opposed Makhdum Shahabuddin of the PPP for the National Assembly seat. Makhdum Ruknuddin never held the Fianance Ministry, though Makhdum Shahab had been its Minister of State, and the late Makhdum Altaf Ahmad had been Punjab Minister twice. It was almost as if the Rahimyar Khan village of Mianwali Qureshian, from which all three hailed, being related closely, in fact, had an affinity to that portfolio. The present MNA, Makhdum Khusro Bakhtiar, Makhdum Ruknuddin’s son, would only get a look in if Ishaq Dar became Senate Chairman. But that didn’t happen, and might have to wait till 2018.

Moving back to the attack on PTV during the dharna by the PTI last year, it seems that the recording of a conversation between Imran Khand and Arif Alvi was released only now. That lends credibility to Imran’s claim that the conversation was a splicing together of conversations. Well, he might be right. After all, splicing conversations does take time. True, Imran’s claims do remind me of the PPP claims that President Farooq Leghari had nothing to do with Younus Habib, when the PML(N) (then in opposition) produced a picture of the two together, Leghari with one foot on a table, soft drink in hand. It then said the photo had been faked, and that a lab in Hong Kong had been used. Right.

Imran has also objected to having his calls tapped without his knowledge. He can’t say, as he does about democracy, that we should look at the UK. It seems that the USA has been tapping calls by German Chacellor Angela Merkel, so if the agencies tapped Imran, they’re merely following a Western example. He will need a new ground for complaint. Maybe he will stage a sit-in outside the offices of the only organisations that can do even the tapping he admits happened. But he won’t, because the ISI and the MI are among them, and while he may have a sit-in outside Parliament, he won’t have one in front of any military organization.

Well, the Aussies beat New Zealand. It was expected, and Aussies will continue to say that New Zealand is inhabited by 32 million sheep, of which 2 million think they are human. While New Zealand hardly covered themselves with glory, they did better than Pakistan in 1999, when they were bowled out for 132, by Australia. The match was more or less over by the 32nd over of the Pakistan innings, when Shahid Afridi was out. He’s still around, unlike the next man out, Azhar Mahmood, who’s now chief selector. He replaced Moin Khan, the casino visitor. Australia is a boring winner. So many wins, and not a single future PM!