City Notes

I wonder which is worse. The assault on the Swiss couple in Agra, near the Taj, or the assault by wheelchair-bound George Bush Senior of a woman at a recent public appearance. Indeed, he is so old that one of the sons who doesn’t know where to hide is himself an ex-President. His successor, Bill Clinton, is hardly a model of self-control, not having waited to leave the White House before going in for sexual harassment (remember Monica Lewinsky?) One hears that he was approving of the senior Bush’s shenanigans, because it showed that he was not an aberration, but part of a presidential tradition. One wonders what Trump is up to. He was elected President after evidence had come out that he was a habitual predator.

Well, American politics is not the only cesspool, it seems. Right in Hollywood, Harvey Weinstein and the #MeToo movement is proving to be a lid blown off a cover, not a flash in the pan, with director John Toback alleged to have entrapped (and not just harassed) 38 women. Wait for Lollywood to reveal something.

But before Lollywood, Bollywood would come clean. Look at the Swiss couple. The girl had her arm broken, the guy his skull cracked, after a band of thugs, no doubt maddened by eating beef, had attacked them with bricks after their plea to have a selfie taken with the girl was refused. I know selfies are something of a craze, but surely that would be taking things too far.

Just to show that the movement is universal, even the fair name of cricket was besmirched, what with a masseuse accusing former West Indian skipper and opener Chris Gayle of exposing himself during the 2007 World Cup. Wonder what’s next?

Still, West Indies and Australia should not be compared to India. After all, that is the country where a woman was almost casually raped, in Vishakapatnam, by a passerby, after she had gone to sleep there under a tree, after she had run off from home following a quarrel with her husband. The assaulter had the excuse that he was drunk. That defence was apparently not proffered by the father of the child, which died after the rape victim herself a child, had her pregnancy terminated on the orders of the Supreme Court. He was her father’s colleague. But what of a country where cops have been named in rape FIRs, as was the UP cop from whose quarters a seven-year-old was recovered with a telltale medical report. No wonder there were about 20,000 minors reported criminally assaulted in 2015.

Coming back to Bush Senior, he reminds me of Eddie Rickenbacker, the World War I ace and Medal of Honour winner who became Chairman of Eastern Airlines. He became one of FDR’s dollar-a-year men when the USA entered World War II, and was then shot down into the Pacific. He survived with the crew in a dinghy. He kept their spirits up by promising to be arrested for rape when he was 90. He was then 52, and 82 when he died. Bush Senior, who is 93, seems to be living the dream.

One assumes that there are no Weinstein-like reasons behind Amir Liaquat Hussain’s failure to join the PTI. Anyhow, any party that can call Imran Khan’s behaviour his private affair, should be able to swallow anything. So Amir’s not joining must have some other reason. Just as there must have been another reason why Sirdar Zulfikar Ali Khosa did not join the PPP, even after having accepted Co-Chairman Asif Zardari’s invitation. His joining the PPP is something of an inevitability, now that the Legharis have gone so thoroughly into the PML-N that Awais Leghari has become a federal minister.

These manoeuvrings are more a sign that elections are coming, than that of a movement against sexual harassment. Elections have already come to the Czech Republic, where the rightist Andrej Babis’ ANO won the right to form the government. ANO is anti-immigrant, anti-EU, and Babis shares with Ishaq Dar not only serving as his country’s Finance Minister, but also facing corruption charges. The major difference is that Dar worked for billionaires (the Sharif), Babis is himself a billionaire.

They also have had an election in Kenya, for a second time, where Uhuru Kenyatta won again after his August challenger Raila Odinga withdrew. One can see a role for Imran Khan in both elections, leading dharnas.

His party retained the Peshawar national seat in a by-election, which was no surprise. He should have sacked the KPK Chief Minister if the PTI had lost, in fact. By-elections are won by the party forming the provincial government, no matter what the general election result. Of course, this by-election was simplified by not having anything to do with Imran’s getting married.

Imran had to apologise to the Election Commission too, ending that business about his arrest warrant. Someone should have told him that the only defence against a contempt charge is a fulsome and abject apology. Of course, only a court can lay such a charge. So if you think the ECP is not a court, you have to go through what Imran did. Of course, until the ECP does not duly anoint him PM, its neutrality and impartiality cannot be accepted.

Another sign that elections are coming is that the PM is saying there will be 3400 MW surplus electricity this winter. Does that mean snap elections in winter while there isn’t any loadshedding? Well, we’re not far-off from that, are we? There’s already an early-morning nip in the air that might be the only sign we have of autumn.