The atmosphere in the conference room was tense. The great NaMo was incensed that the Indian cricket team had lost the final match of the Champions Trophy to arch-enemy Pakistan. Gathered around him were some of his ministers (or “mantris”), with glum faces and somber expressions.

NaMo (to Mantri no. 1): you always said that Pakistan would never win another world cup or trophy. How do you explain their victory, even though they were the team least likely to win, and India’s team was the hot favorite (as well as the current champions)?

Mantri No. 1: we’ve done our best to ensure that Pakistanis remain the outcasts of cricket. For the past few years, we’ve made sure they never played in the IPL, and we also refused to play with them lest they learn how to play well. Somehow they made it to the finals, even though they were number eight, below even Bangladesh. After we arranged the attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore, no team (except Zimbabwe) has visited Pakistan (which we have successfully managed to portray as a country which is teeming with terrorists).

NaMo (to Mantri no. 2): it was your job to arrange bomb blasts inside Pakistan. Why did you ignore their cricket stadiums? You should have got RAW to set fire to all their sports grounds so they wouldn’t be able to play any game, let alone cricket.

Mantri No. 2: I never thought they would bounce back, considering that RAW is carrying out bomb blasts almost every week in that country and our army keeps on firing daily at their civilians across the Line of Control. Yet their morale is high, which is inexplicable. I think it was some kind of black magic which helped them, and this did occur to me when Dhoni held the Pakistani captain’s kid in his arms. That must have something to do with our defeat.

NaMo (to Mantri No. 3): I have a strong feeling that some match fixing is involved. Why was Rameez Raja so confident that the final would be played between Pakistan and India, and that Pakistan would win?

Mantri No. 3: I’m sure no Indian player would take money to play badly.

NaMo: I’m not saying our team took money, it could have been the others, I’m referring to England, Sri Lankans and the South Africans, who lost their matches against the Musslas (I mean Pakistanis). It really hurts, after spending so much money to destabilize Pakistan, we lose to them. I wouldn’t have minded our team losing to the Australians or even Bangladesh, but this is something that will keep me awake for many nights. You have let me down, how will I be able to convince our voters that Pakistan is on the verge of collapse  due to our efforts?

Mantri No. 4: You can always tell the voters that we need another massive demonetization of our currency notes, to make sure that Pakistan is never able to win another cricket match. Indians are so gullible that they will have no choice but to agree.

Dear Murad Ali Shah, do you even know what Sindh’s tax collectors are upto?
By Shakir Lakhani Published: June 19, 2017
In the budget speech Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah noted that the current fiscal year has been a year of phenomenal changes both within and outside the country. PHOTO: APP

It is well known that if you want to get anything done in your province, you have to pay the right people. In most cases, the right people are the ‘baboos’ as they are the ones who can skilfully insert whatever you want in any document knowing that the person who approves it will do so without reading it.
Sometimes, if a baboo is not paid anything or not paid what he wants, he can do the opposite; he can get a tax imposed or increased on a particular commodity or service. This is what seems to have happened in the recently announced Sindh budget. Sindh now has the dubious distinction of being the only province in the country which recovers sales tax from the fledgling Information Technology (IT) services business. Even the federal government has exempted the IT sector from taxes. So what’s the aim of this harassment, do you want to kill the IT business or drive it away to the other provinces? If I were you, I would immediately transfer the baboo or whoever is responsible for this to the remotest corner of the province (where he will not be able to earn the millions he is doing now).

Sir, your recent budget has a deficit of Rs14 billion, which means that your expenditure for the year will be greater than your revenue by that amount. Being the finance minister of the province, you should realise that this deficit should be reduced to the minimum, if not eliminated entirely. I can, however, show you how it’s done, and how your budget can be converted to a surplus budget. I will not charge you anything for my advice. I only request that the extra money be spent to help save the starving people of Thar. And you might consider spending a few billion to clean up Karachi (which contributes 96% of Sindh’s revenue).

You can begin with restaurants. Do you know that there are hundreds of restaurants in Karachi alone whose owners don’t pay sales tax? Those that are registered with the sales tax department pay only a token amount which is a few thousand rupees to the government every year. They can get away with this robbery by bribing your sales tax collection staff heavily. To increase the revenue from such restaurants (many of which serve more than five hundred customers a day), all you have to do is to hire honest people to monitor the sales of these restaurants.
Obviously, you can’t ask your sales tax department personnel to do so, since they are already taking millions from the restaurant owners to look the other way. I suggest that you hire eunuchs who are erroneously called ‘transvestites’ to do the job. They should be persuaded to stop begging, and you can employ them to report how many customers eat daily at the restaurants in the province. This data can be compared with that submitted by the restaurant owners. You will be shocked at the large scale evasion of sales tax, if you don’t know that already. I’m sure the eunuchs will do a better job than Sindh government employees, and the amount recovered as sales tax from restaurants will increase to at least 25 times of what is collected today.

Coming to the most lucrative of them all; the property sector. Of course you must have some idea of the loot and plunder going on in the sale and purchase of property in Karachi. Your predecessor took over the Karachi Building Control Authority (KBCA) and renamed it the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA), so that the taxes recovered from this sector would not be spent on Karachi. Out of the 25 directors in this authority, 21 are working in Karachi.

The price of a 500-square yard plot in Karachi is Rs70 million (equivalent to Rs140, 000 per square yard). However, the value fixed by your government (known as District Collector (DC) value) is only Rs1,980 per square yard. Your government therefore receives only Rs49, 500 as tax and stamp duty instead of Rs3,500,000 (which would have been the tax, if levied on the actual price). So, every time a 500-square yard plot in Karachi changes hands, the government loses Rs3,450,500.

Since hundreds of transactions take place in Karachi every day, the Sindh government loses billions every year. My estimate is Rs500 billion at least, if not more. If the DCs don’t know the actual value of properties, they can visit web sites like, and they will get a good idea of the quantum of taxes the property sector mafia is evading. And if the DCs refuse to levy taxes on the actual property values, you can conclude that they too are in collusion with the mafia and making millions every year.

Sir, if you do what I have suggested, you will be able to change the face of Sindh. Please, for once do the right thing, don’t be afraid of those who will be affected. Stop the loot and plunder, recover the due taxes from these two sectors and soon Sindh will become the richest province in the country.

Engineer, former visiting lecturer at NED Engineering College, industrialist, associated with petroleum/chemical industries for many years. Loves writing, and (in the opinion of most of those who know him), mentally unbalanced. He tweets @shakirlakhani (

Who is Maryam Jinnah?
Ruttie remained till the very end a liberal agnostic who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with her husband in the many progressive and liberal causes he took up for India in his political career

A few years ago I was amused to read in the newspaper that Nazaria Pakistan Workers Trust in Lahore was holding a meeting to commemorate the life of Maryam Jinnah as a model Muslim woman. I was amused because it was the first I had heard of a Maryam Jinnah. Upon further inquiry, it was revealed that she was married to the Quaid-e-Azam and was once known by her Non-Muslim name Rattanbai Petit. The problem: Rattanbai or Ruttie as she was most commonly known as never used the name Maryam. Her Nikahnama stated the name Rattanbai and she always signed her letters as Ruttie.
 Her conversion to Islam was a legal formality at best. The law at the time required that both parties to an inter-communal marriage must either renounce their faith or one of the two parties should convert to the other party's faith. Jinnah being the elected representative of Bombay's Muslims could not afford to renounce his faith. Nor was a conversion to Zoarastrian faith possible. Indeed Jinnah had been arguing against this law in the legislature for at least a decade. He had most notably asked the government in 1912 to override objections of devout Hindus and Muslims to allow inter-communal marriage without such conditions. Still the law remained unchanged and Ruttie's conversion was the only way the marriage would have been possible. By all accounts Ruttie did not adopt the ways of a pious Muslim wife. She continued to dress in fashionable clothes that were considered scandalous even by the British. Lady Wellingdon's famous snub to her for wearing a low cut dress is well known. Jinnah's refusal to have dinner with the Wellingdons is equally well known, leading to the fantastic feud Lord Wellingdon and Jinnah which culminated in Jinnah's famous triumph at the Bombay Town Hall in 1918. According to Stanley Wolpert, whose famous lines on Jinnah's greatness Pakistanis do not tire quoting, Ruttie continued to bring "lovely ham sandwiches" for her husband to his law chamber. Does that sound like good Muslim behaviour to you? The new book by Sheela Reddy called "Mr and Mrs Jinnah" is almost a daily account of the marriage in the backdrop of Indian politics. It shows that Ruttie remained till the very end a liberal agnostic who stood shoulder to shoulder with her husband in the many progressive and liberal causes he took up for India in his political career. Some also argue that had Ruttie not died, Jinnah would have never taken up the cause of Pakistan.

Pakistani propaganda on Partition is wholly dependent on proving that Pakistan was the culmination of the desire of Muslims to establish a purely Islamic order. Being the secular, anglicised lawyer that Jinnah was — he would stick out like a sore thumb in this narrative

What caused Jinnah's conversion to the Muslim cause 1930s onwards remains a subject of intense debate for historians but what is surprising is this attempt by Pakistanis to Islamize poor old Ruttie who died in 1929. Mr. Shakir Lakhani, a writer from Karachi, alerted me to the Wikipedia page on her. It is now titled "Maryam Jinnah". Wikipedia works through published sources as references. Yet there is not a single source cited for the claim that she changed her name to Maryam Jinnah. Still the Wikipedia editor in charge of the page, a Pakistani who goes by the name "Top Gun", stubbornly refuses to rename the page. The argument is that if Cassius Clay was called Muhammad Ali, Ruttie Jinnah should be called Maryam Jinnah. Of course the fact that Ruttie never used the name is immaterial. That there is no source showing that she was given the name Maryam is also immaterial. There is no arguing against the wall of ignorance those years of Pakistan Studies builds in a Pakistani's head. Not only is she christened as Maryam but the Wikipedia page has this mouthful to describe her: 'Rattanbai "Ruttie" Petit Jinnah, born Rattanbai Petit; 20 February 1900 - 20 February 1929), also known by her married name Maryam Jinnah, was the second wife of Muhammad Ali Jinnah-an important figure in the foundation of Pakistan'. Important figure in the foundation of Pakistan indeed; she would be spinning in her grave (which by the way also has the name Rattanbai and not Maryam on it).
Pakistani propaganda on partition -especially since General Zia's regime started its nefarious reconstruction of the Pakistani narrative- is wholly dependent on proving that Pakistan was the culmination of the desire of Muslims to establish a purely Islamic order. The secular Anglicized lawyer that Jinnah was, he would stick out as a sore thumb in this narrative. Therefore he had to be remade also and in the process made into a caricature that hangs on our walls. In 2000s, when General Musharraf's supposedly enlightened and moderate regime was in power, Jinnah's picture in a suit and tie was also removed from the currency and replaced by one in a Sherwani, a dress he donned on a select few occasions. To a certain extent, therefore, Jinnah himself is responsible for this posthumous Islamization he is subjected to. As a politician in the 1940s he did actively canvass votes by appealing to varying notions of Muslim culture and identity, even if his idea of Muslim culture and identity was completely different from that which now is being forced down our throats. But what is Ruttie's fault that she must be dressed up in a Burqah and have her name changed in this fashion?
This is how cultures are moulded by those in power! Gone are the days of Khuda Hafiz in Pakistan and indeed India. Everyone now says "Allah Hafiz". Ramzan becomes Ramadan. Al-Bakistan license plates have grown like wild fire. In India Bombay has become Mumbai, Calcutta Kolkatta, Benaras Varanasi and so on and so forth. Perhaps it is not surprising then that Ruttie Jinnah has been re-imagined as Maryam Jinnah. After all both Pakistan and India, these two post-colonial behemoths, are in a competition to find the lowest possible depths in a mad rush to distort and even erase history- the Swadeshi movement of our times.

The writer is a practising lawyer. He blogs at hhtp:// and his twitter handle is @therealylh

If you want to survive in Pakistan, don’t stop at the red light!
By Shakir Lakhani Published: June 9, 2017

I was surprised to learn that he was a graduate with a degree in law!

A few years back, I stopped at a red light and my car was hit in the rear by a taxi driver. A crowd soon gathered and a traffic policeman came over and blamed me for the accident.

“You’re not supposed to stop at traffic signals, even if the light is red,” he said. “You should slow down, look left and right and go across without getting hit, or hitting another car.”

“But what about the traffic rules?” I protested.
He laughed contemptuously.
“Rules are made to be broken. If everyone followed the rules, the country would collapse.”
By this time, the crowd was baying for my blood. To save myself, I agreed to pay the taxi driver for the damages to his car, and I also paid the cop a hefty bribe.

I saw the same traffic cop again a few days later. I parked my car, and went over to have a little chat with him. I was surprised to learn that he was a graduate with a degree in law! When I asked him why he wasn’t practicing law, he said,
“I do work part time in a lawyer’s office, but they don’t pay much. So I work as a policeman during the day. Here, I earn thousands every month and in a couple of years, I’ll be a millionaire. When one of my cousins in the ruling party becomes a minister, he will get me appointed as a judge.”
This being Pakistan, a traffic cop could very well be employed as a magistrate or a district judge in a few months. After all, we have seen how rowdy and undisciplined most of our lawyers are, and some of them do end up as judges.
So we can very well imagine the traffic policeman-turned judge announcing the following verdicts:
“The income tax department has complained that you have always paid taxes without indulging in any cheating. You have never paid bribes to them, which is expected of every Pakistani. For harassing government employees, I sentence you to five years in jail.”
“You are the only man in your locality who hasn’t got his electric meter rigged to show less consumption. The Electric Linemen’s Association has complained that by not paying their members to rig your meters, you have caused them unnecessary stress, due to which many of them have had to be treated for psychiatric ailments. For this, you will spend two years in jail, besides paying the affected linemen of 10 thousand rupees each.”

“According to the Telephone Department Employees Union, you are the only person in your apartment complex who has never bribed a telephone employee to allow you to make unlimited calls to foreign countries. This is intolerable. Telephone department personnel are also humans; they need money to feed themselves and their 10 children. You are sentenced to 10 years rigorous imprisonment.”
“Your wife has filed charges against you for not beating her at all since your marriage 20 years ago. She even gave you a stick to beat her with as a birthday present but you threw it out of the window. It has always been the custom of your tribesmen to beat their wives every day to prove they are real men. For this mental cruelty suffered by your wife, you have to spend three years in jail.”

“Your neighbours say that you and your wife take long walks together, sometimes holding hands, and this has caused disturbance in your locality. In our society, the wife should always walk 10 paces behind her husband, but you have deliberately flouted this rule, so you and your wife are ordered to leave the country and live where such behaviour is acceptable.”

“You are a danger to society. You stopped at a red light, causing five cars behind you to ram into each other. I have no choice but to order that you should be locked up for the remainder of your life, lest you cause more damage. You will also pay the five motorists for repairs to their cars.”
And what’s the lesson to be learnt from all this? If you want to survive in Pakistan, don’t stop at the red light!

Shakir Lakhani

Engineer, former visiting lecturer at NED Engineering College, industrialist, associated with petroleum/chemical industries for many years. Loves writing, and (in the opinion of most of those who know him), mentally unbalanced. He tweets @shakirlakhani (