In the beginning, they would ask, "Do you know anyone who's had Covid?", and the reply invariably was, "No". A couple of months later, the question would be, "Has anyone in your family contracted Covid?". The answer would be, 'No, not in my family, but a couple of my friends have had it". And then, "Has anyone related to you died of Covid?". Again, the answer would be, "No, but some acquaintances of mine have died of it". Now, Covid has killed someone in almost every family I know, including mine (although the victim was distantly related to me).

A doctor who last treated me expired yesterday. He was the last person you'd expect to be a victim. He used to get up early (he was an ex-army captain) and jog in the park, he was always optimistic about the future, and he was perhaps the healthiest man I knew.When I last visited him, he said I was very healthy for a Pakistani aged 75. Of course, I wouldn't have been so healthy if I hadn't been taking the 14 pills daily for hypertension and asthma-related symptoms. Not yet 70, the poor man got the virus probably from one of his patients, suffered for a month, then died. 

Now that there are many vaccines to prevent the spread of the disease, I wonder if the virus will mutate and become stronger. We've had the flu vaccine for years now, yet many people die of flu every year in the U.S. Probably this corona virus will be resistant to the vaccines and will go on killing in the years to come.

Most of my countrymen believe that Pakistan is the only country with rampant corruption, but we saw how corrupt Americans are during the tenure of Donald Trump. In our own case, the so-called Mr. Clean ("Sadiq and Ameen") Imran Khan has been caught with his pants down. Of course we know that he is supported by the corrupt establishment and the judiciary, which is why the six-year old case of foreign funding against his party has still not been decided. Mr. Clean recently claimed that he cannot be blamed because the foreign funds were collected by his American agent and dispatched to his party's bank account, but he doesn't explain why there were so many party accounts which he didn't declare to the authorities. It's clear as daylight that he was corrupt from day one.

The French government is investigating what is known as the "Karachi affair". In 2002, eleven French engineers were killed in a bomb blast, which also caused the New Zealand cricket team to flee from the country in the middle of a test match. It was thought at the time that religious terrorists had blown up the bus carrying the engineers, but it seems that someone else did it. The reason for the attack was that the French government had ordered its people to stop paying bribes to Pakistanis who gave the contract for building submarines. So the bombing was apparently planned and executed by the people who were taking commissions from the French, who are apparently not interested in who carried out the bombing, but who paid the bribes. Six have already been convicted, and today the trial of former prime minister Balladur is beginning.

Of course, we'll never know who carried out the attack, as our government (like the ones that preceded it) would never share such details with the general public. 


Imran Khan (Im the Dim, as they reportedly called him in Oxford) seems to be under a perpetual curse. Everything he's done or said has come back to haunt him. He struggled for 22 years to get the coveted job of prime minister, and blamed the previous government for being inefficient and corrupt. But during his first two and a half years as prime minister, it's his own government that has been caught looting the public.


He said (when in opposition) that when petrol or utility prices are increased, the extra money goes into the pockets of ministers. In January, he has already raised the prices of petrol and fuel, as well as gas and electricity. Should we not say that he and his ministers are pocketing the extra money?

Yesterday, PIA's airplane was seized by Malaysian authorities for not paying rental to the owner. As expected, the previous government was blamed, although our relations with Malaysia have vastly improved, as claimed. Naturally, Imran Khan said, "There is a Malaysian Nawaz Sharif who has done this". This kind of thing would never have happened in the tenure of the previous government, however corrupt it may have been.

The Broadsheet scandal could be the final nail in the coffin for Imran Khan, just as Panama was for Nawaz. His minister was caught asking for a cut from Broadsheet owner (more than a hundred billion rupees). 

The foreign funding case (which had been stalled by the Election Commission for seven years) is to be settled soon, and Imran Khan knows that he can be disqualified (if the establishment doesn't go all out to pressurize the ECP to rule otherwise. So he found a unique solution: he said there had been foreign funding, but he wasn't responsible for it, his foreign agent was. I suppose he will blame the rampant inflation on Hafeez Shaikh.

He did not go to condole with the Hazaras when they asked him to do so. He even called them "blackmailers", probably he was under a spell at the time. 

His Water minister Faisal Vawda's perjury has been under investigation for over a year, without the ECP giving a ruling. It's now being investigated by the courts, and it won't be long before he is convicted. 

The previous prime minister (Shahid Khaqan Abbasi) was charged with paying an exorbitant price for LNG, yet it is Imran Khan's government that failed to order LNG in time, and has had to buy it at the highest ever price. But of course NAB will not charge anyone in his government for the loss to the country.

This government has been the most inept and inefficient one in our history. There's no doubt, Imran Khan is under a curse. 



January 13, 2021

Amnesty schemes

According to a news report, Prime Minister Imran Khan regretted that only two million people in a country of 220 million paid taxes. I would like to point out that this is not surprising, as every government (including his own) has periodically offered amnesty to tax evaders.

 Despite his vehement opposition to tax amnesties before assuming power, Imran Khan recently offered amnesty to the construction sector.

Shakir Lakhani

Karachi

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/773247-amnesty-schemes 

The country went through a complete, paralyzing power blackout at midnight yesterday for up to fifteen hours and as expected, the inept and corrupt PTI government blamed Nawaz Sharif for it. 

Of course, there have been massive power breakdowns before, but none so big as this one. Nawaz Sharif did a good job increasing the generation capacity, as Imran Khan's cronies acknowledge. But to say that he did not improve the transmission capacity is wrong. How do they explain that for the past two and a half years, there had been no blackouts? It seems that Imran Khan has told his ministers to blame the previous government for his failures. I won't be surprised if they say that Nawaz Sharif is also responsible for Imran Khan not having any kids from his second and third wives!

I sometimes wonder if this corona virus hasn't struck Imran Khan without him being aware of it. How else do you explain the stupid things he's said recently, like alleging that the Hazaras wanted to blackmail him? Of course, he did backtrack when they asked him to explain, but that was only expected. He said he meant that the blackmailers were the opposition leaders who visited the Hazaras to condole with them. Only die hard youthias were convinced, the rest of the country knows that this is is real face. He doesn't feel any sympathy for the murder victims, because he doesn't want to lose his vote bank (most of whom are anti-Shia). Remember, he was once called Taleban Khan due to his sympathy for the terrorists.

So, as Imran Khan and his minions continue to blunder, his end gets nearer and one day he will get up in the morning and find that he's no longer the prime minister. In fact, when they woke him up when his plane landed in Quetta yesterday, he asked, "Where have you brought me? Where are you taking me?" He must have been having a nightmare about being arrested and being taken to Adiala jail.

The word "youthia" is used to describe those who blindly follow Imran Khan. It's not surprising that they don't like this word, because it rhymes with an Urdu/Hindi word beginning with "ch" that is used to describe very stupid boys and men. It's probably the most frequently used word in Karachi, where plenty of "ch....ias" work in offices and factories. 

Recent events have proved (although I've been saying it for a long time) that Imran Khan is perhaps the biggest youthia in the country. In opposition he made many wild claims, including the one that inflation is due to the corruption of the rulers (Nawaz Sharif and Zardari). "Every time the price of petrol is raised, you can be sure the extra amount is going into the pockets of the leaders", he said. 

In fact, he even castigated Zardari for not visiting the Hazaras when they were subjected to the many massacres they have endured. And at that time he told the Hazaras, "When I come into power, I'll go after your killers and have them arrested in a couple of days".

So today, in response to the Hazara's stand that they will not bury the bodies of the victims unless Imran Khan visits them, how else could this "great youthia" respond? "They're blackmailing me", he whines. "I'll go to them as soon as they bury the victims". I suspect that he was advised to say this by none other than Her Holiness (his spiritualist wife). 

As expected, Shias throughout the country are holding demos against Imran Khan in all major cities. In Karachi, six motorcycles were set on fire today, and more riots are expected. This will surely hasten the downfall of the puppet prime minister.

I am glad Imran Khan is in trouble today. I can only say, "He asked for it!"

 I sometimes feel sorry for Imran Khan. Ever since his "selection" as prime minister, he has been facing one crisis after another. He is undoubtedly the most unpopular man in the country today, chiefly due to his failure to control inflation and his frequent U-turns.

When some Hazara people were killed in the days Zardari was president, he forcefully blamed the PPP for failure to maintain law and order. Today, after another massacre of the Hazaras, he is in a tight spot, because the relatives of the victims have said they will not bury the bodies until Imran Khan comes to them and assures them of justice. 

Even if Imran does visit them, I doubt if the killing of Hazaras and other Shias will stop. In all major cities, Shias are demonstrating and Karachi is virtually paralyzed. I won't be surprised if this unity among Shias compels Imran Khan to resign (as demanded by the opposition). He has himself admitted that he was incompetent (as if we didn't know already). He knows that the law and order situation in the country is bad due to his interference in matters which should not concern him. After appointing and removing many senior police officers, it was inevitable that there would be insecurity in the police and their performance would suffer. 

As for visiting the poor Hazaras, it won't be soon. The date will be decided by Her Holiness after studying after she has studied the horoscopes of Imran and the leaders of the Hazaras. Or maybe she'll consult the djinns that frequent her house at all hours of the night. 

I'm sure Imran Khan must be regretting the day he decided to enter politics. Serves him right.

 Every time an incident happens that reminds me of what happened in 1971, I wonder why Pakistan is so different from India. Remember, it started with the Kashmir dispute (with India going to the UN), but it developed into a secessionist movement in East Pakistan, resulting in the disintegration of the country. Now the same thing is happening in Baluchistan, and one can't help wondering if we're headed for another break-up of the country.

India has been lucky in that it has always been under civilian rule. In Pakistan, the generals were never comfortable with taking orders from the civilian leadership, although Jinnah had told them to do so.The result of course has been years of mismanagement and misrule, but the tragedy is that the establishment hasn't learnt any lessons from it.

Today eleven coal-mine workers in Baluchistan were shot dead in cold blood, in another of several such incidents. By interfering in politics, those who are the real rulers in the country are making a huge mistake. The country has enough problems without rigging of elections and having nincompoops appointed to rule over us. The sooner this hybrid regime is removed and transparent elections are held, the better it will be for the country.  

The generals should learn from India and Bangladesh. Their leadership brooks no interference in civilian matters and their armies obey the civilian leaderships without question. The army is meant  to defend the frontiers of the country, and to aid the civilian leadership only to maintain law and order when called upon to do so. Let's hope this lesson is learnt before it's too late.

On the last day of 2020, let's see what happened during the year and how it affected us.

The year will forever be known as the year of the virus. Pakistanis learnt a new word (SOP's) without knowing what the three letters denote. Not that it matters, most of them didn't wear masks or maintain a distance from others. They washed the bodies of those who died of Covid, they embraced those who had just returned from attending the huge Tableeghi Jamaat gathering, they attended wedding dinners, shaking hands and kissing their relatives. The result is that thousands got contaminated, and anyone can see that the figures given out by the government aren't true. Like the fudged census results, the virus casualties are also concealed, just to make Imran Khan bask in the praise meted out by foreign media.

Talking of Imran Khan, he was one of the few who didn't get affected by the virus. Many of his ministers and advisors had to go under quarantine, but he was lucky, considering that his better half loves to go to shrines and pray to the dead saints buried there. 

One thing we learnt is that nothing changed for the better in the country. Inflation continued unabated, with an egg costing twenty five rupees and the price of practically every edible item doubling over the past year. 

There was no accountability of those who support Imran Khan, while those opposed to him were jailed without charges. Pakistan is perhaps the only country in the world where a media mogul was incarcerated for eight months without trial. 

The aviation minister continues to be free, despite getting PIA banned from going to Europe. He still maintains that he did nothing wrong, even though the apex court and even government functionaries have said he was at fault. Faisal Vawda continues to bluster and brag, knowing that our "independent" judiciary will continue postponing hearings.

Even though Imran Khan knows who became rich in the sugar, wheat and other scandals, no one has been charged, probably because the guilty ones are his supporters. And if he stays in power, you can be sure prices of edibles will double again, turning another twenty million into beggars.

Of course, Trump played an important part. We should be grateful to him for letting us see the other side of America. We had no idea of how corrupt American politicians are. And the way he has refused to concede defeat proves that he's worse than Pakistani leaders. 

Let's hope that we are able to escape being "bitten by the virus" (as Punjab's CM Buzdar would say) before getting the vaccine.

I had been thinking about Usman Vakil yesterday for no particular reason. And today I received a call from a mutual friend who told me that Usman had succumbed to the virus. In 1996 I had a similar experience. I had been thinking of another man, someone much older than me, and before the day was over, I heard that he had died suddenly. Perhaps it's one of those supernatural incidents one reads about. The one I'll never forget is the sudden and overwhelming feeling I got that Indira Gandhi was dead. After a few minutes I switched on the car radio and heard that she had been shot. I was so shocked that I had stopped the car for a few minutes, wondering if I'd really heard it. 

Usman had been with me in college for six years, and the one thing that made him stand out from others was his ambition. Of course, in a way all engineering students were ambitious but he somehow knew that he would reach the top. He went to the U.S. and worked for a time in a menial job (filling petrol in cars) until a rich man gave him a managerial job in his firm. After that, Usman took over the firm and became very rich. He persuaded all his brothers and relatives to settle in the U.S., employing most of them in his factory. He married the daughter of a rich industrialist whose son was married to my cousin. That marriage ended in tragedy when my cousin died of burns sustained while she was pouring petrol into the tank of a running generator.

So Covid has struck again, and will continue to do so until everyone is vaccinated, which could take many years.