Anyone could have foreseen that this would happen. A Chinese dentist and his wife were seriously injured and their assistant (also Chinese) was killed in Karachi yesterday. Obviously they were targeted by Baloch separatists who have reportedly shot down two helicopters recently. The injured dentist is the brother of another Chinese dentist who used to be my neighbor until 2009 when I lived in Clifton. The brother Anthony Hu has his own clinic near my office in Clifton. For many years I and my wife used to be his patients. He has Pakistani nationality and speaks good Urdu.

Karachi has had Chinese dentists for more than a hundred years now. In fact, I don't think there were dentists of any other ethnicity or nationality in the 1950s. There was an expensive Chinese dentist with an office in the Excelsior Hotel when I was in my teens (in the 1960s). His son Mervyn Hussain is also a dentist. He's a very good writer but for some reason he hasn't written much in recent months. I'm not sure but I believe Adrian Hussain is his brother. He too is a good writer and now writes a weekly column in DAWN.

I can't understand why the police were not able to anticipate the attack on the Chinese couple. Their clinic is in perhaps the most crowded area of Karachi (Saddar) where it's easy for anyone to kill and disappear in the adjoining streets. They should have advised the dentist to employ security guards. But I don't think our agencies are competent and I doubt if they'll be able to find the killer.

It's been a very long time since I visited Jodia Bazaar, the locality where I spent my early year (1947-1956). I want to go there but the place is full of street criminals who wouldn't think twice before shooting you to get your cell phone and wallet.

It was a very different world then, without the modern amenities that we can't live without. I remember the time when my father bought a portable fan. It was imported, probably from England, made of cast iron, and I happened to drop and break it, getting a thrashing from my dad.

There were no telephones. The first time a phone was installed in my father's office, I and my cousins (along with a couple of visiting relatives from India) walked past the office to go to a telephone booth to talk to my father and uncle (his elder brother and partner). My father later asked me, "Why did all of you walk to the booth, when you could easily have come to the office and given the message? I told him "Just to know how it felt to talk on the phone". For many years getting a telephone installed in one's home would take many years.

Ours was the only family in the whole building that had an automobile. It was a large used Morris (1942 model), and cost Rs. 3,000 (a princely amount in those days). The day it was bought, I went to the balcony with my parents to look at it (it was parked in the street below).

Our apartment was on the top floor and very cool. The air was pure and the only smoke was from the wooden stove owned by a woman on the ground floor (wood being much cheaper than coal in those days). There was no gas and the electricity would go off around sunset (I think it was due to the shortage of fuel caused by the Korean war).

I could go on and on. Suffice it to say that it was a beautiful world in those days, although by today's standards we were very poor.



I've often wondered how Saqib Nisar got to be the chief justice of the country. He never practiced law in his life, he was an employee in the law department of the federal government and he was the worst chief justice the country has had.

I remember when he refused to say the word "Hindu" in a speech. Perhaps he sensed that he had said something wrong, for he later turned his attention to the preservation of an ancient Hindu temple in Chakwal. He obviously thought all Indians are Hindus, so he banned Indian advertisements on the national TV. I'm not sure, but I think he also got online Indian newspapers banned.

Then he (along with other judges) got Imran Khan declared "Sadiq and Ameen" (meaning upright and honest), even though even a layman like me knew that Imran Khan was dishonest and corrupt. He then got Nawaz Sharif disqualified for life because the latter didn't declare to the Election Commission a salary that he didn't receive from his son's offshore company.

As if all this wasn't enough, he started a campaign to collect funds for building dams in the country (at that time, construction of the Diamer Bhasha dam was due to begin). Saqib Nisar obviously thought he'd be able to collect ten billion dollars in a few days (like most Pakistanis, he didn't know how many zeroes there are in a billion). He also didn't know the chemical formula for water, saying that it is H2Zero.

Many people were forced to donate to the dam fund, among them bank employees and others like them. A huge amount was spent on advertising, and a total of 40 million dollars was collected, but the amount spent on advertisements was 60 million dollars. 

The Public Accounts Committee summoned the ex-CJP to explain the reason for this, but he refused to appear. Saqib Nisar should be tried and convicted for this scam, but as he's an ex-judge, I doubt if any court will take any action against him.

The signs are clear. If anyone had any doubts on the subject, he or she can rest assured that the Establishment still supports the nincompoop. First there was the bail given to Shahbaz Gill by Imran's fast friend (Islamabad High Court's CJ Minallah). Even though Gill had openly threatened the army, nothing came out of it. After a few days in jail, he was released.

Next, the same judge removed terrorism charges in the case against Imran Khan (who had openly threatened two senior police officers and a lady judge). This case again, I'm sure, will be decided in favor of Imran after a couple of days, after Imran modifies his statement regretting hurling threats and behaving like one of those goons who can be seen strutting around in the Burns Road area of Karachi.

And finally, the Election Commission of Pakistan has again postponed hearing the case for another six weeks in which Imran is accused of receiving funds from prohibited foreign sources (including India and Israel). 

So now it's clear: the judges and the generals are scared of the moron's so-called popularity displayed by the number of people in his rallies. Most Pakistanis (being end products of centuries of inbreeding or cousin marriages) are weak in mathematics. Even if there are a hundred thousand people in each of his rallies, it doesn't mean a thing. Most of them are there to eat a free plate of biryani. Each constituency has more than two hundred thousand voters, so even if all those attending his rallies vote for him, he can't win. The trouble is, those who preside over our destinies don't think this way. All they see are thousands of people listening to Imran and his cronies. They should know that there are other parties with more followers than Imran's party, like the JI and the TLP. Imran doesn't have a chance winning the next elections (unless the Establishment again helps him by rigging the polls, as it did in 2018).

Pakistanis, by and large, are very tolerant of those who belong to other sects or religions. But occasionally, die-hard Sunnis suddenly go berserk and kill Shias, especially on their holy days. The other day, a Shia Chehlum procession in Sialkot was attacked, and many of them were seriously injured. Of course, communal riots undoubtedly occur in Shia-majority countries like Iran, but we never hear about them due to lack of press freedom in that country. But the question arises, why are Muslims so intolerant?

In Saudi Arabia, there was a time when Jews and Christians were living in peace with the Muslim majority. Today there are none. In fact, when an ancient church was discovered recently in that country, the authorities panicked and didn't allow reporters to write about it. Shias of course are present in large numbers in Saudi Arabia, which is why they've managed to survive so far, but not so long ago, Sunnis with Shia names like Hassan or Hussain or  Ali were not given tourist visas in that country (even Kuwait had a ban on Shia tourists). 

When Pakistan provided soldiers to Saudi Arabia, that country insisted that only Sunni soldiers would be allowed inside their country. It's mind-boggling, really, why there should be this much hatred. Despite Arab countries recognizing the Jewish state, they can't make peace with Iran. They don't realize that a divided Muslim ummah is not good, but I suppose it will take decades before there is peace between the two sects. If ever. 

Even Imran Khan's die-hard supporters must be wondering if he hasn't gone crazy. Of course, the many U-turns he's made and the lies that he has spewed should have convinced them that there's something horribly wrong with him. Every time he opens his mouth, he says something that comes back to haunt him.

Take that canard about him being removed from power by the Americans. Despite strenuous investigations having proved that the US was not involved in removing him, he went on claiming that he was right. Then he said he knew the opposition had been planning to remove him for ten months, which means that he's so incompetent he couldn't check the opposition's move in time. He even claimed that he would never be the slave of the US (he said the same thing about the IMF before begging them for aid). Now he's bending over backward to convince the US government to support him, and for this purpose he's spending millions. The other day, former diplomat Robin Raphael met him to finalize arrangements on how to project Imran Khan as an American ally and the most suitable person to rule over Pakistan. Of course, the money being spent is not his own, it's from donations to his hospital given by overseas Pakistanis.

Having done everything possible to defame the army chief and dividing its commanders, he is now trying to appease them. First he claimed that the present what he calls "imported" government is not qualified to appoint the next army chief, he alone has the capability to do so, as the one appointed now would not be appropriate. Apparently he thinks he's going to win the next election and will select the next chief (one who would be his friend and would help cover his corruption). Now he says the present chief can continue until the next government (apparently his own) assumes power. He thinks that the army is composed of nincompoops like himself, as the very next day he said he didn't mean that the present chief's tenure should be extended. Someone asked his crony Fawad Choudhry about it, and the latter admitted it meant that the tenure of the present chief should be extended. Another lie exposed. How can anyone trust this liar? And yet there are those who love Imran Khan so much they would gladly drink his piss.


 

It's happened so many times. Whenever the national team plays a match (especially against India), fans go berserk. Girls who've never held a cricket bat or ball are shown on TV saying confidently that Pakistan will win. Heavily bearded men who've never played cricket except with a tennis ball give their opinions on which players should be selected. It does get sickening.

This time, Pakistan managed to reach the finals after narrowly beating Afghanistan and India. When Afghanistan lost against Pakistan, their supporters lost their heads and caused a lot of damage to the Sharjah stadium. About four hundred of them were fined heavily, with some even being deported. But when Pakistan lost to Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup there was jubilation amongst Afghan nationals living in Karachi. 

But I digress. Pakistanis (most of whom were confident their team would win) did not react so emotionally. But they did comment on the outcome of the match, as if they're seasoned cricketers. Some criticized the captain Babar Awan who did not score much in the whole tournament. Others talked of kicking out Fakhar Zaman, another batsman who failed to perform. But none praised the professionalism of the Sri Lankans, who looked beaten when they had lost five wickets for only 58, but then managed to regain and finished with a good score. Their fielding was superb, compared to that of Pakistan's team, who failed by missing many catches. 

I hope the Pakistan team management learns a lesson from the lost match, which their team could have won without effort.

 

As expected, Imran Khan didn't offer an unconditional apology for threatening a lady judge who refused to comply with his demand in the case against his crony Shahbaz Gill. Apparently the Great Khan thinks apologizing to a woman is beneath his dignity (he is, after all, descended from those who came to Pakistan from Afghanistan where men consider their wives slaves who should do what they're told). Then of course, there is that awkward matter of an apology being acceptance of guilt. In any case, it's apparent that the judges who are going to decide his case are dreadfully scared of him, they have hinted as much and have given him another fortnight to apologize (this is the type of case which could have been decided on the very first day, a week ago). Even if he doesn't do so, they might be very reluctant to deal severely with him. 

By now it should be clear to every sane person that the Dear Leader is incompetent to rule the country. Having been caught red handed stealing a very expensive watch from the state coffers and also receiving funds from prohibited sources to run his campaign (not to talk of diverting charitable donations for his own personal use), it should be easy for the Establishment to have him disqualified for life. Yet there is this fear that the man will tell his goons to wreak havoc in Islamabad and Lahore (I doubt if his followers in Karachi would risk their lives to save him).

The judges should ignore his threats, convict him to a jail term and tell the Establishment to deal with the unrest that might follow. There is no other way than this, if rule of law is to established by the state. 

One of the reasons for Pakistan's poor financial health could be the high salaries and perks given to employees in the corporate sector. When I worked in an oil marketing company in the 1970s, the highest salary given to the general manager was Rs. 10,000 p.m. (apart from this, he got subsidized medical treatment and  utility bills). Nowadays their salaries are in millions, besides unlimited free medical treatment and other perks until the day they and their spouses die. In my opinion, this is scandalous.

In KESC, the starting salaries of engineers and business graduates was Rs. 450 p.m. in 1966. Nowadays it's more than half a million.

The situation in banks is the same. Besides the perks and pay in other companies, these chaps also get interest-free loans, with which they are able to buy houses and cars, driving prices upwards. What exactly is so special about them that they should get ten times more than what they need?

I remember that in 1960, an experienced bank manager's salary was Rs. 500 p.m., and it was considered astronomical (the salary of a peon in those days was Rs. 50 p.m.). Nowadays, a bank manager earns a million a month at least, while his peon and security guard get Rs. 35,000 to 40,000. Why should there be this much inequality?

Another thing is that these chaps are virtually free from being sacked, however inefficient they are. In my days, a very small mistake could make a man lose his job, and since jobs in those days were scarce, I saw many men weeping when they were fired. I do wish the old days would come back again.

I've completed 78 years and I'm still wondering how or why I'm still alive. I've said before how I thought I would die before the age of 40 (due to my weak respiratory system). I spent my teenage years sneezing and coughing most of the time. I had nine nasal sprays, two in my car, another two in my office desk, and the rest in my bedside drawer. Even though the sprays were meant to be used only once in a day, and not more than three days at a stretch, I would spray my nostrils almost every hour to clear my blocked nose. For the past ten years or so, it hasn't been so bad, although I found out recently that the evo-haler I've been using for the past six years could have affected the working of my brain. This could be one reason why I keep forgetting recent events.

I still suffer from various ailments. I've got a very bad pain in the lower back and I have to keep moving a lot in the daytime to reduce the pain. There are days when I wonder why I take all the hypertension, blood thinner, cholesterol reducing and diabetic pills as I may not wake up the next day. As I've said before, medicines nowadays are terribly expensive.

Not only medicines, even vegetables and other eatable prices have increased due to the recent super flood in Sindh. For the next few months life is going to be very difficult.

The past year I didn't produce any published pieces (except on this blog). A few years back the then editor of Dawn called me and said they have to encourage young writers (particularly from rural areas of the country) so I should not send them any letters. I do submit comments on Dawn's website, which are frequently rejected, but occasionally accepted, like the one yesterday in which I supported trade with India to reduce the shortage of onions and tomatoes and other vegetables. 

I plan to continue my tirade against Imran Khan, who daily emits something new. Yesterday he hinted that the new army chief will be someone selected by the present government so he will not ask them about their alleged corruption. The man is proving that he's a certified moron. He doesn't know that it's not the army chief's job to investigate corruption, if it were, Imran Khan himself would have had been asked by the present chief about his own corruption. Unfortunately, his die-hard followers would gladly drink his urine if he asked them.