I've known him for twenty seven years and he's the source for me of what the illiterate masses of the country believe. In the early years of our acquaintance, he used to say that Shias are responsible for the mess the country is in. Although he's got two degrees from Karachi University (which was once notorious for providing fake degrees), he talks like an illiterate man. In those days, he would refuse to have tea or eat at a table if he knew one of those present was a Shia. He still says Shias are not Muslims. But he's cooled down somewhat, and does have tea with Shias. 

He also used to say that a nation which allows its women to earn is on the way to destruction. Even when I would point out that Japan and Western countries have made phenomenal progress because their women work in offices and factories, he would shake his head. In his opinion, the minute a woman went out alone, she would easily be seduced and become a prostitute. He still believes this, even though he's going to be 60 soon. One would have thought that after so many years working for me, and coming into contact with so many women (none of whom have turned out to be loose), he'd revise his opinion. But he continues to live in self-denial.

For years he's been telling me that Pakistan would again be dismembered in a couple of years, and every year I have to remind him that it is still intact. And when I tell him that if does break up, it'll be because of the religious lobby's persecution of minorities, he smiles. He thinks like all members of the political party he belongs to (Jamat-e-Islami). This party's student activists still beat up couples for walking together (even if they're married). In fact,when he was a student, he and his fellows would measure the distance between a boy and girl talking to each other, and if the distance was less than five feet, they would soundly thrash the couple. 

I shudder to think that most Pakistanis (both literate and illiterate) are just like him. Which is why I see no future for the country.

As everyone knows, the real rulers of the country are those who "advise" the prime minister and others what they should do. In fact, the present prime minister has been foisted on the people by blatantly rigging the elections. And now the de facto rulers of the country have asked the media to display the government in a positive light. This is not going to be easy, but I'll try my best to portray the first four months of the government in such a way that it is seen to be highly efficient.

The first thing that comes to mind is that the value of the rupee has decreased considerably. Not everyone knows this, but almost everyone in Pakistan always has at least ten thousand dollars waiting to be sold whenever the dollar becomes dearer. So the poor people of the country have benefited immensely by the devaluation of the rupee. Those who had bought ten thousand dollars four months ago should be happy that they have earned three hundred thousand rupees by simply doing nothing. That's one plus point.

Again, every Pakistani, even the poorest of the poor, owns a considerable number of shares. With the stock market plummeting daily, shares are getting cheaper. So, with those three hundred thousand rupees which my driver earned by selling his dollars, he can now buy almost twice the number of shares he would have been able to purchase before the stock market collapsed. That's another plus point.

Imran Khan promised ten million jobs if he was made prime minister. And he looks like he will soon do it. First, thousands were employed to break down all unauthorized buildings and shops. And now millions of jobs will be created to build new shops and houses for the people who are now homeless and without shops and offices. So it looks like the government is on track and I can't think of any negative stuff to write about it, unless Fawad Choudhry and Shaikh Rasheed indulge in loose talk again.

I remember a time when almost everyone in the private sector was very courteous and efficient. Bankers used to visit people, begging them to open accounts in their banks. Doctors were humane, listening carefully to whatever their patients said without getting irritated. Lawyers too were more interested in helping their clients than getting the maximum amount of money out of them.

Now, it's all so different. After the nationalization of banks, bank employees no longer showed up every day to work. Bhutto got his party activists employed in banks, where they simply sat the whole day long (if they ever came to work). He also did the same thing with schools and colleges. Teaching standards deteriorated so much that you come across graduates who can't compose a simple sentence, leave alone write a letter. Benazir appointed a man who couldn't sign his own name as principal of a college. Doctors don't have time for their patients, lawyers demand payment from their clients before agreeing to do any work for them. As for government servants, they became even worse than they were after Bhutto became the prime minister. Bankers are rude, and I believe that they spend most of their time devising ways to increase bank charges and harass their clients.

No one is polite anymore, everyone is interested only in earning as much as they can as early as possible, The situation is hopeless, and I won't be surprised if the people come out on the streets and hundreds are killed.

Pay for your water

This refers to the article ‘The quest for water security’ (December 3) by Dr Murad Ali. Waste of water can be controlled to a large extent by making people pay for the water they consume. Presently, households have to pay the same amount of water charges regardless of the number of people living in the house. A family of 10 people and a family of two people pay the same amount of charges.
All apartment and bungalow owners should be made to install water meters and charged according to usage. Similarly factory owners, petrol station operators and agriculturists should also be charged according to actual water consumption. This is the only way through which the public will understand the need to save water.
Shakir Lakhani
The News, December 4, 2018

Which side are you on?
When he was in the opposition, Imran Khan used to call Nawaz Sharif a traitor for trying to improve relations with India. The phrase ‘Modi ka jo yaar hai, ghaddar hai’ (Whoever is Modi’s friend is a traitor) is still fresh in our minds. Now, Imran Khan has made the mother of all U-turns and is now talking about the Franco-German union.
So what should we conclude from all this? Should we trust Imran Khan now, knowing that tomorrow he may do the opposite of what he has promised today?
Shakir Lakhani
The News, December 1, 2018

A couple of weeks ago, Imran Khan defended his habit of prevaricating every now and then. He said that a politician or leader who does not make U-turns whenever he faces an obstacle can never succeed in attaining his objectives. Someone should have told him that the rulers of the State of Madina (which he wants Pakistan to become) never backtracked from what they had pledged, and they were certainly not like Hitler (whom he compared to an unsuccessful leader who did not take a U-turn). But then, I doubt if such little things have any effect on Imran Khan, who will go on making promises which he knows he cannot keep.
The mother of all U-turns came yesterday, when he startled everyone by suggesting that India and Pakistan should forget their differences and form a union like France and Germany have done. This is in stark contrast to what he used to say whenever Nawaz Sharif tried to reach out to India, calling the former prime minister a traitor. The phrase "Modi ka yaar, quom ka ghaddar" (a friend of Modi is a traitor) was coined by his party members. So now what should we say about Imran Khan, that he too is a "ghaddar"?
More important, how can he ever be trusted for making U-turns every now and then? I'd like to see his party members themselves call him a liar (which they soon will, if the Chief Justice continues his investigations in his party's corruption).

Recently I took my wife to a female skin specialist. She hardly listened to what we said, writing furiously the medication required. When we asked her more questions, like what food to avoid, she lost her temper. "If I spend so much time talking to you, how will I make a living? I have many patients to see, so I cannot talk to you more than I have done". Mind you, she is probably one of the most expensive specialists in the country, charging Rs. 2,000 for the five minutes she gave us. And there were six people waiting to see her. I estimated that her net income is at least ten to fifteen thousand a day (after deducting expenses like rent and her assistant's salary). Perhaps that's why she's so rude. If I'd been in the tax department, I'd have made life hell for her.

There was a time when doctors were very friendly. There was no need to buy medicines from pharmacies or medical stores (which were practically non-existent). Doctors had assistants called compounders who made the medication (called mixture) and patients had to take the liquid thrice a day. Usually one recovered in a day or two. There were no antibiotics. The doctors asked about family and friends and didn't get offended if you asked them why and how you got sick. 

Now of course, doctors are more concerned with how to see as many patients a day before they go to dine in expensive restaurants. When they're not in their clinics, they are usually planning their next vacations. Since they don't give receipts for what they charge, they pay very little income tax. But then, everyone cheats the government, so why blame them?

Women all over the world endure loveless marriages. As divorce is not allowed in Christianity (and even in Hinduism), women particularly are badly affected (men can live with women out of wedlock in most countries). Muslim women, of course, have the right to approach the court for dissolution of their marriage, but the process takes a long time. However, despite this, few Pakistani Muslim women would ever think of doing so. Once a worker of mine said, "We are not cowards like you city folks, whenever our wives ask for divorce, we immediately shoot them!". Not only this, once a marriage is annulled by the courts, the divorcee is in constant danger of being killed by her ex-husband and his relatives.
So, at the time of signing the marriage contract, the poor woman knows that if she asks for the right to obtain immediate divorce (as stipulated in the marriage contract), the groom's family will immediately suspect her of being immoral. So she remains silent, and when the time comes when she can no longer endure the abuse and torment of her husband and his relatives, she sums up the courage to apply for dissolution of marriage (a process that takes many months).
So, even if the Council of Islamic Ideology does make it mandatory for the bride to stipulate if she would like to have the right to divorce, the poor girl will probably say no.

It must be very difficult for politicians like Imran Khan and his minions to be always truthful. I've always known he is a braggart and a blusterer, even though I've never met him. But from what he has said over the past few years it's been clear that he frequently backs out from what he's said before, which earned him the nickname (among many others) "U-turn Khan".

So the other day he made it official. "Yes, I do take U-turns. A leader cannot succeed if he doesn't do so". Then that other moron Arif Alvi (whom I know personally) who is president of this banana republic, also claimed proudly that he too has indulged in frequent U-turns. After that, most PTI politicians have been falling over backwards explaining that U-turns are very necessary in politics.

So we have a very interesting situation here. How will other world leaders ever trust Imran Khan now? I can imagine the Chinese finance minister telling Asad Umar, "Hey, how do we know you won't take a U-turn and refuse to return this loan?"

But one aspect of the matter seems to have escaped our analysts. If, as Imran Khan says, only those leaders succeed who make U-turns, what about those who ruled over the successful State of Madina fourteen centuries ago? Imran Khan has frequently said he wants to make Pakistan like the state of Madina. Does he not know the rulers of that highly efficient state were men of integrity and  never made U-turns? It's only a matter of a few days before the clerics ask him this awkward question. I'd love to see him squirming and trying to get out of that situation.

I don't think the young men of today realize that their elders had to suffer a lot when they were young. I remember going to school in the 1950s. We had to walk for fifteen minutes to reach the bus stop, then walk for another ten minutes after getting off the bus to reach school. And usually we were caned for being late (through no fault of our own). 
Today's generation has had everything handed over to them on a platter. Most young men of today have cars and motorbikes. They think their parents are dim witted. We couldn't argue with our elders, it was unthinkable. Everything our elders said was acceptable as the truth, and most of the time they were right. When the first martial law was imposed upon the country, my father predicted that it would ultimately cause the breakup of Pakistan (it did). Yet the youngsters of those days (myself included) were brainwashed into believing that Ayub Khan was the great savior and would lead the country to greatness. When Bhutto appeared on the scene, I was old enough to recognize him for what he was (a stupid, arrogant autocrat), even though most men of my age thought he would be able to make the country great after its dismemberment (for which he was partly responsible).
In those days it was impossible for a high court judge to be corrupt. He would refuse to attend parties (unless such an event was held by close family members). He would never accept gifts and usually he dressed and led a lifestyle which was commensurate with his income. Nowadays, no one is surprised when a judge is photographed with politicians, wears expensive shoes and designer clothes. And we all know that our country's top judges are biased against the leader of one political party and openly favor the leader of another (while turning a blind eye to his corruption). 
Of course, this kind of thing is the norm in most third world countries. But Pakistan was supposed to be a state where the poor would not be oppressed, where the minorities would be safe and where the corrupt would be punished. It didn't turn out that way, and we know that "those who cannot be named" are responsible.