Painful defeat
Before every cricket match between Pakistan and India, almost everyone in the country becomes an expert on cricket. TV channels show young boys and old men (who have never played cricket), as well as girls and women of all ages, giving their views on Pakistan’s superiority over India and all of them proclaiming that Pakistan would win. After the match, they forget their predictions and blame the players for losing.
One of them (Ms Firdous Ashiq Awan, advisor to PM Imran Khan) said that the team would have won if Hasan Ali had not been selected. I request the learned prime minister to immediately make her the minister of sports and ask the PCB and the team management to take her advice before they play in future matches.
Shakir Lakhani
Karachi
The News, June 18, 2019

It's very dangerous to be a writer in Pakistan. Only the other day, the Minister for Water Faisal Vawda claimed that it's necessary to hang five thousand people to get Pakistan on the right track. He was obviously referring to those who criticize his party chief or even anyone else in the party. I'm not surprised, as Imran Khan and most of his cabinet members are autocrats and would do anything to retain power. They know their days are numbered, and soon people will come out on the streets, as they did in the dying days of Ayub Khan's regime and in Bhutto's last two months.

I may be wrong in thinking that our rulers were behind his murder, but so many people have reportedly been killed by the agencies that it looks like this was another in the chain. His only fault was to point out the failures of the government, like rising inflation and breakdown in law and order.

I'd never heard of him until he was killed. It seems he had more than 80,000 followers. He was only 22. Rest in peace, Mohammed Bilal Khan, may your death make this nation aware of the real enemies of the country.

I have always maintained that Imran Khan needs intensive psychiatric treatment, and his many U-turns and stupid actions have proved me right. His associates must also be disillusioned with him, as he has completely ignored most of them in making appointments. There are many men and women in his cabinet who do not belong to PTI, and there were many suitable candidates for posts such as the one held by Ms Firdous Ashiq Awan, the information minister (who, it is rumored, got the job because of her friendship with the prime minister's spouse). 

But, now that he has made the most surprising U-turn of all (so far), even his close associates must be looking for a competent psychiatrist to treat their boss. The appointment of Ali Jehangir Siddiqui as a global ambassador must have shocked many in the party. When this man was appointed ambassador to the U.S., the PTI strenuously opposed his appointment (like they opposed everything the previous government did). After his removal by the PTI, Ali Jehangir became a special assistant to the prime minister (Shahid Khaqan Abbasi). This should have been enough to convince the paranoid Imran Khan and his equally paranoid followers to shun Ali Jehangir. Yet Imran has given him a prestigious job, for which many in the PTI were suitable. 
After this latest U-turn, I feel that  not only Imran Khan needs to be treated, his whole cabinet and all those who still want him to continue as prime minister also need urgent psychiatric treatment.





Strange statement
I was amazed to hear the learned federal minister Faisal Vawda say that by hanging 5,000 people, Pakistan’s problems can be solved. Apparently he meant that there are five thousand looters in the country who have ruined the economy.
Will the good minister tell us whether in the list of those who need to be hanged there will be those who have undeclared properties in the UK?
Shakir Lakhani
Karachi
The News, June 14, 2019



Are you in the right profession?
Shakir Lakhani



You know that feeling you get when you meet a very successful person and realise that you are in the wrong profession? I know many people who gave up their chosen careers and switched over to other fields, like that once-popular religious scholar and TV anchor who used to be a doctor and is also a ruling party member of the National Assembly. You come across many of them in government service. I once lived in a rented house owned by a senior police officer who had graduated in civil engineering. I have also met medical doctors and PhDs working in the Customs and other government departments. I often used to tell my students to switch over to lucrative jobs in other fields if their chosen profession was boring or if they were not earning enough. One of my engineering students became a pilot, another took up insurance, and a third spent two years getting a law degree and ended up becoming a highly successful lawyer.

Like everyone else, there have been occasions when I have wished I’d chosen some other occupation, like politics. The first time this happened was when I came across a highly successful beggar.
This happened about 50 years ago. We have an association of families belonging to my ancestral hometown in India, and one day, we discovered that among the 800 members, one was a blind beggar. He used to sit on the footpath on Bunder Road, where the Plaza cinema used to be.
Our association decided to fix a monthly stipend of Rs 300 for him. This may seem a paltry amount to today’s youngsters but it meant a lot in those days, when the price of beef was two rupees per kilo and you could get a haircut for a rupee. I was asked to go to the beggar’s house and give him the money.
He lived in a dilapidated house in one of those dirty slums on the outskirts of the city, just the kind of locality one would expect a man like him to live in. But when I rang the bell and was invited to enter, I was startled to see that the room was spic and span, not like a room in a very poor man’s house. There was a big refrigerator as well as a TV set in the corner. The room was fully carpeted. I didn’t get to see the other rooms, but I could hear an air-conditioner whirring in the background. So I thought I had come to the wrong place, and was convinced when a man walked into the large room without a walking stick, and apparently not blind at all.
I asked him his name and realised that he was, in fact, the man I had come to see. Hesitantly, I told him the purpose of my visit, and when I told him about the monthly stipend from my association, he laughed loudly. “You can keep the 300 rupees, sir; in fact, I’ll donate twice that amount every month to your association.”
Over a cup of tea, he told me about himself. He had been the son of a rich man, but had done badly in business and had to sell the shop he had inherited. Not being educated, he decided to take up begging, knowing that no relative or neighbour would recognise him due to his heavy beard and large sunglasses, and because he never said a word the whole day, not even thanking those who dropped coins and rupee notes in his cap placed in front of him. Even though he now had enough money to buy a shop, he chose instead to beg because it was so lucrative. His childless wife had left him after he went bankrupt. He had not re-married and lived alone, with a couple of servants who had no idea what he did for a living. He would get off the bus a couple of streets away from his workplace, and put on his large sunglasses before sitting down on the footpath.
I tried to persuade him to give up begging and lead a more normal life, but he laughed again. “Everyone has to beg at one time or another; don’t you have to beg of your superiors for your annual raise and not to transfer you to a small town like Larkana or Chichawatni? Don’t our politicians come to us begging for our votes? Doesn’t the government have to beg for loans from other countries and the IMF? I know you aren’t earning more than a thousand a month, you can sit on the opposite side of the road where I sit, and you can earn five times that amount and retire before the age of 40.”
I left his house a sadder and a wiser man.
The writer is a freelancer