JANUARY 21, 2020

Last week people had only one thing to discuss: the very able Faisal Vawda placing a boot on a table and two opposition politicians leaving in disgust. The flamboyant minister for water has done other memorable things too in the past year, like predicting that his government would arrange so many jobs in the country that even foreigners would come to Pakistan to work. And who can forget his contention that the only way to solve the country’s acute economic problems is to drag five thousand people and hang them in public? But that was in the past; this time he seems to have gone a bit too far, seeing that his leader has banned him from appearing on TV for two weeks. One must be grateful that he’ll be back soon, as he gives us plenty of material to write and talk about.

Strangely enough Vawda has almost been forgotten, as another crisis (flour shortage) has hit the country. One only hopes that this one doesn’t cause mass suicides. The Great Khan may remember what happened after the disappearance of sugar in 1968. He must have been in his teens when almost the entire country came out protesting against the government. Poor Ayub Khan didn’t know what hit him, he had to leave in disgrace (even though he had been called “the saviour of the country” during most of his reign). The Dear Leader should at least spend some time watching local TV channels. He will see grown men and women weeping and cursing his government, he will hear of the man who killed himself because he didn’t have the money to buy warm clothes for his children. If that doesn’t make him take serious action, there is something seriously wrong with him.

It should be interesting to hear what explanations his cronies have to offer (when they are done with placing boots on tables or staging fake blood donations, as the information advisor did recently). Whatever they say, it’s obvious to even a moron that the disappearance of wheat flour (atta) is the natural result of mis-governance. As his cronies scramble to explain why it has happened, giving one reason after another, the people know that this is what happens when incompetent people are chosen to rule the country. Even one of Laadla’s ministers (the learned minister of science and technology) has criticised the performance of Dear Leader’s favourite (Chief Minister Buzdar of Punjab).

If Shakespeare had been around today, he would have asked, “Upon what meat does this Buzdar feed, that he is so beloved of the Great One?” There are rumors that there will soon be a change in the country’s largest province but that will only alienate the Khan’s party members if one of them is not appointed chief minister. That’s the problem: the Khan cannot satisfy everyone, he has to bend over backwards to retain the support of his allies (most of whom he called looters and dacoits in the not so distant past).

But then, as another common man on TV said, “We know that Imran is not really in charge of the country, so we can’t blame him”. If most things are beyond Imran’s control, at least he should choose his ministers carefully; he should remove some of the clowns who regularly flank him. Like the genius who gave the go-ahead for exporting eight hundred thousand tons of wheat, or the one who gave away forty thousand tons to Afghanistan. Or will sacking of ministers also be done by someone else? If that is the case, what really is Imran Khan doing? Helping to solve the Middle-East crisis? How will that help the people of Pakistan?
The writer is an engineer, a former visiting lecturer at NED Engineering College

Sindh gas
I live in DHA Phase 8, Karachi where there had been no gas shortage until this winter. Every day we have to live without gas. We have had to buy electric heaters, which will considerably inflate our electricity bills.
It is inexplicable why Sindh should suffer gas shortages, as it produces 70 percent of the country’s total gas output. The requirements of the people of Sindh should be catered to first, before the gas is piped to other provinces.
Shakir Lakhani
January 19, 2020

At what age should a person retire? The retirement age in most private companies was 55 years (in some it was 57) at the turn of the century (a friend of mine retired at the age of 57 in 2001). Nowadays a man or woman has to stop working at the age of 60 or, in some firms, 65. 

When I was in my thirties (1974-83), I would see men approaching the dreaded age of 55 with trepidation. Most of them would be obese and unfit to do any real work. They would pass their last six months prior to retirement just warming their chairs. Some of the more intrepid ones would try to get a part time job after retirement (one of my uncles, a banker, worked as an accountant working in the afternoons. He died at the age of 92). Others would set up their own businesses with the money they got (gratuity or provident fund). But most of them had nothing to do except go to mosques and listen to preachers saying they should grow heavy beards if they want to enter Paradise. Most, of course, would die within five to ten years after retirement.

So it's refreshing to see men in their seventies (like Biden and Sanders) trying to get elected as presidents of the U.S. Even though life expectancy in Pakistan is about 65, you do see many 70-80 year old geezers (like myself) still active. I suppose this is due to modern health facilities, which keep a person healthy enough to cope with diabetes and other diseases. About half of the people I knew well in school and college have passed away, some of them many years ago. But the rest are still alive, even though most of them don't work anymore.

I no speak English!

JANUARY 15, 2020

We should really be grateful to the selectors for choosing such highly intelligent people to rule over us. You know, like that genius who claimed that rampant inflation is actually good for the country. And the one who spoke openly about killing some five thousand Pakistanis to solve the country’s acute problems. Not to mention the lady who said that the untimely but welcome winter rains were due entirely due to the Great Khan being perhaps the only honest and upright man in the country. I wonder who she thinks is responsible for the dreadfully cold winter this year. Trump?
Our leaders’ recent pearls of wisdom are enough to make one conclude that the country is in safe hands. The advisor on commerce, for instance, has just claimed that businessmen are responsible for inflation. He said, “The business community is causing rise of inflation in the country” and asked them to make efforts to reduce it, according to a news item. What can I say? He should know, being the scion of one of those twenty two richest families in the country until forty years ago. So we were wrong all the time, it seems. Inflation isn’t caused by devaluation or the steep rise in energy prices. The high cost of diesel (which is used in trucks transporting goods), doesn’t cause prices of foodstuffs to increase. It’s really businessmen like meat, fruit and vegetable sellers who are responsible. So what can they do to reduce inflation? Give away their goods free of charge?

Then there is the Dear Leader himself. After more than twenty two years of struggle, he’s suddenly realized that peace can only be found in the grave and that only in fairy tales do people live happily ever after. You could have fooled me. So all that yelling and screaming on top of that container was for nothing?
But that’s not all. He said those politicians who make speeches in English in our assemblies suffer from an inferiority complex, as most of their listeners don’t understand the language (apparently he doesn’t know that the Quaid couldn’t speak Urdu, so he always used English at rallies).

As has happened so many times with the Great Khan, one of his own party men immediately did something which proved he didn’t agree with him. He appointed a simple matriculate as education minister in the Khan’s home province of KP. When asked why, he said the man was highly qualified as he spoke excellent English. That’s all? I’ve come across taxi drivers who speak very good English, much better than the National Assembly speaker who should stick to speaking in his mother tongue (whatever that is). I’m referring to his egregious accent, when he said, “Aaaaal those in favor, say aaaaaye!”. One wonders why he couldn’t have asked that question in Urdu. 

As for inferiority complexes, the next time Imran Khan makes a speech at the U.N., he too should speak in Urdu (or Punjabi, which really qualifies to be the national language, being spoken by seven out of ten Pakistanis). The leaders of France and Germany don’t make speeches in English at international forums, despite being fluent in it. Nor do the Chinese. It’s high time our Dear Leader shed his own inferiority complex, he should also make speeches in Punjabi in the country’s largest province, it will win him many more votes (assuming that the next elections are not rigged).

And finally, the Great Khan should watch the viral video of the senior-most police officer in KP lecturing students on the benefits of positive thinking. If that doesn’t make him immediately ban the use of English in the country, nothing will. In the meantime, I no speak English!
The writer is an engineer, a former visiting lecturer at NED Engineering College