I used to exercise a lot before I graduated. By exercise I don't mean walking, which we were compelled to do in those days due to not having cars. I had to walk about a kilometer to catch a bus to college, and another kilometer on my way back. Apart from that, a lot of walking was done to buy groceries. So I managed to remain slim, in fact for a few months I had to consume a lot of supplements to increase my weight. 

As I said, aside from walking, I did calisthenic exercises as well. I used to do weight-lifting and spring pulling to strengthen my arms. My weight is almost the same as it was when I was in college (around 70 kg). As the years went by I gave up calisthenics and even reduced my walking considerably. For a time I had a stationary bicycle. I used to walk with my wife and children a lot in the 1980s, as a result of which our neighbors thought we were a bit crazy. Even today, I take a forty minute walk with my wife almost daily, but nowadays we see many couples doing it also, so I suppose people don't think it odd (although the security guards and servants must be wondering why we do it).

For years now I've had back ache. Until 30 years back I used to lie on my back on the floor and do exercises to reduce the lower back pain. After a time I gave it up. Now I've taken it up again, and I must say that it works even though I started only a couple of weeks ago. However, some pain is still there when I get up in the morning. I hope I'm able to go on until it's in control, though I don't think I'll be able to eliminate it entirely. This year I stopped exercising my arms for a time (in the month of fasting), so I developed a frozen shoulder. I couldn't raise my right arm at all. It took a month of exercising to return to normal. It looks like I'll have to go on exercising until the day I die.

There have been many theories why Imran Khan was removed through a no-confidence motion in April this year. While he may rant and rave that the Americans, the Indians and the Israelis banded together and spent a hell of a lot of money to have him ousted, the real reason has now surfaced. 

It seems that Imran Khan wanted to continue ruling or mis-ruling the country for another ten to fifteen years. For this he wanted to call elections in April. Knowing that he could never win unless the elections were massively rigged by the establishment (as in 2018), and also knowing that the current army chief would not help him this time, he embarked upon a daring plan. His plan was to replace the current army chief (Bajwa) with the general of his choice (Faiz). He was convinced that General Faiz Hameed would get the elections rigged so that he could win with a two-thirds majority. He would then have amended the Constitution to get himself appointed president for life. This would have meant changing the present parliamentary system to a presidential one (which has been tried before but failed).

The new system would have given Imran Khan unfettered power to deal with his political opponents (whom he would have sent to prison for long terms). It would have meant undoing the 18th Amendment, and the entire Constitution would have been changed forever. Pakistan would then have become another Saudi Arabia, without democracy and being ruled by this autocrat (who many people believe is a megalomaniac or psychopath).

When the other politicians got to know of this plan, they got together and got Imran removed through the no-confidence motion (a perfectly democratic process, even though Imran doesn't think so).

 

There are days when I see or hear something that fills me with despair. Yesterday was such a day. I'd been invited by a close relative for lunch at his house. Among the guests was a renowned banker as well as a filthy rich Memon who has never done a day's work in his life, nor read a book, but considers himself an authority on every subject under the sun. Of course, being acting as if he's deeply religious (like most Memons), he couldn't refrain from lecturing us on his version of religion. I had a hard time diverting the conversation.

The Memon, who has skillfully avoided paying his due share of income tax, reacted visibly when the banker said that Bangladesh has progressed due to having 65 percent of its women in its work force. Obviously this was anathema to the heavily bearded guy, after which he said that Pakistanis don't know much about Sharia. I could have told him many things about the subject which he'd never heard, but having been taught to be polite and not argue about religious matters, I held my tongue. 

I'm despondent that the majority of my countrymen are just like that Memon. They think women being allowed to workos the reason why the country is so backward, that watching TV and films should be banned, women should not be allowed to venture out of their houses and a man is not a good Muslim unless he manages to make his wife produce fifteen children.

 Why spare the rich?

 

THIS is with reference to the editorial “Af ter the budget” (June 12). It is evident that the government does not want to offend its supporters, but has imposed tough measures upon the salaried class.

Take, for instance, the retailers who will be charged income tax ranging from Rs3,000 to Rs10,000 per month. There are shopkeepers who earn up to a million rupees a month in the posh areas of major cities across the land. Why can’t they pay income tax on their actual incomes like the salaried class? Why can’t the government take tough measures to stop smuggling and energy theft? Then there are those who don’t have to pay income tax on agriculture income even though they earn millions every month.
 

Such sacred cows, in fact, are responsible for the runaway inflation in the country.
They are the ones who are responsible for high property values.
Just look at the flights going to Dubai, Istanbul and other tourist destinations.

The people going there are those who are exempted from taxes or those who skillfully avoid paying income tax. Will this injustice ever end or are the poor and middle-class people condemned to bear the greater part of the tax burden forever?

Shakir Lakhani

Karachi

June 18, 2022

https://epaper.dawn.com/?page=18_06_2022_007


 

Tax the rich

Friday, Jun 17, 2022

If the government wants to stop burdening the poor and middle class, it should recover more revenue from the elite (who are in fact responsible for our predicament). A ten per cent income tax or surcharge should be imposed on those domestic consumers who use more than 3,000 units of electricity every month.

Such wealthy people will not mind paying another Rs10,000. Of course, this measure will not affect those worthy citizens who indulge in electricity theft, but then, they are the ‘sacred cows’ who cannot be touched.

Shakir Lakhani

Karachi

https://e.thenews.com.pk/detail?id=98622

 

https://epaper.dawn.com/Advt.php?StoryImage=23_06_2022_007_011


 

It's the kind of thing done routinely in Pakistan. Millions of dollars of black money is siphoned away to foreign bank accounts by tax evaders. Only in this case, the people involved are the sacred cows, like Mr. Clean (Imran Khan), who vowed to send all corrupt people in the country to jail when he was in opposition. This time, however, he himself is liable to be charged and convicted, if the courts decide to proceed. Unfortunately, they still think he's the cleanest man around, despite all the recent scandals involving him (like the Saudi prince's watch and the 5-carat diamond ring for his wife).

Imran asked his crony Shehzad Akbar (who has fled to London) to find out the whereabouts of the alleged looted money by his opponents, particularly Shehbaz Sharif. Instead of any evidence linking Shehbaz to corruption, the UK police found 190 million pounds (50 billion rupees) of the people's money siphoned away by the untouchable Malik Riaz, the most powerful man in the country. The money rightly belonged to the people of Pakistan, but Imran Khan gave it back to Malik Riaz. For this noble gesture, Malik Riaz gifted a huge piece of land (worth at least five billion) to Imran Khan and his wife. 

I know that those who think Imran Khan is a prophet or saint will not believe this. But of course those who are close to the ex-prime minister will wonder why they didn't get any benefit in the past four years, while their boss was reaping a rich harvest. More importantly, the establishment (including those comprising the armed forces) will also now be convinced that the so-called Mr. Clean is actually the dirtiest man around. Let's hope this will deter them from rigging future elections to help this fraudster win, as they did in 2018.

 

I'm struck by how much Imran Khan's followers all agree that Pakistan in on the brink of disaster, now that their cult's leader is no longer in power. The other day I got a call from a college friend who has been a US citizen for fifty years. He told me that all his Pakistani friends are convinced that Pakistan could collapse any day now, as people are on the streets rioting and indulging in arson. I told him Imran Khan is so desperate to regain power at all costs that he and his followers are spreading such rumors. I also told him that even though overseas Pakistanis may think very highly of Imran Khan, in Pakistan he enjoys the support of only 29 percent of the people, according to many surveys done in the recent past.

No one should take Shaikh Rasheed seriously, seeing how inaccurate his predictions have been. He kept telling us that the PML-N would break up, that there would never be a no-confidence motion, and that Imran Khan would complete his five years tenure. He's at it again, saying (among other things) that no country is willing to give Pakistan a dollar. 

Yesterday, at the club, I was talking to one such person who still thinks Imran Khan is a paragon of virtue. As I expected, he didn't know anything about the 20 million rupee watch and the 15 million rupee 5-carat diamond ring. He too is convinced that Pakistan is about to default. I told him he shouldn't worry, as he has made enough in real estate dealings to last him a lifetime. 

Shaukat Tareen (Imran Khan's fifth finance minister) is in the news because he said Imran's government took loans amounting to only 76 percent of all loans taken since 1947 (he said this in reaction to Miftah Ismail saying the figure is 80%). I wonder why Imran Khan didn't realize that Shaukat Tareen is a duffer. Or maybe he knew all along and appointed him because he likes to have morons around him, those who would never ever think of voting against him. But he's due for a shock. There are signs that some of his followers are going to desert him and return to the assembly, from which they had been forced to resign.

In our culture, one is not permitted to speak ill of the dead, you can't even mention his bad qualities or vices. I didn't like Amir Liaquat Hussain, just as I dislike Imran Khan, both of whom had similar qualities.

I have never liked people who try to make others think that they are very good Muslims. I was having lunch in a restaurant when three people at a table nearby started arguing. One of them got up and said he would pray the afternoon prayer right there. He repeatedly emphasized that he always carried a prayer carpet with him. The restaurant manager pointed to a mosque on the other side of the road and told him to go there and offer his prayers. Everyone in the restaurant was convinced that the man was a fraudster.

Amir Liaquat Hussain was such a man. He started as a newscaster on Geo, then got the idea of starting a religious program (Aalim online) that became very popular. Women, in particular, liked him for weeping and supplicating the Almighty on holy nights. It is said that the wife or mother of former President Musharraf were his devoted fans. This may be one reason why he was considered to be a sacred cow. Even though there were several complaints (from journalists and minority groups), the higher authorities were scared to take action against him (it is reported that even some generals pressurized the authorities to refrain).

His fiery lectures incited people to kill two Ahmedis. He ran a campaign against the late Junaid Jamshed (who had to live abroad for a year to avoid being killed). 

It was a few months back that his downfall began. He had become so unpopular that no TV channel was willing to hire him for Ramzan programs. He took another wife after divorcing the first one, but the second marriage didn't last long. Then he married an 18-year old girl who was 32 years younger than him, but she got sick of him just two or three months later. Just last month he announced that he would settle abroad, an announcement that was widely welcomed on the social media, but for some reason he didn't go.

He did one thing that I didn't expect: he publicly scolded Imran Khan in the run-up to the No-confidence motion that the latter lost. He openly said that he would vote in favor of the motion. He berated Imran Khan for causing divisions among the top army generals. 

So, when he died in his sleep yesterday, I was shocked but not so sorry. I will not be a hypocrite and say he was a good man, because he had so many victims whose peace he destroyed. 

Now Imran Khan must be asking his wife how the British prime minister was able to survive the no-confidence vote against him, while he (Imran) was easily ousted. Maybe he'll find out that Johnson survived because his wife wasn't routinely taking 5 carat diamond rings from prominent real estate barons. 

The audio of Malik Riaz and his daughter talking about Imran's wife Bushra demanding and getting a 5 carat diamond ring (worth at least two hundred million rupees) must surely have dented Imran's popularity. Of course those who think he's a saint or a prophet will not believe anything they hear against him, but Imran's inner circle must be wondering why they should support Imran Khan now that it's well-known that he's getting all the benefits. First there was the Saudi prince's watch sold for 85 million rupees and now this thing about his wife getting a million dollar ring, as well as her friend Farah decamping to Dubai after earning billions. Already there is talk about Imran's party men not being happy with his directive to resign from the national assembly. I won't be surprised if there's an open rebellion against him after more such scandals come to the surface.

Some retired generals and others are openly supporting Imran Khan and even asking the present army chief to restore him to power. These are the people who have sworn to protect and defend the Constitution, but they don't think much of their oath. One general even told a reporter to arrange for his (the reporter's) funeral after the latter asked him why he didn't resign when OBL was found hiding in a house in Abbotabad. Thanks to social media we get to hear about such things. When there was only the printed newspaper from which we got information, there would be a lot of unverified rumors circulating around. We should thank those who invented Facebook, Whattsapp and Twitter.  

Just when we thought Imran Khan might, for once in his life, say something sensible, he instead says something that proves he's mentally unstable and should be locked up. The man now claims that if the army does not help him become prime minister, Pakistan's nuclear assets will have to be surrendered and the country will break up into three parts. Apparently he believes that only he can save the country. He forgets that until four years back, the people ruling the country were the ones who are doing it today and the country did not break up then. In fact, it was Imran's nemesis Nawaz Sharif that made the country a nuclear power, despite Clinton offering him bribes not to do so. 

Even though he says that God has given him everything and he doesn't need to be in politics, it's evident that he desperately wants power at all costs, even if it damages the country. I hope the establishment and the judiciary will not fall into the trap again and will remain impartial. They should particularly be firm and not change the present chief election commissioner who has proved to be tough and absolutely neutral. 

I'm worried that the judiciary is repeatedly favoring Imran Khan. The foreign funding case that has not been decided despite a lapse of eight years is particularly damaging the judiciary's reputation. The Supreme Court should demand that the election commission immediately announce its findings so that Imran Khan can be banned from contesting elections again.