Tomato politics

Shakir Lakhani

So Nawaz Sharif has finally been allowed to go abroad, but the government spokespersons are doing their best to portray it as a huge victory for Imran Khan. While the lady information adviser says that the PTI respects what the court has ordered, the lawyer looking after whatever science and technology there is in the country wants to challenge the decision in the apex court. As if the nation didn’t have more pressing problems, like the price of every edible item going through the roof, or hundreds affected by dengue or dog bites.

Perhaps the high price of tomatoes and other edibles would be responsible for the Great Khan’s downfall, just as another Khan (Ayub) had to go home after the disappearance of sugar. By saying that tomatoes are available for just seventeen rupees a kilo, the finance genius responsible for the tottering economy proved that those who rule over us are out of touch with reality. Just like the lady doling out misinformation day in and day out is convinced that peas are available for five rupees a kilo. Or that ‘highly efficient’ chief minister who thinks that the price hike is artificial, definitely caused by those who are jealous of his huge accomplishments in the country’s largest province.

Last night at a wedding dinner, a guest showed two video clips doing the rounds on Twitter on his thousand-dollar smart phone. The first was of a woman speaking chaste Punjabi, and although I didn’t understand all of it, I could understand what she said. I won’t repeat all of it here as it was too graphic for sensitive souls to hear. She very clearly said what should be done to the Dear Leader for having fooled the public with his false promises while campaigning.

The second clip also showed a woman, this one from Karachi. The way she spoke Urdu it was clear that she was either the daughter or granddaughter of someone who had come to Pakistan from Modi’s home state of Gujarat; those who heard the late Abdul Sattar Edhi speak will understand what I mean. And she had evidently seen much better days, as most people in that ethnic group are reasonably well-to-do, among them being those who, according to the late President Ayub Khan, “are the owners of half of Pakistan”. This was in the 1960s, when East Pakistan was still a part of the country. So as I said, this woman in the video burst into tears while complaining vociferously about the rampant inflation and her sons being jobless, regretting deeply that she had voted for PTI, and asking if this is what Imran Khan had in mind when he spoke about turning Pakistan into Medina. It was very poignant, and almost everyone at the dinner table was affected. Soon, as most of them had voted for PTI, they began talking about the past fifteen months that the party has been in charge of the country, and how people all over the country are thoroughly disillusioned with it.

The owner of the expensive smart phone said the Great Khan is not to blame for the situation, it’s his advisers and ministers who are responsible. They don’t have to go out to buy groceries so they don’t know how steeply prices have shot up. They don’t know the cost of petrol (which in any case they get free from the government), so a hike of five or ten rupees a liter doesn’t affect them. But he agreed that the buck stopped with the Dear Leader, because he’s the one who selected his ministers and advisers.

All the men sitting at the table were sorry they had voted for PTI, and were quite sure they would never vote for PTI again.