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