The heat is hot, load shedding is as bad as it was a year ago, Pakistan is jittery but the good mangoes are here. Much is being said, openly or not, that change is in the air. So what should we expect? Three things are predictable: it will stay hot for the next few months, the good mangoes will be around for about the same time, and load shedding will persist. As far as any ‘changes’ are concerned, there are a few facts that need to be considered. Ramzan will start in a couple of weeks and during the ‘holy’ month Pakistanis go into a national state of terminal torpor precluding any ‘movement’, political or otherwise. After Ramzan the faithful will start to prepare for the annual pilgrimage to the holy lands. This will be done with by the first week of October but the faithful will include many of the high and mighty and they will not be back until a few days later. Soon thereafter, the holy month of Muharram will be upon us. By the time that is over, it will be too cold to contemplate anything except warmth.
The only ‘window of opportunity’ this year will then be between the ‘little Eid’ and the ‘big Eid’ and that means just the month of September. Based upon past experience, half the country will either be under water or drying out after being underwater at that time making most people unwilling to concentrate on much else except perhaps an impending Dengue epidemic. So, the ‘purveyors’ of change will have to wait it out until the ‘Ides of March’. And yes the Taliban types will keep doing what they do best and the ‘boys’ will try and bomb them back into at least the Iron Age. The problem with the Taliban types is that they want to be in the Iron Age anyway, making much of the bombing counterproductive. As far as Karachi is concerned it will go through its predicable cycles of violence and ‘shutdowns’. So, for those of us living through these otherwise difficult times, some comic relief is absolutely necessary. Good mangoes can only go so far. Considering the total ineffectuality of those that rule Pakistan these days, perhaps they can provide us with some help in this matter and not just by indirect activity but rather in an outright manner. For starters, in Sindh, former president Asif Ali Zardari can start sending weekly ‘telegrams’ (or tweets with a smiling selfie) to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif consisting of just one word, ‘Peccavi’. That of course is supposedly what General Charles Napier wired to his superiors in London after having won the Battle of Miani. And yes dear readers you should Google that to figure out how it is applicable to Zardari in more ways than one.
About the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, it is unlikely that it can be the source of any comic relief, but about its putative ‘lord and master’, a bit later. As far as Balochistan is concerned, does it even exist as a province of Pakistan? I might be entirely wrong for we do have the notable delicacy called ‘sajji’ that comes from there. But otherwise Balochistan does not seem at all a source of possible amusement. That brings us to Punjab. Among the ministers there are only two that I have ever heard of. The first is of ‘excise and taxation’ who is a serious person but interestingly only talks about healthcare. Not amusing at all. However the minister in charge of law and order with his shockingly ‘black’ head of hair and a moustache to die for is pregnant with possibilities. Since he has not been able to provide law or order, at least he should provide us with some comic relief. First, he should immediately start wearing embroidered silk kurtas and lachas (ethnic Punjabi dress). He should walk like famous Punjabi movie stars, arms slightly akimbo and at every TV appearance he should start with a barrack and a bablee (Punjabi cries to intimidate and celebrate victory) and after twirling his moustache, he should dance a few steps of the bhangra (traditional Punjabi dance) and recite a few verses from Jugnee.
Now to the federal government: our minister of the ‘perpetually sad visage’ should take up singing the sad songs from Heer Warris Shah. Perhaps he will be better at that than what he was supposed to do otherwise. Our minister of the ‘perpetual hair’, who has been entirely unsuccessful in seducing the Taliban for peace talks, should take up ‘Khattak’ dancing along with the Great Khan, his former schoolmate. Thus both might finally charm the Taliban and convince them to come around for some serious jaw-jaw, but about what? The ‘what’ might turn out to be a trifle peculiar. As far as our minister in charge of providing information is concerned, he should just recite a few paragraphs from Qissa Chahar Dervaish (the fantastic tales of the four dervishes) during his TV appearances. These recitations will be indeed as informative as what he normally says and far more amusing. Considering our minister of the slightly unshaven looks, he does not appear on TV and as it is his speeches consist of abstruse mumbo-jumbo. No comedic possibility there. Now to the second most powerful man in Pakistan, better known as the ‘talented bro’. I personally do not think that he is capable of providing any comic relief, at least intentionally, though the choice of Urdu verses he uses inadvertently become a source of some amusement. Perhaps he should stick to the poetry of the likes of Akhtar Sheerani or Sufi Sahib Ghulam Mustafa Tabassum, apolitical and entirely noncontroversial. As far as the ‘Man of the Mandate’ is concerned, he by virtue of his exalted position deserves an entire column.
The anthropologist Jack Weatherford once wrote, “Every society produces its own cultural ...