The events of the last few weeks suggest that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif must have shot an Albatross some time in his life, for nothing seems to be going right for him. His call to Donald Trump after the latter was declared president-elect of the US and Trump’s response was mangled so badly by our publicity boys that it annoyed some Americans. Then there was this move by the assemblies to raise their emoluments by 146 per cent because they couldn’t make both ends meet which met with criticism from the media. And then there was this trip of Pakistan’s adviser on foreign affairs, Sartaj Aziz, who on instructions from his chief took a team to the Heart of Asia Conference to be slighted and cold-shouldered by Narendra Modi Pakistan’s external enemy and his Asian cronies, vividly portrayed by the Express Tribune cartoonist Sabir Nazar in the paper’s Thursday issue. I have nothing against Sartaj Aziz. In fact, I’ve always liked him. He is a gentleman who reminds me a lot of an English actor I once knew, an actor of inexhaustible goodwill with a delicate resilient intelligence who had been doomed to be cast in the wrong role.
Then there are the prime minister’s internal enemies led by the caballero Imran Khan who have ganged up against him and are desperately hoping the Panama leaks will oust him from his seat of power. Some of the implacable foes look as if they want to go on like Wagner’s Flying Dutchman. Nawaz Sharif is in good company because there are another 182 other Pakistanis who have been mentioned in the leak papers who, according to a section of the press, ‘are untraceable.’ Imran Khan is also having a spot of bother trying to demonstrate to the election commissioner how he came into possession of 300 canals for his Bani Gala residence. Initially he had stated that the land had been gifted to him by his ex-wife Jemima Khan. Subsequently to clear the legal cobwebs he said he had taken a loan from his ex-wife and bought the land after shelling out cash from his available resources in Pakistan and making up the total by transferring the proceeds from the sale of his apartment in London to her. He added that the apartment had been purchased with money he earned in England.
The nation has now learned that the government urgently needs Rs100 billion. So for the third time a Nawaz Sharif government has pulled a rabbit out of the hat and an obliging president has signed an amnesty for tax evaders by allowing them to whiten their money by paying a fine. This is no way to run a country. All I see is gross wastage everywhere in an environment that desperately needs another Moin Qureshi or another Mohammed Khan Junejo.
However, as a tailpiece I must compliment Nawaz Sharif for righting a terrible wrong after almost 40 years by according his assent to renaming the National Centre at the Quaid e-Azam University in Islamabad after Dr Abdus Salam along with a grant of five annual fellowships in Dr Salam’s name in universities abroad for Pakistani students who are pursuing a doctorate in physics. Dr Salam won a prize in Cambridge for his research in mathematics and in 1979 became Pakistan’s first Nobel Laureate in the field of physics. Isn’t it strange that a man whose brilliance has been recognised in every civilised country was persecuted in his own land for his religious beliefs? Now that Imran Khan appears to have abandoned the idea of playing Mao, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has threatened to go on a long march if his demands are not met. I hope one of them is to stop the Arab royals from destroying the wildlife of my province.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 11th, 2016.
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