Tomorrow I’ll be seventy. Instead of humming jeevay jeevay Pakistan, I’m recalling an old song titled Woman Trouble. Because my Independence Day celebrations have been taken over by the two Ayeshas. Starring in the politico-salacious matrix are two ‘macho’ men, Imran Khan and Hamza Sharif. The former accused by parliamentarian Ayesha Gulalai of sexual harassment; the latter accused of not accepting Ayesha Ahad as his wife. I’m ambushed by these perverted accidents of history that trap my cultural, social, and political environment in their vicious cycle of vulgarity. My once beautiful pristine face is scarred by criminal abuse, injustice and boundless corruption by rapists pretending to sincerely adore, venerate and cherish me.
In sum, I’m nothing but a deformed joke. And I am seventy!
But there are still a few good men left to love me. One of them is a Peshawar native Dr R Hussain. He has lived and practised in the US for the past 50 years. Calling Ayesha Gulalai’s accusations “false,” he says they smack of “ambition, envy, and a rush to get ahead of the game.” But he blames Imran Khan for his poor judgment in choosing her and making her a spokesperson for his party. “Making erroneous decisions is his Achilles’ heel. Gulalai was a nonentity before joining the PTI and allowed to be a spokesperson for the party. Now she claims that not only Imran Khan but his deputy Naeemul Haque want to marry her.” Both men have denied the charges; still the verdict is out there.
Even though I’m impoverished and broken with neglect from my rulers, ugly tribalism and deadly customs targeting women thrive when men like adviser to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa chief minister thunderously threatens to call a jirga to sit on judgment over Gulalai whose house will be demolished if she fails to prove harassment allegations against Imran Khan. It’s like a witch-hunt in medieval Europe when women were burnt at the stake.
Dr Hussain wants Imran Khan to set up an advisory panel of intellectually honest, non- political and knowledgeable men and women who can shoot down anything ‘crazy’ he or his cronies drum up. “Imran must receive a daily briefing by this group just like the CIA briefs the president of the US.” Will it happen? No. Imran like Trump thinks he’s knows best. Just to remind readers, I’ll be 70 years old tomorrow. So far, I’ve not seen a leader worthy of my salute. While these rapacious rulers have let me down robbing me of my wealth and leaving me bankrupt with a beggar’s bowl (World Bank & IMF loans), mediocrity, crookery and cunning have swelled the ranks of pygmies from other political parties. The good doctor from America wants to help Imran succeed. “Somebody has to pull us out of our present morass,” he says throwing up his hands. “Imran is my man, but he needs a drastic overhaul in his thinking. Holding a daily press conference or appearing on TV is not only wasteful but redundant…his verbiage sounds canned.”
A retired FIA director general dashes my hopes when he says that even if Imran was to garner wide support, he’s unlikely to win at the polls. “His coalition partners and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government suffer from irreversible flaws. He has disbanded his own accountability commission. His financiers like Jehangir Tareen are tainted. Plus, chances of Imran’s disqualification for PTI’s foreign funding and hiding his assets is likely.” And don’t forget the Lahori liberals who rise to the aid of corrupt rulers by blasting the judges and the military each time a government is vanquished! These wealthy Westernised elites pretend to save me from the grip of the ‘sneaky generals’ and ‘unethical judges’ who cyclically destroy my democracy. I hear their press talk where they cry foul. Some in the media are holier than thou. All of them are hypocrites. Woman trouble is what has seized my people’s attention presently.
Happy birthday to me!
Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th, 2017.