“Pictures from The Big Apple have been freely circulating on the internet, capturing the ministers of Pakistan in the throes of ecstasy while they shake their booty in a stretch limo that can outstretch any stretch limo. Inside, the stage is designed for fun and games. Loyal “supporters” of President Zardari’s cabinet ministers whipped up the limo and the party was on. The custodians of Pakistan’s destiny gyrated, shook their butts and roared with laughter and pleasure as the greenbacks flew, just as they do in the great “mujras” here. Mr Qamar-uz-Kaira and Mr Nazar Gondal, surrounded by their loving friends, had a blast. The reports say that by the time the party was over $16,000 had been thrown into the Big Apple’s stratosphere. Not bad for a mission that went without shame to beg for more US aid.
What the legislators from Pakistan were celebrating is not known, but it was obviously a good-enough reason. As for what the bewildered Americans are making of this strange and bizarre performance of the president’s party that had arrived with large begging bowls and looking like something the cat had brought in – well, we will never know. They must be wondering what kind of demented people now run the affairs of this blighted nation, which has nothing of substance left and certainly no shame in asking for alms every few hours. What has the president to say about this behavior? Is this conduct unbecoming? Can you hold a public office and behave like a common party lout? Where is the sense of decorum? Breeding? Education? Perhaps there is none of that, because they have none of it anyway. Will they be openly reprimanded? We shouldn’t hold our breath. Worse things have gone unpunished.
No explanation will be required. The official thinking on this would be that there is no need to tell anything at all. As for the errant ministers who don’t deserve to be where they are, no need to ever worry. Neither will they ever be questioned nor, God forbid, punished. Instead, they will, things being bizarre here, rise to greater heights and accumulate lots of money on the way up. This is not the first time public money and our tattered image has been further eroded by those whom a capricious twist of fate has placed where they least deserve to be. The capability of these people who call the shots in Pakistan today is very questionable. In real life you wouldn’t even give them jobs as peons in your office. But this is not real life. You could sweep all this under the carpet because graver offences are taking place daily and the louts were just “boys” letting down their hair and partying, but it further depresses millions who see in such behaviour the end of our existence.
As for the “Chak De” business, the former president’s Chak Shahzad villa has been under the spotlight. But rest assured, the media is as usual lying and gunning for a man who has given his all for this country. Nothing is amiss at the ranch, so we are told. This is wonderfully reassuring news. It transpires that the villa–constructed on land that has always been controversial, illegally occupied and in violation of all rules and regulations, and where the Big Man has built his retreat–also has an agricultural electricity connection which is meant for genuine farms and not plush retreats from the buzzing capital. This connection, of which the Big Man knows nothing and which is not noticed by his staffers who are forever searching haystacks for needles, is the cheapest form of electricity in Pakistan. When the story breaks with irrefutable proof in the form of power bills, the lying machinery goes into auto-drive. First there is denial, then indignation, then more mumbo jumbo. In between, IESCO, quietly “changes” the telltale meter and gives the connection another cloak to wear. By some twist of fate, Chak Shahzad is beamed to the FATA areas and, lo and behold! The villa receives a FATA power connection. Not as cheap as the agricultural one but cheap as dirt, nevertheless. FATA? Could IESCO not come up with a better lie? Even lying presupposes some common sense, which IESCO does not have.
Denials have been flying like drones. The issue is being sidetracked, so that the heat can be taken off. Since there is an open season on lying at all times of the year, this is easy to manage. No one can dare question anything that touches the life of the royals, even ex-royals, so this too will be dumped into the overflowing garbage dump of our national shame. Pakistan continues to be raped and plundered at will, particularly by those who claim to be its biggest champions. The common folk, slapped by absence of power in this summer and random acts of the violence that stalks our lives, have nothing to look forward to. This is our destiny. As Zia Moheyddin once said at a cricket match which Pakistan converted from an easy win to a bewildering loss, “Shikast hamara muqaddar ban-chuki hai.” Defeat has become our destiny.”
This fine column was written by Masood Hasan in The News on Sunday, May 31, 2009.