Mar 11, 2009

Goodbye cricket, hello gulli danda

FIRST off, what did the poor, gentle, Sri Lankans do to deserve the treatment they got in Lahore at our hands?

I ask this question in the manner I do because right-wing pundits and the authorities can bury their heads in the sand and say that this country and its own people had nothing to do with the atrocity; I believe it was no one but Pakistanis who planned, trained for, and did the dastardly deed.

They were quite obviously cousins to the beheading brigade who have recently taken over Swat after defeating the much-vaunted Pakistan Army and the craven government of the ANP which did not stand its ground.

What was the Sri Lankans’ crime, anyway? The fact that their country was the only country in the whole wide world that came to Pakistan’s aid when West Pakistani forces were fighting that ill-fated and cruel battle to prevent East Pakistan’s secession so many tragic years ago? This question is asked specifically because our security establishment, even today, insists that the mindlessly cruel militants who rule almost all of the Frontier today are ‘patriots’ who will come to Pakistan’s aid if there is need to ward off Indian aggression!

What, more specially, was the Sri Lankan cricket team’s fault? That they were the only cricket team in the whole wide world who were foolish enough to venture into the Land of the Pure, the frightening and horrendous place it has become? Really! We have more than proved the fact that we are a bunch of incompetents who have allowed yahoos to run riot in our country. ‘Yahoo’ is used here in the worst sense, described by Jonathan Swift in Gulliver’s Travels as a race of wild beings who are half beast and half man, and who have none of the finer instincts of (even) beasts.

And what of the security lapses that are so apparent from the CCTV and TV footage as filmed by a private TV station that overlooks Liberty Chowk, where the attack on our guests took place? Twelve or 14 terrorists, carrying huge backpacks, saunter on to the Liberty roundabout, before the team was to pass along there, and no one finds them before the team’s bus arrives? Governor Taseer talks about SOPs being followed: is physically searching behind cover along a secured route, especially where a vehicle carrying a VVIP target has to slow down, not one of the most important SOPs ever?

The specifics now: The firing goes on for more than 25 minutes according to every report, yet not one terrorist is killed, not one disabled and captured. The Gulberg police station is located barely one hundred yards from the scene, yet not one policeman bestirs himself to saunter over and see what all the commotion is about, and in the process perhaps apprehend just one of the murderers? And the governor has the gall to say that Shahbaz Sharif himself did not tell him about the warning issued by the Punjab home department re: a possible attack on the Sri Lankans? I ask you!

It was nothing but a huge failure on the part of the present government, which failure will see Pakistan cricket die a quick and well-deserved death in this country. For look at the arrogant way in which the sport has been/is being run in the country. Just look at the ill-worded attack that the president of the PCB launched on Chris Broad, for God’s sake!

We are a very unique people; and for reasons best known only to ourselves we think the light shines out of our left ears and right nostrils. We are egotistical and conceited and simply will not face up to reality. Simply spoken, we do not deserve to play that game of gentlemen. It’s gulli danda for us, friends.

And other such sports that are the rage in the Land of the Pure; the Citadel of Islam; the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Sports such as hanging recently slaughtered corpses from electric poles and learning which is the exact place in the human solar plexus where the notice ordering passers-by not to take down the dead body before such and such a time in the morning can be affixed with a dagger.

Sports such as dragging women teachers (who insist on teaching girl pupils) from their homes in the dead of night by the hair after putting dancing-girl bells on their ankles (to announce them as nautch girls) to the nearest square and then slaughtering them and hanging their bodies in the manner stated above. Who wants boring old cricket, when we have all of the above?

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Security Czar Rehman Malik tells us Pakistan is in a state of war. Truer words were not spoken, but Malik did not tell us who we were at war with. He did not tell us that we were at war with ourselves, destroying what little is left of our country because of self-service and sheer incompetence. He did not tell us that our failed security establishment is mainly to blame for the extremely dire straits we are in: witness the debacle in Swat and much of Fata where the Taliban now rule supreme.

On the very day that Czar Malik pronounced that Pakistan was at war, the GOP told us the Mobile Courts Ordinance was issued during the sitting of parliament because neither the president, nor the law minister, nor the parliamentary affairs minister was aware that the National Assembly was in session! I ask you.

And amidst all of this, the PPP is doing to the PML-N in the Punjab in 2009 what Musharraf did to the PPP in Sindh in 2002: steal its majority in the provincial assembly and form its own government made up of odds and ends, even the ‘Qatil’ League. In an article of a few weeks ago I had asked to what avail had the PPP allowed the loud and in-your-face and adolescent Salman Taseer his shenanigans? For they will only bring grief to the party, and to those that sail in her.

I end with quoting from Taseer’s promoter, the Commando, who during his present visit to India has said he is quite willing to take over Pakistan’s presidency once more, if he is asked nicely. The man has brass of a very special kind, indeed.
By Kamran Shafi

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