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The biter bit.

PTI workers staged a sit-in in front of party chief Imran Khan's residence at Banigala, against some of the tickets awarded. It was as if Imram's favourite weapon was being used against him. Just as those who said to him that he should use the legal remedies available to him. Actually, this was how the dharna ended, with assurances that the Supreme Court would conduct an enquiry into the 2013 election. The judge conducting that enquiry is now caretaker Prime Minister. The PTI did not castigate him as having been bribed by Mian Nawaz Sharif, even though he did not do his patriotic duty of declaring Mian Nawaz a usurper, and installing Imran forthwith.

One of the natural concomitants of an election, as far as I can remember, has been heart-burning over ticket awards. The rebellion by a former provincial minister, Zaeem Qadri, in Lahore, has been over tickets. His grouse was over the national ticket for NA 133. He is contesting now as an independent, but presumably all would have been OK if he had been granted the ticket, and there would have been no finer fellow than Mian Hamza Shehbaz. Zaeem's the son of Saleem Hussain Qadri, who was an associate of the previous Pir Pagaro, and thus the nephew of Mr Justice Shamim Hussain Qadri, the Zia-era Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court.

And while Imran is mulling over the fights over tickets, and the use of the sit-in tactic against him ('hoist on his own petard' is the Shakespearean metaphor that comes to mind), he was busy proving that he is a yaaraan da yaar, so important around elections. The way he got pal Zulfi Bokhari out of the country is an example, and shows what the 'new Pakistan' will be like after tabdeeeli occurs. Mian Nawaz and other thieves in the PML-N will be thrown to the mob to be torn limb from limb, while Jehangir Tareen and Shah Mahmood Qureshi try to conceal their having held provincial office under it.

It is somehow right that Mushtaq Yusufi has passed away at the beginning of the election season, which also involves a lot of funny money. I knew Yusufi was a humourist, but it was only from his obituaries that I learnt he was a banker. So a funny moneyman is no more. Well, his incongruity might seem like something out of Stephen Leacock, even though the latter's professorship of political science was not as great an incongruity as Wallace Stevens', who apart from being one of the USA's greatest poets, was an insurance man.

I doubt if US President Donald Trump has read much Wallace Stevens, which is another thing that should endear him to Mian Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan, who are both as unintellectual as you can get without actually being mentally deficient (though opponents might argue against this limitation). Trump threw a tantrum at the G7 Summit, which was excellent preparation for his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. It should warn Kim that he couldn't trust Trump as far as he could throw him. You can't trust demagogues, can you? Remember Hitler in 1938, when the British PM, Neville Chamberlain, thought he had promised 'peace in our time' provided he could get some of Czechoslovakia? Remember what happened in 1939? Kim shouldn't go around doing in his barbers yet.

Trump seems to have impressed enough by him he had called 'Rocket Man' to have ordered a new armed force for the USA, a Space Force, presumably to be created by upgrading the US Air Force's Space Command. Though it hasn't happened yet, Russian President Vladimir Putin has already objected, raising the spectre of an arms race. We should hope that India doesn't follow with a Space Force. We would have to follow.

Imran Khan may look at South Sudan as an example of how to manage the Jahangir Tareen-Shah Mehmood Qureshi thing that is tearing his party apart. I'm not saying that either man is as fiercely hatted as President Salva Kiir or as blatantly gap-toothed as Riek Machar, but they're as deeply opposed to one another.

Imran is watching how the Malaysian government is thinking of reopening the case of Altantuya Shaariibu, the Mongolian woman blown up in Kuala Lumpur in 2006. She was involved in the planned purchase of French Scorpene-class subs. At the time, the Defence Minister was Razak Najib, the PM ousted last month in an election. Imran is probably recalling the decision to buy Agosta-class French subs in which a naval chief had to resign and a 2002 bombing in which 11 French engineers were killed. There was funny money around that deal too, with Nicholas Sarkozy, later President, questioned about how he funded a presidential campaign by Edouard Balladur, French PM at the time of the deal. Imran would like an eyewitness to prove that Mian Nawaz, or at least Mian Shehbaz, placed the explosive that blew up the French engineers.

However, the really interesting news is that Canada is legalising the use of cannabis from October 17. I wonder if we are going back to the US Prohibition era, when liquor was illegal in the USA, but legal in Canada. That's where the Mafia made its pile, smuggling Canadian liquor into the USA. So you get legal Canadian charas and smuggle it into the USA. The next fortunes aren't going to be made in it, but somewhere much higher.
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Publication:The Nation (Karachi, Pakistan)
Date:Jun 25, 2018
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