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Pakistan

City Notes: May we have more Eids

If you ask me, the real revelation was not that Maryam Nawaz Sharif was arrested for money laundering.

That was to be expected. You don’t go around the country saying things about the prime minister, and expect to go home to bed every night. She is lucky that Imran Khan has such a regard for women, true chivalry. Otherwise, Maryam would have found herself on a buffalo theft charge, or in possession of drugs, or even worse, like walking on the grass in a prohibited area.

The real revelation was that Maulana Tahir Ashrafi had been booked for money laundering. It seems he got no less than Rs 24 million from Germany, and has caused the Financial Action Task Force to ask embarrassing questions. I have heard it said that the Maulana blew all the money on food. Anyone who has seen his rotundity (he’s one of those people who prefer to sit on a two-seater because they find a chair oddly constraining) would readily accept that. I, for one, don’t think it’s worth being blacklisted by FATF just to satisfy his appetite.

Coming back to Maryam Nawaz, of course, she’s still alive. That can’t be said about Sushma Swaraj, the former Foreign Minister of India. She was 68, and had a heart attack. Well, she was younger than another famous woman who also died, Toni Morrison at 88, the author of Beloved, one of the most searing accounts of someone from two minorities. She was black; she was a woman. Like Toni Morrison. And she didn’t get any Nobel for Literature either, as Morrison did (when the Nobel for Literature didn’t have any rappers aspiring to it, as it does after Bob Dylan).

It is to be assumed that neither President Trump nor Imran Khan mourned Toni Morrison. Trump presumably doesn’t mourn anyone admired as much as she was by Barack Obama. And Imran doesn’t mourn writers, for no matter what their race or gender, he doesn’t read them.

I doubt if Modi has any literary tastes, as Atal Bihari Vajpayee did. I wonder if that’s why Vajpayee went for nuclear tests, and Modi for changing the status of Kashmir. Because change he did, thus setting off a war scare. Of course, Imran Khan boldly told the world that there would be no war. Maybe the famous Trump memory covered some mumbles by Modi (at the G7 Summit) about Kashmir, and assumed that it was a request for mediation, while it was actually a declaration of intent to annex.

Trump was also distracted, with shootings by white supremacists in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, which he blamed on mental health problems, as well as too much violence in video games. My own 14-year-old said that Trump’s son must be playing video games. I must be getting old, because I was reminded of the late Sardar Arif Nakai, who was Punjab Chief Minister after Manzoor Wattoo, who once announced that problems were being created by kids doing The Twist. “My grandson does The Twist,” he admitted expansively at a press conference.

At that time, Sardar Arif was 65. Trump is now 73, so he is permitted to make fatuous remarks like that about the modern generation. The son he’s worrying about is 13, but his eldest grandchild, a grand-daughter, is 14, so he’s at that stage in life. Well, so is Imran, who’s 66, but he hasn’t got any grandchildren. Or at least none that we know about.

I noticed that eight Mexican citizens died in El Paso, where the shooting took place at a Walmart favoured by Hispanics. I was waiting for Trump to say that the white supremacist hadn’t got enough, just as much as I’m still waiting for him to refer to a black as an ape. I’m sure he uses the N-word in private.

Trump also believes that climate change is false science, merely a Chinese conspiracy to stop America becoming great again. Yet the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change has come out with a new report saying that if we don’t change our ways, climate change will impact us much faster than was previously predicted.

Look, the prophets of doom and gloom have always been around. When I was growing up in the latter half of the 20th century, I worked out that unless I lived to something like 200, I wouldn’t see those effects. Of course, my grandchildren wouldn’t have much of a life.

Then came a time, around the beginning of the century, when I realised that my children wouldn’t have much of a planet in their old age, but I would escape. But now it seems that, unless something is done by the whole world, I’ll be alive when disaster strikes. And that disaster is the end of human civilisation. On that note, I will leave you, gentle reader, and wish you had a happy Eidul Azha. May you so act as to ensure that we’re still celebrating Eid in the future.

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