Browsing "Rehman Malik"

From preposterous to downright ridiculous

American humorist Will Rogers said it a while ago but it still holds true. “People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.” What should get people thinking or outraged elicits a different kind of response these days among the voting population. With the kind of lives we are leading for past couple of decades, we have started taking things lightly as a coping mechanism. What used to be criminal is now laughable and what used to be stupid is now endearing. No wonder we scored that high on the happiness index, because there cannot be any other rational explanation for it.
Many people have sold volumes and have made fortunes by compiling Bushisms during Dubya’s 8-year rule. I am sure someone is doing the same in Iran with the pearls of wisdom of Mehmoud Ahmadinejad, though we have no way of knowing if that compilation will ever see the light of day. George W. Bush was not the only US president suffering from ‘foot in mouth’ disease. Republican candidate Mitt Romney was planning on firing the big bird (His plan was to stop giving subsidy to PBS which will lead to closure of Sesame Street and make Big Bird redundant) to decrease the domestic debt. Fans of the muppets plan to march the streets of Washington DC before the election to register their protest.  Romney’s brilliant plan is at par with Nobel Committee’s decision to give peace prize this year to European Union or our very own prime minister’s disorientation when he called 14-year-old victim of terrorism Malala Yousufzai who is a high school student and a national icon of courage, an IT expert during a parliament session. Being the head of the government of Islami Jamhooriya of Pakistan, one cannot even ask him what kind of quality stuff he has been smoking.
If any politician in Pakistan who comes even close to good ol’ George W. in terms of political gaffes and repeated faux pas, it is no-one but Senator Rehman Malik. From claiming to have seen surveillance footage of Darth Vader like terrorists to blaming majority of deaths in Karachi on wives and girlfriends in the city rather than the precarious law and order situation. I am surprised that Rehman Malik’s comment did not give birth to a “Real Housewives of Karachi” kind of a reality TV show. Last month, he made a statement about Karachi being the destination of choice for Pakistani and Afghan Taliban for vacations. Being the interior minister, he thought it was prudent to announce it in a news conference but he decided not to do anything about it.
With the passage of time, the delusion of grandeur is reaching epic proportions. Only recently, he decided to extend his jurisdiction to other countries and took credit for people being arrested in the United States.  Yes, Rehman Baba, formerly of FIA and now of Ministry of Interior, claimed the credit for the arrest of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the producer of anti-Islam movie Innocence of Muslims. When it was pointed out to him that Nakoula was arrested for violating his bail in another case, he persisted that it was his voice that reached the right quarters which resulted in the arrest. I mean seriously! How idiotic one has to be to take credit for an arrest which was a very minor domestic matter of another country?
If Dubya stuns everyone with the fact that he was a Yale graduate, Rehman Malik, too, was bestowed with an honorary doctorate degree from country’s premier university, Karachi University perhaps, for his famous one-liners about and apples and banana or his sterling recitation of Surah Ikhlaas during a cabinet session.
The other politician who is known for shooting off the handle is Balochistan Chief Minister Aslam Raisani whose unforgettable words “Degree tau degree hoti hai chahay asli ho ya naqli (a degree is a degree whether genuine or fake)” will go down in Pakistani political gaffe history alongside with the boobie groping video. It has become such a point of reference for mockery that everything from space adventures (On Felix Baumgartner’s Space Jump, “Jump jump hoti hai, chahe space se ho ya sofay se” — a jump is a jump whether from space or a sofa) to local politics (Letter letter hota hai, chahay Grade 11 ke boy friend ko likha jaye ya Swiss hukoomat ko — a letter is a letter whether written to the boyfriend of an 11th Grader or the Swiss government).
While we are it, the Marie Antoinette of Pakistan, former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, also needs a special mention. When asked during an interview that one-fifth of Pakistanis want to leave the country, the premier didn’t hesitate to respond: “Why don’t they just leave then?”
That nonchalant matter-of-fact response was followed by, “Who’s stopping them?” What followed that super glib response were an awkward silence immediately and a thousand memes on Internet after that.
Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is famous for either scandals with underage girls or for paying them for their affections. The late tent pitching nomadic leader of Libya Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was also not particularly well known for his sanity and discretion.
During his last trip to Italy, he requested the Berlusconi government to meet arrange for him to meet 700 women from the world of ‘politics, industry and culture’ who he can preach about Islam — the list included a female minister who used to be a topless model. Not only did he make the request, the Berlusconi government was weird enough to entertain it! Apparently, it was not the first such incident and the Sarkozy government was also guilty of giving in to a similar request  made during his earlier trip to Paris.
There have been politicians like Sher-e-Punjab Ghulam Mustafa Khar or Khadim-e-Ala Mian Shahbaz Sharif who are known for being ladies man and a serial groom respectively, but if there is one politician who endeared himself to people for his buffoon like antics around women, it is the latter’s elder brother.
Who can forget the saga of one Kim Barker and how the Barre Mian tried to ‘iPhone’ her. Things did not stay the same after the whole debacle became public and an iPhone had lost the innocence of being just a gift — at least in Pakistani political domain.

Bilour the bounty offerer is the recent entrant in the exalted club of ‘The gallactically stupid and the damned’. Before he offered to pay the bounty of $100,000 for the head of the filmmaker who made Innocence of Muslims, he was infamous for single-handedly ruining Pakistan Railways and for the ownership of cinemas that showed uncensored clips during regular viewings.  Had it been another country, Ghulam Ahmad Bilour should have been investigated by the taxation authorities for possessing that kind of money because reports suggests that during the last fiscal year, the tax he paid was just a little over $ 1,000 (around PKR100,000). 
Last but definitely not the least is the most theatrical of all Pakistani politicians. He may not grace your television sets everyday but when he does, he does it for a solid three hours and entertains you to no end. Altaf Bhai’s performance in the chooran chatni video is the stuff of legends and his rendition of parday mein rehnay do was perhaps the highest rated — under duress of course — television performance ever. Even Katrina Kaif cannot rival that. 

First published in the monthly magazine Pique

Dr Babar Awan – What’s not to like?

The twittervesre is outraged at Dr Babar Awan, not because he had one of his usual bouts of tweeting with caps lock on, but because he was awarded the post of Vice President of Pakistan People’s Party. I can’t understand the animosity his appointment has garnered. Not only is he an educated man, he is also an astute lawyer, a good orator, a TV presenter par excellence, a  writer and man who speaks the language of our masters (no silly, everyone speaks English, he is fluent in Arabic). Seriously; what’s not to like? 

One can be a little perturbed at this development because how can a political party have a vice president when it does not have a president – Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Daddy Zardari share the chairmanship of the party – but this much anger on an appointment is a little misplaced. 

The appointment of the good doctor is quite befitting; after all, who else could have matched his towering personality and his innumerable accomplishments. The cynics think that party has other stalwarts who could have been better suited for the job, but no one comes even close. Named after the Mughal king, Zaheer-ud-din Babar, the new Vice President is a man amongst men. Aitezaz Ahsan and Sherry Rehman may have written an odd book or two about Indus River and Kashmiri shawls, but the esteemed barrister has authored several books. It is besides the point that no one seems to know the titles of the books and what those books are about. Unfortunately, a hurried Google search about his penmanship yielded no conclusive results. 

Rehman Malik may have been awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Karachi University, but Dr Babar Awan is heads and shoulders above his fellow party man. He does not wait for local universities to confer doctorates upon him; he invents a university as delicately named as Monticello – which perhaps reminds one of a high end spaghetti sauce or Thomas Jefferson – and bestow a doctorate upon himself.

Dr Babar Awan is also not a serial party hopper like some other dudes whose final destination seems to be PTI these days. He only jumped the ship once and has been with Pakistan People’s Party since 1990s. Wikipedia reports that his brother is part of a Mutahidda Qaumi Movement in Punjab but that is only to spread brotherhood and good cheer. I don’t see him joining Altaf Bhai any time soon.


Not just politicians, Dr Babar Awan can give TV personalities like Amir Liaquat and Sahir Lodhi a run for money. Unlike Amir Liaquat who carries the show on the basis of sheer verbosity and Sahir Lodhi who only moonlights as a religious presenter in Ramazan and is known more for his dance moves and questionable wardrobe, Dr Awan is a genuine bona fide religious scholar who used to present a show on religious laws on a local tv channel. The ratings of his show were however not available to be compared with the other two gentlemen.


What the naysayers do not get is that vice president ship of a party is a very significant post and cannot be given to just anyone. The reason this important post was given to Dr Babar Awan is that if there ever was a declamation or an oration  contest between vice chairmen and presidents of Pakistani political parties, Pakistan people’s party would not want to lose it to its erstwhile member and the new, asli tay vada and very senior vice chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf. 

A slightly edited version was first published in The Express Tribune 


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