Browsing "Yousuf Raza Gilani"

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

Are fashion statements stronger than political statements?

 For as long as I can remember, Maulana Fazlur Rehman is harbouring ambitions of ending up in the PM House. He was one of the candidates back in 2002, then tried his luck again in 2008 and the latest attempt is as recent as the exit of Yousuf Raza Gilani and his Armani suits from the prime ministerial abode. The third time around, too, the Maulana’s effort to weasel his way in was to no avail; he stayed out and somehow Raja Pervaiz Ashraf got in. My sister thinks that Maulana Diesel (as he is affectionately called) is a master politician and the only reason — apart from the fact that his party is nonexistent in two provinces — that he has not been able to make it to his desired destination is his inability to enunciate his political wizardry. I beg to differ; if diction and oratory had been the desired skills then Chaudhry Shujaat would not have made it to the seat of prime minister — even if it was for a few short weeks.
The James Bond-esque shades
The only reason — apart from the clout in that parliament — for Chaudhry Saab’s ascent was his sartorial elegance. While Chaudhry Saab in his crisp shalwar qameez and designer glasses looked quite at home in a cabinet meeting, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, in his orange checkered roomal over his rumpled kurta, could have only looked at home on a dastarkhuwan with sheermal and qorma
Perhaps, if he had been fonder of the diesel of other kind, he would have stood a better chance. It was his sartorial choices — or lack thereof — that sealed his political fate. Pakistan may not be high on international style meter and our fashion weeks do not even get the fraction of buyers that a Milan fashion week gets, but no-one has made it to the top offices in this country after sporting bedraggled shalwar qameez.
The longevity of erstwhile PM Yousuf Raza Gilani at his former position owes a lot to his fashion sense; early on in his position as the head of government, Mr Gilani had learned that no matter how unintelligent he sounds and how he makes a fool of himself — either in the cabinet meetings or during interviews with former journos — a good suit and a shiny new watch can deflect attention from rather serious matters of state. Since then, we have seen Armani suits, Marc Jacobs’ shirts, Rolex watches, impeccably dyed mustache and of course, the occasional Amir Adnan Sherwani. Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, on the other hand, may not survive long. Apart from the very obvious love affair between any PM from PPP and upper judiciary in this country, Raja Saab’s slicked back-do is more appropriate for an Al Capone of Godfather film rather than the Prime Minister’s House. No suit or sherwani can take away that Mafioso look. The moniker his electorate has bestowed up on him — Raja Rental — also deters anyone from taking him seriously.
Perhaps, the only person who thinks that Raja saab is a real prime minister who actually has any control over his government is the chief justice who prompts him to write a letter to random strangers in a country called Switzerland and reopen cases against distinguished people not quite resting in peace. He has not asked the sitting PM to reopen cases against perpetually waiting-to-be PM Nawaz Sharif (is it just me or do other people also feel that Mian saab looks like a vampire at times, always very white and always carnivorous). Two other politicians who owe their popularity to their wardrobe, their sense of style and accessories are Firdous Ashiq Awan and Hina Rabbani Khar. While Hina’s Birkins are easily recognized by most, Firdous’s array of gold bangles is harder to spot, though it is heard that most of her accessories come from the opulent lands of UAE.
If Hina is known to favour Roberto Cavalli shades and the Jimmy Choos that would look great in a Carrie Bradshaw wardrobe, Firdous wins it with her impeccable makeup. It has been pointed out that she does not use any brands other than Bobby Brown and Mac for enhancing her God given beauty. Considering the amount of makeup she uses every day, I have a feeling it would cost the same amount of money it needs to feed an army of a country like Liechtenstein. 

Bobby Brown vs Robert Cavalli
What can and has helped a great deal in the not-so-recent past in the ascent to power is the colour of clothing. If you happen to prefer khaki over all other colours and heads an institution that has over half a million armed men waiting to move against anything and anyone on your orders, chances are that you will at least have a couple of chances to take over the government in your reign. The best thing about this kind of power grab is that you don’t even have to worry about periodic elections and you end up at the top for far longer than any other politico — no matter how many labeled suits he wears. Another thing that aids the men in Khakis to assume and then cling on to the power is their ability to carry big bad boots with their khakis. If khakis maketh the man, then boots are the one that pave the way to the path of power and glory!
Though Khakis have a long established claim to power and glory in this country, the last few years have been instrumental in  bringing another group to the fore — they are ‘The Robed and the Black Coats’. Just because they are endowed with a black robe, they think they can order anyone around — be it an election commissioner or the elected prime minister. They are so high on their robes, imagine how cocky they would have been if they had still been wearing Raj Era wigs. Their conceit would have known no bounds! However, despite their conceit, their self preservation instincts are stronger and they neither issue summons nor do they tell the khakis to write letters to strangers or pay taxes on all the imports for their use.
Originally written for monthly magazine Pique’s August issues

Subliminally ridiculous

A couple of years back, a Dutch friend left Pakistan after having lived here for a few years, when I asked him how does he find life back home, his answer was: boring and mundane. When I asked him to elaborate, he said that he missed the uncertainty of the not getting hot water in the middle of a shower because of gas load shedding, the random strikes for reasons that had nothing to with Pakistani people and the fickle cabbies of Lahore who can charge anything between Rs 150 to 750 for the same distance depending upon the skin color the customer, time of day and (night) and the state you are in (inebriated or sober).
Life in most other countries is humdrum and monotonous; if you are Icelandic, you know you are famous for feminist politicians and banking crisis. In Finland, you know that you export one brand of cell phones and multiple types of fish. Pakistanis have transcended beyond tangible goods and have now started exporting djinns to kill errant housewives. If you are from Swaziland your claim to fame could be the two dozen wives of your king and crushing poverty. But if you are a Pakistani, you have hundreds of parliamentarians who are polygamists. In a society where nothing is predictable, the only thing you can be sure about is that 265 days out of 365, shit is going to hit the fan, you get a hundred day respite because there is no electricity for the fan on those days.
Pakistan is at the top of all things ridiculous, so ridiculous that we can be called subliminally ridiculous. Every country – other than Iceland of course – has some misogynist politicians trying to tell women not to drive or have abortions, wear or not to wear burqa or contest elections, but Pakistan beats them all with the likes of Samina Khawar Hayat, a woman who is not only a misogynist politician but she also advocates and promotes polygamy by trying to make it mandatory for the well off men.
Reams of newsprint and hours upon hours of airtime were devoted to discuss the dent to Pakistani sovereignty (which is as mythical as fire breathing dragons) when US troops landed in Abbotabad to capture Bin Laden but no one barring an odd blogger or a piece in an English daily asked if Osama and his assorted wives living and procreating in Pakistan mocked the sovereignty of the country or not.
The latest entrant in the list – but certainly not the most ridiculous – is the 37 second long sentence handed out to the Prime Minister. While expert are calling it a symbolic sentence, most of us masses are stupefied at the ingenuity of the judges who came up with the sentences. Apart from a tv anchor or two who may suffer brain aneurysm while discussing this sentence, law journals across the world would be commissioning academic research on what could be entered in Guinness Book of world records as the shortest possible sentence, a record that can only be broken by something just as subliminally ridiculous happening in Pakistan. Of course no one will ask the esteemed court about the about the hundreds of thousands of rupees of tax payers money spent on a conviction that lasted less time than it took to write the sentence.
Other countries may be just as ludicrous as we are if not more, what tips the scale in our favour on the ridiculous meter is that we do not even try. To top it all, we do not even have the decency of being charming and quirky about it. 
Nov 19, 2008 - Yousuf Raza Gilani    33 Comments

This letter is ‘very special’ because it is from the sister of PM

For everyone out there who is lamenting the fact that Dubya will soon bid adieu to Whitehouse and Jon Stewart will probably have to find another job, here is some good news on the gallactically stupid front. In Pakistan, we not only have a president who was declared demented by British doctors, but the PM and the rest of the cabinet is just as big a laugh if not bigger. The latest crazy to jump in is not a cabinet member but the “SISTER” of our esteemed prime minister.

It is recently discovered that Mrs Nargis Makhdoom, who is the sister of the PM and wife of the Additional Secretary of National Assembly, has gotten a letter head printed which says …. yeah exactly that – that she is the sister of the PM and wife of some additional secretary dude). Mrs. Makhdoom has gotten a ‘sifarshee’ letter drafted (going by the standard of English, I would say that the person who penned this masterpiece must have also written for Geo TV website) which basically ask the addressee to ‘give the holder of the letter a sympathetic hearing’ as the holder happens to be a ‘very special case’.

First of all, I am impressed with temerity of Mrs Makhdoom that she addressed this letter to an esteemed member of HEC (that’s Higher Education Commission for the uninitiated) and started it with the words “The Barer” which can be very misleading, especially it the ‘barer’ of the letter happens to be a young man and the member of HEC has a preference for strapping young lads.

I wonder how many such ‘very special cases’ she is patronizing? Going by the way she has a pre drafted letter and just changes the name of addressee and the sifarshee (a sifarshee is a person who gets ahead through special favors – one such example is pasted – through finding patrons at the right places and by killing meritocracy), there must have been quite a few ‘very special cases’ forwarded by the sister of the prime minister.

It is at times like this I feel that I have wasted my life studying and accumulating one degree after another and working my neck off, try to excel at what I do and still failing to get ahead in life. I could just live off the spoils of big brother and dear ol’ hubby. That’s what I call a charmed life!

Oh and I never knew that the word ‘anticipation’ was quantifiable.

Image courtesy: Ibrahim M. Khalil.

Aug 20, 2008 - Yousuf Raza Gilani    2 Comments

The best revenge !

While going through various newspapers, I came across this gem in Daily Telegraph by our teenage Quaid-e-Awam.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the Oxford student whose mother and the former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in December, said:

“After the martyrdom of my mother I said that democracy was the best revenge – and today it was proved true.”

All I could think at the end of it was, “college education can only do so much.” If this is what he could have come up with after being raised by a Harvard educated mom and a high school drop out dad and spending a year in Oxford, then PM Yousuf Raza Gilani, who did his schooling in the city of saints Multan, is justified in speaking the way he does as mentioned here, here and here.

Aug 11, 2008 - Yousuf Raza Gilani    No Comments

Actually, judiciously, basically, certainly, definitely

Actually, judiciously, basically, certainly, definitely and finally, Thank you.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani sahab has been mocked by this comedy site called 23/6 to no end. This comedy video condenses CNN’s show The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer into one minute. In this one minute episode, apnay Gilani sahab managed to get a few seconds and brought smile to many lips in his usual articulate manner.

Aug 7, 2008 - Yousuf Raza Gilani    No Comments

Gilani sahib and his infinite wisdom

This is priceless. The Friday Times reported this in their current issue and I thought it should be shared with everyone. PM Gillani is definitely turning into Dubya part 2.

Gillani sahib, in his infinite wisdom, when speaking to the press in Washington said that the majority of Pakistanis do not support terrorism and extremism. I am sure most Americans rolled their eyes at this.

He then went on to say that there were only a few ‘handpicked’ militants in Pakistan. Wrong.

He probably meant to say that there are only a ‘handful’ of militants in Pakistan.

Aug 4, 2008 - Yousuf Raza Gilani    No Comments

Absolute disgrace

As far as moronic heads of government go, I never thought that we would ever be able to to Mian Nawaz Shariff, who seems to have miraculously polished his public speaking skills after cooling his heels in Jeddah and London.

PM Gilani has had quite a few blunders to his credit. The ISI fiasco and PTV national address are a few of the disasters in addition to various instances we have witnessed on TV where he was unable to read a written speech properly. Here he is, sucking up to George W., halting and bumbling while speaking for 70 seconds.Now that PM gilnai has abused the word “because” to death, I think the rest of us need to go easy on it. I would try and use it as less as possible as it now represent mental inertia and pathetic vocabulary.
In addition, he actually sought President’s Bush permission before speaking even after Bush introduced him to the press in DC, thats taking obsequious behaviour to an extreme new lows. Republicans should invite Pakistani prime minister to Washington more often, he actually makes Dubya look smart (and people thought it was not possible).

What a disgrace.
Mar 25, 2008 - Society, Yousuf Raza Gilani    No Comments

Boobie groping or Boobie guarding?

Somebody was singing the praises of the newly elected PM Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani on an online forum. As I was truly galactically screwed by PM’s protocol the night before, this is what I responded with.
“Yeah Gilani the Groper. In case you have forgotten, it is the same guy who was immortalized in the youtube video where he was trying grope a fellow female politician (hence he will always be remembered by boobie trap) in a rally. He got elected last evening, then flew to Karachi to attend his son’s wedding with Peer Pagara’s grand daughter (in case people here don’t know, Peer Pagara also happens to be Gilani’s khalo or maternal uncle) and blocked the traffic for four hours as every lane near the wedding venue was blocked off. I got stuck at a relative’s home and managed to reach home at 2.00 am after the PM’s protocol party opened the roads.

So, after these elections, we chose a man who became a youtube legend (there are two entries of the same video with over 160,000 views) for groping – but hey, what red blooded Pakistani male would not do that?

The newly elected PM is a close relative of Peer Pagara who defines the word ‘establishment’ which also tells us how ‘independent’ the new PM will be. 

To this, I got this response from a gentleman.
“Alright… that is a news for me! No wonder PIR PAGARA is considered a KING MAKER and everyone seek his blessings to stay in the corridors of power!

Mr. Gillani is a human and he may have got carried away at that time. Or may be, what looked ‘boobie groping’ then could actually be ‘boobie guarding’ in that unruly crowd. We must give that benefit of doubt to our new ‘elected’ leader for the sake of JO QAUM APNAY LEADER KI IZZAT NAHEE KARTI… WHO AGAY NAHEE BADHTI!

Besides, who is a clean person in Pakistan’s politiKs today?”

Boobie guarding, now this is fucking hilarious.