Garlic and ginger

November 26, 2021

In Pakistan, we face situations every day that are both funny and tragic at the same time. Nearly all have pathos in them and large parts of them are rife with ignorance. At such times it is wise to...

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In Pakistan, we face situations every day that are both funny and tragic at the same time. Nearly all have pathos in them and large parts of them are rife with ignorance. At such times it is wise to cry and laugh at the same time.

When your information minister cannot tell whether ‘lehsan’ is garlic or not then you laugh. He used the word ‘lehsan’ and then explained that in English it is called ‘ginger’. So, it would not be wrong to conjecture that he has been cooking with garlic when he should have used ginger and with ginger when he should have used garlic. I wonder what word he will find for ‘thom,’ which means onion in Punjabi and ‘pyaaz’ in Urdu. But the great man merrily carries on with his ignorance hither and thither and yon.

Reminds me of the time when my little daughter, Saniyya, took her first foray in cooking. She came and asked me how to make chicken korma. She kept walking into the TV lounge to ask me for the recipe and when she finally made it, she proudly presented it to me. Only I discovered it was lamb and not chicken. But I let it pass because it nevertheless tasted very good. The twelve-year-old child would have lost interest in cooking if I had chided her or made fun of her. Instead, my wife and I encouraged her -- and today Saniyya is a passable cook. You should ask our information minister to make an omelet but he may end up with a scrambled egg stuffed with garlic and ginger. He should start a restaurant called ‘Garlic & Ginger.’

The judiciary is on the run because of a fake audio message in which former CJ Saqib Nisar is allegedly talking about the case against Nawaz and Maryam Nawaz being manipulated. This is complete nonsense. Saqib Nisar has himself said that it is not his voice because the audio tape was created by a cut and paste job from two different speeches and allegedly manufactured because the PML-N tend to do such things to divert attention when the hearing of some case of theirs is coming up. Some of the lawyers are the same faces that one saw during the lawyers’ movement. The whole thing is pathetic, and the debate still rages on Pakistani television channels about this tamasha.

Be that as it may, the judiciary has lost a healthy chunk of the respect and credibility that was remaining. The larger question that arises is: who selects judges and how? Our practice now is to select them in the manner that kills merit -- seniority. We have had Supreme Court judges who were ‘prevailed’ upon to judge against Zulfikar Ali Bhutto which led to his execution. That whole case from high court to the Supreme Court was a classic example of miscarriage of justice and the destruction of due process. But we have lived with it since his execution in 1979.

But the same courts then sat to decide on whether former president Pervez Musharraf had committed treason or not. The case still hangs fire. Our judiciary gives bail to convicted criminals like Nawaz Sharif and lets them leave the country on the excuse of finding a cure in London where Sharif now lives and trashes the judiciary and the army whenever he can. It is food for thought when a corrupt man is given bail and the judiciary looks on, while former president Asif Zardari lords it over without any consequences. It would be a close match between Zardari and Nawaz Sharif.

So much for our exalted judiciary -- and let it be said for our lawyers: they succeeded in restoring Iftikhar Chaudhry as chief justice and he proceeded to destroy the judiciary with his misjudgments – doing so much damage and yet not facing any consequences.

We finally have a new programme with the IMF worth not very much. But it will create more problems for Pakistan and Pakistanis. Inflation, already unmanageable, will get another boost and where all this will end, I don’t know. Poor Imran Khan is trying to ensure that our next election is free and fair by introducing electronic voting machines. A storm has been kicked up by a jobless opposition and they will put Imran under great pressure to undo this legislative decision. His getting more than thirty bills passed in one day was a big achievement.

And, whilst talking of the IMF, I recall that our finance minister before he became finance minister the first time in the PPP government had grandly declared that he will go to the IMF over his dead body. Well, go he did and begged for another programme. I am still asking all who listen where the body is.

The writer is a veteran journalist, political analyst and author.


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