Tuesday January 18, 2022

Brain freeze

December 03, 2021

It is so wretchedly cold in Islamabad that one can get writer’s block! In the present instance, one actually has brain freeze which in turn has been caused by a torrent of information – with judges getting caught up in issues that they shouldn’t, lawyers having their say in the matter, political parties taking full advantage to try and get decisions taken or reversed and one hell of a shemozzle.

To top it all, the Supreme Court is busy giving orders to demolish buildings already constructed and purchased or rented with people living there happily.

The question is: where was the Supreme Court when these buildings were being built so that they could nip the lot in the bud? One has to realise that all buildings – be they in the private or public sector – are part of national wealth and assets and they can’t just go around having them demolished. It is not unusual in Pakistan for permission to be obtained for constructing a building, millions of rupees spent building it and then these buildings are suddenly declared illegal and ordered to be demolished. What a waste!

Through the course of the many months it takes to construct a building, if no municipal or building authority raises an objection then how is it fair that when the building is functioning and people are living in it, suddenly the courts come to life and take to task the bureaucracy for not demolishing it and television channels are busy announcing the progress of the demolition daily? “Now the top floor has been taken out! Next the one below it will be taken out!” I mean: what is the point? They need to solve the problem at the root which is when permission is given to builders to construct a so-called illegal building. It is the people who gave the permission and the ones who remained somnambulant while it was being built and every authority responsible for it that should be punished so that this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.

All our institutions need rebuilding, not least the judiciary. Every institution gets respect if it has earned it. I still respect our judiciary despite its enormous flaws – delaying cases longer than you’d even imagine, giving bails to a convict and then letting him out of the country, their famous suo-motu tamashas in which a former chief justice was thoroughly disgraced and even took notice of the price of samosas at one time because they were beyond the reach of the common person.

If they are so concerned about the common man, why don’t they do something about the runaway inflation, the price of petrol, gas, electricity, food and so forth? What can one say? They should get an economic specialist to brief them, but such people are few and far between in this country. Hafeez Sheikh was certainly one, Dr Ashfaq is another and a few more. Then they will get to know the price of eggs and how their price is determined. They should certainly take notice of the depreciation in the value of the rupee which contributes a great deal to inflation.

This tiptoeing around with buildings and videos that do not do credit to a recently retired chief justice will win them no kudos. They could do us a great favour by finding out who are the makers of such fake audio and video tapes.

Times were when I was a young boy and judges were very careful about their socialising. No fake video or audio could be made about them. In Pakistan’s early days, the famous Justice Cornelius declined an invitation from the Quaid-e-Azam saying that he could not go to his party because he was presiding over so many cases against the federal government. This is not the case today. Oh, what a fall my countrymen! They have been reduced to becoming victims of someone just because she is the daughter of a former prime minister who is allegedly causing fake videos to be made. But the judges should also take umbrage over the fact that such videos are made because of their indiscreet behavior. It really pains me to say this, but I think the judiciary needs a total overhaul.

By the way, a young lady, a daughter of a friend of mine recently asked me, “Humayun Uncle, when is this Covid going to end?” Amused, I replied, “Beta, it will go only after it has killed all of us.”

How can I finish this article without pointing out India’s joke of giving the third highest award for gallantry in their country to their pilot who was shot down and captured by Pakistan? Abhinandan is his name. I mean, this is worse than a fool’s paradise.

And remember that the pilot loved the tea that was given to him at an army officers’ mess in Pakistan. The Indian air force should carry the painting of the cup of hot tea as its symbol on its air force planes with ‘Made in Pakistan’ written under the cup. I tell you the sale of tea will go up exponentially.

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