Requirements of love
I often wonder who among those who practise the art of writing the light column in Urdu can claim to have been touched by the spirit of that all-time great maestro of this art (unless it turns out to be a science), the late Maulana Charagh Hasan Hasrat. The mantle would have sat well on Ibne Insha, but he is gone. And Majid Lahori who chose the ultimate name for Pakistan’s industrialist millionaires, Seth Tyre Ji Tube Ji, is dead too. So whom has Hasrat’s ebullient spirit touched? On a good day, I would say, it speaks through Abbas Athar and on some days through Munno Bhai. Abdul Qadir Hasan, my friend of many years, only writes about heavy, soul-scorching matters now; and Ambassador AU Qasimi, if he were he to stop reproducing both Sikh and sick jokes, might find the old maulana smile on him once in a while. Nazir Naji once had the touch but he appears to spend most of his time these days brushing his conscience clean of all that the years have dumped on it.
On current showing, therefore, it is Abbas Athar. His column on the holy crocs of Manghu Pir who refused to touch meat bought with tainted money is a classic. I found it so funny that I translated it into English for the English medium types. Abbas Athar, news editor of that short-lived firecracker, the Daily Azad, it was and not Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, as universally believed, who authored “ Idhar hum, udhar tum”. This was the caption, the surkhi, Abass Athar slapped on Bhutto’s Nishtar Park speech in 1971.
The other day, I came across an exceedingly funny Abbas Athar column in a New York newspaper, and one that deserves to be shared with the angrezi bolnay wala crowd. It is called “Requirements of love”. So take it from here Abbas Athar.
“There is one good thing about Jamali sahib: he always speaks the truth. In Karachi at an iftar dinner the other day he once again said that he found nothing at all the matter with his having called Musharraf his boss. ‘I’ll continue to call him my boss,’ he added. He said some politicians were known to have adopted fathers; all he had done was adopted a boss.
“So why has the Muslim League leader Siddique-ul-Farooq taken this entirely truthful statement to heart? According to him, by calling somebody your father, you are actually paying tribute to his age and the respect his years have brought him. But to call someone your boss betrays a sense of inferiority and is an admission that you are an underling.
“I am astonished that Siddique-ul-Farooq should have taken such a negative view of Jamali’s declaration. Jamali is a truly humble man and admits to being Musharraf’s underling. Now what is wrong with that? Is he not working under Musharraf? He is a man of such utter humility that one wouldn’t put it past him to call himself an underling of Musharraf’s underlings, if not the dust under their feet. Obviously, Siddique-ul-Farooq is unaware of the reality on the ground. Does he not know who conferred the title of prime minister on Jamali? It was Gen Musharraf who did that out of the goodness of his heart. If Jamali has no powers, what difference does it make? After all, did the British not confer titles and gifts of land on Jamali’s ancestors? He is only carrying forward the tradition. Siddique-ul-Farooq should thus have praised this particular one among Jamali’s virtues. Is it not creditable that Jamali did not turn his back on family tradition? In this day and age, there are only a few who respect tradition.
“I am also unhappy with this absurd and dissonant melody the opposition has been singing about helping Jamali acquire real power. Somebody should ask these gents what is biting them when Jamali is quite content with his state. Only yesterday, fifteen new ministers were added to the Punjab cabinet, which has raised the number of ministers, advisers and others to a hundred and fifty. Some ministers do not even know what department they have been assigned. One minister said it all when he remarked that it was enough he had a flag on his car and a stick in his hand. What possible use could he have for a department! That is what is called being grateful to the Almighty for whatever He sends your way.
“Jamali sahib has also been given a flag, though the stick stays with Musharraf. That seems to be in order. The opposition would be well advised to stop chanting its loony tune. It is said that if man and wife are happy, there is no room for interveners. The opposition also appears to be greatly troubled by Jamali’s offer to India. During his address to the nation, Jamali sahib offered a ceasefire on the Line of Control to India, unilaterally and without conditions. He also said that he was ready for a bus service between Muzaffarabad and Srinagar, as long as it ran under the watchful eye of UN observers.
“Later, while addressing the nation, Jamali sahib exhibited admirable large-heartedness by withdrawing the UN bit. What is not clear so far is why he addressed India. It is possible that his for Indian-ears-only speech was by mistake broadcast to the whole nation. The opposition has accused Jamali sahib of having prostrated himself before India by sacrificing the stand Pakistan has maintained on Kashmir for fifty years. This criticism is not only illogical but irrelevant. Assuming that Jamali sahib has laid himself prostrate before a neighbour, does the opposition not know that there are certain obligations when it comes to the neighbour next door.
“After all, have we not laid ourselves prostrate, and with total self-effacement, before those who dwell seven seas away? Why is the opposition continuing to wail about a national stand that is fifty years old? This is the way the world turns. What is old is chucked out. We live in the New Age, in a New Democracy and we have new National Interests. It is these new national interests which require that we not even attempt to strike a bargain. Our relationship with our neighbours and those who live seven seas away is one of pure love. And when it comes to love, one doesn’t bargain. Love means total, unconditional surrender. Jamali sahib has fulfilled the requirements of love by hitting the ground. It is therefore time the opposition stopped whining because despite all the rumpus it is creating, the Kashmir problem is fated to be resolved on Jamali’s watch, to boot in a just manner. It will be settled on the basis of give some, take some. And that basis is: Kashmir theirs, Kashmiris ours. Let the opposition smoulder in its own fire. The Kashmir Medal is fated to dangle on Jamali’s chest.”
Game, set and match to Abbas Athar.