The Eagle has landed
“The Eagle has landed”, a friend phones from New York, breathless with excitement. It is always nice to come home because this is the city which was home to our beloved leader before a certain bird that everyone thought had never existed in the first place, or become extinct, appeared from a deep blue sky on a lovely summer morning and made a perfect nimble-footed landing on the well-coiffured head of the man who would one day be our prime minister.
It was a bird with perfect manners since it left nothing behind except the good fortune it had brought. I am sure if it had landed on my head, mistaking it for the assigned site, it would have left something else behind.
I am unable to bring to this space all the exciting things that must be happening in New York, what with the brilliant cast of 75 that the prime minister has brought with him, including 21 of my own tribe. I am unable to do that because I have not gone to New York, having been asked to wait for the great man’s arrival in Washington, which takes place exactly on the day this column appears.
New York is high finance and commerce and there simply could have been nobody better equipped than Mr Shaukat Aziz to sell to the Americans the socks and sweaters and T-shirts that they have refused to buy in the quantities that our sweatshops in Gujranwala and Faisalabad produce. But the hot button issue among Pakistanis here is not textiles but the Bajaur bombing that killed women and children and “four foreigners”, if our own spy spiders are to be believed. This at least is what some of them have been telling American newspapers and news agencies.
What has everyone confused is that if there were indeed four foreigners felled by those 10 missiles that a mysterious, unidentified flying object (could it be a flying saucer?) lobbed at that mud-walled compound, where are the bodies? Have the angels come and taken them to Neverland? One Pakistani source – O how we love to try our English on foreigners! – said that the bodies had been taken for DNA tests. He wouldn’t say who had taken them or where they had been taken.
The finger of suspicion has naturally been pointed at Auntie CIA (rhymes with PIA), but Auntie says it never comments on such matters. And, frankly, we should all have a lot of sympathy and understanding for Auntie’s reticence. The real reason Auntie never talks about such things is because it would frighten the children. And if there is one thing Auntie CIA loves, it is children. So there.
The prime minister was asked – I want that reporter arrested under Defence of Pakistan Rules and the Frontier Crimes Regulations – why he was even going to the United States when 18 innocent Pakistanis had been slaughtered. His reply should be framed and hung outside every mud house in Pakistan. He said, “My trip to the US is there on schedule because we want to engage on many issues, including how we fight terrorism, and this incident will also be discussed. Our relationship with the United States is very important and growing, but such actions cannot be condoned.”
I love his use of “also”. That is not all, because he added, “Pakistan is committed to fighting terrorism but naturally we cannot accept any action within our country which results in what happened over the weekend.” Anyone interested in learning how to write antiseptic English that would say little and cause no offence, needs to read this sentence a hundred times a day on an empty stomach before daybreak.
A friend in Canada has sent me a piece by David Corn from the online publication Slate. According to him, “Some legal scholars say the missile strikes in Pakistan are clearly against the law since Pakistan never attacked the United States. Others argue that the rules of war need to be updated, since terrorist groups, like states, can engage in major armed conflict. By that logic, the recent attacks on Pakistan are similar to the post-9/11 invasion of Afghanistan; i.e., both were legitimate acts of self-defence against Al Qaeda.”
But, writes Corn, “This dispute is irrelevant if the Pakistani government gave the United States permission to carry out the missile strikes. If so, that could make the attack legal whether or not the US had a valid claim to self-defence. Few nations in Pakistan’s position would admit that they had struck such a deal, so it’s possible that the formal diplomatic protests are for show.”
I want it noted by The Boys that it is not I who said that the “diplomatic protests are for show”. It is Slate. Frankly, Uncle Sam and Auntie CIA should send a drone or two to take care of Slate whenever those birds can be spared from bombing women and children in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Khalid Hasan is Daily Times’ US-based correspondent