Articles of the year 2007

The Cotton Dhoti
Published on January 17th, 2007

My last few articles have been such heavy reading, full of doom and gloom, that I do not think I can inflict more such misery on the poor readers. So I shall attempt to focus on the lighter happier trends that I see around me. Let us for the time being over look the scams, the poverty around us. My friend and Guru Humayun Gauhar wants the Shelpa Shetty story talked about, for indeed it is the current story on CNN and the BBC. Not being able to watch the program for myself, I have to go by hearsay, and pass on my views on a secondhand basis. Great looking girl she is, and thrown into a pit with some yobs, she is bound to come in for a lot of flack. And in the classic Hindu tradition of Satyagrah—peaceful submission, she can only offer them her tears, which can only make the yobs more crass. The day of the English Gentleman has long passed, and the Cockney accent is now fashionable. Two young daughters of a friend came back for their holidays, from the very upper crust Rodean Girls school in England, with distinct Cockney accents. When I enquired, about their teachers accent they both replied, " Uncle, they talk proper," in both the cockney accent and the idiom. While we at school would mimic the Cockney accent and upset the teachers no end, it is now the accepted norm.

Anyway while poor Shelpa is at the mercy of the Yobs, the Indians are mounting protests from Southall to Simla--- and a question has been tabled in the House of Commons, with Blair confessing he could not comment as he does not watch that particular channel. The Indians are protesting, and bringing crowds onto the streets, with as much alacrity, as the madressah Mullah. One can only admire the organizational capability of both.I really have no idea how this one will spin out, but my heart and sympathies are for the pretty Shelpa. ( I could have said "the pretty Shetty" but I would have been accused of aping one of my colleagues, )so please ignore.

I cannot resist reaching out to the President, from this column as I have heard of his forthcoming visit to Saudi Arabia. For I feel very strongly, that the infamous decree against any Pakistani under the age of forty performing Umra should be revoked, as I understand it is Pakistan specific. This is an incredible insult to Pakistan, and can not be tolerated. If as claimed, there are 63000 illegals in the KSA, ( I am sure this figure is below the Egyptians or Indians,of similar status.) They should be sent back, or their employers should be made to pay to regularize their papers, for I am sure the Saudis know exactly where each and every body lives. It would be a great gesture provided our President asks fro this issue to be addressed. For the record, I am sure the Visas are granted but 'selectively', by agents who are well organized, and obviously accommodated. Surely the Minister should have made the Umra travel to the KSA easier for Pakistanis, and not more difficult. This must be put on the President's agenda for this trip, for we have a very special relationship with the Saudis, and this should not be soured to benefit the few.

I still do not understand why this question has still not been raised in our media. For the many people I meet no one seems to be aware of this law, for it seems it is selective, and this makes it doubly wrong. And why does our foreign office not try to complain. Why do they behave as if they are not involved, and therefore not really concerned. Do they not realize that this is a collective insult to Pakistanis and Pakistan? I just hope the President reads this column, and has the law amended. Above all he should ask the men wearing three piece suits, to care for the image of the country. I would rather the Minister of the three piece suits, wore a cotton Dhoti, but got for us a fraction of the respect the Indians get throughout the world.

It is indeed a pity that the Islamabad officials get away with their well established VIP culture while the rest of the country struggles to cope, with these insults, clearly showing that officers in the FO are not doing their jobs.