Friday, March 13, 2015

Morality and the rhetoric of morality

Weekly article in Daily Times - Morality and the rhetoric of morality March 12, 2015

Friday, March 06, 2015

Cricket Spitballs

A slightly messed up edited version of this appeared in Daily Times of March 6, 2015.

  • Shahid Afridi is a star all-rounder whose bowling average is equal to Imran Khan’s batting average and batting average is equal to Imran’s bowling average. How we wish it would have been reversed.
  • A solace for team Pakistan can be that last time India won a close encounter against Zimbabwe, thanks to Kapil Dev, they ended up winning the world cup. Think positive guys or better do not think at all.
  • Nasir Jamshed’s average in first four matches of the world cup resembles Aamir Sohail’s average of last four matches of WC92. Bigger question is, if by stroke of luck Pakistan does well here, can Jamshed do commentary?
  • Like this time, in 1992 too, Pakistan lost big to West Indies in a match where Rameez Raja was stuck in our television screens for most part of the match. There is hope. Like 1992, even this time, no one is getting what Wasim Akram is throwing at them.
  • Like 1992, even this time Waqar Younis is sitting outside with people wondering if Waqar had his way. More importantly, like 92, this time too, Moeen Khan kept daring and getting caught. What has to happen will happen but this like 1992 talk keep the nerves calm.
  • Normal that none of Pakistan’s batsmen can make it to the batting line up of Australia, India, South Africa, New Zealand or Sri Lanka. Real tabdeeli (change), however, is that none of Pakistani bowlers can make it to the bowling attacks of top 3 teams either. Now wait for Mr. Sethi to laugh it off.
  • The way Afghans chased against Scotland gives credence to strategic depth doctrine and merits annexing Afghan batting line up.
  • In the recent corp. commanders meeting, item on top of agenda was formation of an Apex Committee to run PCB affairs. Many observed, even Sindh is governed better and has promise.
  • After criticism of Big 3 for bullying the other cricket playing nations; true to English empathy, England has decided to show solidarity with minnows by performing like them.
  • It is normal that Misbah is singled out for criticism by all. The guy likes to do it alone. Why else would he be the only one scoring in a batting line up that falls like a house of cards. That is more selfish than Frank Underwood.
  • We all will be relieved if during commentary Wasim Akram talks more of 2003 world cup and Indian commentators focus on 1992 world cup. Seriously guys, I thought I am the biggest show off.
  • When Pakistan was fighting for survival against Zimbabwe, Asif Zardari was busy politicking with Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman –Complains PTI.
  • Situation of cricket is so bad in Pakistan that even Imran Khan has to lobby Veena Malik to pull crowds for PTI – again complains PTI.
  • Imran Khan is angry that while fixing the Senate match against PML-N, Asif Zardari is doing spot fixing in KP.  Their phone call must have had many Sharjah references, one assumes. Oh wait, did Imran call Zardari? Not sure what would have been more awkward, that phone call or Afridi trying to bat defensive.
  • A high level meeting of PML-N considered if Metro or an underpass can solve problems of Pakistan cricket.
  • DRS makes me dread electronic voting.
  • This big 3 is becoming such a nuisance that a high level Pakistani delegation will visit Beijing to convince Chinese to assume a bigger role in ICC.
  • Nothing boils my blood more than talk of peace before an India-Pakistan match or talk of “in the end game of cricket won” afterwards. For heaven’s sake, it is a game let it be. You can talk peace at Lahore Literary Festival. Also, the game of cricket does not win after India Pakistan match, it wins after Indian Premier League. You have to see what cricketers and cricket both score there.

  • And I have my money on Pakistan making it to semis or beyond. I sign off, taking a deep breath, bracing for AB de Villiers onslaught, and hoping for those acts of individual brilliance that have always come to rescue of team Pakistan. Go team Pakistan!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Be careful general

Weekly article in Daily Times - Be careful general - - February 19, 2015

Hypocrisy and being human

Weekly article in Daily Times - Hypocrisy and being human - - February 12, 2015

No room for el-Sisi

Weekly article in Daily Times - No room for el-Sisi - - Feb 5, 2015

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Burning the midnight oil

Weekly article in Daily Times - On fuel crisis - January 29, 2015

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Hanging by a thread

Weekly article in Daily Times - Hanging by a thread - - January 22, 2015

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Comedy in tragedy

Unlike what the mainstream media believes, portrays, or covers, I have always found a PML-N government to be a comic affair. Ever since their first stints of power in my teen years to today, every time they have been in power, in their desire to look ultra-smart they end up providing comic relief to the observers. This time around, however, the affair seems to be on steroids. And if that was not enough what followed APS attack has sealed the deal for someone looking for ultimate comic relief. And the magnitude of tragedy that it follows and the problem that we face makes this comedy even more tragic.
We are dealing with a government that seems to have no clue of the problems and how to deal with them. And in all seriousness trying to solve them without clue, it is creating a classic comedy. On security policy, all it is resorting to is a series of All Parties Conferences. Even that would have been fine had the agenda been initiated by the government. But the missing entity from all these conferences is the government itself. Yes Mr. Prime Minister does make a feeble-toned speech with strong rhetoric (that actually makes it look all the more comic) but in the end one does not see government in agenda setting or even contributing to agenda setting. Even in its perilous, pathetic state, from politicos, it is Pakistan Peoples Party that seems to be leading and the APCs seem a dialogue and consultation between PPP and the Army. The government in power seems to have yielded it all to the armed forces on policy front.
And this indeed is even more comic because flash back 10 months and this government was trying to hold the armed forces by their throat. From Geo incident to Musharraf trial, it was bent on nabbing the power of armed forces. 10 months down and the government has fallen on the feet of armed forces in what is the most complete surrender of any civilian government in the history of Pakistan, from holding by throat to falling on feet with nothing in between.
And this main comedy affair is followed by comedies on the peripheries. In response to one of the worst terror attacks in the country, the interior minister wanted to regulate the amount of bread loafs one could buy at the bread shops. And then he appears in Senate ending his boycott of the upper house and roars at the ministers who are not attending the session (which by the way is more or less the entire cabinet). Pressers by information minister make even the serious sort go tipsy laughing. And then there are speech writers of Prime Minister and Chief Minister of Punjab who are bent on dragging fight against terrorism into every speech of theirs, be it related to revamping of the sewer system of Jia Bagga, without naming Taliban.
If this was not enough, after lifting of moratorium on capital punishment, one of the first to be hanged turns out to be a juvenile charged on a petty family feud, making the mockery of the entire process. Courts of Punjab come to the help of government and release mastermind of Mumbai attack leading to more embarrassment for the country at this critical juncture. And then right under government’s watch a deal is brokered between two sectarian terrorist outfits to pardon each other’s’ killers. We could have afforded the antics of comedy on issues like bread loafs and Jia Bagga sewer system but capital punishment was introduced to give a stern message to the terrorists and it turning into a laughing stock undermines the effectiveness of the measure to begin with.
This comedy of errors make some doubt that PML-N may deliberately by trying to do all these to undermine Army’s proactive push against the terrorist post-Zarb-e-Azab and particularly post-APS attack. Just when I, too, am very apprehensive of PML-N’s historic terrorist connections, I have more faith in its ability to act humorous (for the lack of a more polite expression). When Kamran Akmal got cleared of match fixing charges for famous Sydney Test, the best comment was: ‘hence proved he is actually a lousy wicketkeeper’. With these comedies of PML-N, I would tend to subscribe to a similar opinion about it too.

With the sword of allegations of electoral rigging hanging over its head, if rigging is proved, PML-N will be on its way out. If not, it should be allowed to complete its term respecting the mandate. However, it is imperative to attack and correct the myth of PML-N’s competence. In 90s and now, it has been a party known for comedies of errors. From its decisions on economic and energy front to its handling of foreign policy and security policy, it is one big bunch of inept sorts. We need to register this, remember this, and keep reminding everyone of it. We and our generations can ill afford such stand up comedies at the very top of national decision-making.

Edited version appeared in  - Comedy in tragedy -  January 15, 2015

Thursday, January 08, 2015

How South Asia can crumble

Weekly article in Daily Times - How South Asia can crumble January 8, 2015