White Lies

The Lahore Safari Park, off Raiwind Road in Lahore, was created on the pattern of Britain’s Windsor Safari Park.

The imported lions and tigers were to be given a near-natural habitat where they could roam about freely within a large well-guarded compound. Of course, they were to be well-fed by keepers and not expected to hunt and scavenge for themselves. For this, they were provided the required 40 kilos of meat each to keep them kicking. The Windsor Safari Park has a burgeoning lion population and actually exports big cats to African countries where their numbers have been depleted by unscrupulous poachers and hunters.

Not so at the Lahore Safari Park. We hear that the meat allocation for the cat population is bought on paper only. Some of the meat that actually makes it to the park, often lands up on the keepers’ dinner tables. The lions and tigers, far from proliferating, are starving slowly; some have already died of malnutrition. As for the Safari Park staff; besides being well-fed, they are busy demanding tips, even to open a gate for ticket holding visitors. Now what was this project all about?

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Word has it that while Zulfiqar Mirza constantly takes a dig at Rehman Malik, Malik consistently harps on one theme to the Q-Leaguers. That they do not speak in defence of the coalition. In answer to this complaint, Chaudhry Shujaat always claims “But you do not take us into confidence.”

Recently President Zardari, Chaudhry Shujaat and Rehman Malik were in Jeddah to meet King Abdullah and offer their condolences on the death of the Crown Prince. We hear that while doing so, the matter of an exchange of note on terrorists between the two governments came up between President Zardari and RM. The latter gave a hushed reply to the President. “I will tell you about it later”.

Chaudhry Shujaat overheard the answer despite the low volume and promptly pointed to the policy of secrecy he finds so irksome.” See you never take us into confidence”, he said. Point taken, we hope.

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It is becoming quite obvious that Hamza Sharif is emerging as the heir to the Sharif political dynasty. NS’s sons seem to have no interest in politics or for that matter in Pakistan. Of the two daughters, one lives in Dubai and the other, considered his brightest and the one dearest to the late patriarch of the Sharif clan, refuses to display any signs of entering the political arena. We hear that her husband who once kept a high media presence has seen the signs and gone into the background or, as some would say, been elbowed out by Hamza.

The word around is that if anyone can veto a decision by father Shahbaz it is Hamza and if anyone has the ear of NS, it is Hamza. Last week, Hamza dominated the TV chat shows and seemed to be getting the respect reserved for a future CM or even a PM. It seems the chat show hosts, too, have seen the signs.

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