Well, we Lahoris got our fill of royalty, with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spending a day in the city. Prince William is not exactly the heir apparent to the British throne, as that would be his father Charles. Still, William is probably ghoulishly interested in the health of his grandmother Elizabeth and his father. But this trip was not so much about his father, as his mother, the late Lady Diana. So he made the mandatory visit to Shaukat Khanum. Did he play cricket because he likes the game, or as a tribute to Imran Khan? Or was there some need to show that Pakistan was a safe place? Because he had his little knockabout not far from the place where the Sri Lankan team was attacked in 2009, leading to the match and tour being abandoned.
Perhaps the highlight of the visit to Lahore was William’s meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar. Buzdar did not give him a demonstration of the dying art of writing with one’s feet, contrary to rumour, nor did he give him a pair of goats from his farms. And no, it was neither because William didn’t know how to transport goats back to the UK, nor because the Punjab government knew that the price of goats had gone up, but still thought the CM was being exorbitant. From goats to girls is a big leap, but it must be made, because it seems that Lady Diana’s sons have bucked the family trend. The British Royal family has worked on blondes. Queen Elizabeth married a blonde, Prince Phillip, and then Prince Charles married Lady Diana. The result: William, who will be the UK’s first blonde King, though by the time he gets to the throne, he’ll have precious little left on top. Yet he married a dark girl.
He didn’t go as far as his younger brother Harry, another blonde, who married a mulatto (well, a black, actually; even if you’re blond, so long as there’s a negro in your ancestry, you’re black). One theory is that that was the only way he could make his mark on history; as the prince who introduced tar into the Royal family. After all, as his uncle Andrew might testify, being the spare isn’t easy at all (queens, wives of kings and of heirs apparent are supposed to produce an ‘heir and a spare’). But it is necessary. William and Harry’s great-grandfather, George VI, was born a ‘spare’, becoming King because his elder brother (Edward VIII) abdicated. And his father, George V, had succeeded because his elder brother Arthur died.
Of course, it doesn’t always work. Go back about 800 years, and come to Richard I, Lionheart. He only became King because the heir and the spare were already dead. Sometimes, I think the French got it right in 1793, when they executed Citizen Capet, whom they had already stripped of the title of King of France. Of course, the English have their own Republican tradition, best illustrated by how they shortened Charles I by a head in 1649. That little incident might be behind the intention of the Prince of Wales to choose George VII as his regnal name rather than Charles III. So it’s lucky that Buzdar didn’t mention it to Prince William. And nor did Imran, though he would probably have insisted that Charles was shot in Ekaterinberg.
Imran was busy, though, what with dealing with interlopers like Maulana Fazlur Rehman, trying to steal his copyright on staging dharnas. However, sending Pervez Khattak to negotiate with Maulana Fazal was a mistake. The Maulana probably didn’t want to catch TB from him, and probably thought that he would neither be much a host, nor would he be worth entertaining. Looking at their respective physiques, they don’t seem likely to reach a deal. What the Maulana would like would be for the PML(Q) to be put in charge, and for its president to say the golden words: “Maulana, chalo, roti shoti khaiay.” (Maulana, come, LET’S EAT.)
But maybe the Prime Minister is busy convincing the Chief of Army Staff that there was no conspiracy against him, even though it seems the same people who deprived US President Donald Trump of the Nobel Peace Prize were against him too, and prevented him from winning the Nobel Prize for Economics. General Bajwa has had his hopes up ever since Bob Dylan won the Literature Prize. Not that General Bajwa’s contributions to economic theory are the equivalent of rock lyrics, but it meant that the Nobel givers were thinking outside the box. Then there’s the thinking out of the box represented by the first all-women spacewalk, by two American women. It’s the angle. It could have been represented as the first all-Jewish spacewalk. Or even as the first spacewalk by a marine biologist. Yes, one of those astronauts did a doctorate in marine biology. She graduated in biology and did a masters in space science. Don’t ask me how. I don’t just not know, I refuse to.
There are signs that the clampdown is easing. But it’s on-off, on-again-off-again. Is there a ban on SMSs. No one seems to be sure. But the government has found a surefire way of getting the Indians out of Kashmir: they tied armbands around each other. Modi is cowering under his desk.