CITY NOTES: A quiet Valentine’s Day - Pakistan Today

CITY NOTES: A quiet Valentine’s Day

There is surely some way better of spending Valentine’s Day than listening to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan address Parliament, but Prime Minister Imran Khan bit the bullet.

Rumours that he thought there would be walkout were exaggerated and may have been mixing up the speeches: Imran and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) boycotted the last speech. But then, President Erdogan must take the rough with the smooth, and he should not expect every member to sit through every speech he makes to the joint session. After all, this was his fourth but probably not his last.

Meanwhile, Imran does not know how to respond to urgent requests for the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to train the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). After acquittal from charges of abuse of power, the US president went to work on one of the problems with being President: not being able to help friends in legal trouble. One reason this problem has not had obvious application is that the US tends not to elect crooks as president. Still, if a president cannot get the Justice Department to recommend a light sentence for the President’s friends, what’s the point of being elected?

All the prosecutors in the Roger Stone case have resigned, merely because of Trump’s tweets asking they go easy in the sentencing hearing. Stone has already been convicted of tampering with witnesses in the earlier Mueller report case against President Trump. It is a little like Rudy Giuliani.

The whole impeachment centred on him and Ukraine. So what did he do? Go again to Ukraine.

The problem might be having a president from New York, who admires the mafia. And Trump’ first name is Donald. Which can easily be shortened to the Don. No one so far sleeps with the fishes. That should mean it is all good.

But it is not. The coronavirus crisis is still on, 1367 dead and 51,986 cases in China. What is happening in the rest of the world, no one is saying. Except that someone has died in France, a Chinese tourist.

Meanwhile, we have been told the Pakistan embassy is looking after the kids in Wuhan. Is it serving them cooling drinks and putting cold compresses on their fevered brows? Or just having the ambassador play Ludo with them?

Another place where the coronavirus has spread is Thailand, which recently had its own non-coronavirus deaths, 29 of them, in a mass shooting, by a soldier, who started with his own CO, and then went on from his house to an army camp, and then a shopping mall. The killer was 32, and still a private, but that was not the reason given by the PM, who said it was because a deal over the house went bad.

Well, one reason why all of this became known to Thailand’s enemies was because of the social media, which the cabinet has decided to control. It seems that if you want to operate in Pakistan, you must have an office here. And tell the government who put up the post. It sounds like the same sort of idea as shutting down mobile phones every time any big panjandrum wants to go to the john.

They have not been able to control social media in the US, or you can bet the Democratic Party would get it to keep quiet about the Iowa caucuses, whose results took a while getting out. Because of a faulty app which did the result reporting. Sound familiar? Now apps and elections should not be allowed to mix. And afterwards, Democrats got the New Hampshire primary. We got Naya Pakistan.

Well, one thing we got in Naya Pakistan was the innings defeat for Bangladesh. We should play Bangladesh as much as possible, before any of the boys from the Bangladesh Under-19 team debut. Their Under-19s won the World Cup. I assume their team was all Under-19.

Coming back to social media, on which we depend so much for cricket scores, we are putting controls against them because of national security. You know you cannot trust the American social media companies. And the companies are full of Indians. And even if those Indians were born in the US, they are still Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters. So it makes sense to go after the companies, which are busy spewing a toxic narrative. There should be a ban on any platform which carries the latest inflation figure, for example.

It is funny, but there does not seem to be as much fuss this year about Valentine’s Day. The fuss seems to have shifted to India, where (in Maharashtra) the students of a girls’ college took a pledge against love marriages. It would perhaps have been more impressive if the students of a boys’ college had made the same oath. Anyhow, the marketers seem to have gone underground this year.

Footnote to these notes: Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Political Affairs Naeemul Haque has passed away. He was 70. It was appropriate that he was older than the PM, whom he shadowed so closely. He may not have brought in the youth vote, but he showed the world that there was no harm in being a wannabe.