LAHORE: Between you and me, I have no intention of being made a shaheed by Insafians, the Tiger Force, or youthias, so I will never mention Osama bin Laden without appending the title shaheed. If Imran wants to call him a shaheed, I will join in, rather than have the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) come after me. You have to get things in perspective. Osama was killed in the same area as Kakul. So, he was probably shaheed, right? And in the world of Donald Trump, since Osama was killed under Obama, he must have been shaheed.
It also probably meant that Osama was not a corrupt element. Can you imagine Imran extending this courtesy to those whom he is not willing to meet? Of course, it would be nice if they were to so act as to be called shaheed.
Problem is, shuhada have a way of not going away. The Bhutto father and daughter are still around. Of course, Imran may not accept the father as a martyr, out of respect for the judiciary. But surely, he will accept the daughter?
While Imran was telling the parliament that Osama was a martyr, Zimbabwean President Emerson Mnangagwa was firing Health Minister Obadiah Moyo, who was involved in a covid-19 corruption scandal which included selling the Zimbabwean government with facemasks at $28 a pop. Ad all this during the #BlackLivesMatter campaign. But then, as the example of the people killed by Kenyan police for violating the lockdown showed, the only Black lives that matter are those of American Blacks.
However, while Zimbabwean and Kenyans are denizens of the Third World, First World Citizens are being defrauded over the Internet, especially when they try to buy stuff that is not shown, with the seller alleging that the stuff can’t be shown because of social distancing.
Well, it seems the government has finally decided to pay attention to the problems of the police, by imposing a strict lockdown in areas where cases are spiking. I live in one such area, and it is not possible to get out. I have not found out what departure fee the police are charging, but I am sure they are compelled by habit to charge such a fee.
But at the same time as we have been locked in, people I know have been dying. The same day as I learnt of the death of Dr Mughheesuddin, that fine journalism teacher, passed away, I leant of the passing of two more people. All three were because of Covid-19. The former Jamat-e-Islami (JI) chief Munawar Hasan also passed away, and though no one said it, I suspect Covid-19.
Look, survivors do not admit it easily. There’s a stigma quickly attaching, even though the virus is caught by being sneezed, not any dubious means, like AIDS. You have more people passing away now than ever before, but survivors say the deceased had a heart problem.
Another problem is hospitals not letting you in because you might have Covid-19. So, you might be having a heart attack right there on the hospital reception floor, but until you show you do not have Covid-19, they would not let you in. And they would not test your corpse either.
In fact, that seems the latest solution to the pandemic. Do not test. Funny, I do not hear Imran saying that US President Donald Trump got the idea from him. Anyway, whoever thought of it first, both are claiming that higher rates of infection are because of testing. Simple solution: don’t test. And when people keel over and die, say that it was probably heart disease. The pandemic has been having widespread effects. The Hajj has been more or less cancelled and is to be performed by just 1,000 people. The Hajj has been cancelled before, because of epidemics, but I have not heard of such a small Hajj.
And meanwhile, another problem has emerged. Sport is desperate to get back, to the extent of playing before empty stadia. TV rights, ad revenue, all at work, I suspect. But you need players. And though we named a 29-man squad for the cricket tour of England, 10 players tested positive, including at least two players who would be sure for both the Test and T20I teams. The soccer leagues all over Europe are experiencing the same problem, as are US baseball and basketball teams.
And it never rains but it pours. Imran does not have a #BlackLivesMatter problem to accompany the pandemic, probably because here both police and people assume that #NoLivesMatter and anyone who survives any interaction with the police considers himself lucky. However, he does have to deal with a locust invasion, which Trump does not. There has been a brilliant suggestion, that eating locusts is a cure for Covid-19.
That ranks up there with Trump’s suggestion that drinking bleach would kill any viruses in a person’s throat. That the person might also be affected adversely, was not discussed.
Of course, you cannot get away from Covid-19. Look at the Karachi plane crash. It seems that the pilot and co-pilot were discussing it on their ill-fated final approach. And then there was the Jagan Nath Rath Yatra in Odisha, where social distancing was not observed. There was complete silence from the Modi government over this, though its members waxed eloquent over the iniquities of the Tablighi Jamaat, whose Delhi Markaz was fussed over as a hotspot.
Indeed, some members of the BJP were in Odisha, getting Jagan Nath’s blessing, presumably against the virus.