CITY NOTES: Drinking in Shahdara

Energy Minister Umar Ayub Khan may have come to the party late, but come to the party he has. He has blamed the latest increase in the power tariff on Nawaz Sharif. All we lacked was Mian Shehbaz and Hamza Shehbaz being accused of holding pistols to the heads of consumers as they paid those bills, with Maryam in the background, collecting money from all of them, and squirrelling it abroad.
The problem Ayub faces is that last week there was a countrywide power breakdown, about which he is mumbling (in the hope no one will really hear) that it was [human error’. The PTI should notice that he didn’t blame that breakdown on Nawaz, though he could have accused him of neglecting the distribution network. And the ‘human error’ should be identified, so that it can be shown that he entered service after having proven his worth by doing the wiring at Jati Umra (which is why when you turn on the fans, any water faucets in the room start streaming).
However, Ayub should remember that everything is interconnected. It might turn out that both power breakdown and tariff hike can be traced to decisions made by his late grandfather, the field marshal. But then, he had been commissioned into the British Indian Army, which had originally been raised by the East India Company, which had been given permission to trade by Jehangir. That means that Jehangir was responsible for the 1958 martial law. Note: Imran Khan is not responsible for anything.
I perhaps shouldn’t get ahead of myself, but I can’t help thinking that we are lucky the breakdown didn’t take place in summer. A night without fans in the hot weather would force the sort of protests that the PTI would label the fault of patwaris trying to help the PDM. Anyway, PTI stalwarts might like to console themselves at being lucky that the breakdown provided what the kaptaan might like to call net practice for the summer. After all, it is more than likely that the increased demand will lead to a massive breakdown. This time, we have been treated to the image of Ayub, wearing a hard hat and carrying a screwdriver, poking at wires in the hope of getting the light back. Next time, we will probably be treated to Imran himself applying the engineering knowledge which he has inherited from his late father.
But before that happens, it would be instructive to contemplate the class difference of the crimes in Defence and Shahdara as they were committed last well. In Shahdara, a brother killed his sister and then ran away. A typical Shahdara crime, one which could happen in Defence, but which would reflect a mentality which had not made the transition to that neighbourhood. Possibly an honour killing, something which doesn’t exist in Defence, probably because Defence residents are noy supposed to have any honour. Instead, they are tolerant.
In Defence, a resident got bail after killing a neighbour’s pitbull. No, not the rapper. A dog. That alone is different from Shahdara. That might a salubrious locality with pleasant weather, but it isn’t overflowing with pitbulls. One’s neighbour in Shahdara may own a mongrel, but not a pitbull. I doubt if he whole of Shahdara could produce a live pitbull. Defence, on the other hand, has pitbulls, enough to produce even more, even after the murder of one of their number. in fact, I won’t be surprised if Defence could produce alsatians, rottweilers and bulldogs, not to mention great danes, labradors and greyhounds.
The killing was allegedly committed by a neighbour who claimed that the dog had savaged his daughter. Only he had no daughter. The pitbull was owned by a woman living alone with her mother. They needed a guard dog. In Shahdara, I doubt if such a household could exist. If it did, it wouldn’t need a guard dog, not with all of those neighbours taking a deeper interest in them than in their own affairs. And while you can have an imaginary daughter in Defence, you would have all too many real ones in Shahdara.
Actually, in Shahdara, dog killer, or rather kuttay maar, refers to a type of liquor unknown in Defence, where even Indian import are looked down upon.


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