CITY NOTES: Fighting an invisible enemy

The coronavirus is proving more of a challenge than it seemed. The arrival of a vaccine (indeed, of several) has apparently had the reverse effect, and things are once again getting worse. Perhaps the worst thing is that India is now leading the world in the number of new cases and recorded 300,000 new infections for the first time ever. Hopefully, no one in our establishment will feel challenged over this, and decide that Pakistan must break this record.

Most Indian records seem to be pulling a tractor with one’s moustaches the longest distance, or longest fingernail grown, or something of that nature. Those are things that our effete young men seem to ignore, despite the manful efforts of Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, who has created numerous records in the course of his daily duties, because he has singlehandedly revived the art of writing with his feet.

The admiration lavished on him for this skill should not persuade anyone that the Indian record should be attempted. But if the government feels that an attempt should be made, it is my humble suggestion that there should be no restriction on gatherings until sometime after Eid-ul-Fitr. When people get down to Eid shopping, pushing and jostling one another, you are preparing for a perfect storm. Instead of ordering the shutdown that should have come, you have had the army called in. Why should the army be called in, when you have got a perfectly good police force anxious to get the authority to stop people without masks, and charge them a small fee if they want to go on with their business? The army has got more important enemies to tackle, than one no one can see.

There was a time when the military had a simple life. India was the enemy. Right. But then it became the terrorists, and now it seems, the virus. Indians wore uniforms. Terrorists melt into the civilian population. And viruses can only be seen under special microscopes.

Terrorism is alive and well, if the Quetta hotel blast is anything to judge by. And the Chinese ambassador was the target, and the TTP claimed responsibility. The TTP is based in Kabul. Another example of Sino-US rivalry at work?

Another example of terrorism at work was the death of Chadian President Idriss Déby, who was killed of injuries suffered while he toured the area where his troops were fighting the terrorists. Imagine our president going anywhere near terrorists. Imran, of course, would go.

President Déby had won neither a World Cup for his country, nor built a cancer hospital. He had come to power back in 1990 and died just as his victory in the election last year had given him a sixth term. He was a patriot, so he came to power in a coup.

Still, the country pulled itself together, and picked the son of the late president to act as president until elections in 18 months. Mahamet Idriss Déby is 37 and has risen to the rank of four-star general. Presidents come and go, but in 2008, the Chadian chief of army staff was killed. And how did Déby become president? By deposing Hissène Habrê. He had himself come to power through an invasion. And what are the terrorists doing? Trying to overthrow the government with Sudan’s backing. Dêby was not a respecter of state boundaries, because he had sent a force into the Central African Republic to conquer it.

Anyhow, his death was roundly condemned by President Arif Alvi, as well as former president Asif Zardari. As both pointed, presidents have no business in war zones.

Meanwhile, back home, Shehbaz Sharif got bail. There must be some red faces and knocking news at the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) offices, not from having to explain how to get him back the last five months of his life, but why he was let go.

Well, he has come out just in time for the government to have prorogued the National Assembly (NA) session before it took up the resolution on the French ambassador. Is that not what the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) protests were about? Why not honestly just say there will be no debate?


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