Nose, thumb or trigger finger?

I suppose one of the hidden benefits of Miftah Ismail’s resignation is that the headache of finding a seat for him by October 18 was removed. Dar, who already had a seat in the Senate, to be got by merely taking oath. Miftah Ismail has twice been Finance Minister of the country, twice in search of a seat, never getting one. The last time was a clever manipulation of the Constitution, when he filled in while Ishaq Dar was in self-exile, in the last months before the end of tenure of the last Parliament. He never went through the motions of trying to find a seat.

He did recently, in the National Assembly by-election caused by Faisal Vawda going up to the Senate. He lost to Abdul Qadir Patel of the PPP. Since Patel is Health Services Minister, that means that the winner and the loser of one election served in the same Cabinet. Winners and losers sometimes end up in the same Parliament. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the former PM, lost his seat to the PTI’s Sadaqat Ali Abbassi, but entered Parliament by winning the by-election on the Lahore seat vacated by Hamza Shahbaz Sharif. A loser of an election has entered the Assembly through a by-election before, but the Cabinet? I can’t think of a previous example.

Dar has been bad news for the PTI. But then Maryam Nawaz and her husband Captain Safdar were acquitted in the Avenfield reference. The PTI reaction put me in mind of a French newspaper which had labelled one of the accused in a high-profile murder case the ‘Monster Murderer’. Its headline on the case read ‘Monster Murderer Acquitted’. In the same way, no one in the PTI has admitted that the party got it wrong. Heck, they even said the purpose of removing Imran was to get Maryam acquitted. I presume Joe Biden took part in the conspiracy because he also wanted to get acquitted.

Speaking of the US conspiracy against Imran, it’s back in the news, because of the audio leaks of a conversation between Imran and his Principal Secretary. The conversations of Shehbaz Sharif and quite a few people have also been leaked. I suspect Imran at least knew that his office was not safe. Or else why had he so many meetings on PM House’s lawns?

Of course, not everything is secret. For example, it’s no secret that Iran’s government is feeling the heat from the protests at the death of a young woman in the custody of the Morality Police. The Taliban are making a hash of keeping the peace in Afghanistan. And there are not just floods over here, but Imran is protesting all over the place.

What we do know is that Donald Trump once said he could knife someone in the middle of New York and his base would not turn against him. Maybe the same applies to Imran.

Meanwhile, they’re getting upset in Russia at the new mobilization drive. Maybe that’s what’ll end the war in Ukraine: Russian young men refusing to fight. Nobody is taking pacificism to the heights they did in ancient Rome, where young men would chop off their right thumbs (and thus make them unable to hold a sword) to avoid military service. The modern equivalent would be to chop off one’s right index finger (or trigger finger). There were a few examples, but not many. If you objected to shedding other people’s blood, you also objected to the spilling of your own. No one in Russia is reported as having chopped off any fingers, but there has been disquiet. There’s an English proverb which came from the seventh century: to cut off one’s nose to spite one’s face. A seventh century English abbess is supposed to have done so, to dissuade Viking raiders, who were running rampant those days. Recruiting sergeants don’t mind conscripts not having a nose. So long as they have trigger fingers.

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