Letting Imran down

One of the weird things that happened during this weird World Cup was the sight of Mickey Arthur, the Pakistan head coach, before the match with Bangladesh, Not only was he standing at attention for the Pakistan national anthem, but he was also mouthing something. I suspect him of having heard the national anthem so many times that he’s become familiar with the words. Or what he probably thinks are the words. I don’t want to know what those words are.

However, he’s got one point of etiquette right. You’re supposed to stand for the national anthem of any country, not just your own. I think you’re supposed to sing along your own, or else you can do what US President Ronald Reagan did, which was to put his hand on his heart and look soulful. Ziaul Haq imitated him, but he couldn’t really do the soulful look. Reagan was of course an actor, and Zia a tank officer, so Zia was not good at looking soulful.

Still the World Cup has had its moments. It seems the New Zealanders did one thing to support Imran Khan. On the one hand, they carted Shaheen Shah Afridi all over the place, as he leaked 90 runs without taking a wicket. That meant he would find it that much harder to get on the same page. However, that match saw the emergence of another potential rival for replacing Imran Khan on the same page, in Muhammad Wasim, who took three New Zealand wickets.

If Pakistan somehow pulls off its entry into the semifinals, it would be a little like 1992, when Pakistan’s survival depended on the result of a match between two teams, and not just win/lose, but the margin of victory. If we win the Cup, I’m afraid that Babar Azam will get on the same page, and will become our Prime Minister somewhere around 2050. Of course, for that we will probably have to beat England by either 600 runs, or 21 wickets, to make it on the run rate.

Imran is being let down by everyone these days. While the Pakistan cricket team keeps on throwing up candidates to replace him on the same page, his own supporters are trying to let him down. Look at the treacherous fashion Dr Faisal Sultan said that an examination of Imran showed there were no signs of poisoning. Even though, as Imran had revealed much earlier that the death of the FIA Director investigating Shehbaz Sharif, apparently a heart attack, was actually because he was poisoned.

Of course, Imran is not being given as poison that would kill him at once. He is being given a poison in small doses, which would cause death to appear natural. Some rare Asiatic poison, much beloved of the authors of penny dreadful around the turn of the 20th century. The whole point of such a poison is that it escapes detection by doctors. But not by Imran. Remember how he diagnosed Mian Nawaz Sharif as being perfectly all right by an examination of a photo of the back of his head? It was the same Dr Faisal Sultan who had recommended that Mian Nawaz be sent abroad. The same Dr Faisal who said that the attack on Imran had not broken his leg, and that he had been hit by bullet fragments, even though we all know that Imran was subjected to a hail of bullets, and only escaped because of the somersaults and dives he made while avoiding those bullets.

Imran didn’t got to LUMS, the caretaker PM did. But while he was asked why he was late, another thing emerged from the whole episode. LUMS Hostels are safe for smoking banned substances. A supposed raid provoked such a loud squawk of outrage that the IGP had to issue a video message. That shows that the LUMS hostelites can smoke what they want; there can be no raids. Anywhere else, and the police will crack down with a heavy (and open) hand.

Harking back to my college days, the use of illegal substances was not compulsory, but common. Even commoner than the use of alcohol, though that was not unknown. All this was done in the knowledge that the police could not raid without the Principal’s go-ahead. An

D that he would not give. Criminal hostelites had a greater fear of the Warden, than of the police. I think that fear is all that stood between hash being smoked in the common room and dog-killer (Kuttey maar) accompanying canteen meals.



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