Patience and passes

One must give credit to the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mr Justice Qazi Faez Isa, for his ability to maintain a judicial demeanour. When PTI chief Imran Khan complained to him that he was not given access to the books or library that he needed to prepare his defence, he kept a straight face, and displayed immense self-restraint in not asking Imran what he had to do with books. I know youthias look upon him as a great scholar, a brave reviser of both history and geography, and along with Usman Buzdar one of the great original thinkers this century. But the fact of the matter is that the only evidence we have that he can read is the fact that he has a pair of reading glasses.

I know he’s an Oxford graduate, but we don’t know for sure whether he has an honours degree or a pass degree. The difference is that you are guaranteed a pass degree after you are admitted. For honours, you have to sit exams. Now sportsmen are usually not troubled to take exams. At the end of their three years at the university, they are given their pass degree with the best wishes of the staff, and the usual payers for their prosperity and well-being. At the time of admission, they have to be admitted to some subject, and despite the numerous suspicions, Imran was admitted to read neither history nor geography, but PPE, the Modern Greats of philosophy, political science and economics (as opposed to the Ancient Greats of Philosophy, Greek and Latin).

Sportsmen merely have to write their essays as assigned by their tutor. Stephen Leacock described an Oxbridge education as ‘being smoked at’ by one’s tutor (In a less health-conscious era, dons usually smoked pipes). Actually, the pass degree wasn’t invented by sportsmen, for anyone who flunks his honours exams is also given a pass and told in a pointed manner the time for the next train to London.

Actually, that is not the best of systems. Prospective employers know what a pass means. And Oxbridge graduates are under an unfair shadow. I mean, Shah Mehmood Qureshi read history at Cambridge. Did he pass, or take an honours degree? Benazir Bhutto read PPE, but did she take a pass or sit the Honours. Actually, because she also went to Harvard, she must have sat the exams (I suspect the Harvard people know about pass degrees), but it’s rather an indirect way of working out the value of degree.

We wouldn’t have a problem with Talat Hussain, the actor whose passing at 86 left the world a poorer place. A very long time ago, he attended RADA, the Royal Academy of the Dramatic Arts, in London. It was very difficult to get in, and whether a degree or a diploma was granted after a rigorous course, the option of a pass wasn’t there.

Actually, Imran didn’t get the right career counselling, because perhaps he would have benefited from going to RADA. I mean, the acting skills would have helped, but it might have helped him in his scriptwriting, in his one-man attempts to revive Pakistani cinema.

Well, Imran is passing the torch to a new generation, most notably KP CM Ali Amin Gandapur, who took a degree in Fashion Design, from the Lahore School of Fashion Design. Doesn’t he look like your common-or-garden fashion designer?

Looking at something more powerful, did anyone notice Power Minister Awais Leghari insist that the only way to solve the circular debt problem was revenue-based load-shedding. If you put load-shedding of feeders where people don’t pay their bills, I’m sure you would also solve the Kashmir issue. The Chairman NEPRA said it was illegal, and told distribution companies to stop line losses, which is unbilled or unrecovered units.

I wonder who are these people who don’t pay their bills? My own experience has been that if you don’t, they cut off the power. Well, not if you’re a vital government office. Imagine the CCPO’s office without electricity. So if certain government offices are kept going while houses have their power cut, you’ll find officers’ families lying under the fan in the office. No one can turn them out, can they?

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