It is very unfortunate that I did not buy a hat at the Sunday Baazar the other day when I was looking for a potentially stolen Leica camera. There were many wonderful used hats selling that were fit for a king but priced for a pauper. These hats would have come in handy for taking them off to the many great personalities of Pakistan.
The need for a hat actually presented itself soon after returning from my trip to the bazaar and switched on my computer to look up the news on Dawn.com.
I was feeling rather down after the previous day’s assassination of Bashir Bilour and seven others. It was therefore very reassuring to read that the statement of Mr. Rehman Malik, our Interior Minister, the protector of Pakistan and the nightmare of terrorists, that Pakistan’s situation today is worse than what it was in 1969 and 1971.
This great man received an honorary Ph.D in October 2011 from the Karachi University for “matchless services to the country in the war on terror and particularly in restoring peace to citizens of Karachi”. The situation in Karachi today is proof positive of how well-earned the degree was.
You see, how intelligent our great leader-philosopher is? His approach is to prepare you for the worst and so you rejoice when it turns out not as bad. If the situation is worse than 1971, we are very close to losing more than half the country. So if we lose half of the current Pakistan (by population), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Balochistan and Gilgit Baltistan are good as gone! So if in the near future even one of these provinces decides to stay as a part of Pakistan, there is cause to celebrate and the name of Mr. Malik will be written in the history books.
I am starting a petition to award another Ph.D to Dr. Malik for Psychology.
So all the hats off to you Dr. Dr. Rehman Malik!
My mind put to rest, I continued onto the other sections of the news.
A feature in the same edition of Dawn.com was on PIA’s stellar performance. It reminded me of my experience with the national airline that was like a leaf out of Mr. Rehman Malik’s book.
I was on a PIA flight to Beijing. As the plane flew over the mighty Karakorams, the Captain announced on the PA system that it was a rare occasion to have a full moon and no clouds when flying over these mountains. The cabin lights were dimmed and we were afforded the magnificent sight of a field of snow capped peaks, including the mighty K2, glistening in the moonlight.
Just as we were enjoying this magical sight from 30,000 feet above, the flight purser turned up in the cabin and very loudly and excitedly started giving a running commentary on the flight. “Ladies and Gentlemen, make sure you get an eyeful of this wonderful sight, for you may never get an opportunity to see this again”. Well, so far so good, but a reminder of life’s fragility was bit of a dampener on the sense of thrill the passengers were experiencing. The purser was getting more energised having the captive audience in the cabin hanging on to his every word. “You know, how high we are flying?” It was an easy one as the Captain had already informed us of this vital piece of information. “Thirty thousand feet, thirty thousand! Now just imagine if this plane were to crash from this height among these icy cold mountains?” He paused for effect and with an expansive gesture pointed to the earth below that was nothing but miles and miles of rock needles covered with snow and ice. “Do you think ANYBODY will be able to find us? No Sir, not a chance in the world!” All this was not so reassuring for the passengers and some turned their faces away from the window and pulled down the blinds. The purser was on a roll now, unstoppable.
“Two years back a plane crashed in the exact same area. Not a shred of the plane or the passengers was ever found!” A collective shiver went down the cabin while the purser strutted about like a prima donna after a master performance. As the mountain ranges ended and the plane was flying over more benign territory I felt like hugging the purser in relief!
I take my hat off to PIA, great people to fly with over the Karakorams!
The people of Pakistan are also given to seeing the bright/dark side of life and living in the grey with complete equanimity. I am reminded of a letter received by a friend from his family in a village.
“By Allah’s grace everything is well with the family. Just that our mother fell down when she stepped on a banana peel and broke her right leg. Otherwise, everything is well by the Almighty God’s grace.
Since yesterday, little Papoo has been running off to the bathroom like a champion athlete and returning only to make another dash in five minutes. Rest is fine by God’s grace.
Your Aunt has been coughing a lot and throwing up some blood. She sends her love to you. Rest is fine. You should not worry about us, we are doing well. And oh, a minor point: we have no money left as whatever remained after paying for the doctor went to the moneylender. So could you send us Rs. 5,000 by money order? May Allah shower his blessings upon you. Ameen.”
A million hats off to you, the true heroes, the people of Pakistan!
The author is an engineer turned part-time journalist who likes to hang out at unfashionable places like shrines, railway stations and bus stops.
The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.