Coming clean


Islamabad is not a city. It’s not even Ayub Khan’s vision of what a city should be. In fact, it’s not even a Saudi compound, where debauchery can co-exist with fanatical conservatism as long as the two are separated by tall, barbed wired walls. It’s just a place where people come when they realise that they can’t make it in the real world. So in essence, Islamabad is a lot like The Real World.

The Candid Dullards Anonymous – whose name is oftentimes endearingly abbreviated to ‘CDA’ – has been running a “No Littering” campaign in the capital for as long as I can remember, despite my short-term memory problems. The total fruits of these labours have been that Islamabad proper (the Es, Fs, Gs, Hs and some of the Is) is no longer littered with black plastic bags and empty beverage containers, both of the alcoholic and non-alcoholic variety. This could also mean that less people are throwing stuff away, or that people are throwing less stuff away. In either case, said refuse is not finding its way into the gutters, empty plots, landfills and parks of this fair metro.

Now while this may sound like good news to all the good environmental Samaritans, but this particular campaign has alarm bells ringing in the offices of the unintelligent agencies of our country. Across the country, the spooks are massaging their temples and other appendages in an effort to counter the dilemma this cleanliness drive poses for them. You see, for centuries, ever since they plotted the downfall of Jesus in collusion with patsy Judas, they have been following the same method of surveillance gathering. Granted that at the time it was formulated, it was the most cutting edge technique that anyone had ever dreamt of. But now, millennia later, scouring through people’s trash looking for incriminating material and pornography is a bit much. Even alley cats are going, “That’s my turf, you imbeciles.”

So apparently the agencies have taken to rummaging through garbage skips and scouring the Recycle Bins on suspects’ desktops in an attempt to glean information from the unlikeliest of sources. These methods have yielded many impressive scalps. Indeed, many dangerous terrorists, graffiti artists, pickpockets and other seditious villains have been captured on the basis of evidence found in the trash. However, that practice has been called into question and ever since the courts declared evidence gleaned from the skip behind Malik Ishaq’s house “poisonous fruit”, and police and other back-breaking bodies have been forced to seek search warrants before rummaging through people’s trash.

Speaking of criminal negligence, the independent judiciary is now offering the Nawaz-era Golden Handshakes to criminal masterminds, serial killers and professional hitmen with the promise of gainful employment in less contentious sectors such as cattle theft, strong-arming and other activities beneficial to the powers-that-be. Never mind that this man has been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent people and the maiming of thousands of others. Also immaterial is the fact that anything: man, mammal or mineral; that has ever tried to testify against Mr Ishaq has wound up in a ditch somewhere without a pulse. However, since there is “no proof” that Jamaatud Dawa is just the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in a ballerina’s tutu, the right honourable judge had no choice but to acquit this devil incarnate.

As with all Jedi mind tricks, the Pakistani problem is also mostly in one’s head. It’s not that we’re bad people who leave home in the morning with the express intention of doing evil deeds (although in the case of Malik Ishaq, this is probably what he did do), it’s just that unforeseeable circumstances always get in the way of us ever doing the “right thing”. Ishaq and Co have successfully intimidated, liquidated and turned every single shred of evidence against them into liquid putty. They have also managed to off a couple of judges and several law enforcers who have erred in the path of these bastions of the righteous. So it would not surprise me if the judge (who was incidentally the same man who also threw out the cases against Hafiz ‘Red Beard’ Saeed) was convinced politely by a visiting angel to tip the scales of justice in favour of a man who has spilt more blood than Bram Stoker’s Dracula and all the vampire bats in the world combined. While that may be the most unhygienic thing you’ve ever heard of, remember that we as Pakistanis are not too different: unhygienic people with dirty minds. This metaphor works on so many different levels.



  1. an average story worth for city pages. it is on editorial pages. i wonder Pakistan Today is drastically short of good writers!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Apparently, its also short of good readers as well, since you don't seem to know the difference between a story and an opinion piece 🙂

  3. @someone i know very well about good opinion piece and i know what news story is. i was shocked to see a news story-type thing on opinion pages.
    secondly when there be opinion pieces like this one, i am sure Pakistan Today will ever remain short of good readers!!!!!!!!!!

  4. In the immortal words of Nawab Aslam Raisani, "Reader reader hota hai, chahe good ho ya bad!"

    Oh, and just in case you didn't notice, most of the assertions made in this particular piece are UNTRUE, therefore do not qualify as news.

    And yes, I do know the person who wrote this. Why else would I defend him?

  5. My point of view is simply that this so-called opinion piece could be carried at city pages of Islamabad. And editorial pages should carry mature columns of trusted writers. I mean Pakistan Today should not give space to second-rate writers at its op-ed pages.

  6. and i will not comment on this second (third)-rate article anymore. Pakistan Today administration knows well how to handle such opinion pieces in future.

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