Shiver me timbers!


It’s not every day the government of the state that is definitely NOT Pakistan thanks the government and people of the state that might be Pakistan on anything other than the sharing of another dossier on the Mumbai attacks. And when the arbitrary minister for externalities and other pitfalls, SM Krishna; thanks any Pakistani for any reason whatsoever, you know for sure that somewhere in the grand cosmos a corner filled with boiling sulphur has, in fact, frozen over.

To be honest, I never really liked Ansar Burney a while lot. But before the readers of this newspaper burn my effigy in protest (a highly likely scenario, considering the wave of positive publicity that Mr Burney is currently enjoying), I would like to state, in my defence, that I am opposed to all do-gooders who walk around in tailor-made Armani and Gucci suits. Not that a philanthropist can’t have a sense of style, but it just makes him look phony. Not that he is a phony. Or is he?

I first heard of Mr Burney when he launched his campaign to free the hapless younglings of our fair land from the clutches of the evil Bedouin who come to our country, hunt endangered species for sport, rape young village girls, build obscene palaces in the middle of nowhere and then take a bunch of children back to the scorching deserts to train as camel jockeys. A commendable initiative to be sure. But since I was an impressionable sub-editor at a slightly reputable newspaper at the time and had to edit his pointless ‘bayanat’ from 100,000 words to 100 words, I was not a happy camper by any stretch of the imagination.

Then I went to work for the largest news group in Pakistan in the year 2007. This was also the year that the largest news group in Pakistan began having trouble with Herr Klaus Von Musharraf. Ze Furher, in his infinite wisdom, decided to impose a state of incompetence in November of the same year. You can imagine the kind of uproar this would have created, especially in the offices of the channel that was now off the airwaves. So understandably, we all got out of our cubicles and marched on down to the local press club to shout obscenities and other rallying cries at an omni-absent dictator.

But while the faithful were out chanting slogans on Azadi Street (just off II Chundrigar Road), Ze Furher was swearing in his new caretaker cabinet. And who better for the newly-created job of minister for human rights than the illustrious Ansar Burney. Naturally, we held him guilty by association and refused to put him on the pedestal hitherto occupied solely by Saint Edhi and Mrs Saint Edhi. But that was then.

Now, things are different. Around the world, people are hailing Mr Burney as a champion of philanthropy. There is even talk of possible canonization and the Pope is seriously considering the inclusion of “A Pakistani freeing Indians from the custody of 21st century pirates” in the list of miracles that render a mere mortal eligible for Sainthood. If the Vatican goes through with their plans, it will mean that a Muslim (which is Latin for ‘Pagan’) will beat Mother Teresa to the canon, a truly terrifying thought.

But to give credit where it is due, it must be said that the springing of our sailors from the clutches of Captain Johannes Sparrow and his ilk was no small feat. It is my personal (read immaterial) opinion that this episode should force the hubristic United States of Shaitan to reconsider its policy of not negotiating with terrorists, hostage-takers and Afghan carpet vendors. The same goes for our friends from across the border, because a lot can be accomplished if people just talk to each other.

Given the recent hullabaloo over Obama’s great Afghan anti-surge, it is obvious that the US has learnt its lesson in Afghanistan. What is not so obvious is the fact that history is repeating itself. The last time the Yanks yanked themselves out of the Afghan theatre, Pakistan was left alone to contend with the many heavily-armed and ideologically-skewed Pushtuns. This time, with Obama looking for a quick exit, it is unlikely that things will be any different. But whatever the outcome, one thing is for sure: Americans still don’t know how to negotiate with carpet vendors. Maybe that’s why they still buy their Afghan rugs from Peshawar and not Kabul. True story.


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