White Lies

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Whether you are 62 or 64 you still need a friend. One that holds your hand and does not make you feel you made a fool of your self. That was more or less demonstrated last week in Islamabad on the anniversary of the proclamation by Mao Tse Tung of the founding of the Republic of China. China was 62 and a wise old sage. Pakistan as represented by President Zardari, a host of ministers and CM Shahbaz, was 64 and still confused.

After the flowery speeches delivered to commemorate the “Chinese miracle” came the moment to cut that special cake. As hands descended on the knife, there was one that did not join in. CM Shahbaz had his own knife to grind and this one happened to be a special cake knife. He put in his independent effort and the cake was slashed once again. The point was made but the younger but wiser China must have the satisfaction of knowing that both the knives chosen were actually made in China.

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The Osama episode in Abbottabad may be receding in memory but speculation about who blew the whistle and collected 25 million dollars never stops. One story doing the rounds revolves around certain ex brass who has served in a sensitive but no-longer-holy-cow order. Apparently, this one just upped and left overnight along with wife and family. Islooites were surprised to find that his house fully furnished, wardrobes full of clothes and all possessions intact, is up for sale.

Another unfinished house is also on the market. Friends claim he is lodged in a luxury hotel suite in New York and has fled because of a kidnapping scare involving his son. Of course this could just be another story inspired by an overactive imagination.

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The government in Islamabad may be determined to stay on “give” what may and Mian Sahib and Imran Khan may be hell bent on shaking its shaky foundations but one thing is abundantly clear. Both know what they are doing. Unfortunately this cannot be said for bureaucracy. It has no idea where things are heading.

Consequently it has become quite noncommittal about every thing. Even the mightiest of bureaucrats were giving the most neutral answers on Thursday, hedging against any future change. “Change” that is indeed a dreaded word in the babu vocabulary.

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