CITY NOTES: An IMF Ramzan package


It seems that everyone was focusing on the IMF deal, and how bad for the economy it would be. The stock market reacted poorly to the deal, collapsing. That shows that the average Pakistani stock-market investor is a corrupt element bent on showing Imran Khan in a bad light. The impact of the tax amnesty scheme is not being considered.

That the IMF scheme coincides with Ramzan should bother the government. Ramzan is a month of fasting, but it is also a time of expenditure. And we are lucky that we don’t import our food, otherwise the foreign exchange crisis would have meant starvation. The tax amnesty by the PTI government is a beneficial measure, soothing to all honest men, unlike the tax amnesty last year, by the PML(N) government, which was purely a device so that ill-gotten gains could be legitimised and money could be laundered.

If despite this, the stock market collapsed, it meant that they were as corrupt as the Pakistan cricket team, which showed its bias against Imran Khan by losing again against England. Imamul Haq’s century made me think. He’s Inzamamul Haq’s sister’s son. It’s almost as if the genes which carry batting ability are not carried on the paternal gene, but the maternal.

Does anyone remember the Chappell brothers? The elder, Ian, captained Australia in the 1970s, and handed the captaincy to younger brother Greg. At that time, Greg was undisputedly the best Australian batsman since Bradman. Even now, I would argue that he was more stylish than his later competitors, Alan Border and Ricky Ponting. A third brother, Trevor, was most famous for having bowled the last ball underarm in a one-dayer, with the other side needing a six to win. Yes, the skipper was brother Greg.

They were all the maternal grandsons of Vic Richardson, the Aussie batsman of the 1940s, who skippered in a series in South Africa. And his resemblance to his grandsons was uncanny. Indeed, just as Imam looks like a thin and bespectacled version of Inzi (well, yes, also beardless), pictures of Vic look like Greg with a shave. (Greg and Trevor went for the grungy, unshaven look.)

Paternal heredity is supposed to count, and against Imamul Haq was Jonny Bairstow, the England stumper, whose father David kept wickets for England too, but won fame as Yorkshire’s keeper. Our most famous family were the Mohammed brothers, four of whom played for Pakistan (the only other example were the four Grace brothers who played for England in the 19th century). Hanif’s son played for Pakistan, and his son in turn played first-class cricket. Yet going up a generation, Ameer Bi, the great mother of these brothers, who was herself once a badminton champion of India. And only in Pakistan and Bangladesh could a Test player’s daughter marry her cousin, the Test player’s nephew, resulting I suppose in a really astounding player. Though it hasn’t been tried yet, wait a little.

I wonder if Imran Khan might try that route with his own nephews. It would solve the problem with the succession, and whether his sons would take over, or his stepchildren. His sisters might have no objection, but a couple of his brothers-in-law are already critical of him. Or rather deadly opposed.

I wonder if that had anything to do with the anti-Muslim riots in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka, along with India, is the only cricket team that picks Muslims in its team (well, the West Indies and England do too, but not all the time), so it too might want to breed cricketers. But still, the riot was because of the Easter blasts.

I hope Christians don’t take the riots as something to celebrate. More to celebrate was the departure of Asia Bibi for Canada, and it was only afterwards that Maulana Khadim Ali Rizvi was bailed. I think President Trump overreacted, and didn’t need to clamp down on migration. It’s not exactly a route. True, non-Muslim blasphemy accused have to seek asylum abroad, and true, no one has been executed for blasphemy so far, but I doubt if many would risk blasphemy charges just to be legal abroad.

Aleem Kham was legal abroad, and legal at home, but NAB wanted him. Unlike other corrupt elements, like Sarfraz Ahmed, Aleem was obviously not guilty because he was a travelling companion of Imran. His bail not only came after the Local Government Act was passed, but he could be the replacement for Usman Buzdar as Punjab CM, though Buzdar has been found to be the most effective CM. A tribute to his cultivation of the noble art of writing with one’s feet? Or to his deep interest in Sufi devotional poetry?

All of this has happened while the weather has made it easier to fast. Far be it from me to call the weather unseasonal, but I cannot remember any previous May when it was possible to exist without a fan.

Footnote to these notes: I’m adding these with a very heavy heart, just after learning that the Sports Editor of this paper, Agha Akbar, has passed away. He was not just a colleague of more years (we first met in the 1980s; in the Zia era) than I like to think, but also a very dear friend. I’m sure his family is worse afflicted, but I will miss him.