My new found respect for Zardari

I never thought I would waste ten thirty minutes of my life praising our new president, but I just have to write this one. This post on Karachi Metblogs is criticizing Zardari’s comments in the visitors’ log of Jinnah’s tomb on his death anniversary. Though I secretly hope for a day when discussing the Pakistani President’s language skills becomes our only concern, but we have to solve a lot of more fundamental problems before we can focus on developing the desi version of Bushism.

The blog also shared this scanned image of his comments, which says something like:

May Good give us the strut to save Pakistan. Asif Ali Zardari, President, Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Zardari's Comments
Zardari Comments

I think there are many possible reasons for this ‘writo’ and I believe that we should forgive Zardari for this writing “Good” instead of “God”. You see…

  1. He was not typing it, and hence, did not have a spell checker handy. When was the last time you wrote a complete sentence using a pen? (for me it was many years ago). This shows that he may be a l33t geek in disguise who relies on the underlined red lines too much.
  2. He has written either ‘Gaad’ or ‘Good’ – if it is ‘Gaad’, he was either in his l33t mindset, or he wanted to emphasize the word but lacked the tools (bold/italics) to do so, and used the long ‘aa’ as a last resort. If he used ‘Good’, then he was probably trying to translate one of Allah’s 99 names to English. I’m pretty sure one of those names means ‘Good’. This shows that he does care about Islam.
  3. He did not use Allah, as these days, the word has negative connotations, thanks to our terrorist brethren. God is a more neutral and ‘enlightened’ word. After all, the American Army top guys are visiting Pakistan these days, what if the next visitor signing the visitor book is one of them, and what if he gets the wrong impression? We must appericate his foresight and attention to detail.
  4. Good, God or Allah, the important point is that he capitalized the G, and that, my friends, is the line that separates a believer from a non-believer, or so I have been told many times. So Zardari strives to be politically and religiously correct.

Even though the above is enough to start respecting Zardari, we are not done yet. The second word that he used, and one that has been misquoted as “strength” by many people, is actually “strut“. Let us check wikipedia for the various meanings of ‘strut’.

A strut can be

  • A structural component designed to keep two other components apart. Struts provide outwards-facing support in their lengthwise direction, which can be used to keep two other components separate, performing the opposite function of a tie. That is a beautiful analogy! It doesn’t take an engineer to see what Zardari is trying to say. Not only that, but a strut can also mean
  • to walk proudly and with a bounce. and pride is one thing that we need, if we want to save Pakistan.

The above is conclusive proof that Zardari picks his words carefully and has a good command over the English language – good enough to make puns and say a lot in a few words. On top of that, I am assuming he can speak Urdu and perhaps Sindhi equally well, which makes him a trilingual. Now you tell me – how many languages can the US, Chinese or the British leaders speak?

Oh yea, one last thing, he loves his deceased wife so much that he still carries her picture everywhere he goes, even when he is on TV. Brings tears to my eyes really.

Censorship is Good

buddha-lahore-museumA couple of days ago, I had the misfortune of attempting to take my son to the Lahore Museum. The weather was pleasant, I was relatively free and had promised him this visit last month, but the one variable that completely skipped my mind was the schedule of our overlord, Mr. Asif Zardari – and I’m still cursing myself for this blunder.

The Lahore Museum is approximately a 25 minute drive from my home, but when we reached the Punjab Assembly building on the Mall, the road was completely blocked by the police, with the traffic being redirected to the right. On the second road that runs parallel to Mall Road, there was another block, and after the policeman asked me where we were going, he ‘recommended’ that we take some other road further ahead. After a very long and slow detour on crazily overloaded single lane roads that I would never enter in normal circumstances, sprinkled with a generous helping of muttered curses, we somehow reached the museum after more than one hour.

During the journey, my son kept asking me “Are we there yet?”. Since I did not want to trouble his tiny mind (he’ll have plenty of opportunities for such troubles in the future, without me adding to them) by trying to explain to him how the mere presence of a single pure bred homosapien in an area can create problems for a few thousand human beings when you live in Pakistan… so instead, I had to convince him to drop his idea of “burning the roadblocks and making the police let us pass” (no, he’s not a terrorist in the making, not yet – he just watches a lot of Ben10).

My estimate is that the Mall usually has traffic density to the tune of 1 car per second, now multiply it by a few thousand and you will get an idea of the magnitude of disruption, not to mention the loss of time (60 minutes for me) and fuel (atleast a couple of liters) that a single VIP visit / Provincial Assembly may cost to the Pakistani public.

In the museum, I saw an intriguing poster on display in the Freedom Movement section of the Lahore Museum. It said something along the lines of

When Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah Rehmatulah Aleyh was taking his last breaths, two words came out of his mouth – “Allah” and “Pakistan”.

I have been thinking about it, but still do not understand why this (not an antique) poster has to be displayed in our museum. Jinnah’s actions, vision and beliefs should be enough for anybody to respect the man, without the need of half a dozen prefixes and suffixes around his name to put him on a pedestal.

The drive back home, after three hours, was not much different. The Mall was blocked again, this time, near the Governor House, with traffic crawling at 5 Km/h.

The incident gave me a much better understanding of how terrorists are born. It also made me sort of agree with Zardari when he calls the long march a “mere carnival” – I would have given anything to see a tiny percentage of the long march attendees block the road upon Zardari’s arrival.

If you boil water in an open pan, it boils and evaporates. Watching water boil is boring stuff indeed. On the other hand, when you boil water in a closed container, steam starts building up, which could result in an explosion, or a steam engine. Either way, it is certainly much more interesting than watching water evaporate. I may be going senile, but I think that instead of long marches, what we actually need is more censorship, more injustice and more roadblocks for the government officials VIPs – roadblocks that make a few thousand people curse and think for a few minutes. After a few hundred such roadblocks, either the whole Pakistani nation will be trained into submission, or we will collect enough steam to purge the system for good. Either way, it will be a good change from our status quo of toad-dom.