White Elephants On Parade


circus elephants

Farrukh Saleem’s billion dollar gamble came up short last week, but rather than admit fault, he has simply doubled down. Only this time, he’s beginning to show his hand. After predicting that ‘the price of independent horses is bound to go through the roof’ following Senate elections that saw little evidence of horse trading, the columnist shifts from complaining about politicians being corrupt to complaining about them being ineffective – especially compared to that other power centre, GHQ.

At least Farrukh Saleem tries to be subtle, though. That much cannot be said for his colleague Shaheen Sehbai who rather ham-handedly calls for the military to take over…without actually taking over.

I am not calling for the army to take over and sweep away democracy. What I am saying is that if the elephant in the room can speak IN SOME big rooms on SOME SUBJECTS why it cannot come out of the closet and speak on ALL SUBJECTS…

If a soft coup has taken place, let it then be extended to places where it is desperately needed. Billions upon billions are being taken away from the country; no one has the courage to challenge the looters and plunderers.

Yes, once again someone is calling for the military to take over without actually, you know, taking over. This plan is especially entertaining though in that it is essentially the same as saying, “We will let you sit in your home and watch whatever programme you want, but we will also be standing behind you with a gun to your head telling you what to watch. But please, sir, by all means, choose for yourself. After all, you are a free man.”

Shaheen Sehbai does seem to be right about one thing, though, which is that it does seem like “no one has the courage to challenge the looters and plunderers“. This too is somewhat ironic considering the hot water that Shaheen Sehbai found himself in ten years ago when he was writing about corruption and looting by Army generals. What makes this even more ironic was that a few years before he was complaining about corrupt Army generals, Shaheen Sehbai was begging the boys to take over. In 1999, when he was still writing for Dawn, Shaheen Sehbai termed Gen Musharraf as the ‘surgeon’ and Pakistan his ‘patient’ and urged him to come out of the closet and put his boot on the necks of corrupt politicians:

General Musharraf cannot dawdle and straggle any more as he is losing the critical strike time that could give him the advantage of an early sweep against the mafias and layers and layers of corrupt elements all over the place. His administration has a very soft face so far and this has not caused enough fear and panic in the ranks of the corrupt.

Any Army officer worth his salt would be smart to steer well clear of following Gen Musharraf’s mistake in taking Sehbai’s advice since history shows he will probably find himself on the other side of the journalist’s pen if he does come to power, a trait that the elder Shaheen Sehbai shares with his protege Ahmed Quraishi, who is also passionately beating the drum of military rule once again.

Speaking of Ahmed Quraishi, he is making his annual pilgrimage to Europe to for a conference on Kashmir. He was kind enough to take a ‘selfie’ while whining about not being given a room in a five-star hotel this time.

Still no word on who is paying for all of Ahmed Quraishi’s globe trotting, cheap though it may be. Though at least now he has a legitimate job that he can point to, which is certainly a change of pace. Still, if he expects to get better than cheap accommodations, he’s going to have to do better than a cheap job.

This brings us back to the real elephant in the room. The one that is always there, in every newspaper and every talk show. It is a complete mystery how these elephants continue to work as editors and TV anchors so long after their credibility runs out. One cannot help but wonder if their patrons are colorblind to the fact that these elephants are most blindingly white.


Author: Mahmood Adeel


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