Good news and bad!

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Friendly Fire

Khalid Saleem

EVERY now and then, some do-gooder picks up his (or her) pen and produces a piece referring to this blessed land as a “Banana Republic”. One respectfully begs to differ. This is no banana republic; not by a long shot! For one thing our bananas today are nothing to write home about. Had they been up to the mark, why would we go to the trouble of importing truck-loads of this fruit from our neighbor to the east? No ‘banana republic’ this; ‘Mango Republic’ perhaps but certainly not a banana one! Bad news is that even being a ‘republic’ appears in some doubt if one goes by what loosely passes for our pack of leaders to be. There is good news and bad news. This is the law of nature. Like Newton’s Law of Motion, every bit of good news needs must be counter-balanced by an equal and opposite bit of bad news! This is particularly true in the Land of the Pure. How about going to the drawing board and picking out a few choice examples?
The good news is that our Ministry of Foreign Affairs is seen (and heard) on the visual media averring that India is fully bound by the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty and that enforcement provisions in the treaty in question are foolproof and devoid of holes. The bad news is that India was reported to have made plans, among others, to follow up on the Kishenganga project with one to connect the Chenab and Beas rivers in complete violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of the said Waters Treaty. The Indus Waters Treaty, by the way, is hardly white as snow. Those from our side who took part in the erstwhile negotiations, nudged by our American ‘friends’ no doubt, have a lot to answer for. But that is an old story.
The good news is that some foreign Cricket Boards agree in principle to send their cricket teams on a tour of Pakistan to end the several-year drought. The bad news is that the ICC decides to bung a spanner in the works by putting down tough and, in some ways, impractical pre-conditions. India’s ‘behind the scene’ maneuvers do nothing to help matters. But let’s move on.
The good news is that the projected Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, if it ever materializes, read with Iran’s offer of supply of electric power, can go a long way in tackling the energy problems of Pakistan. The bad news is that President Trump’s volte face on Iran, not to mention this blessed land’s weak backbone (or the lack of it), stand in the way. The good news is that the Kaptan has vowed to curb the menaces of terrorism and corruption in the land, in the first ninety days if his party comes to power. The bad news is that the Kaptan’s own party, given its choice of candidates, appears to be in no position (or mood) to push through the needed tough legislation in Parliament even if the party sweeps the polls. The foregoing are just stray examples. One could simply go on and on; the result would always be the same: good news followed by bad news and, once in a while, the other way around. The one moral that can be drawn from this exercise is that good fortune and misfortune, somehow, go hand in hand. Much like Newton’s Law of motion, each piece of good news is counterbalanced by an equal and opposite bad news. The question to consider is this: is such a state of affairs universally true and dictated by nature itself or is it man-made? Also, is it peculiar to this land?
To the first question, the answer is that it is certainly not dictated by nature. The fault, dear reader, lies not in the stars but in the inconsistency and incredulity of men destined to be minders of the helm. Both the (negative) attributes aforementioned are to be found in this blessed land in generous measure. How can things then be envisaged otherwise? This should also serve to answer the second question if one still had doubts! Yes, this phenomenon is largely peculiar to the Land of the Pure. Why is it that our stalwarts in various vital fields have cultivated the regrettable dual propensity of simulation and dissimulation? Is it because, as a race, we lack the capacity to do our sums (and that correctly!) before deciding to open our big mouths? Or, do we lack the inherent gumption to see beyond our respective noses? One would hate to speculate on these and related issues, simply because not being well-versed in the elusive subject of psychology one is hardly qualified to do so. These are weighty issues and should be dealt with only by those adept in the art and science of philosophy of the highest order.
All that can be said at this point in time is that, before adopting a definite stance on delicate issues, it is always advisable not only to weigh the pros and cons but also to think every matter through before things get out of hand. This has been our failing for as long as one can recall. And, while we are on the subject, how about giving serious thought to the maxim: what are more opportune are not things that are well-articulated but rather those that remain unsaid! Provides food for thought, that! Does it not?
— The writer is a former ambassador and former assistant secretary general of OIC.

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