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“Extremism bohat extreme ho gaya hai” (Extremism has become very extreme).

Published: June 9, 2012

Terrorism and extortion have increased since the Pakistan Peoples Party formed the government,” thundered Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ayaz Soomro. PHOTO: EXPRESS

KARACHI: Need a creative excuse? Step into the Sindh Assembly any day of the week and you’ll be confronted by responses that will leave you reeling with their absurdity.

“Terrorism and extortion have increased since the Pakistan Peoples Party formed the government,” thundered Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ayaz Soomro. But there were no points for holding one’s breath for what seemed to be a candid admission of the state of governance. “This is because there is a conspiracy against democracy!”

Aha! A conspiracy… The old chestnut which explains everything.

Two minority MPAs who rose to ask for legislation to be passed to prevent forced marriages were offered a list of excuses more creative than the time Pervez Musharraf declared that “Extremism bohat extreme ho gaya hai” (Extremism has become very extreme).

The MPAs were first told that there was, of course, existing legislation. To this MPA Pitanbar Sewani responded that the Attorney-General of Pakistan had told the Supreme Court that there was, in fact, no legislation. Sindh Minister for Minorities – who one would think would be all over this, given that he was hauled in to meet Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari not too long ago – fumbled for an answer while one PPP MPA silently mouthed these words behind him: “No, there isn’t.”

Soomro, who usually portrays himself as an expert on all things PPP and constitutional, said he would have to ‘check’ while Minister for Local Government Agha Siraj Durrani said, “Just step into the law minister’s chamber. He’ll solve your problem,” as if legislation was a petty dispute. One wondered why Soomro just didn’t check the constitution on the iPad on his table, as he would often do, but perhaps the truth shouldn’t get in the way of some creative delaying tactics.

Another MPA opened her screechy speech with the classic “Karachi used to be a place where people would live in peace.” Whenever people make that statement, I often wonder what city they live in given that two generations seem to have grown up with riots, protests, strikes, assassinations and bomb blasts dominating their calendar. It’s no surprise that her colleague smirked throughout her speech, instead of wearing the same wounded expression that many of the other MPAs had.

In fact, there were many such wondrous statements by MPAs who must take their constituents for a fool. The resolution passed in the Sindh Assembly on Friday spoke of an ‘unprecedented increase’ in target killings and extortion threats and there was also some creative number juggling to back this up. On Thursday, a Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) MPA alleged that 20 traders had been kidnapped. But on Friday, the number automatically jumped up to 24.

Soomro, in fact, had the best creative statistic of the day. He declared that the US was the “largest country of the world”. But based on population, China was the largest country, and by land area, it’s Russia. Creativity, after all, has become quite creative.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 9th, 2012.

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