Brother Bush hasn’t been returning calls for the past three weeks. The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques is willing to offer safe custody but no more. The Mayor of Greater Istanbul is in no mood to attract Al Qaeda to Anatolia. In Islamabad, the five-foot-one-inch tall woman, the very face of American awe in this country, is trying to secure security for Uncle Sam’s most supple of nephews. An ex-high commissioner, Mark Lyall Grant, the grandson of Sir Lyall (Lyallpur was named after this lieutenant-governor of Punjab), is also trying to jump-start his long-lost colonial sway to get Musharraf legal immunity. Sadly, Chak Shahzad isn’t secure to secure a mortal with a thousand suicidal foes. Then, the chateau at the Chak Shahzad farm isn’t ready yet either.
The capital city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts would be nice and cosy. Surely, Haqqani won’t travel 393 miles to be in the arrival lounge at the Logan International Airport but Bilal, Iram and their two kids would be. Hopefully, Bilal won’t have problems with the airport security as he did in San Francisco when security personnel thought Bilal had diaper bags lined with TNT. Bilal’s two-bedroom flat in Canton isn’t big enough to hold a Boston Tea Party but then the guest list has shrunk since the day Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry (de jure) was made dysfunctional. Barry Hoffman, consul general at Consulate General of Pakistan, won’t be attending either. Shaheen Sehbai may, however, be willing to celebrate.
Politically, America would prefer not to muddy her pure democratic soil by hosting an ex-military dictator. But, if no one else is willing to take in Uncle Sam’s one-time favourite cuddle, Boston or Houston may have to host his exile.
Living on the coast of the Red Sea would be safe, sound and secure. After all, Saudi Arabia has hosted the exiles of a dozen Muslim oppressors. But, Jeddah’s Saroor Palace is haunted by the spirit of you know who. Then there is the climate issue; Jeddah is very hot in winter and extremely hot in summer. Then there is the lifestyle issue; the wahabi state may just be too restrictive, too conservative for the ‘enlightened’ Musharrafs.
Living right next to the Bosphorus Strait would be fun as well as festive. How exciting, Istanbul is the only major city in the whole wide world which is on two continents. Musharraf speaks the language and has childhood memories. Istanbul has a Mediterranean climate and lifestyle won’t be an issue. Istanbul has night life, live concerts, rave parties, jazz, cocktails, fandango and the whole lot. Musharraf can tell the Chaudhrys and friends — the three that are left — to ‘meet him where the continents meet’. But, Tayyip Erdogan is a chicken; too afraid that Musharraf’s presence might attract too many suicidal Islamists — dreaming of restoring the Caliphate — back to the final seat of the Islamic Caliphate. How about Izmir, right next to the Aegean Sea?
Could Nahr wali Haveli become a contending host as well? After all, Musharraf was born there in the midst of Kacha Saad Ullah Mohallah in Delhi. And, someone intelligent has now said that Musharraf has more voters in India than in Pakistan.
Then there’s London, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Paris. How about Karachi, the one-time city of lights? Musharraf has a fully-carpeted bungalow there — currently available for rent — with a 100 KVA generator (that can run at least 20 air conditioners). But, Karachi has a large Pashtun population and securing the bungalow would be a major challenge. Then there’s Bahawalpur? Everyone knows that Musharraf was the chief of the army staff, the chief executive and the president — all rolled in one. But, Musharraf continues to be the numberdar of Chak 13 BC not too far from Bahawalpur. Then again, Bahawalpur is where Jaish-e-Mohammad is. All right, he is neither the chief of the army staff nor the chief executive and only three citizens of Pakistan want Musharraf to continue as the president — but don’t forget, he’s still the numberdar of Chak 13 BC.
P.S. Pakistan’s ambassador in Washington certainly cannot smuggle Aafia Siddiqui out of the Metropolitan Detention Centre (MDC). Looks like he is doing the best that can be done for a citizen of Pakistan who is in pre-trial detention.
The writer is an Islamabad-based freelance columnist. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: The News, 17/8/2008