Satire: A Sweet Deal
Depending on who you talk to in Pakistan, the chief beneficiary of the political system is the feudal, the capitalist or the army.
After some deep research conducted into the political and economic history of Pakistan, I have reached the startling conclusion that the major beneficiary is none of the above mentioned groups: The group that has benefitted most in Pakistan is the mithai seller!
No matter what the occasion, the perennially favorite mithai is involved. Every political event is celebrated with the very public distribution of sweets. Just today, the mere acceptance of Begum Kulsum Nawaz’s nomination papers for the election of NA120 was greeted with a huge roar of approval and a matching quantity of sweets being distributed, and in many instances being mutually shoved into the mouths of the supporters. All this is happening with no regard for the fact that the Begum has left for London for three days of medical checkups for ailments that could well include diabetes. If so much mithai was distributed for just her nomination, imagine the quantities involved if she actually wins the election! From the mithai sellers’ point of view, it matters not whether she loses, because then the other candidate, the lady from PTI would be distributing sweets.
The fact that the mithai sellers are neutral in their political allegiance raises the interesting possibility that the senate should consist of only mithai sellers as they are the only group who have no axe to grind, as heads they win and tails they win.
Recently, three other events occurred that brought a healthy profit to the halwais of Pakistan. First, when the original verdict in the Panamagate case did not disqualify Mr. Nawaz Sharif, tons of sweets appeared in the streets. It cannot be said with certainty whether it was short-sightedness or love for mithai that resulted in the huge celebrations within the PML-N camp with the Prime Minister himself shoving a few luddoos into his mouth. Most interestingly, the accusers of Mr. Sharif also celebrated with mithai as they considered the verdict as being in their favor! And I am certain that a few kilos of sweets were also consumed in the honorable judge’s chambers.
Clearly, the love for sweets is such that no matter what the result of a political rivalry, all parties declare victory with a mithai-fest.
Some conspiracy theorists have been heard whispering that the five Judges on the bench were “induced’ by the mithai mafia to give a decision that could be reasonably construed to be a victory for either party.
It is not just election victories or Supreme Court decisions that trigger a mithai orgy; even a murder may result in the same happy outcome. Remember the run on the mithai shops when the Governor of Punjab SalmanTaseer was shot and killed by his own guard Mumtaz Qadri? In that instance, the flower business also flourished when many (including lawyers) pelted Mr. Qadri with roses. Now that the dead Mr. Qadri has attained the status of a minor saint, sweets are distributed at his shrine and his grave is garlanded by pilgrims who come from all over the holy land of Pakistan.
Mithai solidly established its position as the best-selling item in Pakistan when many heartless folks distributed sweets at the hanging of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto by the military dictator General Ziaul Haq. Since one good turn deserves another, the supporters of Mr. Bhutto returned the favor when the hangman was himself blown up in an air-crash caused by a bomb placed in a case of mangoes. The mithai lobby gleefully pointed out that if the General had taken a box of mixed mithai instead of mangoes his life would have been spared.
It is no surprise that Pakistan has a very high rate of diabetes (known simply as sugar in Pakistan), but heck, you only live once and no matter what is the nature of the occasion; tragic, happy, idiotic, ridiculous, there is always cause for enjoying luddoos, jalebis, barfis and gulab jammuns.
The writer is an engineer by training and a social scientist by inclination.