A safe pair of hands

The shoe flung at Mian Nawaz Sharif had a distinguished predecessor, with one being almost flung at PTI chief Imran Khan. He said that he would have caught the shoe and thrown it back. He was so pleased at this mot, he repeated it. Well, in his cricketing days, he usually fielded in the deep, and as captain he must have gone to mid-off, as is recommended for captains. Imran must have been a safe pair of hands, because he didn’t have the reputation of a butterfingers. But I don’t think he was outstanding as a fielder. He didn’t have a reputation, and bowlers tend not to be great fielders, being protective of their hands.

Imran was like the rest, being placed in the deep. There he took 28 catches in 88 Tests, and 36 in 175 one-day internationals. Mike Hendrick of England was a contemporary pacer who was a permanent close-in fielder, and as far as I remember, when the Pakistan captain wanted more close-in fielders than usual, it was to Sarfraz Nawaz, Imran’s new-ball partner, he turned. Imran did know something about close fielding, though, being the cousin of Majid Khan, who was a fixture at first slip.

Surely, catching shoes when one is all keyed up to make a speech is a matter of reflexes, and more down Mian Nawaz’s street. He was an opener a long time ago, and openers have long had a history of fielding at slip. Cousin Majid opened for Pakistan, remember. I think opening and slip-fielding have similar skill sets, so the same people tend to do both. And that might be why we have a history of wicketkeeper-openers. Yet we’ve also had Waseem Bari, who’s still Pakistan’s best keeper, who was no batsman.

I personally don’t think Imran targeted Mian Nawaz because he was corrupt, but because he was an opener. I don’t know if Mian Shehbaz played cricket, and if he did, what he did. But he’s become President of the PML-N, and has been duly confirmed as such on the Election Commission’s website.

Would Imran have thrown back the shoe thrown at him? Well, a fielder in the deep does have to throw in to the keeper or the bowler, so it would be a reflex action. But meanwhile the thrower-to-be has set the cat among the pigeons by saying that he had been tasked by Sheryar, Rana Sanaullah’s son-in-law. One can imagine Ch Abid Sher Ali objecting to this, because he wants to prevent Rana Sanaullah from getting the credit. That confession would gain Rana Sanaullah a lot of credit in PML-N circles.

Of course, getting things thrown at you is not a Nawaz monopoly. At home, Khawaja Asif had ink thrown at him, while Ch Ahsan Iqbal had a shoe, as did Sh Rashid, Pervaiz Rashid, Mian Shehbaz, Pervez Musharraf and Arbab Ghulam Rahim.

Internationally, shoes got thrown at Australian Prime Minister John Howard in 2009, at Hillary Clinton when she ran for US President, as well as US President George Bush in Iraq. There was a throwing of glitter by American gays at Republicans running for President in 2012, in which Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Mike Pawlenty, Michelle Bachmann and Newt Gingrich were targeted. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro had a mango thrown at him, which was perhaps similar to the tomatoes hurled at Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, and the eggs thrown at Ed Milliband and Tony Blair.

The best effect of eggs and tomatoes would be if they were rotten. The same applies to mangoes. That’s a thought, because we’re approaching the mango season, and politicians should watch out. I mean, what’s good for Venezuelan politicians should also be good enough for ours.

Shoes, mangoes, it doesn’t matter now to Stephen Hawking, who recently died at 76. He spent about half a century in a wheelchair, and only communicated through a voice synthesizer, because he suffered from a degenerative nerve disease. It’s funny, but even though he put more effort into staying alive than Imran does into staying young, he still would have drawn the youth vote. Maybe Imran should go more for string theory, which Hawking helped pioneer, rather than leg theory. Of course, Imran might not have approved of him, for he was a Cambridge man.

Well, the death of Stephen Hawking was not really a counterweight to the blast in Raiwind. No, the militants have not turned against the Tablighi Jamaat, or even Mian Nawaz Sharif, but the cops. There were seven killed along with four others. I doubt if the gloom caused by those deaths were in any way relieved by the joy of the Sikh community in Pakistan at the passage of the Sikh Marriage Act by the Punjab Assembly. As the Assembly noted in a fit of self-congratulation, it was the first Sikh Marriage Act passed anywhere in the world. Trust Sikhs not to have passed one in Indian Punjab. Or even in KP, the only province in which they are present in any numbers. Of course, the shoe pelting thing reached them, as Sikh KP MPA Baldev Kumar had a shoe flung at him while he was being sworn in. The flinger was a fellow PTI member, who didn’t like Baldev murdering the previous MPA, Soaran Singh.

Coming back to Lahore, the conspiracy against Pakistan’s export earnings continued, with the killing of three-year-old Mahnooor near Yateemkhana by a kitestring cutting her throat while she was on the front of her father’s motorbike. Her mother and two brothers were also on board, and one can imagine the care with which the family loaded itself before going off on that fatal expedition. It must never be forgotten that General Pervez Musharraf almost lifted the ban on kite flying in Basant. He noted that Basant festivities attracted Indians, and increased Pakistan’s foreign exchange earnings. Yeah, right. So what if a few Mahnoors have their throats cut?

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