On The Side Confessional

Satire: Diary of Shahbaz Sharif

Updated 18 Aug, 2016 02:39pm
– Illustration by Sabir Nazar
– Illustration by Sabir Nazar

This is an urgent notice from the office of the Chief Minister of Punjab, to be sent to all ministers, bureaucrats and family members who know how to read.

I’d like to begin by saying that in all my years of experience I have never met a political leader like me. I work 28 hours a day for 14 months a year, distributing laptops, building roads, eradicating dengue, eradicating trees, eradicating the Main Boulevard and eradicating the provincial budget while trying to turn Lahore into Paris — Paris after World War II that is, after years of aerial bombardment.

I never take a leave of absence or ask for a raise. I change provincial secretaries like people change clothes. I am always on the ground to console victims of floods, police brutality and victims of my dengue sprays and urgent notices. I’m everywhere, all at once. I believe if you want something done wrong, you’ve got to do it yourself.

Sometimes I think if something should happen to my index finger, what would become of this country? And by this country I mean Lahore, of course.

I’m so good I shouldn’t just be Chief Minister of Punjab; I should be Chief Minister of the entire world. Imagine an underpass from Lahore to Jeddah, or a Metro Bus in the Atlantic Ocean. Just think of all the money it will save after all the money it will waste.

People complain that cutting down trees takes away a city’s shade but flyovers provide plenty of shade too. You don’t even have to water them. What’s wrong with infrastructure projects, anyway? They can have aesthetic or sentimental value. Like Shahjahan made the Taj Mahal, I made the Honey Bridge. Both lasting monuments to romance, mine is just more useful.

I’m a big romantic, of course. After Alia, I fell in love with Tehmina after I didn’t read her book. I often ask her if she’ll write a sequel, My Industrial Lord. But she says none of the factories are in your name. I told her she should reconsider. Nobody has done more for Punjab than me, and by Punjab I mean Lahore, of course.

Anyway, it was my happy birthday last month. Nawaz Bhai bought himself a ticket to New York from my bank account, as a gift. I asked Nawaz Bhai if the Pakistan–China Economic Corridor will be signal-free and whether these Pak-China ties are the ones he’s been wearing to work. Ishaq Dollar, I mean Dar, told me the friendship has been strengthening every day; China even accepted our friend Facebook request and tagged Nawaz Bhai in a post.

This is a big improvement over Modi, who has now blocked Nawaz Bhai from following him on Twitter. It’s not turning out to be a great year for him.

Ilzam Khan has become a huge headache, the kind that won’t go away with a Disprin. Now there are re-elections in two constituencies. Nawaz Bhai said if we lose these, it might make us look like we don’t know what we’re doing; although I disagree I think we already look like we never know what we’re doing.

Nandipur was a big disaster. It takes more electricity to run the plant than it produces. Nawaz Bhai couldn’t understand how the project became so expensive; were they trying to run the turbines by burning money? He told me to find the Managing Director of the project and take back that Sitara-e-Imtiaz, “even if you have to wrestle him for it.”

Electricity is the need of the hour. So I proposed a solar power project that’s meant to produce 100 megawatts but will likely produce only 10 megawatts and, by the end of transmission, the one megawatt that is left over will power some tube wells in Bahawalpur.

I also want to help the unemployed youth of the province, like Hamza Shahbaz. I’ve initiated youth internship programmes, youth loan schemes, youth transport schemes, but Hamza just can’t seem to settle anywhere.

But everything I do, I do for the entire province, which is Lahore, of course.

Ayesha Mumtaz raided our kitchen this morning. Found unlabelled meat in the freezer. I told her that’s Paaye for when Nawaz Bhai comes back. She sealed our house and slapped a 50,000 rupees fine on me. I think I’ve created a monster. I just hope she doesn’t discover Anhaar Milk.

Sometimes when I’m looking at my pictures I wonder why I sit holding my face. Then I realize my head is so big it just might fall off if I don’t support it. I often ask Nawaz Bhai if Raheel is also a brother of ours, he has a huge head too and is fond of running the country — but he still has his hair so it’s unlikely.

Wait, I’ve just had a brilliant new idea. Solar-powered laptops. And by solar-powered laptops I mean Lahore, of course.

Yours truly,

Khadim-e-Aala, Showbaz Sharif

This satirical diary was originally published in Herald's October 2015 issue. To read more, subscribe to Herald in print.