City Notes

Much of moment has happened, and it might have escaped attention that Maldives has left the Commonwealth, because it could no longer take any more criticism of its human rights record, with criticism stemming from the coup against its elected President. Coups are not unfamiliar to the Commonwealth. Indeed, Pakistan was taken out of the Commonwealth by an elected government, because it had admitted Bangladesh, and taken back by a military one. True, that military government had hanged the elected leader who had taken it out. But when the leader of Bangladesh was gunned down, the coup-making regime was not expelled. The Maldivean ex-President has not been executed, so it seems killing someone isn’t as bad as abusing human rights…

Well, it’s not as if we’re any great shakes when it comes to human rights. Ask Cyril Almeida. As a journalist, he is well able to pontificate about human rights. But now it seems his own were affected. I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but it’s quite a new thing for a reporter doing a story to have his name placed on the Exit Control List. His paper carried a story of his about how Pakistan would face international isolation if its military did not stop protecting certain religious organisations. Even the corps commanders’ meeting took notice of this, and the military was clearly unhappy. An enquiry into the story was launched, and Cyril Almeida was put on the ECL to help in the enquiry. He refused to play ball, but his name was taken off the ECL.

This was announced by Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan, who said Almeida would be back for the enquiry. Yeah, we should remember that Ch Nisar is the same guy who announced that Gen Pervez Musharraf would be back to face his trials (all on capital offences), after he went abroad. Of course, General Musharraf was a former COAS. Almeida’s paper hasn’t had its declaration cancelled, its newsprint quota cancelled or even its advertisements stopped. In the old days, a team would call at the newspaper office. Once they used to be IB. In military regimes, they would be ISI.

Still, Cyril Almeida is not guilty of match-fixing, something of which Javed Miandad has accused Shahid Afridi. The mudslinging dissolved into a spat over who was to apologise to whom, which meant both wanted to end, as they have. Both had done great things for Pakistan on the cricket field in their time. Both are now has-beens. Neither could fix a match today. True, it’s not just matches which are fixed. Triple centuries too can be. Like the one hit by Azhar Ali in Dubai. Probably not fixed though. I mean, it came against the West Indies.

Another person Cyril Almeida doesn’t resemble is Donald Trump. For one thing, Almeida’s hair is black, not carroty. For another, no one has accused Trump of groping them, nor has Almeida claimed on tape his ability to do so. Trump will probably be defeated on Election Day, thereby showing the need for US Presidential candidates to hide their extracurricular (and extramarital) activities, but still the question needs to be asked is how did a person like this get the Republican nomination? People don’t run because of the scrutiny their families will have to withstand, so what happened here?

Imagine, if this had become public knowledge earlier, the Republican nominee might have been someone else; Jeb Bush or Ben Carson, or somebody. But Republicans hadn’t learnt, not so much from the 1964 nomination, when Nelson Rockefeller was hooted from the Convention because he had gone through a divorce, as from Trump’s own divorce from his first wife. Not only had Trump never run for office before (and thus not had an opposing candidate anxious to expose whatever he could), but he was the first major-party candidate with a marital breakdown in his background. His opponent, Hilary Clinton, was still married to her husband, but had the credit of standing by him while he behaved badly for a very long time. In fact, behaved much as Trump is said to have behaved.

One person who was not threatened by that kind of scandal was Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulayej, the world’s longest reigning monarch, who was 88 when he died, after having been King for 70 years. Indeed, because of the Thai lèse majesté law, no such scandal could be published, no matter what the proof. Like the armed forces here, in fact. And the Thai armed forces had a special relationship with him. That may well be why they staged so many coups. As a matter of fact, there’s a military government in place these days.

King Bhumibhol died before Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Right, the Nobel people awarded the Colombian President the Peace Prize for an accord that was shot down in a referendum, and now this. If Bob Dylan can be awarded the prize, rappers can get their hopes up. Maybe the winners’ list will include P. Diddy. Or Snoop Dogg. Or 50 Cent. Look, Great Literature is supposed to have been written by DWMs (Dead White Males) and the Nobel is supposed to go to AWMs (Almost-Dead White Males: non-whites like Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe or Derek Walcott are spiritually white.) Bob Dylan at 68 fits the mould. It’s a pity the Nobel Committee didn’t award Dylan during the Vietnam War. I suppose they bow to the US establishment. Remember their most infamous Award, the Peace Prize to Obama at the beginning of his term?

Footnote to these notes: Kim Kardashian, a reality-show celebrity like Trump, was robbed in Paris by men ‘dressed as policemen’? You mean it wasn’t the police? Here it would be.