Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society


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This piece appears in the January 2015 issue of Herald 

I have a handy little volume titled Murphy’s Law Complete, by one Arthur Bloch. Among a few hundred other gems, the book contains a priceless piece of advice that has long been the guiding principle of our political class. It is called Glyme’s Formula for Success. Now, don’t even ask me who this Glyme chap is because I have no clue and neither does Bloch or he would have told us. The formula states: ‘The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you’ve got it made.’

Going by his name, this Glyme cannot possibly be a Pakistani. I therefore suspect this piece of very useful wisdom so much in use in Pakistani politics, as well as in daily life, was actually thought up by a local sage who put it into practice without taking out a patent on it. Unprotected by law, the formula was filched by smart aleck Glyme whose name then stuck to it. I suspect it was fear of legal action from Pakistan that kept old Glyme from passing on his full name to Bloch.

Before you go off defending crooked Glyme and tell me things like Western rectitude being beyond questioning, remember they also stole ‘all our Islamic principles to make life good for their societies’. This is a refrain you frequently hear until you believe those con artists simply picked us clean leaving nary an Islamic principle behind for us to follow. That is the reason; the deliverer of this refrain will never fail to tell you, we are such a bankrupt nation.

But this was an aside.

Faked sincerity comes in handy in cases of sheer and utter incompetence. Completely at sea regarding what to do in any situation, the best line of action is faked sincerity. With serious countenance that makes one look moronic – more than one actually is – (which most politicians don’t have to work very hard to look like), just make the most outlandish statement.

And so, only last night the interior minister ordered all patriotic Pakistanis keep an eagle eye out for buyers of large numbers of chapattis and naan at their local tandoors so that there is less violence. Now, before you wonder what that has to do with the task of at hand, namely, cleaning up Pakistan of all good terrorists, remember that they hiding in homes across this country need to be fed. And if we can stuff five thousand of them in a blood red mosque in Islamabad, we can stuff any number of terrorists in private homes too.

Now ‘naan’ is the Pakistani pronunciation of ‘non’ (sadly, we cannot credit the Punjabis for this) I ran off with the idea that the government feared some sort of chapatti violence. It is entirely another thing however that the way most Pakistanis stuff their faces, we practice extreme violence against chapattis and naan daily three times a day.

The minister was a picture of grim seriousness when he delivered his cute homily about keeping an eye on tandoors. His faked sincerity could scarcely be doubted. So, as a concerned citizen I gathered a bunch of kids and set up a vigil outside our tandoor. But given the legendary appetites of some famous Lahoris (one now resides in the Prime Minister’s House) and many men of God, most tandoors have always worked double shifts and overtime. Nevertheless we reported all buyers of more than a dozen naan to the police station. Suffice it to say that we were sent under guard to the mental hospital in Jail Road.

Since faked sincerity never fails, especially when it springs from high office, police stations across the country have queues several kilometres long with petitioners waiting to snitch on chapatti buyers. In fact, things got so bad here in Lahore that the police have taken to arresting chapatti reporters.

Since last night with all eyes on tandoors, I hear, no terrorist attacks have taken place. Complimented by the success of his scheme, the interior minister has since changed his last name to Naan.

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My Books

Deosai: Land of the Gaint - New

The Apricot Road to Yarkand

Jhelum: City of the Vitasta

Sea Monsters and the Sun God: Travels in Pakistan

Salt Range and Potohar Plateau

Prisoner on a Bus: Travel Through Pakistan

Between Two Burrs on the Map: Travels in Northern Pakistan

Gujranwala: The Glory That Was

Riders on the Wind

Books at Sang-e-Meel

Books of Days