What do YOU think was the No. 1 story in Pakistan yesterday? The power crisis - which is already leading to 12-16 hour blackouts in most of the country? The government's announcements to shut down markets by 8pm and government offices for two days in a week to conserve electricity? The implications of the 18th Amendment that involves a radical transfer of power to the provinces and away from the presidency? The controversy over the largely inconclusive UN Commission report on Benazir's assassination? The continuing war against militancy in FATA and its attendant collateral damage? The impending breakdown in talks between Pakistan and the IMF over VAT implementation? The brewing and building tussle between the executive and the judiciary, which is still leading to all sorts of rumour-mongering over the fate of President Zardari?
Or if you're more inclined to take a wider view of current events, perhaps you might think global stories such as the travel chaos caused by the explosion of the volcano on that unpronounceable Icelandic glacier might merit the No. 1 slot. Perhaps the niqab ban in France which has riled Muslim opinion once again? The grenade attacks in Bangkok during anti-government protests that killed three and wounded scores? The never-ending intransigence of Apartheid state leader Benjamin Netanyahu in pushing ahead with settlements on Palestinian land?
Well, if you thought any of these things, you would be miserably wrong. Everyone KNOWS that the No. 1 story at the moment is the arrival in Pakistan of cricketer Shoaib Malik with his newly wedded wife and tennis player Sania Mirza. Forget that. Not only was this story the No. 1 headline on Geo's 9 o' clock bulletin, it was the ONLY story on the bulletin for the first 30 (!!!) minutes at least. I am not making this up, check it out for yourself:
So we have now seen them arrive in Karachi, seen them on the flight to Islamabad, repeatedly seen Sania's henna-ed feet, heard Shoaib being interviewed on the flight, been informed about what and how much they ate of PIA's menu, heard about the shenanigans of the over-eager passengers on the flight and the captain's admonitions to them, seen the couple disembarking from the flight, learnt about the VVIP protocol given to them en route to their hotel, had a preview of their room in Serena Hotel as well as the hall where the valima will take place, caught glimpses of the brightly lit Malik residence in Sialkot at a time of dire calls for energy conservation, and learnt of Sania possibly having fever as well as the disappointment of hundreds of people with nothing better to do than hang around at the airport to take a gander at the couple. There is only one logical conclusion to this, as you may well surmise.
Next: Live coverage of Shoaib and Sania getting it on.