The first is this review today in the Express Tribune by veteran journalist Khaled Ahmed, formerly of The Daily Times and now associated with the South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA), wherein he subtly takes the mickey out of current Chief Justice Lahore High Court Khwaja Sharif's published book about his travels to the Philippines and the UK in 1995 (when he was merely a lawyer). I'm not exactly sure when this book was actually printed but I had heard about this book only a few days ago from someone who claimed that in it, the venerable judge had spoken about his great admiration and love for the Sharif family. I found the alleged quotes - as related by my source - a bit unbelievable so had asked him to procure me a copy. Am still waiting for it.
Justice Khwaja Sharif (left) with one of the men he apparently admires
Meanwhile, this is what Khaled Ahmed writes about Justice Sharif's travelogue writing style and his moral preoccupations
"The London journey is a linear description of calling on expat Pakistanis at their homes who regaled Khwaja Sahib with food. In fact, the cataloguing of food is so persistent that each page has him eating twice or thrice, which seems abnormal. On page 79, Afzal Butt, of Sheranwala Gate, gave him cold lassi followed by chicken-tikka, daal and chicken curry, taken with extra-large tandoori roti. On page 84, he feels sleepy, and by page 93 he has a tooth ache. By page 152, he is positively ill after eating qima wali roti and has to take pills. On page 191, he is laid low by Khalid Butt’s samosas.
"There are parallels to Ibn Battuta’s “rihla” (travelogue) in which Battuta judges alien societies on the basis of the conduct of their women. In 1826, Egypt’s ruler Muhammad Ali sent a brilliant scholar Tahtawi to Paris to study government there. Tahtawi wrote up his long “rihla” praising most of what he saw in France but judging its morality on the basis of its women. At least on three different pages, Khwaja Sharif observes and regrets the way the women of England do bos-o-kinar (petting) with men in public."
Far more interesting is the bits he quotes about Justice Sharif's political leanings:
"The climax is Khwaja Sahib’s meetings with Mian Shehbaz Sharif living in exile in London. Khwaja Sahib, who had been president of the Lahore High Court Bar Association, had written to him to return and lead the campaign of struggle (Tehreek-e-Nijat) against the PPP government (p.226). On page 121, Shehbaz Sharif got him over to his apartment and, you have guessed it, regaled him to a lavish meal, giving him chun-chun kar botian (selected pieces of meat) with his own hands. Later they had ras-malai and ras-gulla too, with a box of sweets to accompany Khwaja Sahib as he left. Shehbaz Sahib also offered him money, which he declined, but once out of the apartment he realised he had eaten too much (p.122)."
Now, I have no truck with the PPP-walas trying to use all sorts of smoke screens to prevent corruption allegations against their leaders being probed. But doesn't the much-touted 'independence of the judiciary' ring a bit hollow with such judicial self-admissions?
The other bit of information I found fascinating was from a news analysis by Tariq Butt in The News on May 28, about the appointment by the Supreme Court (SC) of former head of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Tariq Khosa as a special investigator into the Bank of Punjab scam currently being probed by the SC...
"[A]n official said that Khosa would work as an “expert” to assist the NAB chief in the probe into the BoP scandal. Khosa enjoys good reputation. He is brother of Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, who was elevated to the Supreme Court along with Justice Saqib Nisar a few months back, and Punjab Chief Secretary Nasir Mahmood Khosa. They are first cousins of Latif Khosa, the adviser to the prime minister on information technology."
Now, taking nothing away from the apparently sterling reputation - from all accounts - of Tariq Khosa, I couldn't help thinking if this family tree did not just encapsulate what Punjab politics is all about.