UPDATE Since this post was written, Benazir Bhutto has been murdered. The post about that is HERE.
Original postI’m out for a quiet evening with friends when my phone buzzes that irritating text-buzz that I must change some time.
It’s Colonel Bleep.
Watchin news from Karachi?, the message says.
Oh no! I think. Dear God, not again!
You see, in the old days, when Colonel Bleep was probably Corporal Bleep, and I was nobody at all — not even the disembodied internet presence I am today — we were in the habit of meeting up at an undisclosed watering hole during working hours, to discuss matters of great national and international import. And football. With drink. And driving.
We were a disgrace. I admit it, and we’re still a disgrace, with drink but without the driving. Did I mention being considerably older?
In those days, meeting up at an undisclosed watering hole, we noticed a disturbing pattern emerging.
The first hint we noticed was just as Bleep was about to order our fourth round of drinks, when a hush fell over the pub. The barman turned up the news, and we learned of Indira Gandhi’s assassination. Now, I have to admit I was a little biased against Indira. It wasn’t too long since I’d read Midnight’s Children (. . . the Widow’s hair is green and black . . .) and my sleep patterns were just coming back to normal, so I wasn’t massively desolated by the news. But still, I had to admit it was a bit of a shock. After all, you couldn’t have all these Gandhis being assassinated all the time. And not just Gandhis! Ali Bhutto was whacked not all that long before, by Zia ul-Haq. What the hell was India coming to?
Bleep turned to me. I turned to Bleep.
Jesus, that’s serious.
A short four years later, we found ourselves in the same undisclosed watering hole, tucking into our third round of pints when a hush fell over the pub and the barman turned up the news. General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq had just been killed in a mysterious air-crash.
Bleep looked at me. I looked back at Bleep.
Do you know what? he said.
These nefarious meetings of ours are having a disastrous effect on the Indian sub-continent.
True, I replied. Pint?
We never again met at that undisclosed watering-hole, and it seems to have worked, because there were no further assassinations of Indian or Pakistani leaders.
Well, that’s not strictly true. I thought I’d gloss quickly over the unexpected exit of Rajiv Gandhi the following year, but Devin was too quick for me and swiftly saw through my subterfuge. The truth is, we only had one quick shot at the bar, thinking it would take at least three to do any lasting damage. How wrong we were.
That was why Bleep’s text message worried me so much.
Karachi? I replied. You can’t mean . . . ?
Indeed, came the ominous reply. Benazir Bhutto convoy attacked.
But, I texted back, we’re not at the undisclosed watering hole.
Indeed not, answered Bleep. And just as well. Bhutto safe!
Thank God we never again drank in that pub.