Knock, knock. Who’s there? Asif. Asif who? As if we’d risk telling you and get 14 years in the clink for a few laughs. Okay, we made that one up and in any case, we are not hapless Pakistani SMSers. Pakistan has now found itself facing a new threat, apart from the Taliban, the LeT, the ISI and the golf handicap of General Musharraf. It’s jokes about the country’s eminently spoofworthy President Asif Ali Zardari. Jokes about him now get you more percentage, oops, bang for the buck.
But in case any Pakistani has any funny ideas about cracking them up on SMS, he may just find himself cooling his heels in Rawalpindi Central for a decade plus. This is odd because the Pakistanis, like us, are great ones for taking a poke at themselves. Now old Asif has many attributes that invite jokes about him. And knowing the bon vivant that he seems to be, would probably find them all, barring the ones about his hand in the till, quite hilarious. But, Pakistani officialdom’s penchant not to be amused about jokes about their leaders finds echo here. We too tend to treat our leaders as sacred cows when many of them are tailormade for us to take a whack at them. We have among our leaders those that consult the long-departed, those who think they are reincarnations of Otto von Bismarck, those whose fondness for their own likeness in stone is legendary and those for whom charity truly begins at home.
Of course, we are far freer to fall about ourselves in cyberspace about our netas but we still have a long way to go before, like Jay Leno, we can rip into them in full public view. Let’s hope Mr Zardari, whose elevation has brought cheer into the lives of many Pakistanis who are able to vent their spleen by lampooning him, sees the funny side of all this and allows their imagination to run riot in cyberspace. Of course, he might want to know what percentage there is in it for him.