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The Mullah of Swat

india Updated: Mar 07, 2009 22:04 IST

The Swat Valley may be in the news for the wrong reasons now, but the place was immortalised in the 19th century by a poem called ‘The Akond of Swat’ by Edward Lear, the world’s best writer of limericks and nonsense verse. Akond was the title of the rulers of Swat. Here’s how his poem starts off:

“Who, or why, or which, or what
Is the Akond of Swat?
Is he tall or short, or dark or fair?
Does he sit on a stool or a sofa or a chair,
Or squat
The Akond of Swat?”

I have taken the liberty of updating the poem, incorporating some of the more recent aspects of Swat history. Here it goes:

Is he a Mullah with a beard,
Or is he plain and simply weird,
Or what?
Fazlullah of Swat

Is he a very silly young man
Or is he with the Taliban
Or just a bad lot
The Mullah of Swat?

Does he send out a decent vibe
Is he a credit to his tribe
Or a blot
The Mullah of Swat?

Does he really like the sharia
And isn’t that a big barrier
To free thought
Fazlullah of Swat?

Is he fat, is he thin
Is he an amiable fellow with a grin
Or does he plot
The Mullah of Swat?

Does he like all the whipping
All the stoning and the flaying
Or is he distraught
The Mullah of Swat?

Is he rich or is he broke
Does he drink Pepsi or Coke
Or Gold Spot
Fazlullah of Swat?

Does he want an eye for an eye
Or is he an agent of the ISI
Or will he get caught
The Mullah of Swat?

Is it part and parcel of his rules
To torch the local girls’ schools
Or not
Fazlullah of Swat?

Why does he keep his women in purdah
Why does he insist they wear a burqa
And squat
Before Fazlullah of Swat?
Why doesn’t Pakistan call his bluff
They should have acted very tough
And fought
Fazlullah of Swat.

Will he read this with a smile
Will he ponder and think a while
Or will he snort
The Mullah of Swat?

Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint