If you wanted to make an impression on an Islamic country with an appropriate gift, what would spring to your mind? Why, a pair of pigs, of course. China’s donation of two pigs as part of a consignment to restock Kabul’s war-depleted zoo is now making news. Now the fat’s really in the fire for the sole surviving porker in all of Afghanistan. It is in solitary confinement now that the swine flu has broken out. But let us cast a swine before pearls of wisdom. The Karzai government should use its imagination. Finding itself in a rind in its war against the Taliban, it should unleash this porcine projectile against these so-called pure fighters. “What is that I see coming down the Khyber Pass, Abdul?” one of the Taliban will say to the lookout. “Knock me down with a Kalashnikov, I could swear it’s a pig,” would come the answer. “Abandon arms, ye faithful, we must not be contaminated by the uncleanest of unclean on God’s earth,” the leader will say. Last seen, exit Taliban hordes, followed by puzzled pig.
Well, the pig gift is just one of the odd ones we have heard of. During the time of Ronald Reagan, the Americans, it is said, had a half-witted idea of engineering a thaw with the Iranians. Then US National security adviser Robert McFarlane was despatched to Teheran armed with the peace offering of a Bible signed by Reagan, a cake in the shape of a key and a cache of guns.
The irate Iranians apparently threw away the Bible, ate the cake and clapped McFarlane in irons for a few days. The US denies all this, but it makes a good story. Looks like the penchant to look a gift horse, or should that be pig, is universal. We are waiting for what turns up at our doorstep. The songs of Zardari, perhaps.