27 February, 2021

Laughter In The Dark

A former Pakistani minister surveys the quirks of his office and country with wit and self-deprecation, but doesn’t flinch from skewering those who’ve earned his ire

AFP (From Outlook 25 November 2013)
Laughter In The Dark

South Asian politicians do not keep diaries. Most Western politicians do. And a great deal of history is written on the basis of the immediacy that is offered by the word written in the white heat of the moment. Which is why Neville Cham­berlain’s letters to his sister are a more authentic record of the appeasement of Hitler than the bland official record. Or the gossipy diaries of Chips Channon of the Churchillian milieu more than the grandiose (and self-serving) grandstanding of Churchill’s own magisterial works. And the master of all diarists is surely Alan Clarke, whose delightfully indiscreet observations and naked but innocent ambition mark his Diaries as the authentic voice of the Thatcher years.

Fakir Syed Aijazuddin has more than filled the South Asian lacuna with this wickedly perceptive account of his six months as minister of culture, environment and tourism in the interim government of (Pakistan) Punjab betw­een Gen Musharraf’s last days in office and Zardari’s rise—November 2007 to April 2008. Aijaz is a veteran...

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