The Lahoris in the week-long Punjab Youth Festival have been engaged in breaking several rather bizarre Guinness world records since Saturday 20 October in the presence of Guinness adjudicator Gareth Deaves to ensure fair play.
So far the records broken are (i) 42,813 people sang the national anthem in the hockey stadium breaking the 15,243 record previously held by India; (ii) A total of 1,936 Pakistani students broke the record of the largest picture mosaic of the Shahi Qila (Lahore Fort) formed by people with the previous record held by Ansley McEvoy and her friends and family in South Carolina, USA; (iii) Saddi Mohammed set a record by using his moustache to pull a 1.7 tonne pick-up truck a distance of 60.3 metres; (iv) Mohammed Mansha set a new record for making chapattis which included mixing, kneading, spinning and cooking three in three minutes and 14 seconds; (v) 12-year-old Mehek Gul took just 45 seconds to arrange the pieces on a chessboard using only one hand; (vi) Ahmed Amin Bodla landed 616 martial arts kicks on a punch bag in three minutes, beating the previous best of 612 also set by a Pakistani; and (vii) Daniel Gill and Mohammed Rizwan set a new record for heading a football between them, managing 335 consecutive headers in three minutes 45 seconds. One contender failed to win the record for most T-shirts donned in three minutes when officials ruled he had failed to smooth down all of the 59 shirts properly.
The Lahore Youth Festival has undoubtedly provided a diversion for the people of this country from the numerous economic hardships they face daily with rising inflation and unemployment on the one hand and rising utility rates as well as burgeoning budget deficit fuelled by sustained poor governance on the other, the rising incidence of law and order problems including terrorist attacks, drone strikes, and the political solution to the Balochistan crisis that no one in power appears to be focused on.
This focus in Punjab, which has caught the imagination of the entire country as well as the media that opted to show Saddi Muhammad setting a record by pulling a pick-up truck with his moustache rather than the Prime Minister’s speech in Gujjar Khan where he announced special development package worth millions clearly also reflects the peoples’ fatigue with politicking. It is unfortunate that the politicians from all parties seem to remain focused on politicking, rather than in dealing with issues that beset the common man.
The verdict in the Asghar Khan case has galvanised the two largest parties in the country. Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira has sought an apology from Nawaz Sharif for violating the people’s mandate in 1990. He made this demand at a press conference that was shown live only on the state-run television channel while private channels reported it in their news bulletins only – a clear reflection of their assessment of the demands of their viewers. The PML (N), in turn, is attacking the PPP by insisting that the verdict referred to the office of the President as a symbol of the federation which militates against a president holding a party office as well and also refusing to accept the court’s order that the Federal Investigation Agency investigate the matter and, instead, suggesting the setting up of judicial commission.
The public appears lackadaisical about this momentous verdict that was 16 years in the coming – a verdict that showed not only the gross interference of the country’s premier intelligence agency in politics as well as implicating senior politicians including the PML (N) chief and his brother as well as some who are at present coalition partners of the government.
It is time for politicians in power in the national and provincial assemblies and the establishment to acknowledge that the people of this country place little faith on their intent to do what is in the interest of the country rather than in their own personal/organisation interest. There is a need for reform with a view to first and foremost improving governance and then and only then expect the public to be interested in their attacks and counter-attacks against each other. – Brecorder