by Nadeem F. Paracha
ISLAMABAD: In a daring raid, Saudi Special Forces arrested renegade Afghan leader, Mullah Omar, from a famous five-star hotel located in one of Pakistan’s most popular vacation spots – Bhurban.
The news spread like wildfire and people were seen cursing the Pakistani government for allowing the Americans to undermine Pakistan’s sovereignty – again.
However, when it became clear that the raid was not conducted by the Americans but the Saudis, the frowns turned into smiles and many were heard saying, ‘Jazzakallah!’
Only minutes after the raid, Pakistan’s prime minister and Army Chief appeared on state-owned television and congratulated the nation and thanked the Saudi regime for helping Pakistan in its war against terror.
Interestingly, religious parties like Jamaat-i-Islami, (JI) Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI) and some banned sectarian organisations, along with Imran Khan’s Pakistan Thereek-i-Insaf (PTI) which had originally called a joint press conference to condemn the raid, changed their stance half-way through the conference when told that the raid was by Saudi forces and not the Americans.
Munawar Hussain, JI, chief, was first heard lambasting Pakistan’s PPP-led civilian government for letting the country’s sovereignty be violated by the Americans, but after a reporter confirmed that the raid was executed by Saudi forces, Munawar turned to Imran Khan and embraced him.
‘Mahshallah!’ he exclaimed. “Today is a glorious day for our Islamic republic!”
Imran Khan and JUI chief Fazalur Rehman had earlier questioned the real identity of the man arrested from the five-star hotel, saying that even if it was Mullah Omar, we should be ashamed because Omar was a freedom fighter, conducting a liberation war against the Americans.
However, after it became clear that the arrest was made by Saudi forces, both Imran and Fazal then claimed that Mullah Omar was no friend of Pakistan and that he was not even a Muslim.
In a joint statement, JI, JUI and PTI, congratulated the nation and said that they had been saying all along that the Taliban were Pakistan’s greatest enemies and should be exterminated.
The statement also said that the PTI and JI will continue to hold sit-ins against American drones which were parachuting evil men like Mullah Omar into Pakistan and violating the sovereignty of the country. For this, the statement suggested, that Ahmad Shah Abdali should be invited to invade Pakistan and defeat the Americans.
When told that Abdali died almost two hundred years ago, PTI and JI termed this to be nothing more than western propaganda.
Imran Khan added, that from now on he should be addressed as Imran of Ghaznavi and that one of Pakistan’s most prominent revolutionary and youngest nuclear physicists, Zohair Toru, was building anti-drone missiles.
Toru, who was also present at the conference, confirmed this while licking a lemon flavoured popsicle. He said it was a very hot day and popsicles helped him concentrate.
Meanwhile, a military spokesman also held a press conference to give the media a briefing on the details of the raid.
He said the raid was executed by Saudi Special Forces who came from Saudi military bases in Riyadh.
The helicopters then landed on Margala Hills in Islamabad. On the lush hills, Saudi soldiers disembarked from the copters, got on camels and rode all the way to Bhurban in broad daylight.
They were twice stopped at checkpoints by Pakistani Rangers but were allowed to cross when some Saudi soldiers said something to the rangers in Arabic. It is believed that the Saudis promised the Rangers jobs in Saudi Arabia.
An eyewitness claims the Rangers smiled and waved to the departing camels, cheering ‘marhaba, marhaba.’
The camel army reached the five-star hotel in Bhurban at 11:00 am and right away rode their way into the sprawling premises.
The camels were also carrying rocket launchers, sub-machineguns, pistols, grenades and popcorn, all concealed in large ‘Dubai Duty Free’ shopping bags.
The military spokesman added that although the Pakistan Army had no clue about the raid, there were a dozen or so Pakistani military personnel present at the hotel.
When asked whether these men questioned the camel riders, the spokesman said that they did see the armed camels enter the hotel but the military men were at the time more interested in interrogating a 77-year-old Caucasian male whom they had arrested for smoking in a non-smoking area.
“After the Abbottabad incident, we are keeping a firm eye on Europeans and Americans,” the spokesman said.
Even though the white man turned out to be an old Polish tourist, the spokesman praised the military men’s vigilance. “Our country’s sovereignty is sacred,” he added.
According to the Pakistan military, the Saudis then rode their camels into one of the hotel’s kitchens and fired teargas shells.
This way they smoked out the chefs and their staff out into the open. From these, a Saudi commander got hold of a one-eyed chef with an untidy beard.
The Saudi commander looked at the chef and compared his face to a photograph he was carrying. He asked: ‘Al-Mullah-ul-Omar?’ To which the chef was reported to have said: “No, al-chicken jalfrezi. Also make very tasty mutton kebabs.”
The commander then asked, ‘Al-Afghani?’ to which the chef said, “Yes make Afghani tikka too. You want?”
A reporter asked the military spokesman whether the Pakistani military men present at the hotel witnessed the operation. The spokesman answered in affirmative but said they didn’t take any action after confirming that Pakistan’s sovereignty was not being violated.
The reporter then asked how the military men determined that Pakistan’s sovereignty was not being violated. Answering this, the spokesman said that since the camel riders were speaking Arabic there was thus no reason for the military to charge them with violating Pakistan’s sovereignty.
This statement made the media men at the press conference very happy and they consequently began applauding and raising emotional slogans praising Islam, ISI and palm trees.
Soon after the announcement that Mullah Omar was arrested by Saudi forces, the country’s private TV channels became animated. One famous TV talk-show host actually decided to host his show in a Bedouin tent. Instead of a chair, he sat on a camel wearing a Pakistan Army uniform.
Though most of his guests — that included prominent ex-generals, clergymen and strategic analysts — praised the operation and heaped scorn at Mullah Omar, there was one guest, a small-time journalist, who disagreed with the panelists.
He asked how a wanted man like Mullah Omar was able to live in Pakistan undetected and that too while working as a chef in a famous five-star hotel. He also said that Mullah Omar had also been appearing on various cooking shows as a chef on various food channels.
To this, the host snubbed the journalist telling him that he was asking irrelevant questions.
‘But before this operation, everyone was supporting the Taliban and telling us they were fighting a liberation war against the Americans,’ the journalist protested.
‘No,’ said the host, ‘it was the civilian government that was in cahoots with the Taliban. It should resign.’
‘No,’ the journalist replied, ‘it was our agencies!’
This made the host angry and he slapped the journalist. He threatened the journalist by saying that he would lodge a case against him in accordance with the Islamic hudood ordinance.
The journalist responded by saying that the Saudis had violated Pakistan’s sovereignty. Hearing this, the host slapped the journalist again, saying he will get him booked for blasphemy.
At the end of the show the host and the panelists burned an American flag and sang the Pakistani national anthem in Arabic. Then, after handing over the treacherous journalist to the authorities, they proceeded to Saudi Arabia to perform hajj.
However, they were soon deported by the Saudi regime for violating Saudi sovereignty.
Nadeem F. Paracha is a cultural critic and senior columnist for Dawn Newspaper and Dawn.com.