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SAARC Old Boys Vs. Present Boys

“This is an exclusive South Asian Club. I thought we got rid of these colonial fellows 60 years ago. Can't get rid of them? Keeps turning up like a bad coin. Call this meeting off,' he cried out, and then the video went out. Unfortunately the heads of state of Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives could not appear.”

by Gamini Weerakoon

(July 20, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) We bumped into a Special Branch contact whom we had seen off at Kanatte around 15 years ago. He looked ghostly and ethereal and beckoned me to his side. He gave a card with the venue and time written on it. 'It will be a world scoop. Cover it at your risk. If you're caught you will disappear in a white van for ever,' he said and disappeared into thin air.

We don't believe in ghosts, gods or anything like that. But a world scoop was too much to resist. And there we were at the secret address, six floors under the BMICH, Committee Room No. 007, at the given time. The room was chilly and dark. Air conditioners were humming. We moved towards the only window and took a seat. Sharp at the given time a video appeared on a screen in a darkened room beyond the window.

All the past 'South Asian Greats' were squatting on the floor - Mahatma Gandhi, Jawarhalal Nehru, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, DS and Dudley Senanayake, Solomon and Sirima Bandaranaike, King Birendra, former King of Bhutan , Mujibur Rahman and all the past hot shots.

From the dark a voice sounding that of a court crier was heard calling: M.M. Singh and a turbaned Sikh came in. 'Acha Bole' as the Indians say - it was Manmohan Singh the Indian Prime Minister, himself.

Manmohan grilled

Gandhi spoke out. Come in Singh, and squat on the floor in true Gandhian style. Good to see an ex-World Bank vice president squatting on the floor.

Nehru: Do you fellows still follow the Gandhian way of life, Nehruvian economics, non aligned foreign policy etc.?

Singh: Of course Nehruji. Photographs of both of you still adorn every government office and home. We recall your wisdom and superior advice always.

Nehru: Why then are your fat cats, the Ambanis, Birlas, Mitalls, Tatas and the like in three piece suits in the sweltering 40 degree heat of a Delhi summer, looking like tailors' dummies of London's Saville Row? You know even my father Motilal set fire in public to his London tailored suits and took on the shalwar. Gandhiji went to Buckingham Palace wrapped up in a kaddhar cloth and bare bodied which made imperialist Churchill call him a half naked fakir?

Singh: Times change. This is the age of globalisation. These fat cats are super rich. Mercedes with A/Cs, A/Cs in homes and offices.. They don't feel the heat.

Gandhi: What about your foreign and defence and energy policies? If non-violence is your creed how come you are now a nuclear power, having exploded nuclear bombs? Now you want to generate nuclear power for energy. What's wrong with bullock and cow dung power?

Singh: These bloody Paks and Chinese too are now nuclear powers. What else to do?

Gandhi: Paks took to nukes because you did. Clearly you are not following the Gandhian way. Please leave.

On MM's exit Nehru told Gandhi: He is not Gandhian. Shall we recommend hell?

Gandhi: No, No. There's a better place. Let's recommend America. He can enjoy the Gandhian way eating hamburgers and drinking Coca Cola!

Enter Musharraf

Next to be called was President Pervez Musharraf. Mohammed Ali Jinnah the lawyer pitched into him. Why did you arrest Nawaz Shariff, Benazir Bhutto and Asif Zaradari?

Quaid-I-Azam (Supreme Head of State), they were rogues, stole billions of the country's money and sent them abroad. The Bhuttos were charged and convicted for money laundering. Swiss banks had to buy washing machines to launder the money they deposited in their banks, Musharraf replied.

Jinnah: Why then did you pardon them on their return after years?

The Americans, Sir. They wanted them pardoned. Besides, they were threatening to bomb Pakistan into the Stone Age, if I didn't cooperate. I did it in the interest of Pakistan.

Jinnah: Not to save your own skin? Tell me something more important. Why didn't you tell the Americans where bin Laden was hiding?

To Musharraf's reply that he truly didn't know, Jinnah pointed out that those departed, now high above in the skies knew everything and nothing could be hidden. Why did he not tell the Yanks where bin Laden was?

Musharraf confessed. 'If I told them, where would I be? I would be useless to them; I would have been like Gen. Zia, blown sky high inside a plane.'

Zia from the panel of squatting leaders, giggled: Hi, Hi! 'And they would have imposed sanctions against us for our nuclear policy'! Musharraf added.

Musharraf was dismissed and on his exit, Jinnah and Gen. Ayub Khan conferred. The clever fellow was telling half truths and half lies. Ayub suggested recommending him to Afghanistan or America. No let him stay in Pakistan, in the President's House at Islamabad, the most dangerous place on Earth, Jinnah suggested.

Enter Mahinda Percy

Mahinda Percy Rajapakse, the crier shouted from the dark and the now bulging Mahinda Percy in wawul suit and red satakaya looking like a wrestler, strode in. DS, Dudley and Solomon said they did not know him at all and did not want to question. Sirima declined participation saying he had been ungrateful to the Bandaranaikes. JR was asked to be the interrogator.

JR: Hallo, Hallo young Rajapakse, long time no see. Of course I remember you entering parliament in 1970.You were a young lad with virginal hairs sprouting from your upper lip. Now you have a big black moustache spreading from ear to ear. It's glistening. What's the dye: Godridge? All that's by the way. Tell me how's Mother Lanka?

Mahinda: We are winning the war which you started 25 years ago.

JR: Many have said so before. Even I said we were winning it. Anyway, all the best. How's the economy? Central Bank reports say the economy is growing. But don't trust these Central Bank fellows. Ask Dudley. Any way I hear there is galloping inflation. What are you doing?

Mahinda: It's the war.

JR: No solution to the ethnic problem?

Mahinda: Not yet Sir, it's the war.

JR. What's gone wrong with your foreign policy? I hear the Yanks want to have a UN Peace Keeping Force on the ground. You know I too had this war on my hands but they gave me the highest American aid per capita at that time.

Mahinda: This war is different to your war.

JR: Trying to reform my constitution, I hear. What's happening?

Mahinda: Can't get the parties together. It's the war.

Solomon Bandaranaike: Has the language problem been resolved?

Mahinda: No. Can't do it with the war on.

Bandaranaike: What's this bally rot? If you can't win the bloody war soon why don't you stop it?

Reign Britannia!

At this stage a white man in full suit materialised. 'I say old chaps, sorry for barging in and all that. I am Lord Malloch Brown, Minister for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, was our crown colony, you know. And we do still have our responsibilities. White Man's Burden and all that. Besides, your fellows from the north and east are causing big problems to Her Majesty's government. Knifing people all over London.

Exit Gandhi

An angry Gandhi hobbled on to his feet with his walking stick. 'Who is this gatecrasher?'

This is an exclusive South Asian Club. I thought we got rid of these colonial fellows 60 years ago. Can't get rid of them? Keeps turning up like a bad coin. Call this meeting off,' he cried out, and then the video went out. Unfortunately the heads of state of Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives could not appear.
- Sri Lanka Guardian

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