WHAT DO A SAINT and a prime minister say to each other? Particularly when they're bitter political rivals whom followers are shooting, stoning and tear-gasing each other in the streets.
When Pir, or saint, [WORD ILLEGIBLE] and Pakistan's Prime Minister [WORD ILLEGIBLE] Ali Bhutto met recently, and discussed "cigarettes, [WORD ILLEGIBLE] and horse racing." At least that's what the Pir told reporters the day after the meeting in Rawalpindi.
The saint, whose full name and title are Shah Mardan Shah II, Pir Pagaro VII, said these were subjects of "mutual interest" to him and Bhutto. He noted that he smokes 40 to 50 cigarettes and a pipe daily while the prime minister is a scotch drinker.
The subject of horse racing is close to the heart of the Pir, who breeds and races them. He said he tried to convince Bhutto, who recently imposed prohibition in Pakistan and outlawed all forms of gambling, that horse racing "is a sport and not a form of gambling."
The saint, who, like the prime minister was educated at Oxford University, became acting president of the opposition Pakistan National Alliance by default, when Bhutto had all its other leaders arrested. A polo-playing crony of the saint's in Lahore said, "Poor chap, he's in over his head."
The Pir has virtually no real political power and had been acting pretty much as a messenger boy between the real leaders, who are detained in a police guesthouse outside Islamabad, and those members of the Alliance's central council who are not yet jailed.
A few days ago, a sharp-eyed Pakistani journalist reported that the Pir was seen delivering ice cream "to those Alliance leaders who have a sweet tooth."
But there's no doubt that the Pir is taken seriously by his followers in the province of Sind. Known as Hurs and said to number anywhere betwen 300,000 and a million, his adherents prostrate themselves as he passes and women have been seen rubbing the dust his car raises on their faces.
WITH THEIR OWN PRESS and broadcast media under severe government censorship, Pakistanis have turned to Western shortwave broadcasts for news about their country. Foreign correspondents, particularly those from the British Broadcasting Corporation, which broadcasts to this part of the world in Urdu, are lionized by opposition followers, who shout, "BBC Zindabad" (Long Live BBC) at any foreigner with a notebook.
Followers of Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party, on the other hand, are bitterly angry at Western journalists and have roughed up several of them covering street demonstrations.
The government-controlled newspapers don't miss a day without reporting the latest "absurdity" broadcast by the "British Bilge Corporation." The papers also excerpt bits of editorials from Western papers which they consider favorable to Bhutto while ignoring anything they deem against his interests.
Some of Bhutto's more sophisticated opponents realize that not all Western reporters and news media are either in their camp or Bhutto's.
"Some of you journalists and other people in the West seem to have two different standards, for yourselves and for the people of Pakistan," said the wife of retired Air Marshal Ashgar Khan, Bhutto's most serious political enemy. "You cherish your own liberty and justice, but don't think these things matter to us."
THE DAY AFTER the prime minsiter accused the United States of financing a "vast, colossal, huge international conspiracy" against him, the United States government delivered $24 million worth of vegetable oil and two World War vintage naval destroyers (reportedly worth "a couple of hundred thousand dollars") to the government of Pakistan. The delivery date had been fixed last year.
THE BANS AGAINST GAMBLING and drinking, although they have not yet been passed into law, are already causing problems. The price of a fifth of scotch has soared to $150 on the Karachi black market.
A Pakistani Christian in Lahore said indications that the liquor ban would affect only Moslems, who represent about 95 per cent of the population, would result in Christians' getting more attention than they wanted. "We're already in a hot spot in this country," he complained.
The ban has not affected the sale of drinks and bottled liquor on Pakistan International Airlines flights. Even before the twice-weekly flight from Lahore to New Delhi reaches the 10,000-foot altitude required before crossing the border into [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] are taking [WORD ILLEGIBLE] With horse racing been banned, race tracks in every major city are idle.Breeders say they're uncertain how the ban will affect their business, which exports race horses throughout Asia and Africa. More than 100,000 Pakistanis are employed in horse breeding and racing.
Builders of a seafront gambling casino and five luxury hotels in Karachi are pulling out their hair.
"These facilities are intended for wealthy Arabs from the (Pesian) Gulf," said an Englishman in charge of construction at one of the hotels. "And the only reason for a rich Arab to come to Karachi is to gamble, drink and womanize."
WHEN BHUTTO TOLD the National Assembly in Islamabad that there probably were "a few" cases of rigged ballots in the March 7 national elections - the cause of the current violence - he cited the ate Italian Facists leader Benito Mussolini as saying. "There is no such thing as a wholly fair election."
Local officials in Karachi are illegally selling curfew passes to nongovernment employees who need them to cope with the on-again, off-agin restrictions. The price is $30.
A WESTERN CRITIC of the opposition Pakistan National Alliance said that if the nine-party group, which derives its power mainly from conservative, Islamic parties, ever comes to power, "It will take Pakistan from the 17th century to the 15th.
Bhutto supporters, and some Western newspapers, have criticized the U.S. State Department for halting a shipment of tear gas to this country. But reporters covering a recent riot in Rawalpindi found no shortage. One journalist picked up several spent canisters stamped "1975, Smith and Wesson Chemical Co., Inc., Rock Creek, Ohio."
Pakistanis have a great facility for dramatic speech and writing, in indigenous languages as well as English. When police arrested a score of oposition leaders at their party's headquarters the other day, a high school-age boy sidled up to a foreign newsman and whispered, "They can't arrest our hearts."