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Imran Khan to seek vote of confidence after Senate loss & Karachi’s ‘last’ sarangi player

Our prolific feature about Pakistan’s fascinating politics, economy, society, culture, cricket, fashion and more — stories beyond the routine headlines.

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New Delhi: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan will seek a vote of confidence in the parliament after the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party lost the hotly contested Senate general seat from Islamabad to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) candidate and former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

It has been presumed that some members of the PTI defected in the secret ballot. Gilani defeated PTI’s Abdul Hafeez Shaikh by just five votes in the elections that were conducted via secret ballots. While Gilani bagged 169 votes, Shaikh won 164.

Gilani’s win is being hailed by the opposition as a “victory for democracy“. PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, in a press conference, said Gilani’s win was a “new era starting in Pakistan’s democratic journey”. Gilani was supported by the Pakistan Democratic Movement, an alliance of 11 political parties against the Khan government.

PTI, meanwhile, has alleged horse-trading and said the Election Commission of Pakistan failed to secure transparent voting.

The elections courted even more controversy after a video of Ali Haider, Gilani’s son, emerged in which he was heard telling lawmakers about ways to “cancel” their votes. In leaked audio recordings, a number of people could be heard allegedly discussing monetary deals worth millions of rupees with lawmakers in order to buy votes.

The Senate is Pakistan’s 100-member upper house, and elections are held for 50 per cent of the seats once every three years. The total term is six years long. This time, however, polls were held only on 48 seats after the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) were merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Members of the Senate are elected by provincial lawmakers and representatives of the lower house.

While Khan’s PTI lost the Senate seat from Islamabad, it was the biggest gainer in the recently-held elections as it won a total of 18 seats. It now has 25 seats in the parliament. But the opposition is set to maintain its hold over the Senate, with the PPP having 21 seats, Pakistan Muslim League’s Nawaz faction (PML-N) 18 seats, Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) 13 seats and others 23 seats.

Also read: Karachi Police gets on rollerblades to stop crime, preacher fashions idea to fund madrasas

Karachi’s ‘last’ sarangi player

Gul Muhammad, who is believed to be the last sarangi player in Karachi, told Samma TV how difficult it was to master the instrument. Muhammad tells an old joke that is popular in music circles. It goes like this — Once, two death row convicts stood before a king who asked them what their last wish was. The first one said, “I want to learn the sarangi”. The king turns to the other and asks, “What about you?”. “I want to learn from him,” he says, pointing to the other man.

Sarangi is an ornate wooden instrument that used to be the main accompaniment for singers in Indian classical music. But it was slowly replaced by the harmonium. Without a fretboard and extremely difficult to master, sarangi’s popularity slowly declined.

Muhammad represents the fifth generation of sarangi players in his family. But before he got his training, Muhammad said, he had two options to choose from — become a tailor or a sarangi player. He learnt the sarangi from Ustaad Akhtar Husain at the National Academy of Performing Arts in Karachi.

According to Muhammad, far too many classical musicians left their craft because they could not put food on the table. Even now, the music he produces amounts to only about 15 per cent of his monthly income. The bulk of his money comes from teaching but then he can only squeeze in a maximum of four hours of practice every day.

“I have had many days on which I practiced on an empty stomach,” he told Samaa TV. “You can’t fight your family and your hunger just to learn an instrument.”

Pakistan has been home to several sarangi maestros such as Ustad Bundu Khan, Ustad Nathu Khan, and Ustad Allah Rakha. While it isn’t clear how many players are there in Pakistan’s rural areas, there are only two active professional players in the country at the moment — Zohaib Hasan, of the Amritsari Gharana in Lahore, and Muhammad, of the Hoshiyarpuri Gharana in Karachi.

Pakistani comedian imitates Congress MP Shashi Tharoor

Drinking Oxford dictionary milkshake, consuming a number of Shashi Tharoor interviews through an IV, and if the juice wasn’t enough, snort “lines” of Oxford dictionary — this is how one can manage to speak English like Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, according to Pakistani comedian Akbar Chaudry, whose video has gone viral on the internet.

The clip has also received Tharoor’s blessing.

Chaudry is a stand-up comedian and part of the improvisational comedy group called Lol Waalay. He lives in Karachi and claims to be an aerospace engineer. He has close to 27,000 subscribers on YouTube where he posts sketches, stand up gigs and rants.

In the viral video, Chaudry also said he had been hopeful that his efforts would reach Tharoor. The Thiruvananthapuram MP now wants Chaudry to imitate Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. Chaudry said his friends from India also congratulated him and told him about how not only on Twitter, that he was also a sensation among WhatsApp users in India.

Also read: Pakistan wants to geotag Himalayan pink salt & Karachi Zoo’s ‘half-fox, half-woman’ star


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