As reported today in national media, President of Pakistan Master Asif Ali Zardari conferred 189 civil awards on Republic Day. The reason I mentioned Master instead of Mister is quite obvious, the whole process of conferring civil awards has been treated like a Master awarding his followers. It felt like a movie based on period drama, where a King is bestowing his cabinet with jewels.
I have somehow managed to get hold of a copy of the document which describes rationale (if any), reasons and achievements of award winners. This comes through an unreliable source so cannot be trusted. Anyhow, this is how it goes.
Beghum Nusrat Bhutto (Nishan-e- Imtiaz, NI): Presidency tried to awards her a ‘khitaab’ of Shaheed, but technically and legally was not able to do so. This also meant Nishan-e-Haider was out of question. So in recognition of her services for democracy in Pakistan (Democracy by the way is the best revenge, and Beghum Bhutto must take some blame for selecting our Master for her late Shaheed daughter) she has been conferred with Nishan-e-Imtiaz.
Late Mr. Salman Taseer (NI): Since President could not attend his funeral, he decided to confer Late. Mr. Salman Taseer with Nishan-e-Imtiaz.
Mr. Farooq Hamid Naeq (NI): For being Chairman Senate, simple as that.
Dr. Fehmida Mirza (NI): For her stone faced reactions during the whole Zulfiqar Mirza episode, President has conferred Nishan-e-Imtiaz on Dr. Sahiba. Awaam (you and me) has no clue which side Dr. Sahiba has been on throughout the show, and still doesn’t know. What they do know, is that Zulfiqar Mirza’s provincial assembly seat now belongs to his son Shehriyaar Mirza. Both PPP and Zulfiqar Mirza claim it as their victory.
Senator Dr. A Rahman Malik (NI): Since Senator Rahman Malik would not leave Presidency till he gets confirmation of NI, so he is also conferred with Nishan-e-Imtiaz. Rahman Malik also made Altaf Bhai call Master Zardari to make sure award is conferred (or MQM would have left coalition).
Mr. M Salman Faruqi (NI): For giving Pakistan a daughter (actually niece) like Sharmila Faruqi, and for being and old time accomplice of Master, in destruction of Pakistan Steel Mill during previous PPP regimes, Master has conferred Mr. Faruqi with Nishan-e-Imtiaz.
By now the ‘Imtiaz’ has vanished from Nishan-e-Imtiaz, thus leaving only a Nishaan behind. Thus we come to Hilal-e-Imtiaz.
Ms. Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy (Hilal-e-Imtiaz, HI): Apparently this lady has won highest possible award in her trait, and everyone is talking about her achievements, so let’s give her a Hilal-e-Imtiaz as Presidency has run out of quota for Nishan-e-Imtiaz which ofcourse went to more ‘deserving’ winners. Afterall, Presidency needs to add some goodwill to the awards show too. (Warning: She may feel lost in the esteemed company of other award winners)
Mrs. Farzana Raja (HI): For successfully acting as Business Development Manager for PPP in the capacity of Chairperson BB Income Support Program (actual details of achievements to be made public by Accountability Bureau of next government), the Master has awarded Mrs. Farzana Raja with Hilal-e-Imtiaz. (Clarification: No relation with Ramiz Raja)
Mr. Farhatullah Babar (HI): It takes some conviction, guts and balls to repeat what Master says for his public. Mr. Farhatullah Babar in his capacity as spokesman of Presidency has a very difficult job to do. He issues Master’s statements on his behalf (usually writes them too). So basically just for doing that, he is conferred with Hilal-e-Imtiaz.
Mrs. Nargis Sethi (Sitara-e-Imtiaz): Presidency has no clue why Mrs. Sethi, but hey, what the heck, who is going to stop it.
Sharmila Faruqi (SI): For having world’s best uncle (Mr. Salman Faruqi), President is conferring Sharmila Faruqi with Sitara-e-Imtiaz.
Mr. Hussain Haqqani (HI): For introducing the world and Pakistan to the character that is Mr. Mansoor Ejaz, Master has conferred Mr. Haqqani with Hilal-e-Imtiaz. Although Mr. Haqqani wanted the khitaab of ‘shaheed-e-jamhooriat’ but backed off after its consequences were revealed to him.
Meera (Pride of Performance): The award was actually meant for Veena Malik but ISI vetoed it, since Presidency had to give it to some actress, the only which could come to Mr. Farhatullah Babar’s mind was Meera, thus Pride of Performance is conferred on her. It does not necessarily means Presidency is actually proud of any of her performances (except few behind the door ones)
As part of standard operating procedure, Presidency has also awarded Pride of Performance to some prominent performers in their respective fields. The names which came out through ballot this year are Sahira Kazmi (art); Mohsin Gilani (actor); Noman Ejaz (actor); Saba Hameed (actress); Meera (film actress); Javaid Sheikh (actor); Muhammad Yousaf (cricketer); Suhail Asghar (artist); Sakeena Sammon (artist)
President has instructed respective Governors to dish out these awards in respective Governor Houses so that Master’s time can be saved.
Applications are being accepted for next year’s Nishan-e-Imtiaz at the moment (democracy permitting).