Silent Soliloquys — The New Year’s resolutions of the powers that (are trying to) be

From winning a struggle against Big Brother to renaming the sun — leaders across the spectrum share their New Year’s vows with us.
Published December 31, 2021

The article is intended to be satirical — readers are advised not to confuse the content with actual New Year resolutions.

In what is the first un-uniformed operation to assemble the nation’s civilian politicians, leaders across the spectrum have shared their New Year’s vows with us.

They’ve collectively reassured us that their participation is just as voluntary as the extension exercises they have partaken in, and as bona fide as the legislatures they have inhabited.

As the year takes a turn, many are longing to take one as well.

Imran Khan

With all of Pakistan’s issues resolved, and the increasingly satisfied masses ready to vote for me again in 2023, the year 2022 will allow me time to pursue my newfound passion: Sufi numerology.

I’m particularly interested in the study of odd and even numbers, especially in light of a decision I took last month, which wasn’t even mine but many found it odd.

I’ve been informed by my equally-good-half that all positive things have happened to me in even years: birth, World Cup, Shaukat Khanum, Prime Minister, only existing marriage, etc.

I’ve been told that the three 2s in 2022, for me, are harbingers of a second ruling term, a second designation (maybe presidential) and a second chief selector. The total number of damns that I give about everything else amounts to zero — also an even number.

It’s a shame, even years come so rarely. It would have been great if they’d come every other year.

Meanwhile, I look forward to using my penchant for numerology, and even numbers, to devise the equation for a Sufi parabola: a U-turn in the spiritual dimension.

Arif Alvi

After over three years of heading the state, and commanding the military, I hope to exercise the one constitutionally vested power that I haven’t been able to deploy as much: pardon. Yes, my New Year’s Resolution is to be more forgiving towards myself.

My successes as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces are known to everyone thanks to patriotic jingles released by the nation’s top filmmaking institution. For the benefit of those still unaware, we have decided to attach copies of Articles 41 and 243 of the Constitution with all Alvi Dental prescriptions.

I will, henceforth, go easy on myself and realise that it’s hard being the symbol, nay unifier, of the federation — the denture tasked with holding all the toothlessness together.

Shehbaz Sharif

My resolution, every day of every year, remains challenging the undemocratic forces.

The coming year will put an end to all forms of arbitrary control and we will get our due. No more decisions undertaken on behalf of everyone that only suit the one in power. No more totalitarian decrees dictating what can, and cannot, be done or said. No more surveillance and gags.

I won’t let these despotic forces determine who can and cannot be the prime minister. I will tell the dictator behind the scenes that it’s my turn. I am, after all, the president, the elected head, of my party.

It’s time to say no to Big Brother. Yes, my New Year’s Resolution is to say no to big brother.

Maryam Nawaz

Photo courtesy sadaffarhanofficial
Photo courtesy sadaffarhanofficial

I wish to progress from having my fashion choices scrutinised as a mother and grandmother, towards having my fashion choices scrutinised as the prime minister. I’m tired of the price tags of my branded accessories being deemed inappropriate as a leader rallying against inflation; I now want the price tags to go viral in the context of the leader spearheading the inflation.

The throne, indeed, is going to pass on to Junaid, who inherits from each of his parents the reverence for Thomas Burberry and Mumtaz Qadri — both towering brands in their own rite.

But the only brand that we need to focus on, for the time being, is brand Nawaz. In addition to being the more glamourous, and melodious, half of the Sharif family, as Nawaz Sharif’s direct descendants it is only fair that the fight against political selections and concentration of authority is directly passed on to us.

Therefore, my New Year’s Resolution is to ensure that my party president’s resolution doesn’t come true.

Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari

Like every year, the New Year’s resolution of every member of my family is to name something in Sindh after Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. I had originally chosen the soon-to-be-inaugurated solar parks, but the Sindh Solar Energy Project-developed Sindh Solar Park would then have to be called SZAB-SSEP-SSP, which makes the project sound as though it’s about to plant its poisonous fangs in the interior.

So, I decided to think out of the Bux.

I have decided, instead, to ensure that everything solar to ever run in Sindh is affiliated with my grandfather. Yes, I have decided to name the sun Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

Of course, this is limited to the Bhutto that shines within the borders of Sindh, including Karachi, regardless of what the federal or city governments wish to call the star at the centre of the solar system in their realms of influence. And yes, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto being the sun would officially make me the grand-sun — which would be super cool!

Asif Ali Zardari

While everyone else has resolutions and hopes for what the next year will bring for them, I instead have to deal with nagging messages of people wanting to know what Zardari will bring to them. Everyone’s Zardari Resolution is different, but most of them are about getting, retaining, or accessing power.

Some Zardari resolutions are creative. I thought NAB’s resolution to go off the record was particularly fun. But what’s more amusing is how the PDM cannot even unite in agreeing on a request for the one entity that can unite impossibilities in 2022.

Right now my sack of goodies is packed with SOS calls and formulae. But let it be known that I am only entertaining resolutions that show at least some commitment to Zardari resolutions of the past.

Fazlur Rehman

As you might have guessed, recent events in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have brought back that killer instinct and now I can’t think about anything but the no-holds-barrel, ultimate fighting cage to exercise my martial skills — yes, my friends, it’s time to return to the MMA. But before that, I’d have to wrap up the pointless PDA — or is it PDM?

We’ve only started from the cities, and will soon take over the province, then the country. Indeed, they’ll have to pay the price for what they did to me. They couldn’t give me one seat, just one seat, in 2018. Now I’ll take over their empire.

Ladies and gentlemen, brace yourselves for Diesel Housing Authority, Fazlu Foundation and Papa JUI’s pizza.

Shireen Mazari

I fulfilled my New Year’s Resolution for 2021 when voting for overseas Pakistanis was streamlined. At the recent OIC session, we have also expressed the desire for all Muslims around the world to get the right to vote in Pakistani polls.

Yes, my resolution for 2022 is that since Pakistan elections bring those to power that represent the ummah, every member of it around the world should get to vote. If you’re an estranged Muslim minority, or an estranged Muslim majority, the Pakistan government will always stand with you — unless our friendship with your country is higher than the Himalayas.

This is especially true for the human rights ministry, which in addition to overseas Pakistanis’ rights is fighting for another fundamental right: its own right to remain silent. The ministry exercises this right every time there is a breach undertaken by the ruling party or violations that involve minorities that don’t reside outside Pakistan.

Fawad Chaudhry

It was my idea to have the same people yo-yo between science and information ministries, because that way we can announce any discoveries in the former and get them broadcasted uncritically via the latter. One such breakthrough that I personally announced was sending the first Pakistani to space in 2022, which happens to be my New Year’s Resolution.

Truth be told, if anyone deserves to be that person, it should be me, given my ability to create space anywhere. If Mars were a selected political party, I’d have already taken a selfie with its chairperson.

But if that doesn’t work out, given the political atmosphere, I plan on literally creating S.P.A.C.E — Special Party Assembling Compulsive Escapers.

Shaukat Tarin

Since 2009, all my New Year’s resolutions have been sent by the IMF, whether or not I’m directly dealing with them, which has worked out well for my personal growth. I’ve only given it a cursory look so far, but my 2022 resolution includes autonomising, levying, auditing, withdrawing, and other things that just happen on their own when I am around.

Being able to orchestrate things at work without doing anything allows me sufficient time and energy to do other things in my leisure time. Next year, I hope to spend a lot of time in the playground, bumper cars, skydiving, inflating helium balloons or at the zoo — sliding, crashing, diving, inflating and hanging out with bears doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi

The year 2021 was a defining one for us, and we were finally able to give our country what we wanted. Now the diplomatic challenge comes to lobby globally, and make the world give our country what we desire. We need shrewd ideas spanning beyond IR rulebooks to get what we want for our country. Rest assured that we will get everything for Afghanistan.

As the foreign minister of two different countries, I have double the authority and double the influence, that too in arguably the most critical part of the world today. And hence I, with all the power bestowed on me, have drawn a two-pronged outline that will determine the future of the region.

I just need to get it approved from an intern now.

Pervaiz Elahi

My greatest wish for the year 2022 is for people to stop calling the PML-Q, Pakistan Muslim League-Quarantined. Yes, we’ve had a tough time recently, but who hasn’t? As the orchestrator of the Parha Likha Punjab project, I’m always the first to read the writing on the wall.

What I read today is my party taking undue pride in being the king’s party, or the kingmaker. For that means that someone else is the king. Meanwhile, I’m the speaker who’s never allowed to speak.

This year, I just want to be the king. Oh, I just can't wait to be king.

Farooq Sattar

MQM has always suffered owing to the alpha image of its chief. When they see me, they see the macho militant head, the warlord, who was arrested by the Rangers, investigated by the CTD for links with RAW — perks usually reserved for terror chiefs.

While I obviously can’t do much about the intimidating demeanour I carry, I’ve definitely tried to create a softer image for MQM. Our gangs have even been asked to hold people at gunpoint all over Karachi and tell them individually that we are no longer carrying out street crimes.

But that hasn’t worked, nor has the P suffixed at the end of MQM. Maybe it’s time to add an S for Sattar as well and make it MQM-PS… or PS (it’s still) MQM.

Mustafa Kamal

My New Year’s resolution is to become the admin of at least one WhatsApp group that I am a part of. I’ve long requested the Admin to make me an admin, but he says he will do it if I say mean things in two rival groups, both of which are administrated by the Admin. I’ve done that many times, but I’m never made the admin.

I even created a separate group for myself, chose an uncontroversial, and unimaginative, display picture to invite people to join the one group that I can call my own. But even that is being run by invisible forces and is easily the most pointless WhatsApp group in my chats.

Usman Buzdar

My New Year’s resolution is to continue perfecting my art of not being bothered by what’s happening around me. I want every catastrophe, every crisis to look me in the eye, and then shy away knowing that I’m the only entity in the entire territory it is not meant for.

I will continue standing right here, meeting every question mark with an unfalteringly dismissive full stop.

They call me the establishment, alien, invisible force, the agriculture department, etc. Their encrypted scepticism targets my glorification and the budget spent on me. But they are the ones who have to make peace with the fact that if they want any share of the pie, it’s mine to bestow.

If they want me to compromise on even a fraction of my self-interest for the good of everyone else, know that it won’t be happening in 2022. And 2023 doesn’t look good either.

Murad Ali Shah

As the head of the democratic republic of Sindh, with Garhi Khuda Bux as its capital, it is important that I put the interest of my people first and foremost. Yes, we need to have warm ties with our neighbours but that cannot come at the cost of my people.

Hence, my New Year’s resolution is to ensure the wellbeing of my people that have been targeted by the neighbouring rulers, off and on — it appears to be off these days. For that, I need to stay with my people for all times to come — including New Year’s Eve, which I’ll be spending with my people at Bilawal House.

Mahmood Khan

Unlike other egoistic creatures, my New Year’s resolution isn’t about me, but about the nation. Since the move to merge Fata with KP hasn’t exactly worked out, in 2022, we’re planning to merge KP with Fata instead.

I personally thought that since the legacy of the FCR (Frontier Crimes Regulation) is to be kept alive, and the lawlessness and volatility maintained, we might as well do it on paper. This would formalise the entirety of KP being run arbitrarily from the centre.

Indeed, after integrating KP we can then merge all of Pakistan with Fata as well. Hopefully, that will be my resolution for 2023.

Abdul Quddus Bizenjo

My resolution is simply to be there. I want to be there when mothers ask for clean drinking water, when students request the creation of universities, when local fishermen desire protection from foreign interference.

I want to be there when locals ask how everyone gets a piece of their land except them, how its resources haven’t ever even trickled down for them, how its control room has been in Islamabad and now shifted further north.

I want to be there when the minorities ask why they are being killed, why the state isn’t doing anything to stop the killers, and why they easily manage to cross checkpoints.

I want to be there when the people ask where their share is, where their rights are, where their family members are.

Yes, when these questions continue to be asked in the years to come, I want to be there — in my safe space, my CM House. I want to always be there and never go missing.

Kunwar Khuldune Shahid is cofounder of satirical publications The Dependent and Khabaristan Times, and also writes for Roznama Jeddojehad. He tweets @khuldune

Header design: Saad Arifi