Illustration by Sarah Durrani
Illustration by Sarah Durrani

Ladies, gentlemen and my dear clients, I thank you all for supporting my Wedlock Democratic Party (WDP) wholeheartedly, enabling us to sweep the elections. Two thirds it is! Every bachelor and spinster worth their names voted enthusiastically I am told, flocking the polling stations along with their parents.

However, the married populace’s participation reportedly remained marginal, reflecting a general indifference towards externalities, perhaps unwilling to disentangle from their warm marital romance on a lazy Sunday.

We didn’t expect much from the divorced vote bank anyway, but their resorting to hooliganism on election day goes to show they were not fit for marriage in the first place. Overall, the huge mandate that WDP achieved is a testament to peoples’ desire for politics of unity and convergence.

As laid out in the party charter, we strive to materialise the marriages between political parties quite literally, so they can forget their differences, and become one national entity, snaking its way forward like a train. And what better way to achieve it, than to endeavour arranging intra-marriages on a mass scale, starting from the top leaderships’ families.

My own example is before you. Tying the knot to Chaudhry sahib helped me gain a foothold in his party’s districts. And when Chaudhry sahib was lynched by his party workers after news of his countless current affairs broke out, wedlock further consolidated its position amongst his vote bank by capitalising on the hatred against Chaudhry, by playing the victim card — a hapless victim of his insatiable desires. It is people’s affection that in those areas people now address me as Chaudhry Sahiba.

If the head of a marriage bureau were to win the elections, this would be her inaugural speech…

As an initial goodwill gesture, I now invite the leader of the opposition and his son over to the Prime Minister House for a cup of tea. If he desires, my eldest daughter may come to meet the guests in a traditional Eastern style, complete with a trolley. Those men who think that our party will be emasculated if my daughter goes to the enemy’s camp, do not know my daughter well. Besides, she will be on a mission of peace — obviously backed by a nuclear-powered mother.

Therefore, I encourage opposition parties to drop passport-size photographs of their sons and daughters at the PM Secretariat. Religious party members may submit just their daughters’ bios. They will soon be contacted by my party workers for matchmaking through the special cell being set up at my office.

A processing fee of Rs100,000 will be spent towards our Mulk Sanwaro, Kaprray Bachao [Fix the Country, Save your Clothes] scheme.

However, my foremost ‘engagement’ will be to alleviate the suffering of the common man, and also common woman. Wonder why this phrase refuses to admit that common women are more common than men of the same ilk. The burden of nubile daughters is one of the most common underlying reasons for below-par productivity, psychological issues and daily domestic bickering in many households.

Unlike in the West, a girl’s match still needs to be found by parents whose life is consumed by the strains of that search, preparing inflation-adjusted jahez [dowry], and then praying at every doorbell that it’s not their daughter back home with a suitcase.

To address this problem, WDP plans to set up mohalla [neighbourhood] committees which would replace redundant housing committees. They will enter the data of all unmarried adults from mohallas in computers and, through a special software called Band Baja, create lists of recommended matches.

Under the soon-to-be-passed 31st Amendment, known as the Match-Fixing Legislation, no boy or his parents can refuse this software-generated match. Those that do will have their assets frozen and they will be investigated for tax evasion retrospectively.

Needless to say, divorce will be banned.

We also realise the government and marriage bureau (which will soon become synonymous) need to follow up to ensure married couples are content. Hence, we are enacting a law under which married couples will have to go out to some park or cinema at least once a week. They will need to keep ticket stubs from the cinema or park for the door-to-door checks my party workers will conduct.

Stress management and saas [mother-in-law] management courses will also be given to married women. Those husbands guilty of not taking their wives on a honeymoon will be tried in special courts. Every couple will also be bound to keep fresh roses by the bedside at night. Penalties may involve heavy fines and public apology on PTV.

On the foreign front, affairs will be augmented with the sole intent of creating lasting relationships with every country. Relations with America will be given prime importance as several green card holders are my clients there. The World Bank will be nudged to sponsor some marriages. While speaking to Mr. Biden last night, I shared my plan and requested he put in a word for us. He had some concerns on population explosion, and I pacified him that the nuclear bomb is safe. Due to age, these days he talks gibberish. If I understood him correctly, he said he’d revert by talking to one Mr Tomahawk.

My dear countrymen, a new era is a dawning in which your elected government will strive to make people marry. I hope my revolutionary agenda has struck a chord. Please note that you can no longer contact me at my old bureau numbers. After victory, I wish Pakistan a 90-day happy honeymoon. One last word: the Local Bodies Ball will be held after nine months.
Pakistan Shaad Baad.

The writer is the award-winning novelist of Melody of a Tear and The Liar’s Truth
X: @Haroontheauthor

Published in Dawn, EOS, November 26th, 2023

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