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—Photo Illustration by Faraz Aamer Khan/

My name is Ug. Ug Lee American. And I am running for president. Of Pakistan, that is. My dear Pakistanis, you insist our bullying and meddling behavior in your country is a bad thing. On the contrary: Such intrusive behavior is wholly benign, and, if intensified, will ultimately bring Pakistan the stability and prosperity that have long eluded it.

Occupying President House shall enable us to institutionalise our domineering ways, and hasten Pakistan’s transition to a stable and developed democratic state. Stabilisation will be the initial goal.

Once ensconced in the presidential palace, I will mobilise our in-country assets – thousands of spies, hundreds of fighters representing the Blackwater beast incarnate, battalions of bearded Special Forces, scores of aid-workers-cum-CIA-operatives, dozens of pistol-toting diplomats, Ronald McDonald, Elmo, and cooperative locals such as Rani the Muppet – to unleash a devastating assault on the dark forces that terrorise Pakistan. We will first target the ruthless anti-state militants, in all their cross-dressing, Darth Vader-resembling glory.

I will then set in motion a battle royale between our proxy forces (Mossad, RAW, and Gary Faulkner the bounty hunter) and Pakistan’s (LeT, the Afghan Taliban, and the Haqqani network). Haqqani is particularly high-priority, so we shall reserve the right to call in our troops from Afghanistan to provide support.

With these groups pacified, we will act promptly to neutralise the sole remaining threat – loose nukes. We will seize Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, to ensure they don’t fall into the dangerous hands of the civilian government. The fact that we have not the foggiest idea of the nukes’ location shall not stop us from carrying out this most essential of tasks. With the security situation under control, I will turn to the next priority: economic development.

Currently, our average annual economic assistance to Pakistan generously provides the equivalent of USD 2.67 to every Pakistani – the cost, Mohsin Hamid helpfully informs us, of a six-inch Pizza Hut pizza in Lahore. To that end, I shall promulgate that the Edhi Foundation’s armada of ambulances be deputed to deliver one of these items to every Pakistani citizen annually. Pizza delivery causes infinitely fewer headaches than aid delivery, and Edhi ably serves the role of effective, dependable local partner.

To be sure, America is not naïve, and realises that Pakistanis cannot subsist on pizza. Alas, Pakistan’s agricultural sector is in shambles, ravaged by underinvestment, water shortages, and demand-side inefficiencies. To overcome these obstacles, I shall conjure up America’s meteorology-manipulating superpowers to generate an immense flood – one that irrigates millions of hectares of farmland, leading to fresh new produce and crops ready to be consumed, sold to local markets, exported, and, on only the rarest of occasions, left to rot in poorly climatised storage warehouses.

Stable and satiated, Pakistan’s remaining challenge will be job creation. As president, I will unveil an innovative new employment initiative that shall make the American Jobs Act back home seem downright Hooveresque by comparison. We will hire thousands – if not millions – of Pakistanis to massage the facial muscles of American diplomats and officials that have become chronically sore from incessantly uttering “Do more!” We will establish MOZs – massage opportunity zones – in newly pacified areas throughout Pakistan, enabling masseurs to hone their skills. We will grant these masseurs tariff-free access to the profitable American market, and especially Washington, DC, the chief bastion of sore-faced, “do more!”-squawking diplomats.

Pakistani masseurs in America will send home their large remittances – a particularly advantageous new revenue source for Pakistan given Islamabad’s recent decision to part ways with the IMF. In essence, the massage program will boost employment and strengthen the economy.

Granted, I must be elected prior to implementing this master plan. Happily, I have full confidence in my ability to emerge victorious; I have retained a dream team of campaign advisers boasting either deep operational leadership experience inside Pakistan (Erik Prince and the former-CIA-station-chiefs-who-cannot be named), or the dynastic bonafides that ensure political triumph in Pakistan (Caroline Kennedy, assorted Bushes, and various Kardashians).

I admit several folks have said to me, “Ug, why on earth are you doing this? Given bilateral tensions and sensitivities over affronts to sovereignty, why run for president of Pakistan? Wouldn’t that rub a bit of salt in the wounds?”

My response is always the same: “How else will we bring about the stable, prosperous, responsible Pakistani state sought by America, Pakistan, and the world on the whole?”

Nearly 50 years ago, President John F. Kennedy, speaking before a huge crowd in Berlin, famously proclaimed “Ich bin ein Berliner”. Today, speaking thousands of miles from Pakistan, holed up in an underground bunker at an undisclosed location somewhere in the deserts of Nevada, surrounded by exuberant, joystick-wielding young men eying live-feeds of unmanned drones, I declare to you all: “Pakistan Zindabad!”.  

Michael Kugelman is the program associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. He can be reached at

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.