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Ug Lee American visits the GHQ

January 16, 2012

-Photo Illustration by Faraz Aamer Khan/

My name is Ug. Ug Lee American. Last October 3, I announced my candidacy for president of Pakistan. On November 17, I kicked off my presidential campaign.

Several weeks ago, I unveiled my campaign theme song — an infectious ditty performed by a band called the Violent Femmes.

No, I am not trying to woo Pakistan’s violent femme voters (the “chicks-with-sticks” constituency lacks the numbers to lift me to victory). I am simply showcasing a tune inspired by yours truly (it’s called “Ugly”— take a listen).

Since then, I had thought all was going well with my campaign — until my trusted strategist, Rawcia McMossad, warned me that I was guilty of a major crime of omission. “All that matters is clothed in khaki,” he stated. “Ug Lee, you must engage that strategic demographic if you want to take power. You must visit the GHQ.”

After realising he was not instructing me to call on the offices of a trendy men’s fashion magazine, I enthusiastically agreed to stage a campaign rally at GHQ.

My staff devised a brilliant plan. Cognisant of those pesky troubles afflicting our security relationship, we resolved to undertake a goodwill gesture guaranteed to reduce mistrust — and to garner votes. This gesture revolved around neither the gifts we consistently lavish on Rawalpindi (F-16 fighter jets, ammunition for conspiracy theories); nor those we recently stopped providing (ammunition for rifles, body armor, public statements of support); and nor those we never bestow (transparency, apologies, civil nuclear accords).

Rather, we decided to redress a basic, yet grievous, deficiency: counter-dandruff incapacity. What better way to demonstrate our long-term commitment to Pakistan than by providing non-security assistance to the security establishment?

So, with help from my trusty campaign sponsor Procter&Gamble, we dispatched several hundred crates of Head & Shoulders Dandruff Shampoo™ to GHQ. Our campaign rally, scheduled to occur following the shipment’s arrival, was to announce this magnanimous gesture. Who says Washington has nothing to show for its assistance, I was to proclaim, while proudly holding aloft several bottles of shampoo.

Unfortunately, it was not meant to be.

The trouble began soon after we arrived. The opening chords of “Ugly” had barely started pulsating from the speakers of the GHQ’s ornate welcome foyer when up strode an agitated officer.

“The shipments had not arrived,” he said sternly. Worse, he had good reason to believe we had diverted the shampoo to India.

Quivering with indignation, I queried the officer for evidence. I was informed that several weeks ago, an Indian monkey had entered Pakistan, sauntered over to a certain CIA facility (just days before it was abandoned after about 34,567 false starts), found the crates in the fuselage of a grounded Predator drone, secured them and spirited them in to India, and then for no particular reason returned to Pakistan, where he was apprehended and deposited in the Bahawalpur Zoo. I respectfully disagreed; observing that in all likelihood Pakistan had received the shipments, and then promptly diverted them to the Haqqani network.

By this point, the air was choked with tension. One of my staffers then did what Americans often do in Pakistan during innocuous and tense moments alike — he began taking photographs. We were told that he would be arrested unless we left. So we gathered our briefing papers, guns, spies, and other essential materiel and beat a hasty retreat to our black, tinted-glass, “Yes Lee Can”-emblazoned campaign SUV.

Happily, the story does not end there. I immediately deployed a Joint Forces mission — codenamed Operation Geronimo’s Head & Shoulders — to uncover the fugitive shampoo. Minutes later, we located it on the docks of Karachi’s port, stashed in a giant cargo container, mixed in with reams upon reams of Islamabad-bound reporting requirements for Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill-authorised aid, and with dozens of Lahore-bound Sesame Street muppets. Alas! The shampoo had neither been filched by an Indian monkey nor conveyed to Waziristan. It had simply gotten stuck in the port cargo bottleneck in Karachi.

Energised by this discovery, I reached out to GHQ. We convened a meeting not just to reschedule the campaign rally, but also to chart a better future for our relationship. Rest assured, we are now patching things up anew. And in the true spirit of our partnership, these negotiations have been conducted with a level of transparency befitting internal political deliberations in North Korea.

So as you consider who to vote for in 2013, or perhaps 2012, or maybe even next week, just keep in mind that it was Ug Lee who smoothed the waters by [redacted]; by [redacted]; and, finally, most impressively, by [redacted].

What fittingly pure genius in the land of the pure.


Michael Kugelman is the program associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. You can reach him at

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