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Manto’s letter to Uncle Ash

31 Laxmi Mansion
Hall Road 

Dear Uncle Ash,

I would not normally bother you at this critical juncture in our nations’s history. As you know, I would normally write to Uncle Sam whenever I run out of locally distilled whisky. I have heard that you are not talking to Uncle Sam any more. This has caused me tremendous anxiety so that I am worried that the essentials of life that are the last hope of  poor devout muslims like me will not arrive in time. I, like all the patriotic Pakistanis who ride a rented Sohrab bicycle, am quite attached to the idea of having gleaming new squadrons of F16s, so that we can destroy our enemies who cast their evil eyes on our determined nation.

I am also worried about the warm clothes that would have been sold in the Bara market from the NATO containers and bought by the poor but respectable citizens like me; not to speak of the trousers and shoes for the Peshawar police from the same source.

Dear Uncle, 

I know that you drank three cups of tea with Uncle Mullen in the best national interest, although it was at the great personal cost. I must salute you that you stood firm where lesser men would have wilted under the unbearable pressure. Next time you must insist on wafer biscuits, as is becoming of the commander in chief of the greatest Islamic nation. 

These Americans have crossed all limits. Their belligerency knows no bounds. They want diapers so that they don’t have to step out of their armoured cars. They do not want to benefit form the highly absorbent and sharia recommended stones which abound in the holy land of Fak-Ap. I think it would be foolish to sacrifice our national hygiene at the alter of the American hegemony. This would be a breach of national sovereignty and would attract the wrath of God and more importantly, that of the Supreme Court. We should not distract the court of the mighty or of the Almighty as both of them need to focus on weighty matters such as BBM messages and Article 62, which does not allow any one apart from Jam Sadiq and Amin Fahim to hold public office.

Dear Uncle Ji,

You are the only bequest I have of my dead mother. Whenever I am in the midst of a personal or national crisis, I look up to you for solace and support. I think you are the only one who can protect the poor of this land and it’s constitution.

The air is so heavy with treason that you can cut it with a knife. Some times one has to stick a knife in the back of one’s benefactors in the overarching national interest. 

One does not know whom to trust. We can only trust the doughty warrior for truth and justice, Uncle Pash. May God give him a long life and a long extension. He has laid low the enemies of Islam by his fearless and single minded pursuit of these cowardly agents by deciphering the highly prized top secret memo, published in complex cipher, in Financial Times. If it was not for this breakthrough in forensic technology, we could have said good bye to the rule of law and our national ideology would have received a kick in the teeth. 

The parliament is a collection of jumped up, newly rich charlatans, all of them security risks. Only the statesmen in Corps Commanders Conference command the lineage, the nobility, the training and the patience to be the true leaders of the nation. I thank God and congratulate the nation on our great good fortune for having such men in power. Every night, when I run out of distilled whisky, I stay up to recite ayat ul kursi 111 times to thank God and bless my favourite uncles. 

God bless Uncles Ash and Pash. 

Your obedient nephew, 
Saadat Hasan Manto


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