They are now calling me General Papa Johnny. Do you know why? Because I, retired Lt Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa, committed a sin by introducing this poor Pakistani nation to heavenly pepperoni pizzas. Blame me, best hang me, but you can’t deny my great service to the country. Yes, it is personal and it is about my pizza valour.
Retiring as lieutenant-general of the ‘Number 1’ military in the world, I saw many ups and downs but none like what I am facing now. I know that you’ve heard about my secret global economic escapades in the last few days — 99 companies, 133 pizza joints, some 13 commercial properties in the US including two shopping malls — don’t we all love malls. To all those complaining I say: Mehnat kar dost, hasad na kar (work hard my friend, don’t be jealous). Truth be told, it is no mean achievement to build an empire like mine in a poor country like Pakistan.
My cars and pizzas
Those who say that other countries have armies and the Pakistan army has a country are deeply conflicted. We are the only rich men stuck in a poor country. Why don’t you see our misery? You think it all came easy? I climbed my way up by kneading dough, that too yeast-free. Have a heart and imagine my struggle.
My bank balance, my properties, my corner plots, my pizza restaurants, even my swanky Toyota ZX 2016 are all in the greater national interest of Pakistan. If hypocrisy had a face it would be mine, but you still want me to give you my money trail. You call it corruption? Do remember the 101 of our national narrative: the only corrupt in this great nation are the politicians, those of civilian variety, not like me. Repeat it a hundred times, better yet, hang it by your bedside.
If you don’t know me then you don’t need to know more than you know already. Apologies, but trying to hold me accountable for my retirement benefits won’t change anything.
This brings me to the other part of my life in which I act as a politician. Though my friends tell me that my bad luck began when I joined Prime Minister Imran Khan, because everything he touches turns to trash.
I am now special assistant to the prime minister on information. That is due to my previous excellent work as director-general (DG) of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR). Those who came after me couldn’t match my charm. While those before had no idea how to run ISPR.
At ISPR, Pakistan’s information revolution began with me, I was the real deal. The digital troll armies, the hashtags, the branding of then army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif — I was the game-changer then and I am here now. You’d all remember my famous hashtag #ThankYouRaheelSharif, it was in honour of my boss. When Raheel slept I trended ‘thanks’, when he walked I trended ‘thanks’, when he prayed I trended ‘thanks’. The face of my boss was on trucks, car bonnets, and banners in the streets. My biggest achievement? I was the first to bring any Pakistani army chief’s face on a baniyan — such is my power in making military men great. My stint as DG ended soon, otherwise, Sharif underwear was next on the cards.
Making Bajwas great again
I understand the pain of the people too.
I made hit songs such as Bada Dushman Bana Phirta Jo Bachon Se Ladta Hai, right after the Taliban killed 140 children in the Peshawar army school in December 2014. On the massacre’s first anniversary, I came up with Mujhe Dushman Ki Bachon Ko Parhana Hai. I gave special tuitions to the children of the dushman, and it was with that tuition fee that I built my multimillion empire. Just like that, I finished terrorism in Pakistan. No one seems to remember that.
When I left ISPR, I took with me my 3 million Twitter followers. I never handed over the official account to your favourite incoming DG Asif Ghafoor. Why should have I thrown away my hard work? Don’t judge me, it was all in the greater good of the nation.
My purpose is to serve. I did so as commander of the 111-Brigade, a brigade notorious for helping military coups — yet, I myself did no such thing. I was known as the dharna innovator in 2014, because many think I was helping Imran Khan put up a DJ show in Islamabad’s D Chowk.
These are the qualities that have left even senior Bajwa with no option but to trust me. People like to call me Chota Bajwa, but big or small, together we both can both make Bajwas great again!
As you know, I am a man of talents. I am also chairman of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). I trust myself and there is no reason for the Chinese not to trust me. That is why I insist anyone who as much says a word about my corruption is liable of high treason. You question Bajwa, you question your existence. You question Bajwa over business with the United States and not China, you are an agent and conspirator of the dushman.
This is part of an occasional, irreverent take on Pakistani issues by General Twitter. The real name of the authors will not be disclosed because they don’t want to be taken too seriously. Views are personal.