It’s a very old joke that would probably have remained forgotten had it not been for Islamabad enacting it out so often. For those who haven’t heard it, the joke goes like this: A student who was weak in English language got a ‘sure-shot’ tip from his friends that the subject of the essay in the upcoming exams would be about witnessing a hockey match.

So, he looked up numerous English guidebooks and after finding a sample essay on this topic, got down in real earnest to memorise the same. But on the day of the exams he was aghast when he saw the question paper because instead of being asked to write about a hockey match for which he had so assiduously prepared, the topic of the essay was ‘a train journey’!

While his friends who had tipped him off about the essay topic looked on in pure horror, he appeared to ponder for a moment as though he was collecting his thoughts and then commenced writing furiously without stopping as if there would be no tomorrow. After the exam was over, his friends asked him as to how come he was able to write so confidently and so much on a topic he hadn’t prepared for. He replied that though initially shocked, he had no problem as he had started off his essay by mentioning that he had got onto a train, but after covering a little distance it came to an abrupt halt as the engine had developed some fault.

Then he wrote that on looking out from the window of the stationary train, he saw that a hockey match was being played and thereafter faithfully regurgitated all that he had learnt by rote. To ensure that he did not miss out mention of the subject matter in his conclusion (which was a must those days), he added that just as the hockey match finished, the engine fault was rectified and he thereafter proceeded on his train journey.

Many amongst the younger generation would find this joke woefully lacking in ‘wit-content’. But when one sees how desperately Islamabad tries to juxtapose anti-India rhetoric in each and every situation and occasion (often with disastrous results), one is automatically reminded of this hockey match joke!

Wasn’t it extremely naïve of Pakistan’s Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood to behave just like the protagonist in the above cited joke by trying to expect that he would actually succeed in his attempt to internationalise the Babri Mosque issue during the general policy debate of the UNESCO General Conference?

Doesn’t his side-splitting attempt to try and peddle anti-India tirade by alleging that Indian Supreme Court’s decision on the Ayodhya issue was not in line with UNESCO’s values of religious freedom bears an uncanny resemblance with the hockey match and train journey joke? But, why single out the poor Education Minister when many others at the helm of affairs in Pakistan too are making a laughing stock of themselves…