The year is 2112. Pakistan has finally managed to put a man on the moon. He lands in one of those American colonies that former president Nut Gingrich promised exactly a hundred years ago.
It wasn’t easy. There were serious visa issues. Also, the launch failed several times, prompting a thorough overhaul of the spacecraft by a team of mechanics from Lalookhet. In addition, repeated onboard power failures meant the craft was adrift in space often, losing all course and direction.
Eventually, it did land rather safely, losing only part of its landing gear and a single tyre, and narrowly but successfully avoiding a group of panicked passersby in the process. CNN’s Anderson Blooper caught up with Pakistan’s first astronaut, Qamaruzzaman Moonis, soon after the historic touchdown. Some excerpts:
QM: Where is camera, I look in camera, yes?
AB: Yes, it’s here. You’re on air, sir.
QM: No! I not on air. I already landed. I think. Yes?
AB: I mean you’re live on camera, sir. The whole world is watching you.
QM: Yes yes, thank you. Here I am. Hello people.
AB: I’m sure your family and friends back home are watching. This is a proud moment for …
QM: No, they not watch. Sadly. This is load-shedding year in Pakistan. Electric-city come next year. For two month.
AB: Oh yes, I understand the power crisis in your country, sir. But I’m sure they must have heard about the landing. Maybe celebrating right now, distributing sweets, throwing meals, as I understand is the custom …
QM: No, no food-cooking. Sadly. This is gas shortage month. Gas come next month. For two week.
AB: Well at least there must be wild cheers and dances and …
QM: No, no dance. Sadly. Dance banned in Punjab. Assembly pass law. CM Maulvi Nimaz Sharif himself ban it.
AB: Well sir … I think people must be happy to hear the news anyways …
QM: Yes of course. Pakistani people always happy. Government say so.
AB: Sir, given the troubled times in the country, I can imagine how hard it must be to run a space programme. Could you tell us …
QM: Yes yes. Pakistan have many space programme. I see one on Disco Very Channel myself. That why I want to come here.
AB: Uh, I’m not talking about TV programmes …
QM: Yes, I love TV. Talk show. All politician insulting each other. Also science show on Very Disco Channel. But I not watch much. Load-shedding, you know.
AB: Sir, um, I was wondering how were you selected for this prestigious trip. I mean, you don’t seem to …
QM: Of course I was selected, all-proper. You see, PM’s wife’s makeup artist’s nephew my close friend. I told him: I want to be country’s first spaceman. He said: not easy. So I pay him Rs50,000 and two gas cylinder. So here I am.
AB: But sir, your qualifications, experience …
QM: Of course I has qualification. Degree. Astrophysical. From University of Lasbela. Cheapest in country. I only pay Rs15,000 for it. Degree is degree you know, real or political. That how I become astronut.
AB: You mean astronaut.
QM: Yes, astronut.
AB: Sir, I was hoping you’d give us your personal angle on this momentous journey. I mean …
QM: No problem. My personal angle: about 75 degrees. Same angle all through flight. Back hurt so much now. But Lalookhet mechanic say: you change angle, whole rocket break up. So I very careful. All the time 75 degrees.
AB: Sir … what’s that noise coming from your craft: banging, shouting…!
QM: Oh no! I forget. Ten people in cargo compartment. Illegal you see, no visa. I go check. More Inter View later. I love TV!
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