If the White House represents the American political system, the leaning tower of Pisa would be the true representative of Pakistani political system; you are pretty certain that it would fall but for some reason, it remains in place. Some would argue against this by pointing out that the democratic political system in Pakistan has been demolished many times, and it’s true but the political system has never been demolished. The faces in the executive have changed but the underlying system has remained intact, with a solidifying amalgam of intentional corruption and misplaced nationalism keeping it together.
Any moment in Pakistan’s political history is a crucial moment. The government is always on the verge of collapse primarily because of the incompetence and greed of it’s representatives, the opposition is always calling out for heads and crying out “cheating!” and the public is always in the state of “to hell with this!” with a garnish of “oh well”. Since the same actors tend to play government and opposition at different times of their lives (and sometimes at the same time, which is very confusing), they tend to say conflicting things. When they are in government, they would declare anti-government protests as illegal. When they are in opposition, they would consider themselves as the saviors of democracy by leading anti-government rallies. There is no consistency but nobody really cares. A champion has to win only once to become a champion. Consistency is the illusion mediocre people live in.
Overall, the Pakistani politicians are quite an expert in fooling the public. You can’t be considered the most corrupt person in Pakistan’s history and stay as President for 5 years if you don’t know how to fool people. You can’t return to power, after twice failing, without mastering the art of trickery. And you can’t raise a call for the removal of government on the grounds of incompetence while showing no significant progress in your own constituency without the belief that the public will follow no matter what. It takes the magical flute of Pied Piper to get the rats to jump into the sea and our politicians have imported containers full of these flutes.
But they don’t know how to schedule. I have heard the promises of “massive improvement in 90 days” so many times that I started thinking that our politicians think that 90 is a hypothetical number. For the past couple of weeks, I have heard the opposition parties promising Inquilab (revolution) in 2 days and the government promising that the crisis will end in 2 days, only for the deadline to be extended the next day. I am not sure where the inquilab or political stability is coming from, but it feels more like the copy wizard from Windows.
I want a stable Pakistan. I want a Pakistan where the priorities are right. Where the government doesn’t spend only 2 percent of its GDP on education and declare the budget as a balanced budget. Where the talk shows discuss improvements rather than be bickering matches. Where race, religion, cast and sect are disregarded in the furious defense of an individual’s rights. If this Inquilab is going to move us towards this future, I am all up for it. But we can’t have that if our attitude towards politics remains the same. The will to move forward should be greater than the desire to humiliate and right now, I only see pitchforks.
It seems like the name of months actually mean something. The month you are born in does have an impact on your personality. For example, the general consensus is that the defining moment of the creation of Pakistan was at the conference held on 23rd March, 1940. And ever since then we, as a nation, have been marching. We marched from old homes to new ones, from violence to uncertain future. We have marched for democracy and for removal of that democracy. We have marched for constitution and then we marched for adding amendments to that constitution to curtail rights of a portion of our population (i.e. the Ahmadis). We have marched against any country our assigned leaders have bothered to read about in the newspapers. We have marched against Denmark for publishing the cartoons without knowing where Denmark is. We have marched to demand release of a leader in self-imposed exile, arrested in a country he self-imposed-exiled himself to for breaking the laws of that said country. And we don’t even need our leaders to be in the forefront of our marches. They can direct us through a phone call and we are up and ready to go. We marched for the restoration of judiciary and now we are marching because of an election rigged by the judiciary we restored. We have branded marches as necessary for democracy and a threat to democracy in the same sentence. But we can’t do anything about it. It’s our destiny to march. One might assume that after labeling Raiwind as the real center of politics in Pakistan, we would march to Raiwind but there is no point creating a capital city if you can’t even use it for marching destinations. To Islamabad!
The following is a piece of satire that appeared on ireport.cnn.com written by skywalk3r on June 30th, 2010. It recently got some traction and was subsequently removed from the site since it was flagged by the community as inappropriate. Satire, as they say, is the closest thing to honest critique.
Anguished Suicide Note Cites ‘Deluge of Doublethink’ In Driving Kind-Hearted Shrink to Despair Moshe Yatom, a prominent Israeli psychiatrist who successfully cured the most extreme forms of mental illness throughout a distinguished career, was found dead at his home in Tel Aviv yesterday from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. A suicide note at his side explained that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been his patient for the last nine years, had “sucked the life right out of me.” “I can’t take it anymore,” wrote Yatom. “Robbery is redemption, apartheid is freedom, peace activists are terrorists, murder is self-defense, piracy is legality, Palestinians are Jordanians, annexation is liberation, there’s no end to his contradictions. Freud promised rationality would reign in the instinctual passions, but he never met Bibi Netanyahu. This guy would say Gandhi invented brass knuckes.” Psychiatrists are familiar with the human tendency to massage the truth to avoid confronting emotionally troubling material, but Yatom was apparently stunned at what he called the “waterfall of lies” gushing from his most illustrious patient. His personal diary details the steady disintegration of his once invincible personality under the barrage of self-serving rationalizations put forth by Netanyahu. “I’m completely shocked,” said neighbor Yossi Bechor, whose family regularly vacationed with Yatom’s family. “Moshe was the epitome of the fully-integrated personality and had cured dozens of schizophrenics before beginning work on Bibi. There was no outward indication that his case was any different from the others.” But it was. Yatom grew increasingly depressed at his complete lack of progress in getting the Prime Minister to acknowledge reality, and he eventually suffered a series of strokes when attempting to grasp Netanyahu’s thinking, which he characterized in one diary entry as “a black hole of self-contradiction.” The first of Yatom’s strokes occurred when Netanyahu offered his opinion that the 911 attacks on Washington and New York “were good.” The second followed a session in which Netanyahu insisted that Iran and Nazi Germany were identical. And the third occurred after the Prime Minister declared Iran’s nuclear energy program was a “flying gas chamber,” and that all Jews everywhere “lived permanently in Auschwitz.” Yatom’s efforts to calm Netanyahu’s hysteria were extremely taxing emotionally and routinely ended in failure. “The alibi is always the same with him,” complained another diary entry. “The Jews are on the verge of annihilation at the hands of the racist goyim and the only way to save the day is to carry out one final massacre.” Yatom was apparently working on converting his diary into a book about the Netanyahu case. Several chapters of an unfinished manuscript, entitled “Psychotic On Steroids,” were found in his study. The excerpt below offers a rare glimpse at the inner workings of a Prime Minister’s mind, at the same time as it reveals the daunting challenge Yatom faced in seeking to guide it to rationality: Monday, March 8 “Bibi came by at three for his afternoon session. At four he refused to leave and claimed my house was actually his. Then he locked me in the basement overnight while he lavishly entertained his friends upstairs. When I tried to escape, he called me a terrorist and put me in shackles. I begged for mercy, but he said he could hardly grant it to someone who didn’t even exist.”
For the past few weeks, Israel and Palestine have been involved in a conflict which is as lopsided as Germany vs Bermuda. A conflict where a barrage of faulty rockets are responded with missiles and bombs, where the casualty rate is a few broken plates on one side and few hundred people on the other. Israel’s aggression is beyond condemnation and Hamas’s stupidity is beyond comprehension. The Palestine-Israel conflict will go on until one of the sides is exterminated (possibly the Palestinians) or the world war starts.
Given the situation, it is quite understandable that those who adhere to the Islamic faith and those who believe that the indiscriminate murder of people is wrong, would be sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. The problem starts when they start praising Hitler for his actions against the Jews. I have seen people praising Hitler, suggesting that Hitler was doing the right thing and even identifying him as their hero. If this was being done by people with little or no education, I would’ve said that their ignorance was a result of their lack of knowledge but I have seen educated people also engage in this activity. And this amazes me that they could consider someone like Hitler as a good person. Someone who considered that his race was superior and hence others as dispensable. Who, in addition to Jews, hated the Blacks as well. If you think that all the Jews were on holiday during 1939 and 1945 and that the number of Jews dead is reported incorrectly, consider the fact that 20 million Russians also died in world war II.
And let’s assume that your logic is correct. Then, given all the problems that segments of Muslims are creating in different parts of the world (Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan etc), we should start treating Abu Jehal as a hero too because he also believed that if the Muslims are allowed to exist, they would create problems. He was responsible for so much grief to the Muslims so since Muslims are causing so many problems, why not treat him as our hero too?
It amazes me that a nation that is so eager to disassociate themselves from extremist elements and is so eager to show to the world that we are not like those loonies (who explode as a result of release of sexual tension at the sight of 70 virgins), we are equally eager to condemn an entire race to extermination because the act of one barbaric/ lunatic government. For the love of God, chose your heroes wisely.
Polio cases found in FATA. Insurgency and extremism continues to plague the country. Power outages continue to increase. Killings continue to happen in Lyari and surrounding areas. Blasphemy accused killed by assailants.
You would think that given all these problems, the national outcry would be about one of those issues. But it’s not. Its about whether Geo made a blasphemous segment or not. The only thing that this teaches us is that the only way to solve our problems is to declare the instigator blasphemous. Power outages? Stealing electricity and not paying bills prevents other people from praying and hence is blasphemy. Problem solved. Corruption? Stealing from the national exchequer results in no money for mosques and hence it is blasphemy. No more corrupt people. Insurgency? Killing people reduces the number of people who could praise the Lord and hence it is blasphemy. The reason why I believe JI’s demand to install Sharia is an excellent plan, is because once that system is in place, anyone fighting against the government can be (and probably will be) declared as a blasphemer.
I write such things as a means to vent. None of the retards who go about killing alleged blasphemers and stage protests to punish the alleged blasphemers would read this. They don’t really care what anyone says or do. They have banged their heads so many times that all cognitive ability has become numb. Those who do read murmur their agreement, disagree for the sake of argument or ignore. We demand actions but either have no idea what that action looks like or aren’t convinced what those action well eventually accomplish.
Is there a solution? Education, perhaps? Possible but then how do I explain the people with degrees shouting slogans to kill the blasphemer or bothered only by things like what Geo did or what Meera said. Outliers? Perhaps. But all I see are outliers with a minority standing labeled as “The Silent Majority”.
But is it really education that taught me to accept the diversity of people? That taught me to accept people from different race and religion and even those who don’t adhere to any religion? Perhaps not. What we teach our children doesn’t make them a good human being. But it makes them susceptible to this transformation. It allows them to view the world with an open mind. It allows them the opportunity to focus on things that matter. It’s the society that actually teaches them what to focus on and the society is failing miserably.
This is an explanation of the original post. It might be very subtle so pay attention. The point of the last post was not to undermine the struggle of women or to downplay the need to reform the society to make things easier for women. Life is generally hard for the women in Pakistan who want to do things that aren’t considered “appropriate for a woman” by the surrounding society. That is a fact and that needs to be changed.
No. The point of the last post was to speak out against the pitch-fork mentality prevalent in our society. The only difference between us, self-proclaimed “protectors of civil liberties”, and the lynch-mobs , self-proclaimed “protectors of religion” is that we don’t have enough numbers for lynch-related activities, primarily because of the absence of clauses in the religious text of protecting civil liberties leading to blissful heaven. Someone says something and suddenly two groups appear, one for and other against the person, with the need of discourse standing embarrassed in the middle like an embarrassed kid not picked by either side for cricket. We hate discourse because we have identified them with the screaming matches that happen in our talk-shows and we find them as entertaining but ultimately a waste of time. Would we call it progress if we suppress the aggression of our opponents by the noise that we create, with the aggression ultimately re-surfacing in a much more sinister form? Or is it better to channel it through discourse? I don’t mind living in a society where we have ultimate racists living with ultimate liberals utilizing tools of discourse to better themselves, while being protected by the safe-guards of civil liberties. In fact, that is the Pakistan that we should strive to achieve, and we won’t be able to achieve this goal if we came after everyone with our
belans brooms, some non-controversial non-household item, pitchforks(?) And where the hell is my chai!?
For the past few weeks a lot has been said about why Afridi said something about the women cricket team, with opinions attacking and defending the guy. As an oft disappointed fan of Afridi, I would just ask them to stop. This is Afridi we are talking about. Half the time he doesn’t know what he is going to do. The other half, he is perplexed along with all of us as to how he managed to perform like the way he did. The star celebration is not a celebration of triumph of skill, its a screw-you to logic. You argue that he should be cognizant of his influence in the society before giving out statements. Seriously? For the past one and a half year, he has been the poster child of the End Polio campaign. If actions really mattered in our society, we would’ve had defeated that virus or at least made some kind of a headway into changing the hearts and minds of people stupid enough to believe that polio vaccine is a conspiracy. Do you really think that with Afridi saying what he had said, our women cricket team would disband and the great women, that were pointed out in one of the articles, would just give up and settle back into their kitchens. Shame on you. They are who they are despite our society. They are there because of their determination and because of the support of the people around them; people that really matter to them. Treat Afridi as a sportsman not a messiah. Let’s hope that he scores some sixes in the T20. And bring me my chai.