Pakistanica (An Incoherent, Late Night Rant)
And so, here we are. Liberalism is defined as the consumption of a bottle of mango juice and conservatism as the disallowing of trade with our neighbour. If this does not reek of a rotten state, I ask you what does?
To say that Pakistan has lost its way would be to shortchange the monumental failings of everyone involved in this country. When I say ‘everyone’, I truly do mean everyone. Me, you, them, us, everyone.
If our notion of defending an embattled minority is to purchase goods manufactured by those from their community that are most well to do, then we have failed. If our notion of defending the country’s integrity is to rally against trade with a state whose enmity is dwarfed by that which the right feels towards the US, then they too have failed.
Difa-e-Pakistan Councils swirl, and Shezan swilling liberals abound, but we have no aim. Nothing that we aspire towards. Both camps just know what they don’t want, and this is never to going to result in a country that achieves anything of any worth.
Our greatest achievements today appears to be the crushing of dissent in Balochistan and the muted voice with which we try to take up the issue. The national Information Technology fund seems to be focusing on blocking 50 million URLs, and the best we can muster is a little rah-rah on Twitter and Facebook. A ship asunder with no direction, and with little direction coming from anywhere. Those at the helm are clearly asleep, and the crew is too busy with their internecine conflict.
It would appear, once again, that the mythical Pakistani liberal (all two dozens of them) are to blame for this. Their inability to take up a valid cause, or to rationalize the behaviour of the ‘other’, is where the fault lies apparently. That no attempt is made to rationalize the behaviour of the liberal is immaterial, and in some ways even justified. The liberal just wants to sip on his Shezan and declare it a victory against the Lahore Bar Association – clearly the most fearsome adversary in this land of ours.
I don’t mean to advocate for some great liberal-conservative rapprochement in Pakistan. This is not going to come anytime soon, or, in fact, anytime ever. There is no common ground. Daggers drawn on all accounts; drones, democracy, the economy, the internet, and the constitution.
Even those who get what they want, feel that they must kvetch about it. Imran Khan get’s an independent election commission he’s been asking for since ages? Why, it must be a conspiracy against the PTI! The Supreme Court is taking on the ISI? That must certainly be smoke and mirrors to deflect attention off their clear alliance with the military!
I can think of no one that can define a vision for this country. And just so you know, “corruption free” is not a vision, it’s just a step towards achieving something greater. What is that ‘something greater’ that we’d like to achieve? Where do we want Pakistan to be?
The unfortunate answer is that no one really knows. We just know that in the shortest-term, we don’t want to be X. Or we don’t want to be Y. But as we inch towards being neither, and try to appease as many as we can, we run the risk of turning into both.
In some ways, we already are. I get to live in my liberal bubble in Pakistan. I get to do as I please, consuming whatever illicit substance I desire while pointing and laughing at the Difa-e-Pakistan rally. The Difa-e-Pakistan gets to do as they please, threatening those that indulge in ‘immorality’ while pointing and laughing at the out-of-touch elite, without realizing that they too constitute a significant portion of the New Pakistani Elite.
But, hey, at least we have nukes! And we have Coke Studio! And we are the Fortress of Islam! And we have Fashion Weeks!