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Pakistanica (An Incoherent, Late Night Rant)

February 24, 2012

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!


We’re fucked.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. February 24, 2012 10:57 pm

    Eh. LOL. *Toddles of to go make money*

    ‘ K. On the other hand, I have offered myself for the role of Prime Minister. Plus I think I offered a thesis on what’s wrong with this country. Also, I do have some goals (short-termish) and I realise they aren’t grand ideological objectives, but I sincerely believe that for the last three, four decades, we’ve had too many of those.

    So here are the simple goals I lay down for Pakistan:

    1) Deepen democracy at the local level. Have local district elections, on a regular basis. Yes just like the evil MQM is asking for. It’s so goddamn radical, it scares our provincially oriented politicians (Sharifs & company in Punjab, Zardari, and the PPP big wigs in Sindh) that an army of urban upstarts might try to scale politics ramparts.

    2) Educate the kids. We know there are millions of kids who go uneducated in this society, to the point where Pakistan is now ranked somewhere in the top ten for number of kids outside school. Fix that, and we’ve done something right.

    3) Keep doing these two, plus whatever a person feels is required for a secular 21st century state to be accepted as a civilised member of the comity of nations. You somewhat know instinctively what these things would be.

    4) Have at least TWO, peaceful transfers of civilian power. In 2013, and God willing in 2018. Kamran Shafi said, three, so that would include 2023 as well. God help us, but that seems to be like, a Plan to follow for the next like 11 years O_O That could/should/might put Bonapartist tendencies in the army in check/time to recycle all the politician abusing type officers out/grow the economy to the point where it can control the army/a lot can change in 11 years. It’s a very simplistic solution, but Pakistan is even unable to get the simple things right. Maybe let’s start doing that stuff, and when we’ve mastered the small stuff we can go onto the big ideological questions.

    In the meantime if you want to see where some of these ideas are derived from, or to keep you distracted from the pain, here’s

    1) Adam Curtis talking about the sense of stagnation, that seems to be creeping in, in a lot of places around the world. He even uses a term I discovered a few months back, used by the Soviets towards their fin de seicle. Pleas pay attention to the song by GroB. It’s nice.

    2) Ayaz Amir having a humorous go at the Difa-e-Pakistan council, and agreeing with you to, let’em have their fun.

    3) Yanka Dyagileva. Pakistan needs folk punk. If there are two strands of music that need to be fused together, it’s folk and punk. Coke Studio needs to get on it.


    • Abdul Aziz permalink
      February 25, 2012 1:03 pm

      You used word God willing. God help us…Two peaceful transition …etc
      I do not agree with you. How will Allah help us if we follow man made constitution? where as Allah says He has chosen Islam for us and He will accept only Islam. When Allah’s constitution is there and we do not follow it how would we expect any help from him when we say we are Muslim. Besides this is not the time to remove these politician, its time to remove the people who chose such politicians

  2. February 25, 2012 7:11 am

    oh well. at least we’re getting some.

    • Assad Khan permalink
      February 25, 2012 8:04 am

      that comment is 100% Winning

  3. Afshan Khan permalink
    February 25, 2012 10:17 am

    Damn just when mortals like me become hopeful about the future of this country basing our hopes on budding idiots like IK….someone comes along (in this case a kala kawwa) and opens our eyes… doubt we are fucked.

    • Abdul Aziz permalink
      February 25, 2012 1:37 pm

      Why shouldn’t we see what Allah said when such conditions exist?

      • MohKaz permalink
        February 26, 2012 7:12 am

        Wake up. Allah is not out there to solve Pakistan’s problems. Allah does not meddle in your day to day problems. Allah is not coming to remove any politician from office or to put one in place. Stop relying on faith (and faith-based arguments).

        I’m pretty sure people have prayed a lot to Allah. Its not working. The solution is much harder than clasping your hands together and wishing. We need to wake up and climb our own way out of this hole. Speak up, work hard, don’t take bullshit from politicians. Learn to rally around ideas and causes. Learn to demonstrate. Don’t let things slide.

        Read the existing constitution. If you don’t like it, then rally around constitutional changes. Hold your elected officials accountable.

        Being muslims, good or bad, is irrelevant to economic progress. I assure you. Stop waiting for heavenly intercession…

      • Abdul Aziz permalink
        March 6, 2012 7:21 am

        I do not want to make any changes in this constitution. Muslims have a constitution, Quran and Sunnah. Lets works for its implementation.

  4. February 25, 2012 3:49 pm

    True. We are fucked.

    Cynical but a good read!

  5. Saira Minto permalink
    February 25, 2012 4:42 pm

    Get rid of the religion and see the magic!

    • Pakistani in US permalink
      February 26, 2012 1:06 am

      Amen to that.

  6. March 18, 2012 9:30 pm

    Shit happens. people do fucked up stuff. You live with it while trying to improve things gradually. Here you are mostly confusing governance issues with ideologies.

  7. March 18, 2012 9:40 pm

    Although you seem tired of our liberals’ narrative but your content is heavily inspired from them. You need to break the shackles. Writing is good.

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