VIEW : Becoming hostage — Kahar Zalmay

Tuesday, December 03, 2013 E-Mail this article to a friend Printer Friendly Version

VIEW : Becoming hostage — Kahar Zalmay\123\story_3-12-2013_pg3_3

undefined Our sense of patriotism is unique too: stand up for the national anthem before watching an Indian movie, worship nuclear weapons and detest India, Israel, the US and anyone who is not Muslim, but remain dependent on their aid

Who would have thought 60 odd years ago that a country created for Muslims would become unliveable for Muslims? And who would have known that right after independence, Muslims would be struggling to prove themselves as Muslims for fear of being persecuted when the state decided to embrace a particular sect? Those who struggled to make Pakistan a reality had not imagined that their journey from being citizens of the new country to becoming subjects would be that swift. And who would have guessed that the rulers in the new country would rewrite history, advertently making the man who spearheaded the freedom movement an outsider?

I was prompted to pen this article because of a recent video showing the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Shahidullah Shahid. He criticised the Pakistani media for showering praises on Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, recognising that he is a great player but, since he is Indian, he should not be admired. Misbahul Haq, however pathetic a player he is, should not be criticised as he is a Muslim. Apparently, it is un-Islamic and unpatriotic to praise a non-Muslim. The Taliban and their sympathisers are duly extending their mandate.

Right after the birth of Pakistan, its rulers embarked on the mission of Islamising every aspect of life, culture, art, literature and even history, hounding and harassing relentlessly those who did not fit into the grand scheme of a super delusional empire stretching from South Asia to the borders of Central Asia. However, after six decades, there is no realisation at all that what brought this country to this stage is still considered a binding force. It seems something is fundamentally wrong with us or perhaps we are just a bunch of super psychoneurotics living in a fictitious land.

On Page 323 of the Justice Munir Commission Report of 1954, after concluding the discussion of defining who a Muslim is, it is reported: “Keeping in view the several definitions given by the ulema, need we make any comment except that no two learned divines are agreed on this fundamental? If we attempt our own definition, as each learned divine has done, and that definition differs from that given by all others, we unanimously go out of the fold of Islam. And if we adopt the definition given by any one of the ulema, we remain Muslims according to the view of that alim, but kafirs according to the definition of everyone else.” The Munir Report should have been translated into the major local languages and taught in schools as this report identifies the core cause of our collective failure, but instead we have chosen to live in disconnect, shying away from reality.

On page 316, the report reads, “According to the leading ulema, the position of non-Muslims in the Islamic State of Pakistan will be that of zimmies and they will not be full citizens of Pakistan because they will not have the same rights as Muslims. They will have no voice in the making of the law, no right to administer the law and no right to hold public offices.” Need I make any comment?

This is what we have been doing, sticking to the constitution and leaving no stone unturned to alienate anyone who talks of logic and reason. However, on the other hand, the extremists who create havoc, the killers and the fasadis (mischief mongers) are appreciated and garlanded with flowers. No, wait a minute please, we went a step further and elevated them to the status of ‘stakeholders’.

We are unmatched in self-destructiveness. We hate our heroes like Malala Yousafzai and Dr Abdus Salam but we adore our villains, Hafiz Saeed and Mumtaz Qadri. We loath our martyrs, Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti, but we tumble over each other to turn the killer Hakeemullah Mehsud into a martyr. Our sense of patriotism is unique too: stand up for the national anthem before watching an Indian movie, worship nuclear weapons and detest India, Israel, the US and anyone who is not Muslim, but remain dependent on their aid. It is okay to spend one percent of our budget on education but it is unpatriotic to cut down on our defence budget. Ironically, we became a nuclear power that does not possess electric power.

Everything logical is considered unpatriotic by the right wingers and our celebrated television anchors. Many thought the influx of television channels would open up society; it reversed the process and brought a cruel intolerance into public discourse. Many expected that the media would become an agent of change connecting us with the global culture; instead it became an agent of isolationism. The only good the arrival of private television channels did was that it exposed our well-kept secret: our intellectual bankruptcy.

If anything, we excelled in our mastery of hypocrisy and deception. Do anything immoral or unjust but seek refuge in religion and get away with it. In normal societies, one needs oxygen to breathe — we breathe religion. Our generals have pirs (holy men) for prayers and private militias for fighting and our sports players think they can win only when invoking God by reciting some religious scriptures.

Last December, before his death, prominent journalist Christopher Hitchens wrote a piece in Vanity Fair. Pakistan, he said, was “humourless, paranoid, insecure, eager to take offence and suffering from self-righteousness, self-pity and self-hatred”. I have come to the conclusion that what we could say a few years back, we cannot say anymore. Our space is dwindling. We are losing this battle. Our journey is stuck in reverse gear and it seems Pakistan has become hostage to its own ideology.

The writer is a freelance journalist and can be reached at

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