We are in the throes of Plan C. Or is it Plan E? I don’t know, surprised as I am that people are still listening to news of “plans” after so many failed attempts. Though it sounds like a morning-after pill for mutant embryos that just won’t kick it, Plan C is in fact Imran Khan’s third attempt at breaking Pakistan in order to make it. You know, in his own image. No one is precisely sure what plans A and B achieved, other than mass distraction, multiple delusions, and major ratings for certain TV channels, so let’s all just elegantly step past those failures.
Considering the wild trajectory of Imranism, my money is that after exhausting every other avenue for change, IK will eventually launch Plan J, which has his photogenic ex-wife Jemima Khan return to the country’s courtrooms in a haze of money, publicity and AIDS-awareness to distract the judges and populace while someone throws a coup. For the time being, though, Plan C means shutting down the country because that’s what crashing economies in the middle of a civil war are apt to do. Duh.
It’s really sad that we can’t have a peaceful protest in Pakistan, but it’s not the saddest thing by a long shot
Lahore apparently shut down for a day, though no one in Lahore seemed to notice that. This week they also shut down Faisalabad. Unfortunately a PTI protestor was killed in that city. The immediate reaction was despair at how awful it was that we can’t have a peaceful protest in Pakistan. They are right. It’s really sad that we can’t have a peaceful protest in Pakistan, but it’s not the saddest thing by a long shot.
It’s also pretty sad that we breed intolerance, hate women, detest Christians, Hindus and Shias and are rallying behind the only national leader who genuinely believes the Taliban should have office furniture to go with their hateful crusade. It’s not terribly surprising that people arrived armed to protests in a country where whole marketplaces can be blown to bits or schoolgirls shot or governors killed.
Last week I wrote to you about Junaid Jamshaid, the hypocrite-cum-singer-cum-preacher who was accused of blasphemy and released a recorded apology in response. My argument was that if we can extend forgiveness to JJ for “ignorance” (after preaching about Islam professionally for 17 years, mind you) then why couldn’t we do the same for others accused of blasphemy, like Aasia Bibi? The short answer was “because he has a beard”, but the even shorter answer is “We don’t care.”
What many of us didn’t realize when opining about the Jamshed case was that in the back of our curdled hearts, we had assumed he was going to be pardoned. That was the crux of many arguments. If you let him off, people righty reasoned, then you have to let them all off. Turns out not. His case has carried on, he hasn’t been let off and, predictably, has escaped to London and is releasing more tearful statements expressing his shock that the people of Pakistan could cause him so much pain.
After 17 years of preaching about the glories of Shariah, the virtues of an Islamic state in Pakistan and the inherent evils of western secularism, JJ has the audacity now to hide out in London from the very Hell of Intolerance he and his ilk have actively created. Just to be clear, it has come to the point where this place is so suffocating that even Junaid Jamshed – the (re)incarnation of born-again righteousness – has had to flee for fear of religious persecution. Think about that.
Several months ago, at the end of my summer travels, I declared that I would have an answer about my future in Pakistan by the time of my 30th birthday. Indeed, when I turned 30 this week (please save your congratulations, I’m still curled up in a ball watching re-runs of the Big Bang Theory) my phone sent a bright little message asking “What are you going to do with the rest of your life?” This would have been remarkably more disturbing had I not programmed the reminder myself some months ago. Still, it was not the best way to wake up.
I have been pondering my phone’s question for a while. I have found my answer: I’ve decided to move away.
Now before we do an emotional rukhsati scene, remember that I don’t know where or when or how I will go. I have been living in Lahore going on four years now. It hasn’t been easy. We take in our stride the usual developing world problems of no electricity, mass corruption, genetically-coded laziness and religious conservatism and bigotry. My Moroccan friends deal with those things too. But living here we have all had to deal with so much more, so much more than any generation of Pakistanis has ever had to before. And I am angry about that. I am very angry. It’s unfair that each us has to live in a volatile warzone that is also in a state of gradual implosion.
I have admitted to myself that kernel of truth that I suspect all of us know: You’re fine in Pakistan until you’re not. I’ve noticed in several young people I know that they’ve stopped making plans. I don’t mean birthday parties or holiday destinations, or having the having of babies or building or houses, but the kind of dream-plans that are inspired by favorable environments and span decades. How could you? No one can accurately predict if the country will remain secure, let alone intact, in five years, and so many have stopped trying.
Personally, I can’t see building a life here as a creative professional that isn’t under the constant threat of either kidnapping, death, blasphemy charges or all three. This is not a joke. I cannot see living here in a state of near-constant outrage for the next twenty years, harping on about tolerance, or freedom of religion, or the rights of minorities, if there are any left. I can’t fathom how people aren’t more disgusted by the fact that Imran Khan has never condemned the Taliban in any of his speeches, not once, but think he has the answers to their future.
It’s repugnant to me, as is so much of our kneejerk intolerance and performative religiously and half-baked morality. I am not sure what point there is in telling you what many of you already know for yourselves, but I felt I owed you my decision. It hasn’t been an easy one, but it’s my answer to the question all of us will inevitably have to face: is it worth your life?
Stay in Lahore, pal. Someone has to stay there to man the shop. I don’t like you to bring the Pakistani flag with you. think IK is going through Plan C subsection 1-1 but I am not sure also. Perhaps, he already entered to Plan D unannounced. Once he is done with this subsection, he would write another plan. Folks who are old enough may remember Sh. Mujeeb Rehman Six Points. He would not compromise on any of them. Finally, Bhutto yielded on two of his points, but he still did not move. It is not him, the King, it is those mustachioed Sheikh and Choudharies of Gujrat along with the blessing of sons of Pirs from Rahim Yar Khan which are making him the “devil made me do it”. I think, it is time for our champion to tell his co-harts “bukhso bee billi, chooha landora he bhula” At least he is enriching the Urdu language with new words every time. My kids asked me what a dharna means. They were born in US and I do not know how to translate a dharna to them. I have been always deficient in this language. I wanted to tell them that it is white, walks like a duck, long, and you can barely touch it before it flies, squeaks like a geek, the kids make fun of me and not knowing Urdu much still think, it is some ‘teri kheer”. We are simply tired of our champion, enough is enough, tell him to take a little break, otherwise, his plan would rapidly approach the deadly letter ‘Z” and then perhaps he has to start with numbers. His other friend is admitted in US hospital for a heart surgery, and we are serious that our hero had some neurological issues when he hurt himself in accident and his head hit hard on some metallic object. Serious, how someone can go on so long without taking a simple pause. Personally, I do not watch him anymore, as the old habits, which I learnt in the Pakistan schooled of rote memorization, are still working, and I know what his next sentence would be. Sometime I miss only one channels of Pakistan Tvs stations.
Well written.Now bhago!
“IS MAIKDE MEIN KAAM NAHIN HOSHIAR KA.
Sad that Pakistan has drunk the koolaid of religion.