Nadeem F. Paracha
Sometimes I feel that the human condition in Pakistan is actually a medical condition. At this point, Pakistan does not need politicians, technocrats or economists to improve its lot. It needs psychiatrists.
I am not talking about the masses as such. They’ve swung from left to right, right to left and then back again in their assessments about what their country is supposed to be. Political leaders and the intelligentsia were once the main playmakers in this respect. They fumbled, sometimes triumphed; they disappointed, but many a time helped a lot of Pakistanis see light at the end of its long and unending, dark tunnel — a tunnel infested with booby traps placed at every turn by haughty generals and their allies.
In this tunnel also roam macabre thugs enforcing the faith through the barrel of the gun and through brainwashed mad men who believe that by blowing up innocent people, they are on their way to the bloodied (thus glorious) stairway to heaven. Then there are the generals and their shameless civilian and media allies suffering from some serious delusions of grandeur, thinking that they alone are the saviours of Pakistan.
Apart from these pleasant folks, those needing psychiatric treatment most, I believe, are many among the educated and modern: the chattering classes and their hip, self-contradictory and condescending offspring who have become great fodder for urban radical-conservatism.
I’d rather settle for the word ‘fools’ here for this lot, because the kind of insufferable mixture (of sheer knee-jerk whiplash and mindless patriotism) that these creatures exhibit is rather obnoxious. You’ll find college and university students in this lot, along with those settled in various western countries; you’ll find fashion models, pop musicians, TV actors in there as well, with VJs and DJs, novelists, columnists, journalists, et al.
They are all here in this self-congratulatory club — a vivid personification of a collective mental meltdown mistaken as ‘political conscience’ and ‘faith.’ In other words, what gets passed and trumpeted as the glowing face of a ‘moderate’ Pakistan, may as well be an elaborate hoax. All these perfumed patriots and ‘radicals’ (oh, my), have a whole plethora of some wonderful heroes to choose from — according to whatever vile nonsense that gets passed as ‘politics’ and ‘idealism’ these days. They just fancy the hollow peanuts in those pretty little craniums of theirs.
They hate Zardari. That’s a given. A national pastime it seems of the gloating bourgeoisie and their representatives in the ‘oh-we’re-so-gallant-and-noble-media’. For heaven’s sake, be a tad more original about your rebellion and anger, I say. It’s funny how they become absolute sheep-like in the name of individuality.
Though always in perpendicular patriotic pain by identifying ‘this corrupt monster’ as their (elected) president for whom they are loaded with depraved jokes and abuses, these puffed up men and women conveniently bypass the most hateful drivel that emerges from the foaming mouths of their heroes. So who are these heroes of theirs? It can be anyone from Imran Khan to Zaid Hamid; from Zakir Naik to Shahid Masood; from Farhat Hashmi to whosoever does a good job sympathetically redressing their belligerent set of moral and social hypocrisy.
They are fine with people spouting utter hatred against Jews, Hindus, Christians, Ahmadis and ‘bad’ Muslims; and they are okay with idiots who think the army is the best thing that happened to this country. Being informed by a series of hyperbolic fibs (that they catch on TV, the internet and on that narcissistic juvenile dumping hole called Facebook), they absorb these fibs as ‘history’ and ‘facts.’ Lies are okay, you see, as long as they make us feel good about our country and religion.
But they go ballistic if someone criticises them for this. They would then roll up their designer sleeves, tank themselves up with all the expensive coffee that they can have at lovely little cafes, rub their varnished palms and go tap, tap, tap on their laptops.
‘How dare these self-loathers criticise Pakistan?’ They will write. Well, exactly what are they doing by regurgitating thorny bile and spite against elected governments, politicians, certain journalists and those who have a more subtle approach to things like faith and patriotism? Are these not Pakistanis as well? But not more than you, right?
Many of them had rather hang around in western countries (indulging in some awfully clichéd cyber-preaching from there); and many are the favourite clients of the elaborate, expensive outfits that go by under the nomenclature of cafes, sophisticated restaurants, boutiques and whatnot in this country. It is quite a sight watching so many of these passionate drawing room puffins bemoaning the suffering of the masses and those hit by the recent floods due to the ‘corruption’ and ‘inept attitude of the ruling elite,’ while munching their ‘sushi nigiri,’ and green curry prawn with baby eggplant and sweet basil leaf.
They should thank the internet that the schizophrenic silliness that emerges from them now actually finds an audience. But just why would anybody go public about their obvious stupidities? But who would tell them about their loud inanities. That would be such an unpatriotic thing to do, no?