Something very odd happened yesterday. There was no suicide bombing anywhere in Pakistan.
Sadly, over the last year or so those of us living in the “Land of the Pure” have been driven to cursing the day it all began because where we are today is something that our founder would have been deeply ashamed and embarrassed of. Just two days ago there was the usual carnage – a massive suicide bombing or three followed by some beheadings, some schoolgirls being blown up. And just to let us know how deep in it we are, in Lahore video shop owners emerged from their crevices to light up a huge bon fire publicly along with the police in a public display meant to appease the Taliban not because of a sudden loathing of the twitching anatomy but a fear of an early martyrdom courtesy of the Taliban. Encouraged and emboldened by their success, they will next no doubt start publicly thrashing women who dare to apply make up on their faces or indeed to men for taking a shower.
Those few of us who are deranged or unhinged enough can even talk of such matters such as the “Revival of Cinema in Pakistan’ while everything around us smoulders to rubble. Interestingly a mainstream Pakistani film starring the one and only superstar of Lollywood cinema was released over the Eid weekend by the name of Zil-e-Shah. Shaan, its producer-actor-director had stated that his investment had been just a measly 3 crore rupees (with our current exchange rate, that would mean peanuts). However the film could last only one week at the local Cineplex while Singh is Kinng rages on. Shaan had recently in an interview scoffed at Mehreen Jabbar’s Ramchand Pakistani (and everything else while he was at it) but he must be quite embarrassed that his own glorious feature has sunk even faster than Ramchand did.
To be fair though, who could possibly think of visiting a cinema in an environment where we have a new suicide bomber red alert being issued every five minutes? Just a couple of days ago we were told that no less than seven suicide bombers had entered the vicinity of Islamabad waiting to hone in on their targets.
Meanwhile the Taliban’s threatening letters have struck fear and panic in the video shop owners in Lahore. How long before the same threatening letters are received by cinema and theatre owners as well as restaurant owners and perhaps even sports clubs and gymnasiums? In this environment where people say goodbye to each other as though they really mean it even if they are just going down the road to the local market. How on earth can one expect creativity or indeed anything but those who deal in death certificates to thrive. Forget the survival or Revival of Cinema in Pakistan, our very existence as a semi-civilized nation state is severely under threat.
There are a myriad reasons why we have reached the ebb we are at today but among the primary reasons has got to be the fact that the filthy rich have never, ever shared an inch of their land or wealth, a succession of corrupt and crippling military dictatorships and civilian bandits have ruled in the name of democracy and still do. An education system and health care is shambolic while in Islamabad we build a 7 star obscenity of a luxury playground for the high and mighty in truly repellent Dubai style.
For Halloween most of the world will be heading out to the video shops looking for some chills. Here in Pakistan, all we need to do is watch a LIVE news channel and watch the horrors unfold right before our eyes in real time. In Pakistan these days, every day is Halloween.
Sad news also that a legendary figure of Pakistani cinema has passed away yesterday due to illness. Badar Munir – the ‘Sultan Rahi of Pushto Cinema’ is no more after a glittering career spanning several decades and no less than 416 movies.