Is it the time of year, or it creeping age or is it just the malaise that comes from living in an environment that shows such little sign of hope? Swat has been annexed by the Taliban, Girls’ schools and colleges blown up by the dozen by those who wish to spread what they believe is true Islam.
Last week on a channel that calls itself Peace TV, I watched (another) bearded man rant and rave about how “secularism” was the greatest evil that had been imposed upon us by the decadent and debauched West. He claimed that the West had already destroyed itself with its obscenity and secularism but there was still time for us in the East to adopt the righteous path before we too are doomed to Hell like those in the West and those who follow their heathen ways.
It was an exhilerating diatribe, honed to perfection and designed to intoxicate and arouse blind hatred with its sheer passion, and bristling edge. The man oozed menace and evil from every pore of his pockmarked and scarred face and yet the power of the facial hair held sway; his was unkempt and dishevelled in the prescribed manner.
One of the fallouts of the Mumbai Terror attacks has been an extra spring in the step of the hatemongers and alas, they can be found in abundance. My own horror flick, Zibahkhana, has also been denied perhaps its finest moment which was to be a release through PVR in numerous cities all over India. Just when PVR were due to announce a date having pretty much dealt with the censors, Mumbai happened. In the current climate it is inconceivable that the film be released despite the fact that in many ways it would be just the tonic.
Here in Pakistan, those with vested interests (in flogging a dead horse) are itching for the ban on Indian movies to be implemented again so that (in their opinion) the public can watch patriotic and nation-building films made on proper Islamic values as specified by our greatly enlightened Censor Board such as Haseena Atom Bomb or the wonderful semi-porno films of Rasheed Dogar, currently the busiest (only?) director still working in Lollywood.
In Pakistan, the office of the censor (you get a car, a nice salary and government perks) is occupied not by anyone with any connection to art, culture, history or cinema but by one connected to a Party loyal. It has always been this way. Our censor policies were sculpted during the era of General Zia Ul Haq – Mard-e-Momin, the proud founder of Pakistani Fundementalism either by accident or design.
Meanwhile in Swat and its surrounding areas, leaflets have been issued by the new government informing all barbers that they risk being blown up along with their shop unless they stop the criminal act of shaving beards. Gillette and Wilkinson Sword will be hoping the trend doesn’t spread. Who knows maybe taking a shower might be next in line for abolition.
A report in yesterdays papers mentioned a UN releated agency claiming that at least 170 schools had been blown up by the Taliban in the last year alone. That means one every second or third day! Meanwhile on the western front in Quetta, capital of Baluchistan, an increasing number of restaurants have stopped allowing women from entry as a virtuous woman can only be found within the four walls of her squat, providing her man with succor, babies and food at his whim.
Sadly the writing is on the wall and it is a matter of time before such governance spreads all over the country. The rich will flee as they did in Iran in ’78 and ’79, leaving behind plush mansions and fleets of cars once owned by the rich and famous. Dubai and its like will receive an influx of the filthy rich from a poverty stricken land. Many have already taken steps by sending out their valuable jewels, carpets, and art collections to their numerous sprawling properties dotted around the globe. The question is will it be weeks or months or even a year or two or five? The fact is, its only a matter of time.
Extreme poverty and unbearable injustice are what this sort of extremism is thriving and breeding on despite overtly using pseudo religious tones. The affairs of the Israeli state with total American patronage also undoubtedly stir the pot beyond extreme levels.
Its been a struggle but successive Pakistani governments, military or otherwise have failed to deliver social or economic justice in any shape and form and now a revolution born of hatred from the very soil of the land is about to engulf the region, first Pakistan and who knows who could be next?
The Prophet of Doom has spoken….”The Writing is on the Wall”. If only the Americans and those who believed they were supporting the Pakistani people over the years had gone out and built schools and hospitals and industry with their gazillions of dollars of aid rathen than pumping a succession of corrupt leaders to fuel their own bankrupt dreams things may have been different. If only, if only, if only…….Some people NEVER learn, myself included.