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Somthing for everyone to read.

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    Somthing for everyone to read.

    This article has a lot of thing that is now shared majority of ordinary Pakistanis (including myself). I thought to put it for attention of other guppies.

    The price of hypocrisy

    By Irfan Husain

    IN its issue of January 2, The Guardian carried a story reporting on New Year celebrations from different parts of the world. It listed spectacular fireworks, people jumping into freezing rivers and all kinds of wild parties. At the end, it reported that Pakistanis had been prevented from celebrating because of threats from religious groups.

    In his weekly column of Jan 9 ("Indoors on New Year's eve"), Omar Kureishi wrote in this space: "We must not stifle the people further by taking away whatever little enjoyment they get by saying farewell to a wretched year and hoping for a better one." In the same column he quoted from a letter to the editor by Taher Sachak: "Pakistan must be the only country in the world where people are not allowed to celebrate the dawning of the new year with the forced closure of hotels and restaurants."

    Indeed, ever since Zia spread his poison across the land, Pakistan has become an increasingly joyless place. By giving fanatics a free hand in rewriting the social agenda, the military dictator succeeded in developing a political constituency for himself, as well as sowing dissent and confusion, thus prolonging his baneful stint in office. Weak politicians who succeeded him had neither the will to keep these zealots in check, nor the desire to rock the boat. They were too busy looting and mismanaging the country to care that it had been hijacked by the most backward elements in our society.

    The result of this supine attitude towards intolerance is that well-placed military sources are unsure if they can handle the backlash a crackdown against jihadi groups could provoke. And if the army can't take them on, who can? Another problem is that there are elements within the armed forces sympathetic to the aims of these elements. By using them in Afghanistan and Kashmir, the establishment has conferred a certain legitimacy on them, apart from arming and financing them.

    There had been high (and highly misplaced) hopes when this military regime took over that it would curb the growing lawlessness spread by these religious fascists. This calculation was based largely on General Pervez Musharraf's publicly professed admiration of the fiercely secular Mustafa Kemal Pasha, and by his personally liberal outlook. Initially, the fundamentalist groups were forced on the back-foot by the prospect of a hostile military command. But all too soon, the Chief Executive distanced himself from any Kemalist notions he may have entertained in the face of a strident attack from the Jamaat chief, Qazi Hussain Ahmad. The final surrender to the forces of darkness came when General Musharraf retracted his pledge to make the much-criticized blasphemy law less draconian.

    Having seen and demonstrated that the army is a paper tiger, the bigots are bent on implementing their agenda to drag us back to the dark ages. Knowing full well that they stand no chance in winning an election (as proved yet again in the recent partial local body polls), they are confident that they can press ahead with the army's tacit support. To show their strength, they use bully-boy tactics on the streets, and hence a cheerless New Year's eve.

    Returning to Taher Sachak's letter to the editor, he asks: "Are our law and order institutions so weak that a small unruly minority is permitted to hold the (law-abiding) majority to ransom?" I'm afraid the answer must be 'yes.' Given that successive governments have demonstrated an embarrassing lack of backbone in dealing with zealous thugs, the police force is hardly likely to stick its neck out without political support.

    And yet other Muslim countries have no problem in celebrating the advent of the New Year. Festivities were at full-blast from Jakarta to Istanbul, and from Almati to Algiers. It was only Pakistan and Afghanistan that the event passed by. Why have we taken it upon ourselves to be bracketed with the most backward country in the world? More to the point, why do we make such a big deal about young people having a little fun? In what way is our faith threatened by a bit of dancing and merry-making?

    The problem is that out of insecurity, our begoted pontiffs have taken it upon themselves to proclaim that somehow, Pakistan has acquired a monopoly on Islam, and only they can interpret it. If fun is banned in Islam, then how come it isn't taboo in other Muslim countries? Or do they practise a lesser brand of the faith? I have yet to hear a rational explanation of why we cannot enjoy ourselves without incurring the wrath of both the police and the religious vigilantes.

    The other night a neighbour blocked the street, set up a shamiana and played very loud music the whole night. Neither the police nor the self-appointed custodians of our faith raised any objection, perhaps because the gentleman concerned has at least one foot in that camp. Similarly, the blood and entrails of sacrificial animals are dumped out on the streets at Eidul Azha without a thought. This anti-social and inconsiderate behaviour is condoned by the very people who so effectively sabotage other celebrations.

    Although dancing and singing pre-date the development of language, our zealots are determined to stamp them out. There have been rallies in Peshawar and Karachi in which satellite receivers, TV sets and VCRs were destroyed. While Pakistan virtually comes to a grinding halt in Ramazan, the month is one long celebration in other Muslim countries.

    Our hypocritical ways are not without a price: the ban on betting at horse races has deprived the exchequer of uncounted billions over the years. While races continue to be held (and results announced in the press) and bookies go on taking bets, the government cannot collect taxes as the bets are technically illegal. An even more illogical situation obtains where prohibition is concerned. While Sindh has sensibly issued permits to liquor shops to sell alcoholic beverages to non-Muslims, the other provinces have taken a far more rigid position, depriving themselves of a rich source of revenue. Meanwhile, the smugglers and bootleggers are thriving at the cost of the state exchequer.

    We have become so accustomed to the sickness that is eating away at our social fabric that we have come to think of it as the norm. But when we look around, we discover that the world need not be the grim place it has become for us and that people can have fun without being struck dead by a bolt of lightning.

    I hope Allah save Pakisan and All the public from these zealots who have least to do anything with religion or Jehad.

    Interesting read.

    You can't fix stupid. So might as well troll them!


      Good post Insaaniat. All these are burning questions for us, & nowhere is t/ answer found. Maybe there is a better tommorrow so we can (@ least I me & my spouse) return home.