Posts Tagged ‘ Culture ’

The VIPs Khan Won’t Talk About

Frankly, I was thrilled with the recent incident where VIP politicians were booted off a PIA flight for causing a needless delay. But there’s another VIP culture we rarely like to talk about, because it’s far too dangerous and politically complicated to do so. Democracy is a system cherished by people-pleasers, and despised by forces that can’t acquire votes. It is in their interest to sow among the public, the seeds of mistrust towards the democratic politicians; not that the politicians usually make that task difficult! Attacking a politician wins you easy approval. They say top Pakistani politicians are “above the law”; unimpeachable and incapable of being punished for crimes that others readily get fined and jailed for. It’s true to a large extent, although… – Yousuf Raza Gillani did spend about 6 years in jail – and Zardari spent 8 – before his wife was assassinated running a political campaign of her own (her son is booed nowadays for having “too much personal security) – during the era of General Musharaff, who exiled Nawaz Sharif – and got Javed Hashmi sentenced to a staggering 23 years in prison, though he was released early due to Supreme Court’s intervention In fact, there’s an endless list of examples of these “monarchs” being beaten, imprisoned and even publicly flogged – an occupational hazard of operating in a country where the true power lies with….oh, you know. You want to know what immunity looks like? Sue a high-ranking army officer. The army remains extremely well-funded, for a country that can barely afford to keep a light-bulb on for 18 hours straight. They are well-organized, and demand respect. 90% of the times I’ve been stuck at a road block in Rawalpindi, it’s been because of a general’s convoy passing through. We’re saddened by what happened in Model Town, and the fact that the all-powerful police personnel involved never went to tria; never got investigated. By thew way, do you remember what happened to that old Hamid Mir case where he blamed the attempt to assassinate him on you-know-who? Neither do I. Shhh… Now that’s a VIP culture you won’t find the likes of Imran Khan harping about from the roof of his container. Funny.


This Blog Post is Against Our Culture (and is sponsored by Jews)

The demonic child of Mr. Nail and Madame Chalkboard is a term used repeatedly in Pakistan to justify any kind of censorship and moral policing, however ludicrous.

The term, “against our culture” is a curious little brain-bugger. What precisely is “our” culture, and who among us has the privilege to define it? Is it at all possible that your culture may be different from mine, and that it’s unfair to use your government as a platform to promote one kind of culture as opposed to the others?

I’ve frequently been mocked as “excessively Westernized”, which is now a badge I wear with some pride. It’s not that I believe the Western cultures are without their faults, but I do concede that they’re better.

Pakistanis, and I fear this is true for most third world countries, are unable to differentiate between foreign cultures and socially-advanced cultures. The Western nations are often scowled at for their acceptance of gay rights, gender equality and many other concepts that we find outlandish. And an attempt to import these concepts into countries like Pakistan, generates an abundance of angry, full-caps tweets from around the world, hash-tagged with ‘racism’.

The thing is that there’s nothing “Western” about these ideas. These nations share a horrific history of  treating gay people as inglorious HIV-dispensers, and women as decorative commodities. These nations have suffered through a plague of socially-acceptable slut-shaming (not that the disease has been entirely eradicated yet). Traditional America has been a nightmare for transgender people, so has old Europe.

What I’m saying is that what the culture of today’s Pakistan is not too dissimilar to the culture of America in the 70’s. The difference is that they evolved past the hate, the exclusionism, racism, and while they still need to evolve much further, they deserve credit for what they’ve achieved.

Meanwhile, we haven’t evolved enough. Watching the bikini-wearing, gay-accepting, alcohol-chugging and even marijuana-smoking culture of the West is, for Pakistanis, like gazing into a crystal ball at our social future 30, 50 or 100 years from now on. That is, if we survive long enough to allow the transition, and not start devolving into a complete mullah state.

Most of what we see is not a foreign culture, but a ‘developed’ culture.

..which is a message for the people of the West too. I am hopelessly in love with Pakistan’s famous truck art; the Islamic architecture; Pakistani heritage sites; our musical tablas and sitars; countless colorful, wondrous things about various kinds of lifestyles that people live in Pakistan. Just as I admire mardi gras parades, American folk music, hamburgers, European films…

But never, for a minute, tolerate injustice, homophobia, or gender inequality in the name of multiculturalism. You too must be able to draw the distinction between a foreign culture and an outdated culture. Resist the shariah court, or any other kind of religious court that delivers verdicts based on archaic laws that are an insult to human dignity.

Woman in Black #2

Woman in Black #2

YouTube ban unlikely to be lifted in Pakistan:

Woman in Black meme

Hypocritical BabeNote: Not trying to make a general statement about hijabi or niqabi women being self-righteous. Just satirizing a common attitude observed here in Pakistan.

Pakistan and the Static Pendulum

Cainophobia is the exaggerated or irrational fear of newness. If our country had a national disease, this would be it.

We are a nation obsessed with rasms and rawaj (traditions and cultural norms). We all have a tendency to cling on to old things because we find comfort and solace in familiarity. Unfortunately we, as a nation, have moved several steps further into the domain of cainophobia. Continue reading

How to Kill a Culture

Perform a small experiment. Count the average number of words of English you speak in one sentence of what we arguably call Urdu.

During a family vacation in France, we went to a local cafe in Champ Elysee, Paris. We called the waiter and tried placing an order, but it was difficult because the man, seemingly, couldn’t comprehend a single word of English. After an agonizing struggle, we managed to get our message delivered. Fifteen minutes later when we paid the bill and got up to leave, the waiter called, “Learn some French!” Our only regret was that we had already given him a generous tip.

And it’s not just France. All around the world, people take great pride in speaking their language. For some of them (as is painfully clear from the example I presented), that pride soars to a point of arrogance.

In Pakistan (and India) however, this is not the case. We are rapidly replacing Urdu (or Hindi) with English. In fact, the more words of English one can stuff into his sentence, the more modern he/she is considered.

Which brings me to my question: Why is it that we are participating in the active adulteration of our own mother tongue? Are we culturally confused or simply ashamed of our heritage?

A language is more than a mode of communication. It’s an identity. When I land at Narita Airport, Tokyo, I can immediately tell that I’ve arrived in Japan because all the signs are in Japanese and people around me are talking in fluent Japanese. When a foreigner arrives at the Benazir Bhutto airport, all he/she can find are people so colourless that they’ve come down to borrowing identities from outsider, too lazy to build one of their own.

I’s time that we, Pakistanis, realize that there’s a difference between “modernization” and “westernization”. We have people who strongly adhere to dumb, vile traditions that were started centuries ago…but only because we are able to articulate four words of English together, we believe that they’ve become maadran!

Is that how things are supposed to be?