By Badar Iqbal Chaudhary
October 01, 2014
Know a Pakistani's worst nightmare? A Jew, an Indian and an American walk into a bar...
The Indian sings Vande Mataram and calls it the Pakistani Anthem. They chortle.
The American unfurls a completely white flag – green being the representation of Muslims – and labels it Pakistani. They laugh.
The Jew opens a world map with no Pakistan on it. They jubilate, drink to the occasion and go back home.
Know a Pakistani's response to such a dream? He would wake up startled, raise ‘Islam Zindabad' slogans and burn David Cameron's effigy.
Why David Cameron? Well, that is just our understanding of International Relations.
Incredulous? I was, too.
I was incredulous when in the heyday of dengue, while the disease was still killing in hundreds a couple of years ago, a well-educated government servant in a coveted post holding a private conversation with me had blamed America for breeding and letting loose the Aedis Aegypti (the mosquito whose bite causes the disease) in Pakistan to spread dengue.
I had eyed him half expecting, half praying for a smirk. But no, he actually believed it.
I was incredulous also when Malala was shot. Not because I had considered it impossible in Pakistan, but because people believed it was a staged drama by America to rally the country behind launching an operation against the Taliban.
They presented documentary proof (read doctored images) to establish that Malala's wounds were merely make-up. They postulated that the hospital operating on Malala was in cahoots with the CIA.
I was incredulous also when the serving president of the time had called Mukhtaran Mai a farce sponsored by western NGOs to tarnish Pakistani image. What image, I had wondered.
I was incredulous again when we blamed India for conspiring to spread floods in Pakistan by opening up the dams in the rainy season, when it may well have been preventing the same dams from overflowing and potentially breaking the dam walls.
And again, when the Sri Lankan cricket team was attacked, an attack that which was later owned by the Taliban. I was in disbelief not because I thought the Taliban incapable of such an act, but because many a Pakistani had dubbed it an Indian conspiracy as well.
I wonder if, in the minds of this Zaid Hamid brigade, wives dying as a result of domestic violence are actually bludgeoned by angels for their disobedience.
Do they believe the daily murders in the streets of Karachi, the honour killings, the road rage shootings and the targeted executions are all done by Martians trying their weaponry from afar, deliberately targeting Pakistan to destroy our impression in the universe?
That's not even a figure of speech anymore. Pakistanis might actually feel inclined to blame the Martians, now that India has reached their planet.
And it all makes perfect sense, doesn't it? What with our Sastay Tandoor, 20 rupee-a-ticket metros, the polio-free people, the ever growing wealth, the prospering nation and the visionary leadership, any one is bound to become envious. And jealousy makes one do all sorts of things; staging an alien country’s downfall being a relatively less evil one.
However, if we are really that innocent, and if we never indulge in any wrongdoing, what explains our current state of affairs? And what justification do we have of retaining our liberty if we continue to fail in protecting ourselves from the exogenous forces?
There is no denying the fact that every nation has its share of conspiracy theorists. America must want salvation from its David Emorys as Britain from its Gisele Littmans.
In Pakistan, however, the numbers of such are so vast that if any deliverance is to be had, it would be from sanity.
Unlike the typical Hollywood portrayal of such proponents – a creepy man living a life of solitude in the woods – here at home they come in all shape, size, colour, age, literacy level and social strata.
We do not own up to our faults, and we know it.
In a world of taglines, where India has its ‘Incredible India’ and Malaysia its ‘Malaysia...truly Asia’, can we make ‘I didn't do it’ the one for Pakistan? Or better still, Pakistan – ‘blame it on the foreign agents’.
Surely, there is no lack of people attributing liability elsewhere for their shortcomings.
It is said the recognition of the problem is the first step towards recovery. Pakistan is yet to take the first step. The symptoms are not expected to subside as long as the cancer continues to be misdiagnosed as pneumonia. We cannot, and should not expect ourselves to get away with treating an internally present disease like a viral infection.
Disclaimer: This write-up was sponsored by the ‘Mulk-Dushman Nasirs’ in Balochistan who, atrociously, have been seeking equal opportunities since the country’s inception.