Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Of Military and Men

One of the major problems in Pakistan is that there is noting to talk on except politics. Common people quibble over issues nothing to do with their personal life or intellectual growth. Some issues are:

1) Agar Amrika na Iran per hamlaa kerdia to kia hoga? (What will happen if US attacks Iran?)
2) Pakistan na Hatf - saat  ka qamiyaab tajubba kia ha. Mashallah! (By the grace of God, Pakistan has successfully fired Hatf-seven missile)
3) Zaradri na hamara ko mulk loot lia, Imran sab sahi kerdai ga (Zardari has rotten out country, Imran will put in order)
4) Sab corrupt hai! (Everyone's corrupt!)

The list can go on forever. 

Praising cruise missiles, armours, and jets have overwhelmed our psyche. More than three different missile have been test fired in the last 3 months. All these missiles have Arabic or Central Asian names with technology copied, purchased, or stolen from the technological centres of Europe. There is nothing much to praise about such an 'alien' object. It's like purchasing a BMW car and exclaiming as if the customer himself made it. Most importantly, only barbarians praise bombs, missiles, tanks and guns. Are we a barbarian nation that we praise bombs with such a religiosity? Bombs only kill innocent men, women and children. Praising bombs is a deeply inhuman instinct, which should be abhorred at the highest level. If the military loves to waste money on such devilish instrument, fine! It should keep it as a military secret away from the local press. 

Secondly, tanks and annealed jets from 1965 wars 'decorate' our crossroads and plazas. These objects might have an aesthetic sense for Halako Khan who sacked Baghdad in the 13th century ending up constructing towers using the remains of human bodies. For normal people, these rejected military souvenirs only create a war psyche which feed the idea of a national security state.

Apart from this military psyche, the second most popular chatter is to affront a single man for all problems, and to consider a single man as the last savoir of Pakistan. Primarily, such an idea develops in a society which has strong tribal and feudal norms. A single feudal is responsible for the material well-being of peasants working on his farm. All peasants look toward him in times of happy or gloomy days. 

The second reason for believing in a super-natural angel or a devil can be sought in Iqbal's poetry. The national poet of Pakistan is revered as the last intellectual in the sub-continent. His poetry is understood literally. Iqbal presents an idea of Mard-e-momin (the quintessence believer) , a super-natural being who'll put everything in order once he's born. This super-man will be a person who will dictate his fate himself:

Khuda banday sa khood poochay bata tarii raza kia ha (God himself asks Man, what is your will)

(An excellent research on Iqbal's idea is presented in Dr. Salaudin Darwesh's book Fikr Iqbal ka Almiya.)

Pakistanis are forced to learn such poetry through a state-sponsored curriculum. Leaders have tried to metamorphose themselves into this abstruse Mard-e-momin and tag their opponents as Mard-e-fasid (The corrupt man). Such a diabolical symmetry is a direct consequence of Iqbal's philosophical project. A easy method to counter such ideas to is include Faiz, Sheik Ayaz, Pashtun, and Baloch poetry in our national curriculum. Strengthening democratic values will also help in diminishing such trends.

The need of the hour is an immediate switch from political talk shows toward programs featuring film and book reviews; poetry and theatre, and history and philosophy. This is the only way to reduce the state of intellectual drought in the country.

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