Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Denial is not just a river in Egypt

In the wake of sectarian attacks on Shiite pilgrims in Karachi (involving a bus loaded with women and children and an ER) as well as ongoing attacks in the Frontier region; the most recent involving a girls school and a technical college, it was disturbing to hear Interior Minister Rehman Malik invoke the involvement of "foreign elements". Denial at the highest level of government, despite mass terror is a symptom of a wider social problem; evading responsibility for our actions. Right now I'm not talking about the legalisation of corruption vis-a-vis the NRO (recently declared null and void), but something much simpler. In a recent post, fellow blogger Karachi Khatmal noted

My wife has a Slovenian friend K who shares a flat with a man named S. S is coloured brown, and learnt his thickly accented English at St. Michael's but/and he assures all and sundry that he is British.
Till recently, S had the habit of hosting raucous parties which would end late, with S rendered comatose amidst an inglorious mess of pasta-encrusted dishes, half-empty beer bottles and bass-blasting stereos. However, after a three day New Year's blinder, S vowed to give up drinking and clean up his ways. As K awaited with bated breath, it appeared that S had changed his life around. 
 One Friday night, K arrived at home to find another party, with the alcohol replaced by a bubbling shisha. Without bothering to investigate the legality of the ingredients burning within, she went to bed.
[On Sunday]... K was having breakfast when she noticed a black burn mark on the expensive carpet they had paid a 200 pound deposit for. Intrigued and incensed, she investigated further. The linoleum kitchen floor had a similar black burn mark[...] K would later discover that the size and shape of the burn marks in question closely resembled the circular shape of the specialized coals used for shishas.
 And so she decided to confront S. When he came home, she pointed out the burnt carpet and asked him if he did it[...] he replied with a straight face:
That wasn't me, I wasn't home last night. Maybe you did it?
 (Image Credit: Hookah Bowl)

Not convinced? How about this?
In one article for Smoker's corner, NFP recalled a conversation between himself and another motorist
While driving to my office the other day, I almost crashed head onto a motorcycle. The burly man riding the bike was coming from the wrong way on a one-way street. After breaking,  I gestured him as to what he was up to.
The motorcyclist gestured back and then shouted: ‘Are you blind?’
With half a smile and a full frown I told him he was the one coming from the wrong side.
‘So?’ he asked.
‘So, my friend, you are the one who has broken the law,’ I explained.
‘Whose law?’ he said. ‘It’s not God’s law, is it?
 (Image Credit: Muhammed Ramazan. Taken from: All Things Pakistan)
There is nothing similar between the two people mentioned in the incidents above. S/S.S from Karachi Khatmal's post is a secular educated affluent ex-pat, who imbibes in alcohol and more recently shisha, while the motorist from NFP's article is middle class (I'm assuming), living in Pakistan and religious. When called to accept responsibility for their actions however, both chose to renege.

(Image Credit: Despair)

Which leads me to Hazrat Zaid Hamid and Jahil Online.

(Image Credit: A Reluctant Mind)

Both of these men are influential members of the Pakistani media and use it as a platform to spread their ultra-nationalist, religious beliefs. They are the poster boys for denial, revisionism, racism and bigotry. On previous occasions, Zaid Hamid has called for the extermination of Jews and Hindus, the military takeover and cleansing of India. In September 2008, Aamer Liaqat Hussain declared that Islam sanctioned the killing of Ahmadis, a statement which led to the subsequent murder of two Ahmadi men.

It would be easy to dismiss Zaid Hamid and Aamer Liaqat Hussain as fanatical extremists, except that they are not. In fact, both of these individuals are the embodiment of the denial and reneging that is Pakistan today. They are the product of half a century of Zia's Islamization coupled with the revisionist tendencies of Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan, the bigotry of Jamaat-i-Islami and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto towards Ahmadis and numerous subsequent denials and revisions. They are a product of the glorified history of the Islamic civilization, never mind that the Umayyads and Abbasids murdered their political opponents, forced their language and culture upon the conquered population (Abbasids only), engaged in slavery and developed one of the earliest slave trade routes out of Afrcia (East Africa-Makran Slave trade). They are representatives of a generation growing up with a white washed history where the genocide of 20,000 to 3 million Bengalis (figures vary from source to source) and rape of 250,000 women (Liberation War Museum, Dhaka) was hidden and justified. And they are the dedicated to the perpetuation of this denial for future generations.

So, it shouldn't come as a surprise that  in IRI's May 2009 Survey of Pakistani public opinion,  when asked who was responsible for the 2009 Mumbai attacks, approximately 40% of respondents said India, while 31% said don't know.

Or if a future conversation between Asif Ali Zardari and Manmohan Singh goes something like this.

(Comic Credit: Vijayendra Mohanty. Taken from: Fly You Fools)