You have no excuse to be bored anymore. Too often have we unimaginatively complained about a lack of things to do in Pakistan. Until recently, we thought our options were limited to being blown up by terrorists, shot by target killers or chucking rocks at passing cars. No more. The average Pakistani has a wealth of recreational activities to choose from now.
For starters, you can go online and watch videos that may or may not be of someone who may or may not look and sound exactly like the man who is or isn’t Aamir Liaquat. For those who aren’t familiar with the man, his website describes him as “a man of many qualities, prominent scholar who possesses a pleasing disposition, veteran journalist whose name becomes synonymous with truthfulness and bravery in the field of journalism, prolific columnist whose articles inspire his readers…”. He can now add ‘viral sensation’ to this list of impressive credentials. The video in question, that is currently being shown gleefully by children to their mother’s across Pakistan, is a selection of behind-the-scenes footage that proves that Aamir Liaquat (when he isn’t advocating ‘A Moderate Humanistic Ideology’, selling cooking oils or demanding we kill Ahmadis) has as terrible a sense of humour and as vile an off-air-personality as we all suspected. Either that or it was a grand conspiracy by a rival network to dethrone him from the ratings by employing careful dubbing and the same animation team that created James Cameron’s Avatar.
If you lack internet connectivity, you need not despair. If you live in interior Sindh, you can take part in the annual game of ‘Devastated by Flooding’ that the government lets you play every year. It’s quite exciting. Every year, at the same time as the year before, monsoon rains will cause river waters to destroy your house, livelihood and possibly your life itself. The first person to react with shock at the lack of government preparedness loses. The winner gets to survive through civilian aid and tenacity and gets to go back and rebuild their life so they can take part in the game again next year.
Still haven’t found anything to your liking? Then why not have a Sitara-i-Imtiaz? Here, have three. This August 14, the presidency was gracious enough to clarify the criteria for receiving this highest of national honours. All you have to do, it turns out, is pass within a 10-mile radius of Bilawal House. Given the vast number of PPP members who got it for simply loitering on the grounds of the Bhutto compound, it is only a matter of time before we all get one.
A new theory in children’s education dictates that to prevent children from feeling inadequate, schools no longer give binary pass/fail grades or winner/loser status in sports. Everyone is a winner and everyone passes. This, apparently, encourages participation. By giving everyone a Sitara-i-Imtiaz, all President Zardari is doing is showing that you are all special. Unfortunately, if everyone is special, then it also holds true that no one is.
Patient people can also wait for China to start mass-producing stealth helicopters like the one we apparently shared with them after the American’s were kind enough to leave it behind as a ‘thank you’ present. It’s only a matter of time before we can all afford a cheaply made Chinese version, mass-produced to evade radar detection, have a torch on the end and carry four SIMs at once.
The Americans, masters of entertainment, have created many more opportunities for us. If you love cinema you can watch a movie in 3D, if you love foreign affairs you can watch them grudgingly commit to a partnership and if you are an infant you can let one of their precise drone strikes kill you.
So you see, there is no excuse for boredom anymore. Just don’t let all the excitement kill you.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2011.