The year, 2012, has a tough act to follow. In fact, if I was the upcoming year, I would consider calling it quits and just letting the impending Mayan apocalypse start a few months early. Anything short of gigantic waves crashing over the world and all of us racing John Cusack to reach immense arks will be just disappointing. 2011, simply gave us too much to compete with. It was a year directed like a bad Hollywood disaster movie, in which the explosions and plot-twists occur with such regularity that they just become mundane and exhausting. For the next year to even consider competing, January 1st needs to start with Raymond Davis personally kidney-punching everyone in Pakistan while drones launch from our driveways, Imran Khan is discovered to be Ayman alZawahiri in a brilliant disguise all this time and Mansoor Ijaz reveals he is your daddy. Oh and Veena Malik becomes president. Then, maybe, it has a chance.
2011, showed it wasn’t fooling around when, within the first week, it saw the governor of Punjab assassinated by a man who would become a symbol of everything we should hate about ourselves. As Mumtaz Qadri was showered with petals and given Valentine’s cards from sexually confused lawyers and extremists, we looked away from the unfolding horror just long enough to see Raymond Davis begin rampaging down the streets of Lahore like a Caucasian Godzilla dressed in plaid. America offered us all green cards in exchange for the world’s worst secret agent, all of which left Karachi feeling a bit ignored. Like an attention-greedy child looking to steal focus, the city decided to just start breaking things until everyone had no choice but to look its way. Unfortunately, the things it started to break were bones, necks and families. The price of gunny bags shot up as the rise in the number of bodies needing disposal resulted in a shortage of packaging equipment. Each political party claimed the other was holding the torture equipment, as if we had the time to play a twisted sort of Cluedo to find the killer. Professor Plum, in Lyari, with a drill bit.
The only thing that drowned out our screams of pain was a helicopter crashing in Abbottabad. All of a sudden, America was claiming it had killed Osama Bin Laden and heroically recovered the stash of pornography he was hiding. Or something like that. As everyone glared at the ISI while muttering “this is another fine mess you’ve gotten us into”, terrorists (or Star Wars fans, depending on if you listen to Rehman Malik) decided to kick the armed forces while they were down and stage an all out assault on PNS Mehran. The casualty list, which saw many brave young men dying to defend their base, soon came to include a journalist by the name of Saleem Shahzad. In fact, things got so bleak, that for a while the only joy we had in our lives was watching YouTube clips of Aamir Liaquat cursing. The violence in Karachi continued throughout this period, providing the national cacophony of screams with an auditory edging of gunshots. Just when you thought things couldn’t get weirder, Zulfiqar Mirza took the stage. And when you thought they had reached their weirdest, Altaf Husain taught you to not take anything for granted. In between: Imran Khan, memogate, the Nato attack, floods in interior Sindh. We didn’t start the fire, it was always burning. Although, to be fair, we may not have started it but we sure know how to stoke it.
Given all this, the fact that there are still people left alive in Pakistan, capable of forming coherent sentences and having any optimism about an entire new set of 365 days, is either inspirational or insane. Oh wait, 2012 is a leap year. Means we get an extra day to pack in the madness.
Happy New Year?
Published in The Express Tribune, December 29th, 2011.
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