Young? Bored? Lonely? Get used to it. Given the current direction that we are moving in, the only remaining option for young people to entertain themselves will be to stare contemplatively at the wall. Just fix your eye on a spot and wait for sleep to take over. If nothing else, it will help pass the time. This is not necessarily a bad thing. A strict diet of quiet meditation could have served me well in my youth. The quest for entertainment led me to listen to some terrible songs and hold some regrettable hands. Thankfully, from this moment on, Pakistanis will be spared such traumatic experiences.
The War against Youthful Experiences is being fought hard and unrelentingly by brave warriors like Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah. Using the kind of deft touch that can only be taught in the same school that produces Lahore High Court judges, the minister looked at the problems plaguing Pakistan today, like corruption, poverty, crime and terrorism and did the only thing a man devoted to the law could do: he proposed a ban on concerts. It was a tough decision and someone had to make it. And when times are as dark as these, with challenges as insurmountable, Rana Sanaullah is the man you want fighting for truth, justice and the Pakistani way. Like a local Judge Dredd, he saw past the clutter and brought down his meaty fist of logic. His mind leapt like Alexander confronted with a Gordian knot, except instead of slicing it in half, he proceeded to tie his own brain in the same knotted configuration. His reason for banning concerts was unquestionably manly. Anyone else would have taken a look at the tragedy that occurred at a recent Atif Aslam concert and decided to make whining and mewling complaints about greater need for proper event organisation and venues with properly marked exits. Maybe even a stricter adherence to limiting audience numbers. But Rana Sanaullah has no time for such childish haggling. If a tragedy occurred at a concert, then to him the concert is to blame. That’s just how he rolls. He is now going to shift his focus towards the recent tragic deaths of over 65 patients caused by medicines prescribed by the Punjab Institute of Cardiology. It’s only a matter of time before he responds by banning medicine, institutes, cardiology and patients.
So if you are young and wanted to listen to some live music, maybe jump around in an awkward approximation of rhythm, then do it fast while you are still allowed to. If, however, you want to indulge those yearnings for companionship and romance that we all feel and find that an open air park is just the place to do so, then your luck ran out already. No more can the young lover sit under the shade of a tree and read poems to his intended, nor can he and she inch their fingers towards one another’s hands on a wooden bench while birds chirp in the background. Maya Khan, self-appointed avenging emissary of decency, celibacy and parental disapproval will swoop down on you like a drone that is prone to breaking out into Bollywood dance routines. Flanked by an army of women who will hunt you down and lecture you with the precision of a laser-guided missile full of self-righteousness, she prowls the grasslands of Pakistan seeking out romance wherever it may dare to blossom. Samaa TV, on which she airs her wretchedly unwatchable morning show has clearly decided that ratings spikes are far more important than, say, responsible behaviour or respect for privacy. Which is why I am planning to put up cameras in their bathrooms that broadcast live.
So if you are young, get ready to get bored. Until someone finds fault in that too.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 26th, 2012.