This March 23, Pakistan and India scaled new heights — or is ‘plumbed new depths’ the term I want? — of stupid, vacuous, and dangerous machismo at the Wagah flag-lowering/gate-closing — or is ‘banging the gates shut’ the term I want? — ceremony. The quite ridiculous drill movements were even more exaggerated, and therefore more in contravention of the rules and regulations contained in the Drill Manual that the armed services in both countries must surely follow.
The ‘ceremony’ was, as a consequence, made even more ludicrous and comical than the other times that I had chanced to see this graceless spectacle, the soldiers on both sides snorting like horses and flicking their heads from side to side like demented souls.
However, most disconcerting was the glee with which the spectators sitting in the stands provided by both countries on their sides of the border watched the tamasha. It is so wrong, nay pathetic, that instead of guiding their people towards amity and good neighbourliness, these two countries are actually promoting aggression and rancour towards each other.
I am bitterly disappointed, for there was some hope a year or so back when India announced that it was going to tone down the aggression on shameful display at Wagah unilaterally. I recall writing then, that it was an excellent decision on India’s part and that I hoped that my country would respond in like manner. This was not to be because Pakistan insisted on going on as theretofore. I then wrote another article encouraging India to go ahead on its own, but alas, foolish one-upmanship propels both countries on exactly the wrong and harmful path.
Let me here make a suggestion. If it is true that both countries feel that a show of animosity and anger must be put on as a means of gaining cheap popularity by pandering to the base instincts of a people brought up on a diet of right-wing, extremist ‘ideology’, then why not stage a boxing match between Jawans of the Pakistan Rangers and the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) every evening?
I say ‘show of animosity’ because in the course of the day both sides interact with one another like decent human beings, helping people cross the border with dignity and grace. Many times during the year sweets are exchanged between the two forces on national celebratory holidays and religious festivals such as Eid and Diwali. But come every evening and those same people are transformed into veritable Yahoos, egged on by the spectators on both sides. Why, we even have a man dressed in the Pakistani flag dancing maniacally in the stands.
Needless to say, the ‘foreigners’ who travel to Attari specially to see this disgraceful show and cheap entertainment, must surely laugh up their sleeves at the puerile braggadocio put on ugly display by both countries. For, elsewhere in the world where there are borders, there is none of this: no gates that need to be banged shut; no joint ceremonies; just a quiet and dignified lowering of flags, if that.
It seems that Pakistan and India are stuck in the old ‘Cold War Groove’ even decades later, shouting out to the world that we are unstable, unhinged countries living on the brink, from which anything can be expected. Shame.
Let me make an urgent appeal to the governments of Pakistan and India: if your respective armies will not stop this ‘show’ why don’t you order them to? Surely you agree that it is an outrage and an abomination? An outrage that would only be supported by people on either side of the border seeing idiotic dreams of annihilating the other.
Such as our own Zaid Zaman ‘Ghazwa-i-Hind’ Hamid who has most recently gone to the Honourable Supreme Court, in his own words as given on his official Facebook page: ‘Today, we have filed a Petition in the Supreme Court against SAFMA for High Treason against Pak Sarzameen, its sacred ideology, its beloved founding fathers and waging a war against Pak Sarzameen, armed forces and our freedom on behalf of the enemies.
‘We have demanded Death Panelty under article 6 High Treason law for All SAFMA leaders, members and supporters like (ten names withheld by author). Now these snakes will be dragged to the court and confronted with their crimes against Pak Sarzameen InshAllah.
‘Thusands of Pakistanis have joined hands Alhamdolillah to expose and confront these snakes and now the Petition has been filed in the Supreme Court! By Allah, we will defend our Medina e Sani, its sacred ideology, its geography, its armed forces and our freedom!
‘For the first time in Pakistan history, media has been dragged to the court for treason and attacking the Islamic clauses of the Constitution and staging subversion and sabtage of the stage on behalf of the enemies in these times of war.
‘Now there will be no neutrals! Either you are with SAFMA snakes or you are with patriots! We will add more names to the list of traitors as the case progresses, InshAllah! The battle has now gone to the new levels! Let the snakes burn in hell!’
I ask you!
I have no idea what My Lords will order, but might I venture to most humbly suggest that the petition (filed by none other than my old friend Ahmad Raza Kasuri who debated long with me on various TV channels, on why the superior judiciary should not be restored) be dismissed for the wrong spellings and terms (‘fifth calumets’, for one!) used in it? Might I also beseech My Lords to take note that the language used is so incendiary as to impel vigilante behaviour? For the record, I am a proud Pakistani who loves his country to bits, but I am on SAFMA’s side on this.
And so on we go, lurching from one storm in a teacup to another manufactured storm in a teacup, Meemogate leading. An appeal to My Lord Isa: Equal rights, My Lord, equal rights.
P.S. Master Hamid casts aspersions on SAFMA’s funding — could he tell us where he gets his from?
Published in The Express Tribune, March 30th, 2012.
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