Don’t worry everyone, the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) is on the case. Using its well-honed skills of analysis and observation, it has rooted out the main cause of Pakistan’s recent disasters. Like Sherlock Holmes, they looked at the nation and by noting the rough patches on our knees, the dirt under our fingernails, the way we part our hair and the smell of our cologne, they narrowed it down to the only possible cause: Vulgarity. Not, you know, rampant corruption, cronyism, poverty, crime, terrorism or even violence. It is nudity and vulgarity. And if you disagree, it’s probably because you are naked right now. Pervert.
After all, we all agree that the lawn ads, showing models in various stages of starvation while wrapped in repetitive floral patterns, are what caused the Pakistan Railways, Pakistan International Airlines, Pakistan Steel Mills, Pakistan Agriculture Storage and Services Corporation and National Highway Authority to collectively achieve Rs393 billion in losses in the past four years. Financial analysts will all say that these losses happened because all five of these public-sector enterprises are operating without a governing board or are run by unskilled persons. But the JI knows the truth. It’s because of young people shown hugging in dramas. It was similar exhibitions of visible skin that also caused the tragedy in Siachen, the recent spate of airline tragedies and Ali Musa Gilani’s ephedrine addiction. The honoured members of the Jamaat did not once see the need to protest the gross wastage of lives on a glacial peak, the lack of competence in the Civil Aviation Authority or even the blatant corruption of our elected officials. Just nudity. Initially, I thought maybe by vulgarity the JI meant the obscene lack of decency and restraint shown by the news channels in the aftermath of the plane crash. But it turns out they weren’t too bothered by reporters asking grieving family members how they felt about loved ones dying or channels decorating their bulletins with little animations of a plane smashing into the bottom of your tv screen. Nope, the Jamaat was more traumatised by erotic content. Clearly, I’m watching the wrong channels. Therefore, I am quite hopeful that after the Jamaat-i-Islami-organised protest against Vulgarity and Nudity in Karachi on April 27, we will see a vast and sudden improvement in our quality of life.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, the rest of us are having to deal with the fact that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government has managed to do to Pakistan in just four years what even the most conservative estimates imagined would take a decade to achieve. It is something they can really be proud of. To single-handedly destroy the airline industry, the basic economy, the gas and electricity infrastructure, the lives of minorities and generally, most of our will to live; that is no mean feat. A lesser party would have seen such a long to-do list and thrown up its arms, but not our PPP. The boys and girls of the Pakistan Peoples Party won’t rest until the only thing standing is Bilawal House. Don’t look at the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz for help. They just spent all their energy getting Shumaila Rana back inside the Punjab Assembly — one assumes so she can grab any unprotected credit cards for buying more laptops. What neither party seems particularly interested in is that Balochistan has become a tragedy, Hazara Shias are being massacred and every day, enough people die in ethnic violence in Karachi to fill a plane’s cargo hold with coffins.
Maybe the vulgarity that should be protested is the vulgar disregard of all that really matters to us and the naked greed that is consuming us all. Anything less is just obscene.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 26th, 2012.