As if the ravages of the floods, the incompetence of the government, and the shenanigans surrounding cricket were not bad enough, there is an additional cause of national depression: a group — ‘Kondemn the whole Kommunity Klan’, or the KKK — is actively pushing the narrative that Pakistan is a failed state because this nation, culturally, does not have the attributes of a successful civilisation.
The madness in Sialkot seems to have triggered their wholesale laceration of Pakistanis. This incident has been mounted on the billboards of ridicule as the final verdict on this all those who live here. According to one member of the KKK, our entire history is so designed as to only produce violence and bloodbath. In other words, we as a people, are historically, culturally, and politically wish death and destruction upon ourselves and on others.
Other members of the KKK are busy in drawing rooms spreading the argument that Pakistan’s experiment in attaining the level of a civilisation has failed. As exemplified by the horror of the beating-to-death of two brothers, those who live in this land have become permanently unhinged.
The cause of their anguish is understandable — the horrendous sight of humans being bludgeoned to pulp can wreck any soul and make people shout from the roof-tops in anger and hurt. But their conclusion is downright racist and alarmingly malignant — that this incident is further proof of a barbaric nature of the whole nation.
While our grasp of world history may be faulty but we have poured over enough paper to know that the Indus civilisation does not have a monopoly over lynch mobs, witch-hunters, and stake-burners. Nor does the subcontinent species have beastliness built into its bones. The entire European history, as indeed British and American history is soaked in blood, sometimes shed in the name of religion, sometimes in name of carrying the white man’s burden, but mostly in brutal self-interest.
All colonialists were master killers. The British took the cake in managing meticulous elimination in the lands they occupied for gold, slaves and the glory of the crown. Today’s civilisational success — on whose merit according to the KKK, we don’t measure up — is built on yesterday’s systematic murder of weak natives.
These attitudes, though regulated and controlled, are still prevalent — as much in white, western societies are they are observed in the coloured eastern countries. Beneath the angelic calm of material achievement of these societies — which is enviable and laudable — lurks a blood-thirsty beast that demands annihilation every now and then. The US-led, British-backed war in Iraq is a manifestation of this beast. Need we recall how the Iraqis were, and are being killed? What transpired in those awful prison cells that were guarded by the progeny of successful civilisations? Need we talk about extermination in Afghanistan and the daily dance of death that goes by the name of collateral damage? Should we cite — again — the nuclear attack on Japan?
The KKK’s argument that Pakistanis are collectively responsible for the brutality of a few individuals is Hitlerian in accusation. It is absurd to say that since Pakistani film-goers used to lionise Sultan Rahi that means that they love violence. This is no more evidence of national penchant for violence than the Hollywood’s glorification of James Bond’s hi-tech mayhem and murder. And if we must take fictional characters as reflections of deeply-ingrained social attitudes, then Hollywood’s cannibals, flesh-eaters, vampires, mobsters, gangsters, rapists, torturers, and yes, ‘Terminators’ and paedophiles, have to be seen as mirror images of the inner self of the West.
In the same vein the English doctor Harold Shipman known as ‘Dr Death’ who killed 215 of his patients over a 23-year period can be seen as the way of the English. Or the burning of the Christians and pogroms of the Muslims should be seen as the collective intent of the Indian society. The point is that no society is collectively condemnable. No one nation can be held responsible for the sins of a few individuals. Millions of great men and women are at work serving their fellow human beings in this country. They should not be slighted and insulted by stereotyping them as failed human beings. The KKK should have a heart.
Or get another passport.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 1st, 2010.