Fresh Prince of Pakistan
My heart sank as I read through "The Fresh Prince of Pakistan" - a parody song making the rounds on Facebook mocking my country and my people.
I’m a huge Facebook games addict; to the extent that I’ve added random strangers just so I have lots of friends to send me free gifts. They’re always nice strangers though, normal, sane people that post pictures of their children and pets, or whine about university issues, things I can relate with. I normally ignore updates by these “application limited profile friends” but when I read the word Pakistan on the status of a Briton while scrolling down my homepage, it caught my attention. I thought "wow, someone is actually talking about helping the flood relief victims."
Then my heart sank as I remembered the latest scandal plaguing our nation. But turns out it was neither of those issues. It was, simply, a mockery of my country and my people.
The Fresh Prince of Pakistan
In downtown Pakistan, born and raised,
In a mud hut where I spend most of my days,
Chillin out, maxin? scrappin' for food,
And shooting up infidels outside of the school,
When a couple of clouds, they were up to no good,
Start soaking everything in my neighborhood,
We had one big flood but nobody cared,
So we're moving to England where we get free healthcare!
I commented on the status pointing out that as a Pakistani, I found it offensive. She replied that she didn’t write it. "If you have such a problem with it, just delete me. Problem solved.”
Surprisingly enough, I kept my cool and pointed out that she was mocking millions of people losing everything, including their lives. Her response was to simply delete the status.
Needless to say, I was shocked. Its not that I haven’t seen hatred for Pakistanis and Muslims before. I’ read an article in a British newspaper whose very headline mockingly refer to our president as Mr Ten Per cent. But mockery is usually just a biased hatred against Islam.
Many would tell me that I should have let it go, but I’m like a dog worrying a bone. I couldn't. I had to at least ask. I gave it one last shot. I thought maybe she would respond to a private message and inquired why, how she could mock such a tragic disaster.
Of course I didn’t get a response. Not that I expected one. What disturbs me more is that this girl is a 20-something British mother of three, part of the current generation, the equivalent of my generation. Is this really how the world’s youth, the enlightened individuals of the golden age, perceives us?
Praise and condemnation
In the past few months, our media has been both praised and condemned for its practices. While the journalist that caught the Sialkot lynching on tape was lauded, the media was criticized for exploiting the families of the Airblue crash in what was, at least in my humble opinion, a blatant breach of ethics. Similarly, while the media’s attempts to help the flood victims as well as exposing fake relief camps were highly commendable, many expressed disgust at having to provoke victims into breaking down as they detailed how they’d lost everything, including loved ones, when the floods came for the sake of sensationalism. While our president was busy vacationing and having a good time, our media was busy condemning him for turning his back on the crisis.
I’m not saying the media was wrong to condemn the president’s visit, or for publicizing it and I’m not saying they shouldn’t criticize our cricket players for the newest national scandal. However, we ourselves are inviting other people to criticize us as well. There is such a thing as keeping your skeletons in the closet; look at the closest example, India. They have people living on the streets as well. They have gross injustices committed against the people on a daily basis as well. One girl in Swat got flogged, the whole world knew about it; countless Christian girls are raped in India, and it’s seldom mentioned in international media. While our media does have a responsibility to objectively disseminate information to the masses, at the same time, it has a social responsibility to protect its citizens and country as well. Lets face facts, when was the last time we saw soft news in our media?
Some time back, there was a blog on ET commenting on morning show hosts criticizing the president too harshly for his vacation. I was one of the people that booed that article, pointing out that I’d rather be a smart Pakistani who admits that there is a problem, rather than be a blind one that can’t see that there’s a problem. This incident has forced me to change my opinion. I’d rather be a patriotic Pakistani who, whether she condemns events and individuals or not, does not publicize negative opinions about Pakistan. It may sound naïve, but I do believe that we could keep things under wraps if we try.
A few days back, a friend posted a “Pakistan VS India” video on his Facebook, which consisted of clips of Indian media referring to the Sialkot lynching as proof of the Taliban’s presence. The video further showed clips of the same Indian media condemning violent attacks in their own country. I criticized my friend, telling him that instead of looking at our own mistakes, we were busy playing the poor, pitiful underdeveloped country card, but again; who put India in the position to state such things? (And no, it’s not another RAW conspiracy for God’s sake! They have a country of their own to run!) Who has put the British press in the position that their headlines scream, “Cameron should check his fingers after shaking hands with Mr. Ten Per cent”?
We, the people of course.
So from now on, let’s attempt to keep it in the family. Whatever our faults as a society, as a nation may be, they’re no one’s business but ours. We may not be perfect, but “Pakistan, with all thy faults, I love thee” should resonate in our minds every time we want to rant about issues on a public forum. I’m not saying free speech should be limited, God forbid that should happen. But let’s start showing the world a united front as well.