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.

Ghausia Rashid September 07, 2010
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?

Changing opinion

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.
Ghausia Rashid A BSS student majoring in journalism at Bahria University. She enjoys writing about anything that matters, is an avid reader, talks more than she should, and to her bemusement, is frequently asked if people find her annoying! She is interested in activism, politics and culture.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Sara | 13 years ago | Reply What a great article! I agree 100%!! and feel the same in so many ways too! Gosh, so much I want to say, where do i start? Please bear with me!... Just a thought, this British mother of three and the hundreds like her out there, I think our media can really play a role in removing some misconceptions from the minds of such people. Though I think making fun of a country during the flood was just tasteless and some people are beyond repair and have a one track mind and yes, it does border on racism as well. But even if we are able to reach a couple of dozen people, that too is a victory. So how do we go about it? Well, simple example, does this British lady who posted this offensive song have any idea that we had Moulin Rouge acted out here? No. Why not? Why didn't our media give this as much coverage as they gave the Sialkot lynching? It should have been promoted in such a way that it should have been breaking news on BBC, CNN etc!! I'm just picking at one event, we have so many other stories which show the normal us! Something simple as the Hannah Montana craze amongst kids here, the Gossip Girl, Grey's Anatomy fans here, our arts, our songs... So much can be used to make human interest stories out of! Why doesn't our media do a live show with Oprah?! Get a studio audience of well versed students etc, and lets have a discussion on something 'normal'! Of course we need to keep our skeletons in the closet!! That's being smart! Especially when there is so much bad publicity out there about us, why add more? All this affects our image hence investment hence country's economy! We need to play it smart and not use freedom of speech in a way which harms us. So true, if half the things which happened in India, took place in Pakistan, the international coverage would have definitely been more damning towards us. Christians were massacred by Hindu extremists in Orissa, India, nuns were raped, churches were burned. Just like Muslims in Gujarat, India were killed, Muslim women were slashed open and their fetus burned. The man who planned this attack, Modi, is still living in luxury! What rubbish! Imagine if this had happned in Pakistan to a minority? I remember reading a comment by a western journalist who said that he likes reporting from Pakistan, more than India, because Indians don't let him say half the things we let them! So they are more careful as the Indians at once fight back. We too need to get more aggressive so they'll think twice next time they start writing something negative about us. So yes, India does get a better deal in the international media, as compared to Pakistan, so we have to be doubly careful in how we promote ourselves, its that simple. Even during the cricket controvery, one British newspaper gave a story the next day, again blaming our team, and that was when we won the match!! How ridiculous! And not a peep out of our media. We let them get away with it. We need million marches for stuff like this, so they dare not do it again to us. I fully agree when you say "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." HEAR! HEAR! And the last paragraph of your article deserves an award as well! Well said!!! SOME SOLUTIONS: Ok, so now, lets get to some solutions. How do we change the mind of people like this British girl? And do everything possible to lessen such type of unfavourable comments about Pakistan? It was good that you tried talking to her politely and didn't insult in return. That is key. Not to respond to insults with more insults. So how about next time anyone comes across such people, they use mediums such as youtube etc, to send videos etc to such people, to show them the other side of Pakistan? Remember the "Yeh Hum Naheen" song? A girl from Italy actually responded in a favourable when she saw this! We can send links to some of our songs, funny ads (like the ufone ones), anything just to show a side not shown on BBC, CNN etc Instead of simply telling the person that it is offensive, or how they can mock us etc etc...lets give them something else to see for themselves. Get friendly and use pictures and videos to change the person's mind. Maybe telling the girl that we know about the series Fresh Prince over here might have been a shock to her! I mean, anything... just to get them interested to have a rational conversation. Ok, I'll stop now. But I do wish our media would use its power to the fullest and get Pakistan seen for its good things as well. Lets use this opportunity of the world's eyes on us to our advantage.
Loo Wan | 13 years ago | Reply Sweetie, prince of China welcomes you with open arms. All you need to do is learn Mandarin. That's the road from a failed state to prosperous country. We Chinese made such a big fool out of Kissinger too. He still hopes that China will get old before it gets rich when it already is. Now there is no stopping. All people have to learn to live with it. We will conquer Pakistan/Afghanistan and annex like another Tibet/Xinjiang. We will take over entire Kashmir since our PLA is already in Gilgit-Baltistan. India can do nothing. Within a decade or two, China is going to conquer everything from Japan to Eastern Russia all the way to Australia and New Zealand. Everything in the pacific ocean is ours. Wait until we buy half of United States in cash.
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