Statistics are fun. And disturbing. Sometimes both. But as most things are prone to, especially in our endeared Islamic Republic, some of these ‘stats’ actually end up morphed. They become ‘evidence’ for ‘feel good’ arguments rather than being used to raise critical questions. In the anarchic, fact-free politics of Pakistani drawing rooms, they have become an institution.
We’ve heard these ‘stat-myths’ before, but a recall is in order. First, the ‘macho-nationalist’ category. The might of one Pakistani soldier equals that of ten Hindu soldiers. Pakistan spends 80 per cent of its budget on defence, and with reason. Those Indians spend ten times as much as us! This despite of Pakistanis being a kind lot, as we spend the highest amount in the world on philanthropy. By the way, Pakistan successfully repulsed ALLl Indian attacks during the war of 1965. One Pakistani pilot downed 20 Indian jets in one day in that face-off. Today, Pakistani missiles can outshoot all Indian missiles.
Then, the ‘pious’ (or xenophobic/racist) category. There were 2,000 Israelis/Jews who didn’t show up to work at the World Trade Center on 9/11. All of the 18 hijackers of 9/11 are alive; in fact Mossad has stolen their identities. India treats all of its 170 odd million Muslims like second-class citizens. Pakistanis are not affected by the caste-divide, only Indians are. The Kerry Lugar Bill is being used to infiltrate our media with ‘foreign agenda’.
Finally, the generally absurd category. The CIA works with foreign telecoms to archive the millions of text messages that we send to each other every day. Michael Jackson was a Muslim. Ashwariya Rai ‘serviced’ a former Pakistani military ruler on a navy yacht anchored in international waters. Benazir dated Bill Clinton when they were at Oxford. Murtaza Bhutto walked himself to a hospital’s emergency room but died in vain as the doctors refused him help. Asif Zardari has built a nuclear bunker in Bilawal House.
‘Stat-Myths’ are fun to throw around when you’re trying your best to be the sexy revolutionary on campus. They also come in handy during Friday sermons, or on Sunday lunches when the irritating extended family is visiting from abroad, deserving to be pummeled into subservience with your local knowledge of current affairs. Foreigners enjoy a special place in this school of thought. They want to invade us, colonise us, ruin our economy, roll-back our nuclear program, dominate our women and pack our men off to Bagram, and they hide it all behind development projects, aid programs, shuttle diplomacy and walls of bougainvillea.
You have to give it them, though. Sometimes, foreigners fight these fascist facts and are daring enough to pass on their perspective to us.
Recently, in a lush, high-security compound, amidst the presence of some of Karachi’s veteran journalists and an allied country’s top diplomats to Pakistan, I was exposed to some numbers that concern our foreign ‘rulers’.
The stats are public knowledge, generated by the UN (that other evil tool of nefarious foreign design) in one its recent reports: Pakistan is going to have 450 million people in 20 years. Pakistan educates (the word being used loosely, without any application of ‘critical thinking’) four of every ten children between the ages of five and nine. The odd 200,000 kids following the British system are not going to cut the mustard, as millions are out of school permanently and so on. In effect, as one diplomat pointed out, considering there is scarce water, a shortage of power, inefficiency in governance and a deficit in stability, this country’s biggest problem is an existential one: the passage of time.
Repeat. We are running out of time. At least that’s what the diplomat said.
Ha! What rubbish! The Stat-Myth Fascist in me refuses to believe this. This new ‘time’ argument is a ruse, and will be used by the Hindu/Zionist/ Neocon triad to force us to… wait for it… turn our clocks back! Not by an hour or so, but by years! This will in turn create a market for… expensive Swiss time pieces, and we will be forced to hand over something lucrative and strategic… probably Gwadar… in exchange for ‘catching up’. It’s simple, really. We are victims. And they want to sell us Rolexes.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 13th, 2010.