As our latest nuclear-capable ballistic missile, Hatf-9, is propelled into the sky on a fuel composed of educational textbooks, hopes and dreams, it’s time to consider just how deeply committed we are to farce. A cursory scan of the headlines of any newspaper reveals that the government and the army are, together, involved in a comedy of errors of epic proportions. What we have, all this time, taken as signs of incompetence, greed, cruelty and base stupidity, are actually all part of an elaborate joke designed to make you laugh. It’s not their fault you have a terrible sense of humour and can’t appreciate their cerebral comedy.
Just take a look at the evidence: The PPP government is currently excavating their founder’s grave to steal whatever scraps of authenticity and credibility might still be clinging to his bones. The recent petition to the Supreme Court to reopen the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto murder case is such a blatant attempt at misdirection that it resembles a fumbling magician trying to pull a parrot out of his hat while forgetting about the tail feathers sticking out of his sleeve. It is the kind of trick that makes you feel bad for the poor amateur conjurer and earns him your sympathy for at least making an attempt at amusing you. Only the most cynical person would attribute any sincerity to this effort, particularly when you take into account who the PPP has put in charge of the entire process. Babar Awan, who, according to most sources, basically submitted a petition written in crayon, is a man who clearly suffers from multiple personality disorder. In just a few decades, he has gone from waving pom-poms at Ziaul Haq’s side to waving those same frayed and balding pom-poms for the Bhutto clan. If the PPP is to be criticised, it should be for so clearly exploiting the mentally unwell for the purposes of our amusement by making Mr Awan responsible for this entire investigation. Reality television was never this depressing. It’s like finding Mr Bean in a murder mystery.
Meanwhile, the army has decided that their old pie-in-our-face routine isn’t getting the laughs it used to and have decided to up the ante. There is an old comedic technique which involves being so over-the-top with your slapstick that it becomes almost horrific but then, instead of screaming, you find yourself laughing. By demanding even more money from the budget, basically taking what few pennies were left rattling around in the development tin, they are now clearly just going for extreme exaggeration. Rob us blind once and we laugh. Rob us blind three times and we stop finding it funny. However, if you rob us blind 15 times it becomes hysterical. It’s the same punch line that the Rangers are trying now, figuring we just can’t hear it enough times. Demanding a budget increase, they are promising an end to target killing. Apparently, budgetary inflation is directly linked to inflating murder numbers.
Something occurred to me the other day: In the West, their conspiracy theories involve the government or the military being in complete control. Thought control, secret alien bases, assassination plots. Conspiracy theorists in America worry about their governmental institutions taking over completely. Our conspiracy theories, however, involve other people being in charge. RAW is controlling us, the CIA, the Mossad. Anyone but our own institutions. Apparently, in Pakistan, the government having a coherent plan to take charge of things isn’t conspiracy theory, it’s conspiracy fantasy. That’s pretty funny, if you think about it.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2011.