The sound of silence

Maybe it’s our fault for not appreciating what the silence meant.

Sami Shah July 07, 2010

Maybe it’s our fault for not appreciating what the silence meant. After the terrible attack on the Ahmadis we all cursed our politicians and religious leaders for not speaking up. Their inability to articulate even the vaguest of criticisms of the attackers, we felt, betrayed their complicity in prejudice and pathetic cowardice. Little did we know it’s because they are just too stupid to say anything worthwhile. Maybe, that one time, their respective handlers managed to get the muzzles on before the idiocy was given a chance to articulate itself.

After the attack on Data Darbar anyone and everyone with a sense of ill-earned authority has been looking for a microphone to rant nonsense into. It could almost become a competition, or a game show, with points awarded for the least sense made. How have television channels not picked up on this ratings bonanza? Forget ‘Pakistani Idol’ or ‘So You Think You Can Bhangra’ or whatever other unoriginal and grossly plagiarised programming the channels are congesting the airwaves with. This new show will write itself. All you need to do is go up to the ‘authority’ figures and ask them their opinions on current affairs. Then step back and watch the sponsorship money flood in while viewers try to differentiate between true statements and farcical parodies.

The first contestant can be Imran Khan. No, not the singer of “Amplifier” who unenthusiastically lip-synced his way through a concert recently. That guy is still culturally relevant. I mean the other Imran Khan. The one who announced he could end terrorism in 90 days if elected as the prime minister. The problem is, his pronouncement seemed less like an enticing offer and more like a ransom demand. If he has the solution to the problem that has had think-tanks overflowing with intellectual analysts flummoxed, then why not share it with us even before we make him prime minister? Does he not feel the sense of urgency? Does he think we can wait until the next election before giving him a chance to implement this miraculous cure-all? Or is the entire electorate being offered a really elaborate bribe?

Behind door number two, we have Allama Abdul Tawab Siddiqi of the Sunni Ittehad Council. Deigning to take notice of this attack, he was moved to ask “Are you a devotee of the saint in name only or do you want to seek revenge and prove your allegiance?” He also demanded that the organisers of the attack be publicly hanged in front of Data Darbar. Maybe he isn’t clear on the Sufi message of peace and pacifism? Could someone perhaps loan him a copy of an Idries Shah book.

Contestant number three would be the prime minister who recently held a closed-door “brain storming” session on terrorism. Their verdict, reached after much thoughtful analysis, is that militants are targeting urban areas. Really? We hadn’t noticed.

Shahbaz Sharif has to be disqualified from participating in the competition because his previous request to the Taliban asking them to avoid Punjab because of shared ideology gives him too many points for the competition to be a fair one.

That is the first episode locked. The second episode, indeed the entire rest of the season, can feature everyone who insists that the attacks are a result of foreign involvement. There are too many of them to fit on the stage at the same time so we will have to bus them in on a weekly basis. Then they can talk of Hindu-Zionist-CIA plots while looking at pictures of dead and captured terrorists who are all, to date, of local origin.

What’s worse is that these are mostly people who have authentic educational degrees. Imagine what the ones who were too unintelligent to manage graduation are capable of. The irony, if you can see it through your tears, is that we are all ignoring Data Sahib’s message, that true understanding of God should be silent.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2010.


Muntazir | 11 years ago | Reply The Ahmadis have not demanded government compensation, they have not taken out processions or staged sit-ins to protest their killings. They are suffering in silence, praying to the Almighty and the Almighty alone.
Tibbi Imdad | 11 years ago | Reply Sobering article. The dark humour made me break out in goosebumps. Although, I never thought I'd see the day when you would talk about Sufism and God, I appreciate you donning this hat as well.
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