This past week has seen columns, in these very pages, promoting a new brand of hatred – self-hatred – inciting loathing amongst Pakistanis for themselves and their culture. Using the horrific Sialkot killings, these “western, liberal” columnists have labelled all Pakistanis as “degenerates” and “barbaric”, hurling abusive and shameful generalisations to justify a verbal lynching of Pakistan, its culture and people.
The thrust of one column was as follows: the Sialkot murders mean that ALL Pakistanis should now view themselves as “human cockroaches” that should be “quarantined” from the rest of the world. So what should the wretched Rwandans call themselves? They wiped out half of their population in a killing spree. Is quarantine enough or should they be culled to prevent them exporting their genocidal tendencies? A liberal fatwa is issued: due to the Sialkot atrocity all Pakistanis are now “undeserving of sympathy”. Not even the ones stranded in swirling waters, bereft of food and shelter, not the millions of hardworking labourers, drivers, and builders who toil in foreign lands to support families back home, not even the ones who have been maimed by terrorists, none of them.
The article “Don’t act surprised” penned by an Englishman resident here for a few years is full of gross generalisations, defective reasoning and inflammatory one-liners: “We (sic) are, and have always been, a barbaric, degenerate nation revelling in bloodlust (sic).” Firstly, his arrogance in speaking for all Pakistanis, particularly to emit such defamatory and prejudiced words, is nauseating. Next, the claim that the horrific violence during Partition was “revelled in” and gave “heady, almost orgasmic delight” is a blatant perversion of history. Muslims were more the victims of communal violence, as documented by various noted historians who also describe the role of the departing British colonisers as culpable.
This “bloody” Partition is used by George Fulton to conclude that Pakistan has always been a “barbaric and degenerate nation”. An intellectually feeble extrapolation, as most nations are born out of violence or war. Israel, in 1948, was born out of the terrorisation and forced displacement of Palestinians — tales of which are regaled with much pride to this day by Zionists, their chief leaders even going on to become Israeli prime ministers. Does Mr Fulton think that “Israel is a barbaric and degenerate nation revelling in bloodlust”?
He goes on to state that the Sialkot lynchings are typical of Punjabi culture because Maula Jutt movies prove Punjabis are a bloodthirsty, vengeful lot. So the popularity of gore fests like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre prove that Americans, who also spend hours playing violent video games killing, maiming and torturing for entertainment and relaxation, obviously “celebrate barbarity and vengeance” as per the writer. Attributing the propensity for violence to a specific culture or race is the bigoted reasoning of a racist. Africans were also called “degenerates”, “uncivilised barbarians” who deserved to be enslaved due to their “savage” ways.
These columnists would not dare to write in such sadistic terms about western cultures. No, they only prey on weak – pure lynch mob mentality – developing nations like Pakistan, battered by natural catastrophe, war and poverty. The reality is that Pakistanis are inherently no better and no worse than any other people. The best amongst us lay down our lives to rescue those in need, open our homes and hearts to complete strangers, protest peacefully for justice. The worst amongst us are as brutal as the mobs which massacred women and children in the streets of Gujarat, with the Indian police looking on, harbour as much bigotry as the preachers of hate, whether they be Christian, Hindu, or Muslim. When the rule of law is eroded, men, irrespective of race, turn into an unruly mob – as evidenced by numerous studies and the good citizens of New Orleans who looted and rampaged in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina – police officers turn into executioners and ordinary people into accomplices. Pakistanis will and must maintain pressure to obtain justice in Sialkot. They will do so not out of self-loathing or in response to the verbal lynching liberals, but because they believe it is the right thing to do.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2010.