Paranoid uncles are right

Published: December 16, 2010
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The writer is a standup comedian 
sami.shah@tribune.com.pk

The writer is a standup comedian [email protected]

I owe Uncle Munir an apology. You may not know him but every family has their own version of my Uncle Munir. He is the deeply embarrassing elder relative who considers every social gathering an opportunity for him to expound on his theories on international relations — theories that involve deep-seated conspiracies being concocted by the rest of the world to destabilise and conquer Pakistan. As far as he is concerned, there isn’t a single meeting in the White House in which controlling Pakistan is not discussed. All of the CIA is dedicated to this single task. Mossad, RAW, MI6 — their every agent is given this single focused goal. Pakistan is the centre of their conspiratorial universes. He once declared a homeless man, frequently seen begging for loose change, to be a CIA agent. His theory was based on the fact that he had seen that man carrying an English newspaper. As each theory he detailed became increasingly fanciful, we all began worrying about the onset of dementia.

And then something weird started happening. That theory of Uncle Munir’s about America creating a map showing Pakistan broken up into several smaller countries? It came true. World leaders talking exclusively about Pakistan every chance they got? Documented evidence started appearing everywhere. The ISI being in talks with Mossad? It happened. Either Uncle Munir is the world’s luckiest paranoid or he has an inside line on the great Global Conspiracy.

The problem is that these days, knowing what we know, we can’t help but all be a little like Uncle Munir. Pakistan has become the centre of world attention and, even if everyone isn’t out to get us, they are certainly talking about us. Pakistan comes up as a point of concern in more leaked diplomatic cables than any other country. The leaders of most western nations cannot seem to let a single week go by without mentioning us in some way.

What worries me though, is that we might actually be getting a bit of a thrill out of that. See that’s what narcissism is; it’s the belief that the whole world is thinking about you. The problem is, when you couple it with deep-seated insecurity like ours, you end up with paranoia. The whole world is talking about us and no one is saying anything nice. You would think though, if we were worried about the whole world hating us, we would try to tone down our attention-getting behaviour. But that’s the narcissism at work. It’s sitting there thinking the whole world hates me, but at least it is thinking about me. It’s like being addicted to someone coming over to your house everyday and kicking you in the groin. Yes, it hurts but at least for a while you have some company.

This behaviour explains some of our actions. It wasn’t enough, for example, to be the subject of discussion of every American diplomat writing home. We had to add to the chatter by fabricating our own leaks and planting them in all major local newspapers. I don’t believe the ISI did it to simply further some secretive agenda of manipulating the media into creating greater support for the armed forces, out of fear that WikiLeaks would expose the military leadership as damaging to our democratic progress. No, it was just because they missed the limelight.

How frustrating it must be to the egocentric tendencies inherent in the ISI to crave attention while working in a job that demands secrecy. Like an advertising executive who fantasises about being a stand-up comedian and so, every now and then, lets his self-control slip and starts testing punchlines on unwitting co-workers, they too indulge the narcissism by attracting attention when it’s their job description to not do just that.

Or at least that’s what Uncle Munir tells me. I need to start listening to him.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 16th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • thenewblackkk
    Dec 16, 2010 - 12:23AM

    @samishah you bailed out of twitter but I am still there with the Ukranian NurseRecommend

  • JA
    Dec 16, 2010 - 12:35AM

    ………yawn…………….Recommend

  • Dec 16, 2010 - 12:51AM

    Exactly! We are actually enjoying being the centre of the world, whether true or not doesn’t matter.As they say, famous or infamous – better than not being talked about eh? Recommend

  • Ashwin
    Dec 16, 2010 - 7:17AM

    Love you’r style of writing and commenting, Keep up the good work.Hey i have request if possible can you write something on Pakistan’s IT sector and growth opportunities. I was wondering if Pakistani IT grads would like to work in Indian companies which might be setup in SriLanka, since both India & Pakistan both have a good relation with Lanka, it might somewhat the Indian companies be more competitive. Recommend

  • Haris Chaudhry
    Dec 16, 2010 - 12:07PM

    Touche…!

    Uncle Munir of yours sounds exactly like a few dozen uncles in Melbourne that I know that still believe and paddle these conspiracy theories and myths at every gathering…

    The less of these uncles we have in our midst the better our chances of regaining some sanity and balance.

    We are a paranoid nation hell bent on convincing ourselves and others that the west and US are out to get us. West and US would never give 2 hoots about us had it not been for a nation bursting at seems with illiterates, fanatics and dubious characters (some wearing stars on their shoulders) wreaking havoc with the nation and in control of some ‘aitom bums’.

    US and West have enough to keep themselves focussed on the prosperity of their own nation and people. Beggars with begging bowl running from pillar to post sucking up to US to keep this country afloat and to seek more weapons but an ego and conspiracy mindset that would put anyone with an ounce of sanity to shame.

    Kudos on unmasking Uncle Munir !

    HarisRecommend

  • RhyMe
    Dec 16, 2010 - 1:28PM

    Well i do agree with some of the theories introduced by Uncle Munir!Recommend

  • parvez
    Dec 16, 2010 - 2:48PM

    Great insight into the physique of people calling the shots. Very apt and focused.Recommend

  • Dec 18, 2010 - 2:17AM

    So you’re saying Pakistan needs a psychiatrist.

    I can get behind that.Recommend

  • Dec 20, 2010 - 11:17PM

    Amusing article but certainly partially true! All uncles and aunties theories are not mere conspiracy.some hold much truth in them and our westernized youths had and have total belief in them.

    Lets take Uncle,George Bush and uncle Tony Blair.theory that Iraq possed weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and the Iraqis were being oppresed by their leader Saddam Hussain.The whole world believed them and supported the US invasion on Iraq….unfortunately.they were never found and poor uncle Bush,was gifted on his face with a pair of size 10 shoes hurled at him during a farewell speech,by an Iraqi jounalist as a good bye kiss.

    Before,the Iraq invasion took place Uncle Bush had ,believed that the planes that crashed into the twins towers located in NYC, on 9/11 were hijacked and flown by Muslim terrorist belonging to a Muslim terrorist Network called Al-Qaeda and headed by Osama bin Laden.We all believed him and still some deliquents do so.Anyways,so Uncle Bush, having such great public support sent his brave warriors to invade Afghanistan and capture Osama and eliminate his associate.The invasion was successful and Uncle Bushs, men took over Afghanistan 9 years back .Killing thousands of poor Afghan civilians during this course of time without anyone protesting this loss of human lives …However, to everyones dismay,the slippery Osama is no where to be seen and let alone captured…Thus,since they couldnt get Osama,they thought might as well turn into Messiahs and liberate the oppressed Afghan women.

    Now came Uncle Obama and Aunt Hillary to replace Uncle Bush.remembering the good work Uncle Bush had been doing and decieded to continue to hunt for the Ghost of Osama with their ghost Buster army of a 150,000 and alongside remove the woes of the people of the two conquered soverign countries.While doing this angelic work they both think that the Afghans neighbor,Pakistan are playing naughty desite being their allys in the war on terror (War is terror).They are harboring the terrorist wanting to spoil their good work in the terrorists OWN country,Afghanistan…How ungrateful of the terrorist.! and especially Pakistan,which is the worst targeted country in the world by terrorism.What a pity,poor uncle Obama and aunt Hillary.they give so much to Pakistan and they dont even kill their own kind.What a shame,really.

    The best theory expounded by uncle Obama and Hillary aunty is about their suspicions on Iran, for making a nuclear bomb with the intent to wipe out their innocent little undeclared nuclear power child ,Israel….So,to teach them(Iran) a lesson they have asked and twisted arms of their friends world over to boycott and sanction the mischiefious ,Iran….How naughty of Iran,isnt it.

    I could go on telling you such interesting and truthful theory’s of the aforementioned Uncles and Aunts.Also of the Uncle Manmohan Singh ji, Uncle David Cameron,Uncle Sarkozy and Aunt Merkel etc.But it seems by now my point must have driven home to you…. BURGERized!

    It is really sad and unfortunate that this small segment of the youth have less faith and respect for their elders and in their own kind.While,having unrelenting and undying faith in what they hear through the gospel truth tellers the western media publishes.

    It is the same western media and literate possibly,but ignorant people, who had been dubbing Pakistan as the haven for terrorist,whereas in reality it is the worst affected and targeted country in the world by terrorism.They portray their forces military occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq as Messiahs for the people of those countries,respectively., and it is people like you who believe them

    This ignorant and juvenile mindset of being gullible to what the west feeds is why our Nation could go down not because of the ones who have the guts and the intelligence to question,comprehend and assimilate and have the mental capability to differentiate and identify the grays in between the black and whiten and who refuse to sell their motherland for pocket full of dollars !

    Allah Hafiz Recommend

  • Analyser
    Dec 23, 2010 - 11:38AM

    Touche M.Sethi, lets hope everyone can correctly identify the Uncles deserving of our ridicule and disgust, the ones who spread terror, death and destruction under the misnomer of War on Terror ,and have turned our country into a battlefield.Recommend

  • Dec 27, 2010 - 10:17PM

    @Analyzer,
    Thank you appreciating and being a good sport.To your hopefullness….Amen

    Best RegardsRecommend

  • Dec 27, 2010 - 10:19PM

    @Analyzer,
    Thank you for appreciating and being a good sport. To your hopefullness….Amen

    Best RegardsRecommend

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