- A republic wearing a mask
Pakistan adopted its official title of ‘The Islamic Republic of Pakistan’ in 1956 on the day we now celebrate as our Republic Day. In the past, another notable year is 1933 when Choudhry Rahmat Ali coined the name ‘Pakstan’ for a stretch of land Allama Iqbal had dreamt of as being a separate, peaceful homeland for Muslims of the Indian subcontinent. He mentioned this name in a notable pamphlet whose title ‘Now or Never; Are We to Live or Perish Forever?’ entailed the urgency to accept the Muslim population’s demand or to deal with the consequences of not doing so.
The question is: Was it really a now-or-never situation then? What have we gained in all these years? Did the addition of prefixes ‘Islamic’ and ‘Republic’ better the situation of such a country in any manner where the word ‘Pak’ feels ashamed to be a part of its name? It is no hate speech. It is no contempt. We must acknowledge the reality before it is too late. There is no point of lamenting the past after reaching a point of no return.
Let’s abrade one layer at a time, starting with the umbrella of ‘Islamic’ under which try to hide our society’s ugly side which, unfortunately, seems to be at its zenith. What is Islam for us? Organising sit-ins at interchanges, blocking roads, disturbing people, not allowing ambulances pass and letting patients die on roads? Jumping to conclusions regarding as delicate matters as declaring someone a blasphemer on the basis of mere suspicion, lynching him in the presence of law enforcement forces, stripping his corpse and breaking his bones? Building a reputation of an ardent believer of Islam and a dedicated naat khawan in a small city and raping and killing not one or two but at least eight minor girls of the area? Violating an eight-year-old girl, strangling her to death after having used her as a sex toy, and leaving her lifeless body wrapped in a quilt to attend a Mehfil-e-Naat? Installing secret cameras in try rooms for women, or asking salesmen to ‘enjoy’ some moments of disgusting pleasure one by one by hiding in cupboards in these rooms?
Our judiciary serves justice to the criminals in accordance with Islamic commandments, but how many of the people can it possibly punish when a heavy majority of the population is involved in criminal activities?
If these are just some black sheep and should not be equated to the majority then why have sexual harassment and moral corruption become de facto norms of this society? Why is it okay for a man to brush his hand on hips and other parts of women who are busy in shopping or are on roads waiting for public transport? Why is it normal to ignore such advances and zip your mouths even after being victimised again and again? What convinces these ‘white sheep’ to adulterate milk, water, spices and other edibles for the sake of making more and more money? Isn’t this hypocrisy? Doesn’t this hypocrisy count as blasphemy, one’s words and actions being entirely contradictory?
The next mask is that of being a ‘Republic’. The word which defines a form of government in which the state is considered to be a public matter with supreme power of electing representatives and ruler lying with the people is used by 159 countries as part of their official names. Despite heads of governments claiming to rule the people after having gained their consent, elections in most of these countries are held more for the purpose of show than to serve the actual purpose of letting people choose their own leaders, and it is not a hidden fact that Pakistan is one such country. What kind of a republic are we when we are ready to sell our words in exchange of a plate of biryani or qeeme wala naan? Is such a nation which readily rents itself out to make each political party’s every power show a successful one worthy of being called a republic? Where do we expect the mentality “khata hai to lagata bhi to hai (he appropriates money but also spends some part of it on the people)” to take us to? It is taking us to an abysmal nowhere, a land we are close enough to turn into.
The last concealment and the biggest lie we tell ourselves everyday is that we are the pure ones for which this ‘Pak’istan was won. We are not the pure ones and we surely do not deserve to live on this land for which millions sacrificed their lives and honour. Our thoughts, our words, our actions, our sights… nothing is pure. We all are a bunch of opportunists who willingly exploit others’ adversity and misery. Here, the good ones are an exception. The good ones are the black sheep.
What good is our constitution and penal code when the majority of our people is corrupt and immoral? Our judiciary serves justice to the criminals in accordance with Islamic commandments, but how many of the people can it possibly punish when a heavy majority of the population is involved in criminal activities? Where has the instinct of differentiating between right and wrong vanished? Those who believe that such incidents have been occurring since forever and it is our unregulated media which has now started highlighting them with faux intrepidity are just blindfolding themselves and the younger generation because this creates an atmosphere of snubbing discussion on matters that pertain to snatching away from other people their due, including dishonesty and abuse.
With newspaper headlines staying the same and only the date changing, I, as a citizen of this country, have come to believe that if things ever change, it is always going to be for the worse. No, I am not being a pessimist. With intensifying clouds of the aforementioned forms of terrorism this is the only prediction any realist can make. From raping women to children and corpses, from contaminating soaps and detergents to drinking water, from eyeing bribery as a shameful necessity to making it a cultural norm, our journey has been quite fast. This, in fact, is a now-or-never situation. The only thing left to reach the final destination is to remove the prefixes ‘Islamic’, ‘Republic’ and ‘Pak’ from our country’s name. It is just ‘-stan’, a land with some people who forgot the difference between ‘human being’ and ‘being human’.