“Malala’s Pakistan,” or some such term has been proclaimed in many newspaper op-eds in recent weeks!
Over the years we have seen Pakistan being labeled as someone or the others Pakistan.
The list of whose Pakistan it is, is long and changes with the need of the hour – often overnight – as circumstances set in motion a domino effect; often forced, and accepted; as the antidote for the ills real or perceived by those who threw the stone to set the ripple going!
Between the founding fathers Pakistan to Dr. Qadeer’s Pakistan; snaking through a Pakistan for Islam; a Pakistan of the youth; a Nuclear Pakistan; a Revolutionary Pakistan; a New Pakistan and Sab Sae Pehlay Pakistan. I have lived through a time when we were recognized as “Pakistan Ayub Khan”; stints of Democratic Pakistan; experimenting with a Socialist Pakistan; Roti, Kapra and Makan wala Pakistan; our Pakistan, Their Pakistan; split in two Pakistan; rogue state Pakistan; bankrupt Pakistan; failed state Pakistan; saved Pakistan; 20 crore ka Pakistan; politicians ka Pakistan; phases of fathers or mothers “dream” Pakistan.
And when everything else miscarries, or we are unable to counter the current popular rhetoric, we fall back to Quaid’s Pakistan!
And every so often we hear that it is not “their” (anyone fallen from grace at that moment) Pakistan.
Coming back to Malala’s Pakistan. Winning the Nobel Peace Prize is no small feat. It brings her in a limelight which from 1901 till now (except for twenty times in-between due to war and strife) has shone on 128 individuals and organizations “who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” The nomination, selection and award process itself being shrouded in mystery that will only be revealed after fifty years for us to know how her nomination and selection came about!
Questions asked range from, if promoting peace is the criteria how does getting shot for furthering girl’s education promote it? Not that I am trying to take the thunder away from her, but still many continue questioning Malala, the person, a lot!
So how does a person living in the UK get the highest accolade and we claim her as a daughter of Pakistan? While we debate the rationale of dual nationals being law makers in Pakistan? How do those who till last week were questioning the very shooting of Malala get to be pro-Malala overnight?
How does Pakistan become the Pakistan of the scions of a few families when they themselves talk against family politics of other families? Why does “sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose” hold good only in selective arenas; even when we have been tried, tested, and failed these people and remember them for their stage managed histrionics and charisma, not their deeds.
And what about the interludes of military backed rule? Some invited by politicos while others used the so called misdeeds of the politicos as an excuse? Pakistan during their rule was anyone’s but of the Pakistanis. Complete with praise for some and against religions of others; while others answered mid-night calls; Pakistan was their fiefdom; the constitution a mere piece of paper; the population were fools to be manipulated any way they wanted, helped along with the safety valve of the doctrine of necessity!
And now a new Pakistan, a revolutionary Pakistan. A Pakistan where we stand between disobedience, stampede, song and dance, and insinuations of deals done and promises made; coming on the heels of ‘reconciliation” we find us tall on rhetoric and short on facts. The difference between disinformation and misinformation clouded in motives and interests buried deep under veiled understanding with those they speak against!
The politicians seeking only gratuitous spoils and praise where none is due! And the ever present crumb eaters, with their finger either in the pie or on the edge of the plate. And so many more hangers on ready to deliver these very accolades for eager ears, in return for the crumbs.
And all of these claim it is their Pakistan!
And was I as first generation Pakistani growing up in the heyday of molding the country into a headless, directionless, pride less state, born to ask the question where is “My Pakistan?”
November 15, 2014
*** The author is a mentor, freelance management and training professional, peace and anti-extremism activist based in Islamabad.