Pakistan encountered by way of an English-speaking liberal in Lahore differs quite from the Pakistan encountered by way of the network news. Here from September 11, 2011 comes a reference-worthy excerpt from a satire about, perhaps, the deliberate deflection and quiet destruction of inherent landborne Pakistani character and culture out along the Wahabbi Front.
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I was feeling a little murky after watching a TV program in which a televangelist and a lady with a “bindi” had quite a tussle. The bell rang and my friend was there with his “noorani chehra”, as luminous as ever, standing at the door. I invited him to come in. After a little chit chat he asked me whether I watched the TV program in which Sir Zaid (something) bashed an infidel Indian. I was shocked at first but gathered some courage to respectfully make corrections to the questions placed before me.
“Yaar, wasn’t she a Pakistani Hindu?” I said.
“What nonsense? Don’t you know Pakistan is an Islamic Caliphate with camels, oil wells and Palm trees? We don’t have monkeys and elephants in Pakistan, we have camels. She had a bindi. What does that imply?”
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Muneeb Tahir, the author, and I chat now and then via Skype, and I have found the experience so far enlightening, heartening, and hopeful.
Taking Muneeb’s advice, I’ve been reading Alice Albinia’s Empires of the Indus: The Story of a River.
If he takes my advice, he may be reading (soon, I don’t know) Vine Deloria Jr.’s God is Red.
Embedded in both would seem the observation of cultural attachment and rightness with distinct landscapes and large regions. We “Yankees” have come to love not only our moccasin slippers (and Pendleton whatnot, for example) but to have constructed a cultural and ecology sensitive environmental and social movement unprecedented by way of its ambitions and scale. Most of us foreigners — well, comparatively few of us North American Native Americans — have our roots and wires tuned to our surrounding oceans, bays, rivers, fields, hills, and mountains.
We breath with the land on which we have established ourselves.
Should Pakistanis feel otherwise about the natural treasures bequeathed to them by God in the form of a varied landscape hosting many indigenous cultures — genuinely so — and evolving languages?
Muneeb has a great command of his cultural surrounds and the history of the land. One may expect some wonderful observations to come by way of his experience and voice — and he’s just getting started.