Zardari uncle please don’t snatch our smiles!
I am truly appalled by a recent official decision to punish people who send anti-government SMS or e-mails. This is a disappointing decision coming from a democratically elected government. This clearly shows the level of intolerance among Pakistan’s so-called democrats. We know who fears these text messages? Guess who? Lol. You are all smart guys and girls.
If absurdity is the only yardstick to assess one’s political maturity then the current rulers of Pakistan truly qualify to run this country. In fact everyone in Pakistan has a bit of authoritarian tendencies. We endlessly criticize the political and autocratic (mis) rule of the Pakistani military officers. Yet, an egoist dictator lives inside all of us.
I remember I once was working as a young journalist with a Quetta-based English daily. The owner of the newspaper was a popular political figure of Balochistan who had hired an outstanding journalist as the working editor to run the paper.
One fine morning I received an e-mail from this working editor which had been CCed to almost “everyone and anyone in the newspaper establishment”. The letter, at the very beginning, stated that it should be treated as an official “warning”.
“HIS NAME [OF THE NEWSPAPER OWNER] IS [LET’S SAY] AJAZ BAL”U”CHISTANI AND ANYONE OF YOU WHO MISSPELL HIS NAME AS “ BALOCHISTANI” WOULD BE INSTANTLY FIRED FROM YOUR JOBS. THIS SHOULD BE TAKEN AS A FORMAL NOTICE.”
For a moment, I was taken aback. So did it mean that “Mr. Baluchistani”, who claimed to run a newspaper that preached tolerance, democracy, freedom and all abstract nouns to the people of Pakistan, was such an egoist that he was prepared to fire anyone in the newspaper who misspelled his name with an “O” rather than “U”?
There are many of us who behave like Mr. “Balochistani”. [Oh shit. I think if I were working with him today, I would have been kicked in the ass and fired from my job by now]. We all act like dictators provided that we get a chance to do so.
I telephoned this boss of mine on his cell phone when I was working at mobile company in Islamabad. These were the days the gadget had newly arrived at the ‘land of pure’.
“How dare you call me on my cell phone? Don’t you know I use this phone only to communicate with my counterparts from other companies not with my subordinates?” he protested. “I have strictly instructed you all to approach my PA [personal assistant] for appointments before you meet me.”
True, a remarkable period of Pakistan’s political history has been raped by the military but the democrats also did not behave democratically either. Nawaz Sharif thrashed Najam Sethi, the editor of the Friday Times. Musharraf put Geo and many other news channels off the air. Now Zardari is restricting our right to smile. He does not want the people of Pakistan to share jokes that have not been officially approved.
We are all egoists. We are all dictators. We all want to forcefully rule over people weaker than us. We take pleasure in enforcing our views on the others. We die if we see others happy while we are sad. We are growingly becoming intolerant. Sadly, we are gradually becoming animals. Worst still, such behaviors are being encouraged by a democratic government in Pakistan.