They say that individual and collective characters are exposed in times of crisis. Indeed the Pakistan ruling classes have exposed themselves for their historical myopia and lack of vision. Political parties are fighting over optics, media perceptions and wasting their energies. TV channels and wise anchors on the other hand are competing who got there first to show the mammoth destruction and who fired more salvos at Asif Zardari.
It is time that we focus on what happens in the midst of our polity rather than churn out propaganda as to how India has destroyed the other side of this territory. Kashmiris are increasingly vocal about their demands for autonomy and some say independence. How long will the two establishments keep them poor, marginalized and objects of manipulation? Only time will tell.
Writing for The Friday Times, Pakistan
After Mumbai, I have stopped watching television. I will not participate in the senseless jingoism of the Indo-Pak media industries … most Pakistanis do not want war with India
Since my return to Lahore, my social life has resumed its Lahori normalcy except that I have changed. Alas. I just cannot go to random places and meet the same people over and over again. Life is not just tribes, clans and cliques. This is why Rafay Alam has become a saviour of sorts. A younger muse, Rafay is an enthusiastic urban explorer. Though we have hardly kept our plans consistent let alone punctual, the tours within Lahore have been fantastic. From the Mughal to the Raj eras, I have managed to fathom a lot – the evident and not so apparent tide of change that has engulfed Lahore. The people’s architecture is simply astounding for its social and aesthetic statement. Away from the self-conscious red-brick homes of the elites, and far from the kitsch sold as comfort in the Defence Housing Authority; the Mughalpura and Ghoray Shah areas have some interesting buildings and colours that one would rarely find amid the growing menace of high-rises and hideous sign boards that are thankfully being removed fromthe scene.
It was therefore great to be at my dear friend SA’s birthday bash that was a smallish affair but had an interesting mix of Lahore’s younger intelligentsia. Except that I got into trouble while arguing with a friend over the ethnic riots in the commercial capital of Pakistan. The exchange was heated and more so following the Mumbai attacks and the theories that are floating around as to who actually perpetrated the attacks. I was a little too critical of the liberal chattering classes who are pretty much responsible for the mess to start with. Their prognoses and diagnoses are all off the mark. For instance, when someone said that post-Mumbai, quick attacks were an opportunity for Pakistan to carry out surgical strikes and weed out terror, I nearly banged my head against their woolly wall of delusion. Such distance from reality can only be found in the well heated drawing rooms of Lahore with an odd painting of a Pakistani master hanging above their spurious theorisations. […]