I was casually going through BBC News website last evening and found a news about a YouTube video “Aaloo Anday” (potatoes and eggs) getting viral popular in Pakistan. What so special about a video, first one by the unknown-until-now band, to be so popular that BBC making a news out of it. I watched the video on YouTube. It’s a satire on the current sociopolitical situation of Pakistan. It’s in Punjabi, I couldn’t get it’s meaning by mere listening to it. I further googled to get some insight. The video itself and the situation surrounding it have obsessed me so much that I had been thinking of it almost every moment since I watched it.
The video starts with three school-going-looking boys opening their lunch box finding the same “Aaloo Anday” in them as usual. They put off the lunch boxes and start with the song: “my mother has cooked aaloo and anday. I don’t like them. I want to each pieces of chicken.” The video further takes a hard stand on some tough issues in Pakistan. They talk of a country where Mumtaz Qadir (one who assassinated a liberal minister) is treated like a royal nawab, where Ajmal Kasab has become a national hero, and of a country where no one talks about Abdus Salam, the first Noble laureate from Pakistan who won Noble Prize for Physics in 1979.
Although the most part of the song made only a little appeal to me (as I am not that aware of the situation there), I must give the guys full credit for talking about Abdus Salam. Abdus Salam was one of the most important scientists Pakistan has ever produced. He belonged to Ahmadiyya community, which is declared non-muslim in Pakistan by law of the land. Ahmadiyya is a community within Islam that believes Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahamad (19th century) to be the Messiah and hence denies the finality of prophethood of Muhammad. They believe in the oneness of Allah, they believe Muhammad was a prophet of Allah, they believe Quran to be the book sent by Allah, but deny the finality of Muhammad as a Prophet. Pakistan has about 4 million of Ahmadiyya population; and these people are declared non-muslims by law.
And what does it really mean? By law, an Ahamadiyya cannot pose himself to be a muslim in Pakistan, or he can have a jail of up to 3 years. An Ahmadiyya cannot say “Assalam walaykum” to someone else; an Ahmadiyya cannot call their place of worship a “masjid”; an Ahmadiyya cannot keep a copy of Quran in his home; an Ahamadiyya cannot quote the verses of Quran in public; an Ahamadiyya can in no way pose himself to be a Muslim. Anyone who applies for a Pakistani passport has to sign an oath stating that Mirza Ghulam Ahamad was an imposter and not the prophet of Allah and his followers are in no way Muslims.
Ahmadiyya are often a target of social malignity in Pakistan. In 2010, there was a suicide bomb attack on a Ahmadiyya place of worship and about 100 people were killed. Pakistan’s ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called the deceased “our brothers” in his condolence speech. Eleven political parties together have protested his calling Ahmadiyyas “our brothers.” The prejudice against Ahmadiyyas is so intense that they often try to keep their Ahmadiyya identity hidden in their social life. In short, Ahmadiyyas are the Jews of modern Pakistan and living in almost the same situation as the Jews were living in the early Nazi regime.
Abdus Salam was a proud Pakistani and a Muslim. He went to receive his Noble award in the national dress of Pakistan. He had quoted a verse from Quran in his Noble speech. He departed from the country in protest when Pakistan declared Ahmadiyyas to be non-Muslims. Afterwards, he lived in United Kingdom. He kept constant contact with his motherland for all his life. He died in UK. His corpse was brought back to Pakistan and buried in his hometown. His gravestone read “He was the first Muslim Noble laureate.” This was unbearable in Pakistan. He was an Ahmadiyya; he cannot call himself a Muslim even after death. They dusted out the words “Muslim” from his gravestone by a judicial order leaving it to nonsensical “the first Noble laureate.” Every attempt was made to clean out his name from the public memory; even his hometown was renamed. And such an important public figure in Pakistan was rubbed out of history, just because he was an Ahmadiyya, a non-Muslim. The prejudice against Ahmadiyya is so intense in Pakistan that a blogger satirically wrote a public sentiment like “we can convert the Hindus and Christians to Islam; we do not want the Ahmadiyyas.”
One can easily make remarks against political leaders; they are soft targets. A little more courageous can talk even against the military, but to talk against the public sentiment–it takes a great deal (think what kind of comments those got here in India who argued against the Anna Hazare movement). The aaloo anday guys must be congratulated for taking up such an important issue. It may not change the situation in a while, but it can set start a debate. The video ends with the lead singer holding a placard “If you want a bullet through my head, like this video.” Unfortunately, it is really such a case in Pakistan. Take care guys, may God give you a long life.