Posts Tagged ‘Pakistan’

Of potatoes, eggs, Ahmadiyyas, and Pakistan

October 26, 2011

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.

Abdus Salam (1926–1996)

Dr. Abdus Salam

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.

Grave of Prof. Dr. Abdus Salam (1926-1996) in ...

The gravestone of Dr. Abdus Salam. The words "Muslim" are removed by a judicial action.

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.

A Letter to Master

July 31, 2011

Dear Master,

Getting you less on twitter, and nothing at all on mails, calls, etc. It has really been a hard time, I can understand. You must have your reasons not to keep regular contact. I too have been less on twitter for the last few days, I have my own reasons, I understand, you must have yours. We didn’t have a talk in the last few days. I guess our last talk was when we talked about “The Catcher in the Rye” and “The Idiot” and then we came to the conclusion that one cannot be a “well-read” man by reading mere 600-or-so books. It must have been a couple of weeks.

I saw you on Facebook today. You wrote something on the wall of Santosh Tayde. As I saw you there, I thought you must have at least tweeted for me as you were in network for a while. I checked twitter and found nothing to my despair. And I tweeted “:Twitter must not die.” I really think twitter must not die. I don’t mean for Twitter as a social networking, but for the way of indirect contact it provides to us. I have already cleared that I have my own reasons to be a bit away from twitter and you must have yours, but I will be there regularly in a week or so! Hope I won’t miss you there.

Today, I have a special reason to mail you. Something is going on in my mind that I feel I must share with you. You are single and will be marrying to someone most probably the next year. I was thinking about what does marriage really mean to you when you are single? If you just want a girl who can cook for you, wash your clothes, and just be with you for the rest of your life, then it confirms you are a normal man. This is what we do in India. And the girl in turn wants a man who can be with her, provide all her needs, bring a month’s wholesome grocery, and that’s it. But I know this is not the case for you. This is not the case for me!!

I know you are a man of great potential. You have a great understanding of things. Sometimes even I feel awed with what you have. I know you have a constant feeling of incompleteness, and I am afraid if anyone can ever be able to fill it. It is not a simple task to be with you and to take care that you remain alive. It needs the other person to be of at par understanding., and in our society, it is almost an impossible task.

Indian marriages work. You just need a girl who can cook for you, wash your clothes, and be with you, and you in turn give her what she needs–the month’s grocery etc., and the marriage works. It does not take any special efforts. But if you expect something else from marriage, the question becomes dire. When your heart is full of feelings, eager to burst and shower, and you know the one, your life partner, is going to understand nothing of what is filled in you, what can you do in such a case? You just keep yourself calm and damp yourself in it. The worst thing is the knowledge of there is no use to fill full, and slowly and steadily you lose the essence of your being; you do the monthly grocery stuff all your life, just thinking of the poor soul that once used to be you.

This happens often with love marriages. Arranged ones work; they don’t have much out-of-track expectations from life. In contrast, people come together in love marriages, they think they are the best-suited for each others, and hence expectations are high. Once you go some further in your affair, you think of marrying. And why to marry? – because he/she is the person with whom I want to spend all my life. Why? Because we love each other.

I think this is the most fragile explanation. This is the base why the marriage doesn’t work. You don’t have any agenda other than you want to marry each other, and what after marriage? Just love cannot be, and can never be, a bonding factor for all of your life. Unless you get the answer of why we love, why we want to marry, what do we want to achieve with it – every attempt towards it leads to failure.

A very strange example occurred to me – it would be like the rebellion of 1857! You are full of valor, fully devoted for a win, but you don’t know what to do if you win the war at all! The celebrations of a win cannot go for long. You must have some plan and you must have that plan ready before you plunge in war. Another a very strange example, and I accept the rules of nations can’t be applied to human beings, but what happened to Pakistan after independence? The East and West Pakistan were bonded with only a thread of religion. They had nothing common in it. How long could the celebrations of achieving a separate Islamic state keep the both fractions together? About 10 years they took only to create a constitution, and within 24 years of independence, Pakistan got divided and Bangladesh came into existence. Twenty four years is a pretty little time in terms of national history. In case of human beings, it gets still shorter. On the other hand, India constituted her constitution assembly even before independence and the constitution was ready within three years of independence. Even before that, our leaders knew what kind of state they wanted. They had a dream of a social, secular, democratic state that would ensure social, economical, and political justice. They had a plan and they worked on it.

We behave like overenthusiastic rebels at the time of marriage, but fail to look for the goals that we mean to achieve with it, and it leads to a failure. We don’t even get time to realize that it is failed. We engulf in responsibilities, job, children, their education, etc. But one day certainly comes, when everything else is taken care of, we find ourselves almost alone and the same incomplete as we had ever been.

A friend of mine told me a story of a couple who after 40 years of their marriage, when they are retired and the children have gone their way, they had nothing to talk with each other even for four minutes. For forty years, they had talked about career, children, school, medicines, grocery, jewelry, and now when they raise above everything of this, they had nothing to share with each other, and they sought for a divorce after a successful (?) marriage of 40 years.

I am really not sure, where are we heading?

Yours, Ganesh


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