The people of Pakistan are a paradox. Faced with the insurmountable Taliban, the war on our city streets via suicide bombs or the staggering inflation and crushing economic debt , most would either run for the hills or try to stand up for what they believe in. Instead, we see most of us living in a bubble of our own making, where the various peculiarities of our personas and financial circumstances make unwritten barriers of identity and thus we have become totally fragmented.
The “we” I refer to includes me as well, as I have started to feel day by day that I am perhaps not doing enough for my country. The “Who gives a shit as long as my life works?” mentality can only last so long. How long are we going to pretend that everything is fine and distract ourselves with the latest conundrums of the specific strata of society we identify with? Right now it seems like our entire society is divided into different groups, who come in all shapes and sizes and yes, all hate one another. Thus I thought I should attempt to sum them up for better explanation.
‘My Prado is bigger than your Prado crowd’
Entry level Politics 101: this section of society demands a Sindh club membership, a few SUVs and a distant political family affiliation with the requisite hanger-ons and goons that come with such a status in our country. Often seen cruising the city streets late at night with guards in tow these individuals live in an even more secluded pocket amongst the elite pocket. They must only make friends with scions of the “families that matter” and avoid discussing politics at all times as that is something the aam junta does. Favorite watering holes include the Sheraton and various other lobbies of over priced five star hotels which only they can afford to lounge in. Favorite pass times are shikaar, and routine disappearances to some distant lands on the pretext of fasal cutting and other manly activities. Level of interaction with minions like the rest of us? Bare minimum.
‘I’m liberal so listen to me’
The burgoise intellectual hippie type creative bunch which demands at least one apple device for entry (even if it’s a pair of headphones) and additional others to show off. Must have some kind of creative outlet be it writing, blogging, painting, designing or photography and the various accessories that go with these fields of interest. They make friends with everyone but consider no one their equal unless they have some level of creativity in them, judged by random rambling on subjects of the pseudo intellectual variety. Do not know how to write a proper email but must communicate with the whole universe through intense use of all social media. Often heard saying things like BBM was so nineties. This group hangs out mostly at Espresso and T2F where they can sip lattes and decide the fate of the world or the management of the next 40 people protest at the press club. Nocturnal in nature, they also like to make routine disappearances to foreign shores either in the shape of conferences or on the pretext of immersing in some phoren culture.
‘Invisible and Judgmental’
The almost non existent middle class of Pakistan which demands shareefanabehavior as entry fees, this means keeping your head down and out of sight of any possible involvement in anything that registers in the public eye. This group of people cannot make friends with the Prado crowd and hate the liberal crowd so they prefer to mingle only with their own safaid-posh-selves. They are very articulate but never register in any forum anywhere as they feel it leads to trouble, eventually. Very happy in their existence and only interested in preserving their do waqt ki halal roti they prefer to hang out at Usmania and Bundu Khan and mid level eateries where no scum from the rich lot can trouble or notice them. Favorite passtimes are reminiscing about everything in the glorious past and discussing how this country has gone to the dogs. They drive to Hyderabad sometimes but besides the Bombay Bakery there, they hate that whole city as well.
‘I do not matter and I will behave like it as well’
The rest of Pakistan, the ones who toil day in and day out to make ends meet. They cannot afford to buy more than a sewing machine, a tv and an iron. The only entry level requirement to this group is absolute helplessness in a medical emergency to arrange medicine or the looters – i mean - doctors, pre-surgery fee on time. The ones who actually suffer when petrol prices go up as bus fare increases. They will try to make friends with anyone who will have them, as they are starved of so many things they latch onto the slightest look of approval and try to make in-roads into one of the above three groups often to be sent back to the underworld they have emerged from. They hang out at dhabas as they cannot afford to enter posh or mid level eateries and blame the other three groups for everything that is wrong with them, sometimes rightly so. Exploited and underpaid, they can disappear anywhere and are seen in every nook and cranny of this nation, a stark reminder of those that should matter but do not.
All said and done, we as a country are now in an identity crisis, we range from Honda hi lainsa to Blackberry hi lainsa and do not know what to make of one another or how to coexist in a meaningful way. Thus all we do is just heap blame upon one another and not take action on things that really matter. This country, which has given us the option to do what we do, the finances to achieve it and the freedom for me to sit here and write this is going down the drain. It is no use blaming leaders and bad morality when the same leadersship is voted into power by all of us. There is no point in crying crocodile tears at charity meet ups where people dance to the latest tunes and get smashed all in the name of doing good.
There are people among us who are actually doing something for this nation, for their environment in the fields of education, poverty alleviation and social development of the common man. These are the people who have decided themselves that their only identity should be that of a Pakistani and their only mission should be its salvation. Do you think it is time we all joined them in their mission too?
As published in the express tribune blog on 3rd July 2010