Pakistani circus comes to town!

A Pakistani commentator has come up with a Pavlovian response to how Indians salivate over Pakistan’s misfortunes and are not all smelling of roses. To make this rather simple point, he moves from the dog in the science lab to sci-fi to Biblical metaphors.

Ejaz Haider’s column in The Express Tribune mentions his educational qualifications – a seemingly mandatory thing these days in some publications – which should tell us that he is all grown up and doing tickety-boo. So well in fact that he expects “scientific inquiry”, unlike aforementioned dog, from Indians in the World Wide Web. He forgets one basic tenet of the W word, and that is anonymity and the possibility of fake Indians and fake Pakistanis faking emotions to elicit fake critical faculties of columnists who are educationally well-hung.

His one-line tenet is that Indians pounce on any Pakistani for “putting things in a (sic) perspective”. He believes that his country is masochistic because while Indians can openly be critical of Pakistan, Pakistanis cannot do so in Indian newspapers. I think he should do a bit of research on internet behaviour. As I have already stated, Indians and Pakistanis rarely appear as themselves. Pakistani commentators are quite coddled in India, even if they write about some sidey actress and Nwaaz Shrif’s hair implant. All those Pakistan diary type items often talk the usual lingo of exotica which makes it rather charming. The same applies to Indians who discuss “daily life” or Bollywood or “peace initiatives”, the latter being the biggest-ticket event.

Before I am accused of doggie behaviour, I must add that Mr. Haider has rather magnanimously acceded that India does have its moments:

India has its strengths, without doubt. We need to emulate them, no gainsaying that either. But for Indians to embark on an exercise, every time a whistle is blown, to prove India is the best thing to happen this side of Eden is to ask for willing suspension of disbelief at a level that defies even disbelief.

Just a bit of semantics here: When you defy disbelief, you are a believer. Ergo, suspension of disbelief ought to be a dribble of saliva.

He then comes to the point:

There have been comments upon comments in this newspaper by Indians about, among other things, corruption in Pakistan. Something like the 2G scandal in Pakistan would have given the Indians a field day. Try placing a comment on the Radia tapes, a scandal which, alone in its spread, is enough to eclipse Pakistan’s collective scams over 63 years, or even offer to write on it in an Indian newspaper, and you would know what I am saying.

One moment. Corruption is endemic to our societies. However, it is a huge exaggeration to say that in 63 years Pakistan has not had a scam of this dimension. Is the reference only to the monetary aspect? How many tapes have been ever released about Pakistani politicians or Pakistani military leaders? India is also a larger country in every way. I don’t understand the need to compare and sound so insecure about being ‘eclipsed’ in this field. Having said that, who has stopped any Pakistani from writing about the scandal in a Pakistani paper? Why must a Pakistani write about this in an Indian newspaper? It might be noted that part of the scandal is the blurring of it in the mainstream media, so even if a Tutu columnist tried, s/he might not get in edgeways.

A few days ago I was asked by the people concerned when I would resume my ET column and the next sentence mentioned the Radia tapes. I was surprised that no one had written about it and when I said that I had already had my say on the subject, they told me they’d like to use a shorter version. I agreed, provided I could edit it myself and it would clearly state that it is an abridged version. It is still not up. It is about several lobbies, as I have often critiqued in both the Indian and Pakistani media about both India and Pakistan and several other societies.

However, while Pakistani newspapers might publish some views, are they open to ALL views? I have faced criticism for other opinions about ills in Pakistani society as I do from Indians. And, most amazingly, one reviewer of my book ‘A Journey Interrupted: Being Indian in Pakistan’ even mentioned that I had misused the hospitality! Pakistan or Pakistanis had not sponsored the book nor had India or Indians or even my publisher. This was an insult to the several Pakistanis I had met and they were the first to rubbish such a thought; it only revealed that when you talk to and quote real rebels, people who have been imprisoned, literally or otherwise, instead of part-time jingoists, you are not quite ‘with it’. These remarkable people are considered outsiders even today by their own smart-ass commentators.

On the flip side Pakistan, and India, choose their favourites. Interestingly, these ‘vocal critics’ become the flavour of the ‘opposite camp’. So, my criticism of certain aspects about Arundhati Roy sounds offensive to Pakistanis! Talk about co-opted cocoons.

Of course, Mr. Haider is all praise for the Indian’s pride in the state, unlike Pakistanis who talk about doomsday. That’s because they have been hearing the Americans go on and on about a ‘failed state’ so often that they feel like doing a little mirror job. But, when optimistic Pakistanis see the good side, they are considered wimps and fools. Besides, questioning the status quo is always good.

Finally, Mr. Haider sounds quasi ominous and forgets grammar:

Meanwhile, I have said India and Indians a number of times here; the circus is about to hit town!

I am sure you have told us: the circus is about to hit town. The problem is that having said it so often, we mistook the messenger for the message.

PS: When you assume Pavlov’s dog is on your mental leash, it can turn out to be quite a bitch.


  1. I never knew you were in the "0wnership" business or you are so good at it.Fauji Ejaz just got totally owned.I'm an Indian,and its always difficult to read ur columns coz of lefty apologist whining and all the negativity.
    this is a breath of fresh air.Hope u will continue to use humor like Nadeem Parcha(of DawnNews) than caustic sarcasm.
    this piece was so good,I had to comment on this..sorry for the lecture :-) Peace.

  2. FV,
    Incidently I read this coloumn on ET's site , a few hours after it was published. I follow ET and Choraha (hassan Nisar ) and Marvi Sirmed. The comparison of 2G scams to collective scams in pakistan made no sense. Are we in a race in everything ? Pakistan lives in continous denial and a society which is unwilling to accept "grey" in their own social makeup. This too in so called intellactuals of the society.
    One prime example is the latest program aired last saturday on Choraha (11/27) hosted by Hassan Nisar. There are two "astrologers" hosted on the show who are giving predictions about Pakistani Politicians and that too referring to Saade sati for Asif Ali Zardari. What are they smoking ? Either deny that hundreds to years of living with Hindus has left a mark on social landscape or accept that ...they are as "desi" as we are ...our DNAs in all spheres , social values , Corruption , our approach to cleanliness is teh same . so why teh race ....
    pakistanis and indians have to conclude, our umbilical cord is so intact with our roots ...junk teh race .

  3. I like this post Farzana and now following your blog.

  4. Kannan:

    Your sorry was the icing on the cake, although I have no clue about this 'ownership' business. Oh, I do several things, and one of them is my lefty apologist whining...that shall survive...


    You have pretty much said it...my problem is that 'na idhar keh saktey hai, na udhar'...I must get hold of an astrologer soon. Btw, my favourite Pak astro stuff is during the bomb blasts in Karachi some years ago when I happened to be there and a politician, mind you, said "iss shehr ko kisi ki nazar lag gayi".

    At least some of our politicians merely have their nazar on the goodies here.


    Hi! And thanks...


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