(Saad Sultan from Lahore has contributed this post for the Pak Tea House. His initiative is welcome; and we are happy to add him to our list of contributors – Raza Rumi)
The author of this article takes no responsibility for the views expressed in it.
Dear readers, I regret to have to inform you that one day you will all be dead. For this reason you must never try killing yourselves. Yes, the 1st precept for Life in Pakistan is:
Don’t Commit Suicide
In fact, you should never try doing anything that something else will, eventually, do for you. And dying lies among the many other menial processes, such as digestion and cleaning the toilet, that, as far as we’re concerned, get done by themselves. And it is up to respectable people such as ourselves to ensure that things remain that way.
Now, recent events have shown us that people who think it’s all right to commit suicide fall into two categories: those who think its all right to kill yourself as long as you take enough ordinary men down with you, and those who think it’s all right to kill yourself as long as you take enough uniformed men down with you. Needless to say, both of them are equally wrong. What’s worse is that they are infinitely more dangerous to the welfare of the living than traditional suicides, who at least have the decency to end their lives in the quiet of their homes, lying in hot baths, using fresh razor blades, and leaving behind beautifully written suicide notes, outlining the reasons for their decision, and, in some cases, even apologizing for it.
Yet it is undoubtedly the life lovers who have chosen the most courageous path. People like you, the readers of this paper, who have resolved to live out these lives of yours, even if only in relative luxury. Others have resolved to live out theirs in abject poverty: toilet cleaners and road sweepers; people without the means to even afford this paper. I laud their courage. If they weren’t so poor, they wouldn’t be as brave, and if they weren’t so brave, we wouldn’t be as rich. Relatively speaking, of course.
Thus we come to the 2nd precept of Life in Pakistan:
If you must Commit Suicide, do it without Harming those who Love Life
Dying of suicide not only causes serious damage to one’s health, but, on a more serious note, seriously damages one’s reputation as well. Of course, it can be argued that one needn’t worry about reputation once one is dead, but we shall not be considering that argument, as in our opinion, one should never consider arguments that one can’t counter. Dying of suicide committed by somebody else, on the other hand, has a completely different impact on reputation altogether. Society compensates for the fall in the perpetrator’s standing by converting his victims, even if they had been base, foul and corrupt while alive, into valorous, heroic martyrs. The wisdom of such thinking is secondary to the fact that it is the way things happen. It is thus proposed that anyone found trying to commit suicide without minimizing its effects on decent, life-loving society should be subject to the capital punishment (provided that he is alive at the time) for the attempted interference. This gives birth to the 3rd precept of Life in Pakistan:
Mind your Own Business
While it is a precept that should be taken seriously by everybody, people who watch the news should be particularly wary of it.
The news is watched by three kinds of people; those who intend to do nothing about it; those who intend to do something about it, but really can’t see what can be done without the help of those who intend to do nothing about it, and, finally, those who want to stop it from reaching the people who are doing nothing about it, just in case they decide to do something about it.
Don’t watch the news if you intend to do nothing about it. The best way to avoid problems is by never discovering them; if you don’t know what’s going on, you don’t know what’s going wrong, and consequently you don’t have to worry about it.
If, on the other hand, you can’t help but watch the news because you think that being told what’s happening makes up for your doing nothing about it, then watch PTV News. You will be told that nothing is wrong, or if something is wrong, it isn’t your fault. Therefore, the question of your doing something about it doesn’t arise in the first place. It is the only news channel you can watch without losing your peace of mind.
In case you do have a mind to do something about what’s going on, watch GEO News. It will change your mind right away. GEO news shows that the people who are trying to do something about the news are only getting beaten up for it. And of course, getting beaten up, far from improving circumstances, worsens them. Only the short sighted and the obtuse see getting flogged as a way of solving problems, getting for their pains a shallow sense of accomplishment without accomplishing anything. It is much better to accomplish nothing without being flogged for it, sitting right in the comfort of your homes. To its credit, however, GEO news does soften the blow of telling us everything that’s wrong by pointing it out as though that were a way of correcting it. But of course, the greatest source of comfort to us, the educated sector of society, remains the conviction that someone is doing something about it, and since they haven’t asked for our help, they are probably managing perfectly well without us.
A great man, Occam once said, “All other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best.” Doing what is easy is simpler than doing what is difficult. And dealing with problems by criticizing those who are trying to solve them is far easier than dealing with them by trying to solve them oneself. The 4th precept of Life in Pakistan is:
The Best Way to address Problems is by Blaming them on America, the Second Best Way is by Blaming the Extremists and the Last Way is by Blaming anyone Except Yourself
Being a foreign country, America brings us to the 5th Precept for Life in Pakistan:
Be a Foreigner by Birth
People here like foreigners decidedly better than they like Pakistanis, especially those who speak fluent English. If you cannot be a foreigner by birth, you can start pretending to be one later on in life. This has been demonstrated to work equally well by a select portion of the upper classes, (Social Butterflies and such) which insists on behaving as though it were part of Victorian England.
The 6th precept is for those citizens here in whom the patriotic drive is too powerful to allow them to pretend being foreigners by birth. It is:
Be a Bhutto by Birth
Those who cannot be Bhutto’s by birth can name themselves Bhutto later on in life. This works equally well, as Bilawal Bhutto Zardari (or is it Zardari Bhutto?) has demonstrated. If you can perform neither of these tasks, the patriotic drive in you will never attain a suitable outlet. Unless of course you’re looking to channel it through a much safer course; that is, you are among those who believe that military rule is the best form of Defense.
And so we come to last, final, and 7th precept for Life in Pakistan:
If you can’t Beat them, Join them
Them, of course, being the establishment. After all, you must be in the system if you want to change it. And once you’re in the system, you may realize that it’s perfectly fine just the way it is.
Saad Sultan (Bhutto?)