Raza Rumi wonders why we remain in search of a Pakistani identity
Half-truths are what we love to indulge in. One of the countless crimes committed by President Asif Ali Zardari is that he wears a Sindhi cap instead of a Jinnah cap. That by preferring a Sindhi topi and thundering at the occasion of late Benazir Bhutto’s death anniversary, he undermined his Pakistani identity, is truly mystifying. After all, what is a Pakistani identity and why is the Jinnah cap being elevated to the level of an article of national faith?
If anything, Mr Jinnah’s patronage of Muslim identity mark was an afterthought. His usual attire was a well-tailored pucca-sahib-like suit. It was only in the nineteen forties and that too close to India’s independence that Mr Jinnah started donning the Muslim nobility’s attire.
So what is this fuss all about? Constructing Pakistan’s ideology based on theological interpretation of a universal religion like Islam has been a carefully executed project of the Pakistani establishment and its shadows in the non-state domains. Such cliques have grown bigger, mushroomed and are now essential to our lived reality. Therefore lambasting of Zardari on not sporting a Jinnah cap finds public resonance and broad acceptability within the populous Punjab province where the Urdu press flourishes and finds readers and writers aplenty.The opening up of the electronic media has been a liberating experience but it also means that the deep-seated and embedded distortions, cultivated by the state, biased education system and militarisation, have now captured a wider public space. This includes audiences and listeners who are outside the ambit of the ‘literate’. Given the inherent dangers of such a phenomenal change, many independent observers have called for arresting and regulating further corporatization of the media. Advanced countries such as the USA have already experienced the pernicious trend of ‘dumbing down’ and mainstreaming unaccountable political and security agenda[s]. The case of the war on terror is a pertinent example of this unfortunate reality. If we are aware of it should we not undertake pro-active course correction? Continue reading