‘Pakistan suffers from Stockholm Syndrome’
LAHORE: “Pakistan is a country suffering from Stockholm syndrome,” said acclaimed Pakistani writer Mohsin Hamid as he expressed his views on the country’s geo-political situation at the launch of his new essay collection ‘Discontent And Its Civilisations’ on the opening day of Lahore Literary Festival (LLF) on Friday.
Sitting alongside BBC Journalist Razia Iqbal, Hamid opined the people in Pakistan were so frightened of their country’s current situation that they articulated their thoughts in such a way which made them believe “there is something good to come out of it. With that said, a country that seems to be ‘divided’ could just be ‘scared’.”
His book, which takes it name from Sigmund Freud’s ‘Civilisation And It’s Discontents’, presents a commentary on life, art and politics on top of examining the closely-knitted association of personal life with politics and the way in which human beings invent themselves in a global society.
Briefly commenting on London’s situation when he moved there in early 2000s, he said the fear of migrants escalated in the city post-9/11 due to which “the notion of living in London with a Muslim name took on different contexts.”
Describing Pakistan’s situation as ‘grim’ since his return to the country in 2009, the author discussed with the packed audience how geo-politics shaped his personal life.To a question about the reason for his return to a ‘problematic country’, he said his ‘roots’ brought him back, although he could not and did not claim ‘a superior Lahori-ness’ due to his birthplace, skin colour and other factors. However, he didn’t hesitate in admitting that Pakistan had only itself to blame for the mess it currently found itself in. “It’s about time Pakistan puts a rest to blaming others.”
He criticised Pakistan’s ‘foreign policy obsession’ and said “the country has to allow its people to be what they want to be.”Describing Pakistan as a pluralistic society, the writer voiced his concerns over the country’s tendency to make the same mistakes over and over again without learning from them. However, Mohsin said he still hoped that “Pakistan will get itself out of this mess, for which the people of this ‘multi-ethnic and culturally diverse’ society need to figure out a way to live together.”
The most difficult response for him during his time abroad was to the claim that he wasn’t a real Pakistani, Hamid said, before admitting that a part of it was probably true. He went on to say that there was no way to access “how Pakistani a person is,” whether it be through language or anything else.
When posed with a question regarding his decision to put selected essays together for his book, Mohsin replied he wrote what he thought to be true, describing each essay as “a bit of a time capsule” containing thoughts he believed to be true at that specific point in time.“That is what writing is about,” he added. However, he refused to rule out the possibility of getting some points wrong, saying mistakes would be revealed over time.