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January 1, 2015

A year of collective insanity


January 1, 2015


So suffocating is the daily torrent of news in the country we tend to forget just how often Pakistan would – were it a person – be judged clinically unfit to stand trial and be sent to the nearest sanatorium. From the small – lets drop Younis Khan from the ODI cricket team – to the profoundly disturbing – the massacre of children at the Army Public School in Peshawar – 2014 may have been the year we reached peak collective insanity.
You know a country has a problem when it enjoys nothing better than blaming the victim. There should have been a mass outpouring of sympathy for Hamid Mir and Raza Rumi when they were the targets of attempted murder. The latter had to flee the country because he is a bleeding heart liberal who refuses to shut up; the former would have been okay if he just kept to himself his belief on who targeted him.
Instead, because Hamid Mir had the temerity to use the news channel he works for to explain, through his brother, the threats he received, the permanent power in the country (you know who it is) decided to embark on an act of collective injustice, targeting not just the news channel but the newspapers associated with the same media group and the employees of the group. The channel was taken off the air by Pemra for 15 days for having the temerity to report the news. Cable operators decided Geo did not pass go, will not collect 200 dollars and will be banished to channel number 97 on the cable order.
Demonising Geo became a sport with everyone having a go at connecting it to the various ills that have befallen the country. As he tends to do, Imran Khan got the gold star for taking this game to this illogical extreme. During his protest – another reminder of a country that has gone so off the rails it thinks the best target is an elected government – Imran managed to bundle the news channel as part of the conspirators who had stolen an election that was rightfully his. His proof of how a news organisation can stuff

ballots? It broadcast a victory speech by Nawaz Sharif before all the votes had been counted.
The Imran-Qadri dharnas were a useful barometer of how far we have descended as a country. There was Sheikh Rashid, suddenly relevant again, promising – and achieving – blood on the streets. The PML-N government decided the best way to handle protests, which is theoretically a right of all Pakistanis, no matter how misguided the protest may be, was mowing down Qadri’s supporters in Model Town. All this over an election which, like all elections in the country, may have been flawed but was better than most we have held.
There was one bit of good news in 2014: Malala Yousafzai became our second Nobel Laureate. Then we remembered that, like our first, she too lives in exile. Many in the country hate her, believe she deserved to be shot and killed, or that she faked her own shooting, or that she may have been shot but she works for the CIA – so who cares?
Malala isn’t the only person Pakistanis expressed a willingness to kill this year. There were also the hordes of menacing polio workers, Hazaras, Christians, Ahmedis and schoolchildren. Basically, if you weren’t a Punjabi, Sunni male of means your time could be up. If not now, we can always wait for next year when the hit-list will surely be expanded.
There was some good news too this year. The rupee gained against the dollar which is good news for everyone except the dollar khor CIA agents who deserve to be killed anyway. Javed Hashmi acted as our collective conscience which is why he was aired out for a day or two and then promptly chucked to the back of the closet.
For the 67th year in a row, the state didn’t officially execute anyone convicted of blasphemy; it just left the dirty work to mobs, policemen and prison guards. Pervez Musharraf is still around to fling his ‘enlightened moderation’ at us, such as the view that RAW was behind the Peshawar school attack.
Let’s not be too down on 2014 though. Not everything bad that has happened to the country took place this year. Some of it happened a long time ago. We have 4G now so we can watch cute cat videos on our phone. Unfortunately. YouTube was banned two years ago. It’s still banned. The TTP, Sipah-e-Sahaba, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi et al were banned long before that. They still operate.
In the spirit of morbid camaraderie we could drink to that but spirits are banned too. And what good would that do when we ended the year by physically banning New Year’s Eve with roadblocks and cop cars? Here’s to 2015!
The writer is a journalist based in Karachi. Email: [email protected]




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