Sialkot Incident, Satire Anyone?
Posted on December 9th, 2021

Saad Masood courtesy Daily Times

Priyantha Kumara Diyawadana is a name that will be remembered in Pakistan for a long time. Or will it? Our short-term memory is just that, short! Lest we forget, only recently the Sri Lankan was dispatched to hell (Urdu vernacular: jahanam raseed kar diya) by a mob of steadfast faith (pukhta emaan). Social media is rife with disgusting images and videos of this episode, accompanied by these gems of Urdu phrases! Will this bother us for long? Of course not! After all, we are a resilient nation, which can bounce back from any mishap-as long as it has not happened to us-with the elegance and aplomb of a graceful ballerina!

We may not be self-sufficient in oil and gas, we may not be self-sufficient in valuable metals, we may not be self-sufficient in alternative energy but we are definitely self-sufficient in being shocked and outraged! If it were to become a competitive sport, I am sure we would bag a gold medal in the next Olympics! We need to make sure that we export any spare shock and outrage so that the trade deficit can be narrowed. Take that Imran Khan! In one fell swoop, I have given you the recipe to brighten up the economic outlook in the country. Where are your precious economic czars now? Other things, you ask that can help with the current account deficit? How about the expression of sadness? This time around it was the Punjab Chief Minister’s turn to articulate his. Fitting really, he seems rather sad any day of the week and twice on Sundays! Ordering of an inquiry is another thing we have in spades. It just seems that the investigating agencies are just waiting for an inquiry to be ordered before they will kick into action. One can picture the law enforcement machinery standing at the ready, wait for it, wait for it, wait for it. There! We have a tweet ordering an inquiry. Let’s get to it! Go, go, go!”. Tweets, messages, press conferences – templates at the ready and utilised so quickly and efficiently that one marvels at the speed at which the functionaries work, alas only in such cases and not when it comes to truly uplifting the poor masses of this country. With all these templates flying around, the only caution that needs to be taken is to avoid ‘copy and paste’ errors. One doesn’t want to look foolish condemning an incident that happened last year! Being a copycat also needs brains (nakal ke liye bhi aqal ki zaroorat hoti hai).

We need to make sure that we export any spare shock and outrage so that the trade deficit can be narrowed.

Also in abundance is the art of condemnation from the celebrity-sphere: religious, drama, film, entertainment and talk-show hosts. In-between their megaevents they get time to express their grief and lament the state of affairs in this country. Before jet setting to their next exotic destination to mingle with their ilk. I am reminded of a Bollywood film in which Kadar Khan – the great Indian dialogue writer and comedian – portrays a rich industrialist and poses for a photograph with a poor kid while offering him grapes. Once the picture is taken, he takes the grapes back and says, you are done, now go” (tera hogaya, ab chal).

Finger-pointing is another one of our plentiful hallmarks and something that is a dime a dozen in the land of the pure! Cue random leaders accusing everyone and everything from international conspiracy (berooni saazish) to hidden hands (khufiya haath) to governmental weakness (hukumati kamzoori). One wonders about the last one when walls upon walls in Pakistan display remedies for all sorts of ‘kamzoori’!

Another copious element is journalists and OpEd writers – including yours truly – falling over each other to fill up the nation’s dailies with hard-hitting articles on what went wrong What should/could/would be done Who to blame.Who said self-mockery was dead!

Why should higher officials of government and law enforcement agencies be left behind This quarter also displays a cacophony of noise with phrases such as no one will be spared (kisi ko nahin chorhein ge) and things will be taken to their logical end (mantaqi anjaam tak pahunchayein ge). Failing that, a lot of transfers will be afoot and anticipated recipients of such orders will already be telling their families to pack up and be ready to move at a moment’s notice!

With so much surplus, export-grade commodities, I fail to understand our widening trade deficit and ever ballooning current account deficit. Maybe I am missing something because I am only a mere mortal while those running our country deities of the highest order. Amidst all this, I was asking myself, who will be responsible for all this carnage? Then the answer dawned upon me, NO ONE because that which belongs to everyone, belongs to no one!

The writer is Director Programmes for an international ICT organization based in the UK and writes on corporate strategy, socio-economic and geopolitical issues

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