Hyper-Nationalists, Flags and Phony Sensitivities

In an article for the Least Credible English Newspaper in Pakistan, “First Cameron insults, now UK media disfigures our flag”, Shireen Mazari makes a transparent attempt to incite nationalist and religious anger. But is she really upset, or is this just another ploy by the hyper-nationalist brigades to try to incite some anger among the masses?

Shireen Mazari is offended that a UK newspaper published a cartoon of our flag:

Following Cameron, The Independent (clearly not so independent of UK government links!) newspaper has now seen fit to distort the Pakistani flag in a way that clearly insults the nation. Would they dare to do something like this to the Indian flag? This is a repeat of the blasphemous cartoons targeting Islam in the absurd claims of “freedom of expression”, only this time Pakistan is the target. Everyone knows the national flag symbolises the nation and the British media, by disfiguring the flag, has assaulted the state and nation of Pakistan. How many more insults will our leaders compel us to bear? Is there no end to how much abuse we are meant to take in the post-9/11 era?

You would think that Shireen Mazari was some fragile Victorian lady with such very sensitive feelings! Or maybe this must be a very horrible cartoon? I will not re-post the cartoon here, but you can click the link to Shireeen Mazari’s article. She was so offended that she was sure to post it on The Nation. She’s not the only one, either. Her fellow hyper-nationalist Ahmed Quraishi was so offended that he also posted a giant version on his website!

But are Shireen Mazari and Ahmed Quraishi really offended by flag desecration? Or are they only using an opportunity to exploit patriotic sensibilities and rile up anger in the people? Perhaps the answer can be found when we compare Shireen Mazari’s reaction to other incidents of flag desecration.

Right Wingers Burn British Flag

burning UK flag

Hyper-Nationalists Offended: None

Right Wingers Burn American Flag

Burning American flag

Hyper-Nationalists Offended: None

Right Wingers Burn Dutch Flag

burning Denmark flag

Hyper-Nationalists Offended: None

Right Wingers Burn David Cameron In Effigy

burning David Cameron effigy

Hyper-Nationalists Offended: None

JuD stepping on flags

JuD stepping on flags

Hyper-Nationalists Offended: None

Actually, during the Facebook fiasco earlier this year, Dawn even reported that Facebook fuels American flag business in Pakistan.

“Flags are made for burning. They symbolise what our clients want to express and we are paid for it, so I’m happy to see our work go up in flames.” Rasheed owns a workshop where he employs four craftsmen to paint flags and write calligraphy, and a small printing press.

“We have received continuous orders for American and Israeli flags. Normally we paint them but when demand surges into the hundreds we print these flags to get them to our clients in time,” he said.

So these right wingers feign offense when they see the Green and White in a cartoon, but we have an entire industry devoted to making other nations flag for the purpose of desecration!

What’s even more ridiculous about Shireen Mazari’s phony outrage, though, is that the cartoon in question is actually mocking British PM David Cameron – not Pakistan. There is a phrase in English that says one “put one’s foot in one’s mouth” and it means “to say something embarrassing or wrong”. Clearly, the cartoon in The Independent shows David Cameron “putting his foot in his mouth” when talking about Pakistan.

Further evidence to prove this fact is easily found in the very pages of The Independent itself. The newspaper wrote yesterday that Mr Cameron needed to respect “Pakistan’s national feeling” and told him he must

…let it be known that he is aware of the strength of ill-feeling among almost all shades of opinion in Pakistan about the West’s conduct of the war in Afghanistan, and can understand why so many people resent what they see as the West’s use of their country as a kind of battering ram against the Taliban.

He must try to counter the growing suspicion in Pakistan, not merely among Islamist radicals but also among the most pro-Western members of society, that Britain’s new-found interest in wooing India necessarily implies a downgrading of the relationship with its less economically successful neighbour. Were this sentiment to grow and become fixed over time it would be deeply unfortunate. No British government can forget that this country has developed an umbilical demographic relationship with Pakistan as a result of which tensions between London and Islamabad almost invariably release other tensions in Bradford, Birmingham and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, our enthusiasm for India’s rise as an economic giant, and our interest in the trade possibilities there, while entirely justifiable, must not lead to an underestimation of Pakistan’s immense geographic and strategic importance in the struggle to contain Islamic extremism in the region.

Pakistan is the cornerstone in this apparently unending struggle, not India. Since Barack Obama’s administration took over in Washington, the US has woken up to this. Aware of the depth of American unpopularity in Pakistan, the US is more sensible now of the danger of taking Pakistan’s goodwill for granted, which is why the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, announced the earmarking of substantial sums in aid for targeted civilians project such as dams, electricity and schools.

It might help assuage Pakistan’s nettled feelings were Britain to follow suit and announce something similar. As some aid money is going to be freed up by a reduction of projects in India in future, it might be worth considering transferring those funds across the border, and so reminding ordinary people in Pakistan that we don’t merely see their country as an all-purpose frontline and launching pad for military strikes.

This hardly sounds like the sort of “insults” and “abuse” that Shireen Mazari fraudulently attributes to the UK media. They even suggest taking funding away from India to give to Pakistan! Besides, one quick glance at the streets and in our own media will find many more examples of insults and abuse to other countries.

Obviously the cartoon from The Independent is in extremely poor taste and is easily misinterpreted. But Shireen Mazari and other right wing hyper-nationalists are only using this as an opportunity to incite anger for their own political ends. We never hear British or Americans or anyone else complaining and acting so offended when we burn their flags and burn their leaders in effigy, stomping on them in the streets. We should have the same amount of national pride and self-confidence that we do not feel the need to be offended at every stupid thing. Shireen Mazari and her lot say that they believe in a strong Pakistan, but they are always acting weak and crying when there is some stupid cartoon in a newspaper. Yes, it is offensive. Yes, it is stupid. But so what? No cartoon can harm pride of this nation.

It is amazing and sad that Shireen Mazari and Ahmed Quraishi and all these phony hyper-nationalists pretend to be so sensitive and so offended when David Cameron makes some stupid statements that they will go out in the streets stomping British flags and burning effigies instead of making intelligent and rational responses to correct such “foot in the mouth” statements. But if Taliban blows up a mosque or a market, these same phony nationalists can’t be bothered to lift a single finger in protest. Where are their sensitivities then?


3 thoughts on “Hyper-Nationalists, Flags and Phony Sensitivities

  1. Is this one of the 10 Downing Mastiff yelping or
    Cameron’s bulldog snarling.Why pick at Shireen Mazari; Why not ask ISI Chief for being such a jerk refusing to attend the London meeting when the Honorable President has gone to apologize on
    behalf of the nation to Mr Cameron that he is right that we are all TERRORISTS!Basically we are all self-centered idiots with our heads buried in
    the sand,allowing others to tickle our hinds.We need to wake up this issue of who is terrorist and
    who is not will not end like Sherazade’s Tales of
    Thousand and One Nights.But the survival of New World Order and the Policing of the West depends
    on the Bogeyman.Yester years Khrushchev,Mao tse Tung and Ho Chi Minh were replaced by Saddam,Bashir and Osama Bin Laden.When the King or Queen dies the herald announces hail ye hail ye the Queen is dead; Long live the King. All those on the most dangerous list are found dead.
    Will it end this war against terrorism? No! we have to create new terrorists and new poodles to
    keep the children awake with the ‘Never ending Tales of the Crypt’.

  2. Oh come now, Khalid bhai. How can you say this thing while terrorists are committing a massacre in Karachi AT THIS VERY MOMENT! Those killing are not by some Englishmen or New World Order bullshit but by EXTREMIST MILITANTS. You should take your own advice and WAKE UP PULL YOUR HEAD OUT OF THE SAND.

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