Speak No Evil

I was going to write a follow-up to yesterday’s post about ‘redefining strategic depth’ based on Mosharraf Zaidi’s column in today’s The News. But I am actually going to write not about the substance of Zaidi’s column (yet) but simply the reaction that it has received.

After Zaidi’s column started being posted on Twitter, several people accused him of being unpatriotic and of degrading his motherland. I was really disappointed because I thought the column was a very good point to start a conversation about what we can do to improve the economic and political situation in our country. Actually, perhaps we still can.

I was not born tall and handsome. I do not look like a movie star, and when I dance my sister laughs and says I look like I’m having some sort of fit. Also, sometimes I get lazy and do not want to get out of bed in the morning. I’m not ashamed to tell you this because it is a reality, even if it is not very flattering. You see, I know that if I am going to learn to dance better, if I am going to get into better physical shape, if I am going to be productive – I first have to face the reality and then look for a solution. If I ignore reality, nothing will change.

Likewise, our country has certain issues that we must overcome if we are going improve things. There is some petty corruption, there are jihadi terrorists, there is a media that is more interested in ‘infotainment’ than ‘information. This is not degrading the motherland, it is stating some unfortunate realities. And once we know these realities, we can figure out ways to change them, to overcome these negative issues and improve the motherland. And isn’t that what we’re all striving to do?

People who tell you not to admit unpleasant realities might call themselves nationalists, but what are they really? They are facilitators for failure. They are like a teacher who tells you that you don’t need to study because you are already good enough. Following that advice, you will never learn! You will always be exactly as you were in that form, while your fellow students will continue to improve their knowledge and advance before you. This reaction against Mosharraf Zaidi’s column is like the teacher who tells you not to read.

On the same day as Mosharraf Zaidi is demonized for his column, Sana Saleem writes for Dawn Blog about getting the same treatment after she wrote about the problem of rape in society.

Knee-jerk reactions and our love for conspiracy theories have made it even more difficult to think rationally, let alone look for solutions. There is a void, which can only be filled with open dialogue. We need to talk about our issues, give each other space and try not to judge people simply because their opinions differ. There is a huge difference between disliking someone for being a cynic and blaming them of being on a certain agencies payroll.

Most of these comments are ill-informed, are personal attacks and reinforce the mindset that taboos should never be tackled, irrespective of the damage it causes to the social fabric. They highlight the culture of “silent and shame” and the rampant mindset that a woman regardless of her sufferings should never be vocal about the plethora of psychological, verbal, physical and sexual abuse hurled her way. The only thing she should do is let her existence be shoved under the rug.

This is a real problem when any discussion of difficult and unpleasant issues is shouted down and people who dare to face realities are accused of being ‘unpatriotic’ or ‘degrading the nation’. Mosharraf Zaidi talks about ‘misplaced Pakistani pride’. I think he misses the bigger point, though – people with real pride do not have to hide from their faults. True patriots do not run from difficult issues, they face them head on. Real honour is gained b admitting and overcoming your own failings.

Is your pride strong enough to face reality? If so, let’s talk…

One thought on “Speak No Evil

  1. I reached your blog from your learned ambassador Mr. Husain Haqqani. You all can be proud of Mr. Haqqani even if you may disagree on some points.

    There is nothing new I can tell you all who are in the profession of thinking, 24×7, for the welfare of Pakistan. Just a few points though:

    1. Pakistan needs to re-define priorities. You need to give top priority to education, healthcare, jobs, economy etc, as Mr. Ambassador wrote in his twitter yesterday.

    2. Pakistan needs to come out of chauvinistic mode, that dreaded denial mode. Pakistan should aim to be so strong economically that US President comes to Pakistan for help in improving economic conditions back home. Pakistan should part of solution to most of the world problems.

    Religious matters, though critical, can wait.

    Some of the Pakistani commentators who join debates on Indian TV makes me feel very disappointed. Nothing thought provoking, just chauvinistic blah, blah.

    My 2cents worth. Not that there is anything new about it.

    Best regards,

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