Sean Penn and The Qaumi Phenomena of Beyghairati

On Saturday, American actor Sean Penn who starred in the award-winning ‘Dead Man Walking’ which featured two of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s tracks, came on a visit to Pakistan to meet and help the flood-victims of Badin.

Sean Penn in a traditional Sindhi Ajrak.

This is not a first for Penn, who had extensively and actively taken part in the relief activities following the devastating earthquake in Haiti and is known for his social activism.

During a time when most people around the world, stay away from Pakistan out of fear, threat and the perception that has been created of it by the international media, Penn’s sudden arrival sparked excitement and surprise in most quarters of the Pakistani people – while in the few rest, a typical and common reaction was evoked: of ‘Ghairat’ and ‘Beyghayrat’ [Honor and Dishonorable].

The members of this Ghairat Brigade, rued and lamented the existence of such days, when people from other countries come to dish out and toss ‘alms’ in the ‘begging bowls’ that have been thrust into the hands of the nation, by the corrupt rulers while they indulged in the orgy of deepening their own pockets [ This is precisely, their perception regarding foreign aid ] . And how ‘Beyghairat’ could our people get to smile at this and accept its occurrence?

Though, its quite a conundrum to determine how someone’s genuine intention to bring succor to the distressed, is an act of foreigners coming to condescendingly chuck a few pennies for poor people, as they have made to look through the expression of their thoughts.

But now that the topic of ‘dishonour and being dishonourable’ has been approached, let us also be reminded of a bigger example ‘Beghairat,’ executed in the land of pure.

Beyghairat is that nation, out of which only a handful pay their tax. A nation, which justifies its wrongs as a ‘natural’ result of having wretched as leaders, which they themselves elect. A nation, that possesses the self-inflicted malady of amnesia; which forgets its forlorn after a customary time period of notice. One, that has selective compassion, tolerance and concern. One that refuses to accepts the best of its own, on the basis of their relationship with Him.

One that shamelessly makes choices when it comes to acknowledging its daughters, rising for Aafia Siddiqui, yet with blithe or no concern for Fakhra Younas, Zareena Marri or Uzma Ayub.

A nation, that spares no moment to spur into action out of indignation, when those outside seem to breach its sovereignity and integrity but has forever closed its eyes towards the trangressors rupturing the country and its very pith, from within. Pointing fingers at devils of foreign origins, intentionally unbeknownst to the sneering Satans inside.

A nation, that fancies drowning in denial, than facing the scorch and sear of the truth. One, that rushes to hold vigils for Steve Jobs, but never for those slayed everyday, from whose blood, this soil has been drenched red. A people, whose sensibilities are more hurt and whose outrage more elicited by a nude body and a distasteful show, instead of the charred body and dreams of a poor man in despair, who died in vain, hankering for a four-square meal for his children.

Beyghairat is a nation, which is fine with the sights of its future withering away begging in the morning, and sleeping the hunger pangs away on cold, stone footpaths at night. A nation, blind to the massacres and deaf to the plight of its own.

Come to think of it, the phenomena of ‘Beyghairati’ and all that it pertains, isn’t really a phenomena – it is actually the nature and state of us, as a people. 

So, when a nation that itself is audaciously inglorious, speaks on the tragedy of the lack of ‘Ghairat’ in Pakistan, it is nothing but a joke cloacked in glaring hypocrisy.

All apart, a hearty thank you to Sean Penn, for trying to aid the flood-hit of Badin, who have long been shoved back into neglect by us all.

~ Hafsa Khawaja

Let Sport Be Sport: Two ‘Brothers’ & An Asia Cup.

So Pakistan won the Asia Cup for the second time on Sunday, after a gap of 12 years, by defeating Bangladesh from 2 runs.

Cricket technicalities, stats, figures, match analysis, player performance – this post is about none, but a few reactions and responses.

Cricket being the ultimate craze of the Pakistani nation, the news of Pakistan reaching the Final, was bound to invoke a shake of excitement and a wave of anticipation.

When it was decided after the Sri-Lanka Bangladesh match, that the latter, which had performed beyond its conventional ‘minnow’ perception, expectation and beaten World No.1 and No.2 in the tournament, was to face Pakistan at the end – a flurry of witticisms, internet memes, peppy and humorous one-liners popped up in no time.

One of the most commonly posted was ‘East or West, Pakistan will still be the winner’. [ Bangladesh, before its separation from Pakistan after the bloody war of 1971, was known as East Pakistan. While what is Pakistan today, was known as West Pakistan then].

But the utterances of many Pakistanis, right after the match were the most surprising, to say.

With such an excellent performance, both in the Final and the entire tournament, and the weeping faces of the Bangladeshi players at the end – almost every Pakistani erupted with expressions of praise and acknowledgement for those in the different shade of green.

From photos stating ‘Pakistan may have won the tournament, but you have won the hearts’ to ‘overboard’ reactions by some, who opined that it was really Bangladesh that deserved to win the Cup and weren’t quite delighted on their own country’s win.

To start it off with, the Pre-match jest of ‘East or West, Jeetna Tau Pakistan Nay He Hay!‘ were a tad bit too, unintentionally patronizing.

Afterall, how would a Pakistani feel upon seeing an Indian japing about similarly, calling the India-Pakistan match – a match which would inevitably be won by India, because Pakistan was once a part of undivided India? Fury would then be a petty little pebble, too describe the boulders of rage that a Pakistani would cause to landslide after reading such a thing.

Second, cricket with and apart – the whole genuine and literal [ Obviously not, when said in pure, good humor ] ‘Bangladshi-Pakistani-Bhai-Bhai’ sentiment is inappropriate on many levels.

Yes, we were brothers once, but that once was a whole four decades ago!

It seems to stem and originate from either, the denial of the causes leading to the creation of Bangladesh, the birth of Bangladesh or from the misconception about the sentiments that the average Bengali holds for Pakistan and Pakistanis.

Which is probably, an offshoot of swallowing the fed concoted narratives by the State, which often suggest that the Bengalis were ‘mistaken’ and ‘misled’ by foreign forces to hold animosity/grudges against West Pakistan and eventually, break away. (Not that India did not play a major role in the tragic break-up of Pakistan)

And now, they realise that they were ‘manipulated’ and possess the mutual emotion of warmth and brotherhood, that Pakistan displays.

Another reason is, the new generation. As a result of being inculcated with skewed ideas, thanks to a distorted history and a warped version of past events – they feel that their love for Bengalis, should be explicitly spelt-out to dispel the doubts and resentment in their hearts, relating to Pakistanis hating them. Without, actually even sifting or surfing through the reasons for that resentment.

But any belief in the aforementioned ideas, is a travesty and a mockery of both history and present.

Indeed, Sheikh Mujib did exagerrate the figures of the Bengalis killed in the War of ’71 and there’s alot of myth-busting that needs to be done regarding the 1971 War and the creation of Bangladesh. [ Scroll down to ‘Mujib’s Part in the Myth Making’ in the linked site ]

But what is also the jarring truth, without delving into historical or political complexities, is that East Pakistanis were terribly wronged by the puissant of West Pakistan, and on a tremendously enormous scale: social, economic and political – and then during all that snowballed into a full-blown war, from Operation Blitz to Operation Searchlight et al, that pit Pakistan against the fighting Bengalis, and its primary godfather at that time; India.

And mind you, regardless of how over-amplified the facts and events of the war are in Bengali textbooks and stories and how contorted that chapter is, in our own, no Bengali has forgotten that.

The ‘Pakistan Murdabad’ chants in the stadium that day, were a testament to their flame of a feeling inside them, towards Pakistan.

So one hankers, that Pakistanis please do snap out of delusions and accept what stands as reality infront of them.

With fiercely-guarded borders, diplomatic altercations, conflicting national interests and ever-evolving form of established political and global environments – there is no state of ‘Bhai-Bhai/Brotherhood’ in today’s world between any set of countries, and especially not in the case of Pakistan and Bangladesh, as of now.

Moving on, the peeving reactions of some on Pakistan’s win were, if anything at all – a grating attestatation of the myriad of divisions and differences that have been leaping flat the concept of being a ‘nation’ in Pakistan, since long.

Such are they immense, that moments that are savoured by most nations, are rendered sour by these.

From a generous recognition of the Bangladeshi Team’s brilliance, going ‘overboard’ with wishing and whining Pakistan hadn’t won the Cup as Bangladesh ‘really deserved it’ or ‘as an apology to Bangladesh’ to dragging the the fateful and inauspicious phase of history into it.

And although the ability to put up a good show and win, of any team, decides for itself the question of being deserving, but let it also be put straight by this:

Finally, there’s only a single and simple advice that needs to be urgently given to both of the aforementioned kinds [ Those with misconceived notions of ‘Brotherhood’ and those with too-apologetic and bitter attitudes, who degraded their own country in the process of fitting in an ominous period of history between two countries in between a thriller cricket match between the two ] that reacted as explained before :

Stay away from or try to not inject your excess of puerility and inclination to be unpleasant, distasteful immature in matters as cherished and simple as a sport. Conflating history, politics with something as such, is identical to gauche adolescence. Make up your mind, and stick solely to either of the two. Let sport be sport. Thank you.

~ Hafsa Khawaja.

P.S : The BCB wants the Asia Cup result ‘undone’ and Sheikh Hasina is ‘talking over’ with the Bangladesh Team over their proposed tour of Pakistan.