Writer’s Block and More

5 Feb

Sometimes, words fail you. Sometimes, you fail them.

They’re clamouring in your head, they’re sticking in your throat; they’re fighting to get out. But you just cant string them together into coherence. Sometimes angry phrases escape. But no fully formed thoughts can be hammered out from the shrieking, sobbing, angry mob of words in my hurting head or heavy heart. 

Dramatic? Sure.

But that’s how I’ve felt since the assassination of Salmaan Taseer.

I am confused and angry. A murderer has been crowned hero and the man he slaughtered is the villain. I am told there is a murder of this ilk proudly walking down every street of Pakistan waiting to slay anyone he, in his own head, accuses, tries and finds guilty of blasphemy.  And then there are the hordes who will not only defend him but shower him with petals. Then there are those who will sit in their plush drawing rooms and say the murder shouldn’t be glorified but the victim was asking for it. There are those who will tell you that Pakistan is now a failed state spiraling into the abyss of religious fanaticism. Some will incite you to take to the streets against the illiterate cleric propagating intolerance and violence. Others will invite you to a candle light vigil or a facebook group for the slain Governor where they will collectively wish that they could swat the mullahs back into their caves with their Prada bags.  The blood lust and hysteria of the masses that cheered the governor’s assassin has me mourning for the flight of reason, tolerance and the rule of law from this country. The small band of people advocating that liberals confront this bloodthirsty mob in the streets has me worried for their sanity.    

I’ve tried to write many times since it happened. But everything I had to say seemed to utterly inadequate that I couldn’t. I havent been able to find the words to express my disappointment with Pakistan. I know the words exist and others have used them eloquently, but I have failed in finding them. Maybe, I don’t want to hear what I really feel and think. Maybe it’s not the words hiding from me but me hiding from the words that will spell out in cold, indelible ink, what Pakistan has become today.

Escapist? Sure.

You have to be one if you want to live in a country where 500 lawyers will sign a petition to defend the murderer but not one lawyer can be found to prosecute him for the crime he has proudly confessed to. When the religious right brings out thousands on the road and civil society responds by sending out thousands of emails (the majority of which involve fighting with each other over semantics and ownership of documents!) you have to escape to another place in your head where those leading the charge against intolerant are not busy being intolerant and dismissive of each other.

I’ve thought about writing some brilliantly eloquent response on one of these email lists but then I’ve never found the words to criticize those who have done much more for this cause in their own way than I ever have. What social contribution do I have to give my words the legitimacy they need when lashing out against those who have come out on the streets when I have stayed at home.

Coward? Sure.

I’m not the only one. There are hordes of us lurking about in the op-ed pages of English dailies. Our pens (or keyboards) churning out clever little eulogies for the country lost, preaching sermons of realism,  hiding our cowardice under the garb of “reality,” or taking refuge behind facebook profiles and pages. Some of us have been to the odd protest or two for a more “tolerant” Pakistan. But it was little more than a Sunday afternoon schmooze with friends and statements to the TV. But that’s all we’ve done.

But what more could we have done in the face of such violent opposition? I don’t know. We can’t bring out thousands onto the streets. We can’t take up arms. But maybe we could have found one lawyer to represent the Taseer family. One man or woman to stand up for the Rule of Law in a country that just experienced a great movement in its name should not have to be such a tough ask.

Sad? Infinitely.

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8 Responses to “Writer’s Block and More”

  1. Amin Jan Naim February 5, 2011 at 9:46 pm #

    After the tragic and brutal murder of Governor Salmaan Taseer, Pakistanis have handed over to the corrupt, decadent, ignorant and visionless mullah complete monopoly over the role of religion in state and society.
    We have a frightening scenario. This is a deadly serious conflict between two entirely different approaches to life. The mullahs want control of Pakistan , nothing less. My pessimism grows by the day because the struggle is one-sided and between the ruthless violent methods of the mullahs, who are now well organised and coordinated, and those who believe in fair play, tolerance and respect for laws but are cowered down and silenced by the gun. If, a hope against hope, the Government itself musters some courage to stem the tide, we might be able to regain some sanity in our homeland.

    • alik July 16, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

      The truth is that the liberals of Pakistan have failed. Reasons:
      (1) Their narrative is too isolated 4m the aspirations of the masses. They would even go2 any extent2 deny any role to religion in independence of Pakistan.
      (2) Their representation in real policy formulating bodies, viz, Civil and military bureaucracy is very low
      (3) They lack the fervor and consequently, the intellectual preparedness of the religious right (witness a debate between Raza Rumi and Fareed Paracha)
      (4) They seem to be and at times are justifiably considered2 be pro-Western and pro-US
      (5) They are mostly a product of Western educational institutes (This label does not go well with most in Pakistan when it comes to iculcation of values)
      (6) Their representation in mainstream URDU press is low( Kudos Nazir Naji, punching bag of Ansar Abbasi likes)

      Liberals have to mould themselves to the local milieu without compromising on fundamental principles

  2. Delirium February 5, 2011 at 10:51 pm #

    Brilliant and incisive!

    Somehow it sounds ironic coming across terms like “Rule of Law” & “Civil Society” in the wake of recent events. The happenings that have dragged us behind by only a million light years and landed us right back somewhere in the era of darkness and stone age.

  3. shoaib ahmed February 6, 2011 at 5:58 am #

    I can relate to the fact that you took time to put these (still vague) words into a blog. Most are still awestruck in this country.

    The underlying tragedy is; the tug of war between the liberal extremists and religious extremists has now converted into a full scale war. With the sad demise of reason and sanity among this country’s intelligentsia, its not surprising to see which side is winning so far.

  4. Pradeep From India February 9, 2011 at 6:49 am #

    “You have to be one if you want to live in a country where 500 lawyers will sign a petition to defend the murderer but not one lawyer can be found to prosecute him for the crime he has proudly confessed to.”

    I find that this makes the murder more tragic. While death of Mr.Taseer is the result of the ideological perversion of an individual, I find this an indication of how few people of liberal persuasion of Mr.Taseer’s are and how much more important his life is.

    • Pradeep From India February 9, 2011 at 7:08 am #

      Typo. “much more important his life was”

  5. No Religion March 31, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

    Atheism, Science, Freedom of expression and Secularism will help Pakistan. Oh! Blasphemy. How can pakistanis do that?
    Forget about further solutions. Forget about statistics of non religious countries

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Tweets that mention Writer’s Block and More « Sehar Says…. -- Topsy.com - February 5, 2011

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Swat Crisis, Sehar Tariq. Sehar Tariq said: Writer’s Block and More: Sometimes, words fail you. Sometimes, you fail them. They’re… http://goo.gl/fb/731YU […]

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