9 Mar

On my way to work today, I saw a somewhat discreet advertisement for a new cafe-cum-art gallery-cum-designer clothes store in Islamabad. This is not the first of its kind. It might be the first to combine all three under the same roof but we have plenty of other establishments of the same ilk. Swanky eating spots, exclusive clothes boutiques and high-brow art galleries showcasing some heftily priced artwork – seem to be sprouting up with alarming speed and frequency in a country that by all accounts and estimates is headed for an apocalyptic social and economic meltdown along with a revolution led by self-serving bigots parading as men of God.

I’m confused.

Countries about to explode or implode (take your pick) shouldn’t be busy trying to provide goods that are unaffordable and potentially capable of being declared illegal in the near (shaped by a revolution led by bigots) future.

So are these entrepreneurs completely clueless or callous or both? Or are we all just kidding about impending doom?

In a country where bombings take out scores of people on a daily basis, where political leaders are shot dead in broad daylight, murderers are crowned heroes and the list of heinous crimes committed against humanity and the state by all and sundry is too large to list in one blog post; such economic activity seems like an anomaly.

Maybe these swanky establishments that open up with such great speed in even a sleepy little town like Isloo suggest that the rich are so far removed from the problems of the real people of Pakistan that they live in an alternate universe and this is one of the many signs that the day of judgement is surely upon us.

But I have had the opportunity to go to some of these establishments over the last few years and while on many an occasion, I have seen the same old crowd at these places, I have also seen growing numbers of young and not so usual people. The membership of these places seems to include a newer set of younger faces. There is a market out there for such products and there seems to be a growing pool of buyers. At least in Islamabad, these are the young people who work in the development sector or in the small corporate sector. Many a group of the average cheemas and seemas you will see enjoying a cup of overpriced and not so tasty coffee at Gloria Jeans in the evening in Isloo.

But are the consumers of modern, usually western and high-end products growing fast enough? And are higher individual incomes enough and evenly distributed enough to offset the fears of revolution? And  also does consuming a western brand of coffee mean that you also drink the democracy and live and let live kool-aid?

Probably not. And that is what worries me more than it confuses me.

And I guess we should all be worried because while the rest of the world seems to be breaking out into youth led protests for greater democracy, peace and human rights we are the only place in the world where the young people are coming out to demand an end to democracy, a military takeover and blood for blood. That’s sad.

What’s absurd is that they are holding banners saying Tahrir Square too. Guess the coffee at Gloria Jeans might give you a caffeine buzz but not a higher IQ or the ability to figure out that what the young people in Tahrir Square were demanding was the exact opposite of their demands. And by that logic, at least don’t hold a Tahrir Square banner! It makes you look stupid and not just messed up!


Pakistani Born Confused Ideologues – Courtesy Express Tribune

Read the article about this protest here



7 Responses to “Confused”

  1. sammy samosa butt March 10, 2011 at 12:31 am #

    I think about this all the time — why it is that there’s so many of us middle class Islamabadis whose lives revolve around facebook statusing our food cravings and planning little trips to hot spot or gloria jeans or whatever the latest go to make out/hang out spot is.

    And then I think, why don’t these kids give a crap about anything, pick up a newspaper or read a book or watch the news?

    Why are they shouting for bloody revolution when many don’t know what revolutions are [maati tv], entail and would mean for pakistan?

    Why don’t these people think?

    And a part of me recognizes that these are very important issues about whose origins i have a theory, but at the same time, i was one of those kids too. Worse, probably, because I thought I was smart, and that being a good community member of my school meant throwing good parties and keeping everyone happy.

    I had no real sense of what a community was, the thought never crossed my mind, let alone what a citizen is, and am two years later am only much more aware of how of how ill equipped and ill suited I am to be the big leader I wanted to be of Pakistan. And that being a leader–with the glamor of the title and the fun that comes with it–isn’t the most important job I can do.

    That’s when I remb my days in A levels–as a supposed good student, I never read the paper, barely watched the news and probably couldnt give you a solid definition of a revolution either.

    Here’s what I think is going on with our kids today

    They/we are a society that’s too easily influenced by what they/we see. TV shows like Gossip girl have created facebook pages that I have words for but that are too inappropriate for your blog, like Islo 401 (what the hell is 401?) and the like. As a side note, these pages come with a twist–they claim it is for the moral, Islamic, reformation of Islamabad’s youth that they shamelessly advertise news about their personal lives. Just the way God wants them to do it.

    This susceptibility makes it easier for us to fall prey to other things the media preaches to us about — wealth, sex, glamor blah blah. Hence the acquired obsession with constantly showing off wealth and social status and dating the ‘hawtest’ guy, and other things that we, in my opinion, should NOT be focusing on.

    There’s no culture of reading or engaging in debate.

    Does this mean the problem’s with unregulated media? Should we ban gossip girl and Hell Cats and other shit these kids are lapping up?

    My guess is no. I think the solution is in equipping people with the ability to see stupid shit like Gossip Girl and think ‘hm, what do i think about that’ rather thna mindlessly mimic what they see. On a different level, to see victims of racism like premchand pakistani and think ‘what about that appeals to my emotions? why does this seem right or wrong?’. To think ‘some jackass published offensive cartoons in a newspaper across the world that make me want to pull someones hair out. What is an appropriate way of reacting?’ instead of ‘lets get the bastard. and by the ‘bastard’ i mean lets riot and loot and plunder our MNCs’.

    And that is education– a real education, one that challenges authors and writers, not reveres them the way the madrassah culture has influenced us to learn and teach.

    This all stems from our failure to be able to think on our own. A skill I learned at college/still am learning, a skill our own education never taught us, a skill that I realize needs despperaatteellyy to be passed on to our kids, even as I’m still learning it so that we can not do stupid things like support salman taseers murder, regardless of our religious convictions. Or if we do, have good reasons for it.

    As a side note, excuse my poor french, but fuck Gossip Girl.

  2. Saifullah Khalid March 10, 2011 at 4:15 am #

    Decisive Class

    Sahar; Very good post, defining the current situation of our country and confusion of our youth and I agree with your POV but also a little disagree at the same time. You said, “a country that by all accounts and estimates is headed for an apocalyptic social and economic meltdown along with a revolution led by self-serving bigots parading as men of God.”
    I agree that we are heading towards a social and economic meltdown but why? Can one justify me with reasons? Who is responsible for all this? We all including you and me as we are not acting like a nation but individuals. I don’t like to blame others but myself as I have never behaved as a responsible citizen of a country or habitant of a society as
    • I have never casted my vote on merit. So a duffer but graduate assembly is dealing with fate of mine as well as my country
    • I have never asked my neighbor, whether he is comfortable with my actions or behaviors. My driver daily washes my car and water spills on road without considering that my street road is also my property and I have to keep it clean as I manage to keep my porch.
    • I have never asked my driver or office boy that how they are managing their both ends to meet while could have done that without any extraordinary effort and just deciding a little, but why? I feel that I am managing fine so everyone does.
    • I haven’t let my children attend govt. schools so I never showed a concern if their standard of education was deteriorating or substandard.
    • I have never gone to a Govt. hospital and experienced a long Queue to visit a doctor or consultant. So I never raised a voice on pathetic situations prevailing there.
    • I have never shared my profits with my workers honestly because I always done best by utilizing my capital and wisdom without materializing their contributions.
    • I have never helped someone silently to keep his integrity because this way no one in my society will be able to praise me as a philanthropist.
    • I was never shocked to hear the news that one has committed a suicide just because of one’s inability to feed one’s children or meet the family needs because I was not that one, while I could have been able to support one by compromising my only one lavish dinner outside.
    • I have never paid my taxes honestly because tax evasion is not a social crime in my society and everyone from the top to bottom is doing well so I do.
    • I always tried to put my capital in dollars or gold to strengthen personal economy without understanding the aftereffects on my country’s economy.
    Are all of above mentioned not adequate reasons of a social and economic disaster of my society, and do I need little more?
    But I disagree with you that a revolution led by self-serving bigots parading as men of God is heading towards us because
    • I have never wished for that revolution because I believe in live and let live.
    • In my eternal and maternal family of around 100 in Nos. only one is of that mindset and he can’t lead us towards a revolution until and unless we are decided too.
    But I also confess that I have never recited Holy Quran in Urdu to understand the philosophy of Islam and to be able to think rationally as it was a single greatest source of our code of conduct as a human being and Muslim as well. I left this responsibility with “Maulanas”, letting them to explain it in their own interest. So they succeeded in keeping me unable to understand and practice a true Islam.
    How one can be a true Muslim if he murders a human being for no reason or just for a difference of opinion. This was the Islam which prohibited the murder of children and women of Non Muslims during “Ghazwat”. Here children and women of Muslims are being bombed by unknowns disguised in Muslims.
    I don’t know who they are and from where they are but one thing is very clear that they are here to defame the Islam. They wish the world to know Islam as a non human religion. They are frightened of Islam becoming as an only religion for the benefit of humanity.
    So they are not leading a revolution, actually they are feeding a revolution which will emerge in revolt of this situation lead by you, me and our fellows. Be assured that this country is not heading towards an end but towards a restart driven and managed by a rationale youth capable of driving this country to new heights.
    You also identified two kinds of youth, 1st; consuming a costly Gloria Jeans coffee and 2nd; holding banners for demanding the Tahrir Square and blood for blood. I suppose both kinds are from two diverse classes of society, 1st; from elite and filthy rich ignorant class or pretending like them representing the only 2-5% of the society but consuming around 70% resources of the society and unable to visualize the coming days, 2nd; from a class manhandled by “Maulanas” and also represent the around 5-10% of the society.
    Both kinds could not make a remarkable difference until and unless rest of the society (silent and decisive class) decides to stand.


  3. Tariq Aqil March 10, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    You really dont have to be confused at all. What you are witnessing in Islamabad and all over the land of the pure is nothing but the famous ostrich mentality and this is nothing new we have seen this happening all over the world repeatedly in the past.I have personel experience of this phenomenon when I was in Dhaka. Everything was collapsing all around us and yet the West Pakistani community simply refused to see the writing on the wall!including my own family inspite of warnings from my side. The commercial classes the businessmen and traders cant see beyond the tip of their nose! they are extremely myopic and can only see their investments in various commercial enterprises and they refuse to believe that all this will soon be wiped out by the tide of the political upheaval that is just around the corner. The happenings in Faisalabad and peshawasr just yesterday are not even headfline news so you see people just dont want to see the ugly reality that this country is about to end up on the dust heap of history!and i say this from personal experience. The next wave will be the tsunami of the forces of religious bigotry and obscurantism and they will take control of this fair land. The senate of Pakistan refused to hold a moment of silence for Salman Taseer MNAs of the vreliogious parties to stand up foer Shabaz Bhatti in the assembly session and the Chief of Army staff did not bother to issue even a token statement to condemn the killing of Taseer and Bhatti because he is scatred of annoying te religious lobby so deeply embedded and entrenched in the armed forces and intelligence agencies of the country. So keep dreaming Sehar!I can only hope and pray that ALL my predictions are wrong!but I know what is coming and I believe in calling a spade a spade!

  4. Hamza Baloch March 10, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

    Dictator in Tehrir, and Democracy in Pakistan…

    What else left? So why you confused :O

  5. Raj March 10, 2011 at 7:01 pm #

    These are interesting times, enjoy and indulge as long as its there.

  6. Shirazi March 13, 2011 at 12:54 am #

    Confused! I see a very clear mind behind this.

  7. A.M March 15, 2011 at 6:50 am #

    Mr SAIFULLAH khalid is 100% right,we need to get our religious teaching from the source not from idiotic mullahs.Read ,understand and live it. Think of fellow human beings and do good. But first learn to distinguish RIGHT from WRONG.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: