Beggar at Ghazi Chowk


Make Fun of Your Politicians.

7 Apr 2010

Pakistani politics is very funny.

And that’s not just a comment. It really is funny. If you don’t believe me listen to this:

Saad Haroon is a 21st century comedian from Pakistan, gathering critical acclaim and being featured abroad through major news networks, because of his open political jokes, which feature politicians to terrorists.  He says he finds them funny, and so does his audience. It’s the thing that works here.

But it is not the only criticism of Pakistan’s politics that out in the open today. I’ve grown to see Pakistan’s media evolve from a single government run TV station to a state where about 30 new channels pop up every year, radio has struck back and the music scene is heavy with activity, barring the last couple of years. Whatever people say, I must credit this change to the Musharraf era.

While modern media just seems to take an anti government stance at every opportunity, more scholarly (or should I say well thought out criticism) is beginning to pop us as well. Pakistanis are now evaluating how their politics has gone wrong in the past, and are somewha ready to take the blame. While politicians have always been made fun of (which is not uncalled for mind you, President Zardari threatened a 14 year imprisonment for anyone that sent SMS jokes about him), this form of collective stake in the blame has never been taken before.

For instance, look at this Chowk article. For those that don’t know Chowk, it’s an e-zine, if that’s the right word, with contributors from all over India and Pakistan, dealing with current affairs, culture, social issues, in well written, well thought out argument. Good read every now and then. This article for instance, explains how Pakistan has been at wrong with the way it’s treated Afghanistan, and it’s time to back off.

Even literature has gone this way Mohammad Hanif’s award winning book A Case of Exploding Mangoes (Amazon Link) is a fictional story about the murder of President Zia, witty, humorous, explosive (pun definitely intended) and explorative. It deals with Pakistan’s murky political past, and seems to go down well with Pakistan’s Urban hatred of Zia and his policies.

Similar thoughts will be found on the dealing with India and the US. Although India seems to be the last issue to see this level of maturity, the blame game at every terrorist attack seems to derail any mature thought. If the political acclaim and criticism of Shoania (A Brangelina-esque title given to Former Pakistan Cricket Captain Shoaib Malik and Indian Tennis Star Sania Mirza after the recent announcement of their impending marriage) is anything to go by, we’re as childish as ever. It might take a while for us to get over gossip.