Hotel Mohenjodaro – by Gulbaz Mushtaq


Image courtesy of Ajoka Theater Online

Much has been written and said about the little angel – Malala, who was twice shot and injured, along with her two classmates (Kainat and Shazia), by the Pakistani brand of Taliban last month, BUT let me recall the incident for you another time.

The news of Malala’s shooting circulated throughout the world within no time. From Obama to Madonna in US and from a common street man to President Zardari in Pakistan expressed grief over the attack.

Prime Minister Ahraf, Army Chief Kiyani and every important personality in the country issued statements to media condemning the attack on the young girl. President Zardari termed Malala’s shooting ‘an attack on all Pakistani girls’. MQM chief Altaf Hussain not only condemned the incident but went ahead demanding from the religious parties and their leaders to condemn the attack or he will ‘expose’ them. No but few spoke (of course not under fear of Altaf Bhai’s statement) and condemned the attack.

Columnist, bloggers, writers, poets pour the noblest of words from their vocabulary onto pages and marked their participation in praise of her, hercause and the cause of education. Many called her incarnation of Malalai of Maiwand and some termed her as Anne Frank of Pakistan. She was said to be only hope for this unfortunate country. Facebook, Twitter, Google and other social networking websites were full of mourning expression by the people. The whole nation cried in true sense of word ‘cry’.

Overnight, Malala had become a heroin.

It went on for some days. Then Malala’s fever started normalizing and, as it always happens, the people of Islamic Republic of Pakistan started thinking that they have been caught up in a ‘conspiracy’ – not known to anyone. She, now, is being called as traitor, agent of CIA and western agencies. The shooting incident is being termed as fake and cooked up. We all must have watched Malala and her father’s pictures with US officials on Facebook and other websites as proof of this conspiracy. The final blow came from JUI chief Maulana Fazl ur Rehman who categorically stated that Malala did not receive any bullet injury and attack on her was a ‘drama’.

This is we – the people of the Land of Pure.

The whole episode of attack on Malala and subsequent events and reaction of our society thereon reminds me of an Urdu short story (afsana) “Hotel Mohenjodaro” written by legendry Ghulam Abbas. The story is about a Pakistani scientist’s journey to moon. It is interesting to note that the story was written 1960s before Neil Armstrong had landed on the moon. And it was after some time of publication of the story, man reached to touch surface of the moon.

This is how the story opens… The first man to land on the moon was a Pakistani, Captain Adam Khan, a 35-year-old officer of the Pakistan Air Force. On that historic day, the government invited world leaders, statesmen and eminent scientists to Karachi to listen to a live radio message that Adam Khan would deliver just as he was about to land his aircraft on the moon. This large assemblage gathered in the rooftop garden of Hotel Mohenjodaro, a 71-store-yed sky-scraper. (According to the story, there were many higher buildings in Karachi.) They were being entertained with music and drinks to while away the time. Everything went according to schedule. At the time fixed radio receivers came alive and the moon-traveler’s voice became louder and clearer: “I am Captain Adam Khan. I come from the district of Jhang in the Punjab… I have landed safely. All praise to Allah… Pakistan Zindabad.”

There were jubilations in Pakistan. The President and Prime Minister of Pakistan received messages of congratulations from all over the world for the spectacular success achieved by Pakistani scientists.

And overnight, Captain Adam Khan had become a hero.

But the celebrations were short-lived. In a small town, barely 100 miles from Karachi, the imam of a mosque denounced the achievement as satanic. He announced “I have just heard on my transistor radio that some Pakistani, may there be a curse on him, has landed on the moon. May Allah destroy him”. The mullah’s voice was echoed in other mosques throughout the country. To them, the moon was Allah’s exclusive domain and trespassing was an unforgivable sin punishable with death. Captain Adam was openly condemned on committing conspiracy against Allah’s domain. From mosques the movement spread on to the streets. And violence erupted throughout the country leaving scores of dead and injured…

Latest news suggests that UK campaigners and a segment of Pakistani media are struggling for Malala’s nomination for Noble Peace Prize. There are others in the land of pure, even more in numbers, who oppose same.

Maulana’s words echo in air … “it is a drama”. It seems as if he has a very important role to play in this drama.


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