Recently I was asked to join a group which called for ‘Collective Repentance for Our Sins’. Now I keep a tally of my personal follies….well actually I don’t, I really am hoping for a massive ‘ah you are alright, don’t do it again!’. But this was repentance for ‘collective’ sins, which led me to think what have we done collectively that has incurred such wrath on to us?
Naturally my first instinct was towards au naturel. The increased ‘fahashi’ in our society. The besharmi among old and young that caused the floods to come to ming and that is leading to ethnic, communal and sectarian violence in the country. But there are countries with so much more ‘fahashi’ that our collective ‘fahashi’ is comparatively a mere pinch of salt in wheat flour. ‘No it’s because this is a Muslim state’. Again there are many Muslim states, like say Lebanon, Egypt, UAE, Turkey, Bosnia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Jordan, Morocco and so on that are equally or more indulgent in such ‘fahashi‘ than us.
Sadly, for those of us who aren’t getting any ‘action’ and would rather want no to have any as well, I guess it’s not that. So if not that then what?
Is it that we fail to pray regularly? Well most of these acts of violence happened in mosques and religious prayer houses, and most devastation has occurred in north-west of the country, a part of country known for their fervour for praying regularly.
Is it because we elected a secular government? Or may be it’s the ‘Zardari’ curse?
Now say what you may about the current government, it’s hardly secular. It hasn’t billed any amendments to change Shariah laws as yet, or to create a more secular legal system. For all intents and purposes, it follows in letter and spirit the Shariah laws introduced by Zia. We can go on about the mixture of state and religion that still remains.
Now for the curse of Zardari. I don’t know if there are any such things as curses, don’t know how you get them – and really want to have nothing to do with them. But if one has to analyse them, one can say reliably that such curses are meant to hurt the person who is cursed. So say, when the frog prince was cursed, it was he who lived his life as a frog till he was kissed. The full inconvenience of the curse is borne by the person who is cursed. Now I know some would argue that Zardari surely should feel hurt with all that is going on, and may be he does, but really no amount of empathy can be matched by sheer loss that is felt by people who have lost everything, their homes, their families and livelihood.
If the curse is there to make his government collapse, then the curse is again taking a circuitous route. A simple nudge to Generals in Pindi and bit of distrust among the Ameerikans would have done the job with much less effort, for more I would let ex-PM Sharif finish that story.
If the curse is that people are being blamed for choosing such a leader, than again they actually didn’t! 2008 Election was never for Presidency of Zardari. In any case, in a Parliamentary form of government elections aren’t for single personalities, they are meant for the constituent members and the party manifesto that she/he espouses. I can go on about narrating the history that Zardari was never a candidate in elections, and some people voted pro-Benazir, others voted anti- Musharraf and others still voted pro-democratic forces. I’m sure the curse knows this much and wouldn’t punish people so unjustly!
If you ask me, I’d say there is something to this climate change, but I may be talking urban mythology. Curses make more sense!
As to the violence, well for one part of it, the ethnic part, it really isn’t necessarily as much ethnic. Violence in Karachi is about getting control of the city, the ethnic colour is added to it because without it, just isn’t a cause worth dying for! No romanticism you see!
Well now for the other form of violence, the religious kind. Now if there is anything to repent, it is for that!
For great part of last three decades, we have continuously meddled in affairs of our neighbours, most prominently Afghanistan. We toppled governments, installed new ones, removed them and then installed even new ones still – then help topple that again, but gave covert support to them but then removed that support and now give covert support to some of them.
Regardless of who asked us to do it, it was we who got our hands dirty and these things always have consequences – haven’t you read Macbeth?
It is also interesting that people cry about curse of an elected president, or electing a woman as prime minister. It’s a curse, because people of Pakistan, which mostly includes otherwise poor and powerless, ELECTED someone. They had a hand in shaping their destiny, how dare they?
Don’t they know their place? These illiterates, don’t they know they are here to serve and not talk back. Of course curse would come from such insolence against nature. But when we have elected leaders removed on gun point – now that is an act of God. Further, any actions done in the name of God is always good and holy.
So let us spread hate, half truths and lies. Change history to suit our world view. Teach children to prioritise their school education after their religious education. Oh well lets not bother with any such secondary education. Let us create a nation of mujahids, for fighting in name of Allah, is the best death a man could have. After all living an honest life – for the prophet of Islam was first called Sadiq and Amin- isn’t being a good Muslim. He would never have chosen to avoid unnecessary wars by building defence trenches or signing peace treaties. These ‘elected’ cowards are infidels for thinking such kafir thoughts!
Repentance is when people agree to have accepted their past mistake and promise never to repeat it. In exchange for this, they hope that evil enfolded due to previous mistake would end soon. But are we really repenting? We continue to fodder the militants, we continue to allow spread of hatred unchecked; we still prefer our children to learn from Mullahs, than learn about science, arts and commerce.
What sort of repentance is it where we haven’t changed, nor we aim to change? Yet we expect things to change? Troubles don’t go away by closing your eyes and wishing real hard!