The entire Pakistani public pervaded into a jubilation and, apparently, in a triumphant phase after Shoaib betrothed with Sania Mirza. Personally, I would like to offer my blessings for the couple. However, ( here goes the cynicism, again ) the intriguing impact of this otherwise platonic dispensation, is the underlying patriarchal discourse of the sub-continent. To support this thesis, let us presume, that Sania Mirza is not an Indian but Pakistani girl and please also imagine that Shoaib Malik is an Indian lad. How we would see it now? The intensity of the jubilation fades away, the moment you imagine this unholy thought. Why it is so?
In our tribal cultures, for centuries, the blood feuds have been settled by giving away young girls into marriage with the family of grieved arch-rival family as a token of peace. The subcontinental man’s respect lies in the character of his women, most importantly in his wives, also not excluding his sisters and mother. The bottom line is that identity of woman, is not as human, but as a ‘thing’. All of us are told, that the ‘men’ fight over three ‘things’- land, wealth and women ( zar, zan and zameen ).
Interestingly, this thought has remained the corner stone of Indian cinema as well. Back in 1991, Zeba Bakhtiar played the role of a Pakistani girl who fell in love with an Indian man, played by Rashi Kapur. And more recently, in the movie Veer-Zaara, a Pakistani girl, Zara Hayat Khan’ played by Preety Zenta, falls in love with an Indian Air Force Officer, Shah Rukh Khan. Both guys finally were managed to get their ‘Pakistani’ girls to India under the loud cheer of cinema audience. The director and cinema-goers both felt a relief over this happy ending. Of course, Pakistani cinema which is under the spell of constant erosion since the days of Mard-e-Momin Zia-ul-Haq, also produced some rebuttal with the similar ending just favoring curry on Pakistani guy with an Indian girl. Though in Pakistani movies, this remained confined to elopement of Sikh girls with Pakistani guy. Sikh factor was welded in the movies to cater to the cravings of strategic depth( Eastern Division) weaved by our establishment in the form of Sikh Khalistan movement back in turbulent 80s.
Talking of the movies, the Indian cinema though always favoured Pakistani girl for an Indian guy, has unique taste vis-a-vis Goras ( White guys ). Almost always, in many movies, when the circumstances pitch a Westerner against an Indian, the director and film-audience have no qualms in sending away their Nari with the White guy. But they don’t do this honour to any Pakistani guy. This seems defeating my premise of sub-continental patriarchal argument. What can I do, can somebody please help? Of course, Shoaib tried to help in understanding the story writers and directors that if West is the only criterion then, at least geographically, Pakistan also lies in the West of India.
Getting back to our celebrity couple, both are wonderful sports personalities and allude to a pivotal fact that joint hearts are beating across the border. I pray this may prove a blessed omen for the 1400 million souls living in the sub-continent who want peace and prosperity in the region so that their countries can transform into welfare states from the ugly and belligerent security states.