The people of this country, by temperament, should all be lawyers. The counter-narrative that they come up with – in the face of the best air-tight case – can boggle the brightest of minds! If you do not agree with me then try putting forward what you think is a flawless plan to bring about an improvement for the country. If it is not shot down by an even more flawless counter argument, in less time than it takes a suicide bomber to travel to the houris after he pulls the trigger, I will agree to whatever punishment you suggest.
It happens all the time. While there are so many examples to quote at this time I am talking about the Sindh Festival. The moment this idea was conceived and floated – the naysayers have been at it with full might. Whereas, in principle, it is my opinion that the concept is a wonderful way of reconnecting with and reminding ourselves of the richness of our heritage and the lost civilizations that flourished here as long as 5000 years ago, those against the PPP bring all sorts of reasoning against the idea. There are those who thought the logo was bad and too much like that of Superman – the famous cartoon character. This does carry weight and nobody can really disagree too much. But a poorly designed logo should not be allowed to take away from the basic idea of refocusing on all that is original, that is authentic and that is ours. It should not take away from the showcasing of what’s good about Pakistan. There are so many out there waiting to pounce at every opportunity to highlight what is bad about Pakistan that the Sindh Festival is as welcome as a breath of fresh air.
There are activities in the cities that the elite organize for the elite and which are of the highest standards but they are always limited to select audiences. I hope the Sindh Festival, while taking itself worldwide through media, will allow the common people of the province to indulge in different activities that bring them both joy and revenue, across the board. We have forgotten what it is to be light hearted and inclusively happy. The systematic ruination of the cultural edifice of this nation is the result of dictatorial mindsets over decades. A long list of dictators - some in uniform, others as their political protégés and some in the garb of autocratic limited-vision clergy – have tried ceaselessly to kill the soul and spirit of Pakistanis. It is indeed creditable that our soul and spirit keeps resurging and refuses to be wiped out. In this context, I think it is incumbent on all Pakistanis to support Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and his sisters in their effort.
The opening ceremony of the event is to take place at the historic site of the ruins of Mohenjodaro. There have been serious reservations that the temporary structures that could be seen standing too close could pose an actual threat to damaging the site and the Sindh High Court too has taken notice. Many experts, including those from UNESCO, have vouched that all precautions have been taken to ensure the safety of the historic site. While there cannot be two different opinions about preserving and protecting Mohenjodaro, let’s not forget or take-away from the concept of the Sindh Festival and wish all the three children of Benazir Bhutto all the best in their efforts to preserve the original soul of this ancient land – which is, perhaps, even a shade more important than preserving the ruins of Mohenjodaro. If our soul is destroyed we too will be and there will be nothing left to recover.
In the midst of the on-again, off-again peace talks, which now at least have a four member team to show for it in place, the effort of organizing this Festival deserves appreciation, at the very least. As do the efforts of the Punjab government to give its young people some respite and healthy activity in the form of its ongoing Sports Festival. Give us back our Basant too and give us back our Horse and Cattle Show as well and all our other Melas across Pakistan which represent our actual ethos and our connections with our land and the lives we have led for centuries and centuries. Let us say, as Amir Khusrao would say ‘Aj rung hai”!
Post Script: It has finally now dawned on all and sundry why, seven months down the line, the federal government refuses to make much progress especially in the key areas of energy shortage and economy. The ace ministers connected to these areas are said to be enjoying newly remarried bliss and that particular time (as anyone who has been married knows) – the honeymoon period – is conducive for little else but romance. And here we were, the suckers, thinking that all PML-N has on its minds is the welfare of the people. Sorry people, as long as the romance in the ministers’ lives is resurging, we can forget about the resurgence of bijli and paisa! Besides, there is news of one more of their stalwarts, Zulfikar Khosa of indeterminate age, marrying a 30 something woman! At least for now, the CM Punjab seems to be not taken up by any new woman. It kind of reminds one of the time when ZAB came in to power and many of his key ministers, including Hafeez Pirzada and Mustapha Jatoi, got married anew while his governor Punjab, the illustrious Mustapha Khar, was in a league all his own in this regard! Ah well! boys will be boys!
The writer is a public relations and event management professional based in Islamabad.