This is a harmless article

Disclaimer: The words, all sentences, punctuations, and characters in this article are harmless. No identification with actual issues (living or dead), institutions and individuals is intended or should be inferred. No feelings were harmed in the making of this article.

Amidst all the harmful words being spread through social media, writing harmless prose is increasingly becoming a dying art in Pakistan. Learning this art has never been more important, especially for those wanting to outlive their words in this country.

This piece of writing intends to be a prototype for the future of sustainable, harmless writing in Pakistan. It will go on for another 700 words or so, allowing the editor to pick a sufficiently conforming blurb, which when coupled with the headline would reaffirm the harmlessness of this article for those most vulnerable to being offended.

‘Offend’ is the keyword for all budding writers of the harmless genre. If the only person offended by your final composition is the self-respecting writer inside you, you’ve nailed the piece. If no such individual exists in your subconscious to begin with, there’s no stopping you making a career out of this.

While there is an approximately infinite list of subjects that can be deemed offensive, there are some obvious trigger warnings in Pakistan.

Look for people murdered for their words, for instance. Or those abducted for the causes they take up. And also watch out for those censored, condemned or shamed at a massive scale.

Anything unorthodox, let alone reformative, on religion is an absolute no-no. But also know that ‘religion’ here means the narrowest interpretations of the only religion that you actually need to steer clear of. Bulldozing over all others would only add to your piece’s harmlessness.

Intrinsically linked to religion is the minority rights subject. The most lucrative approach in this realm is to claim that minorities already enjoy all the rights they can, should or need to. The next best is to assert that the only way minorities will ever truly have their unalienable rights, is if the majority’s religion is thoroughly implemented.

This inherently reaffirms the inferiority of minorities, the subordination of their religions – as established in the Constitution – and allows you to bludgeon their ideologies while you weave together the archetypal harmless article. An accusation of blasphemy is the elevator that goes straight to the rooftop of moral high ground. An article that has at least one such allegation only needs fluff to make up the word count.

There are many indicators that can help you gauge your piece for its intended effect. However, the general rule of thumb is that the more harmful the article is for the targeted religious minority, the more harmless it is for the author.

Similarly, any piece that might be adjudged to be antipodal to patriotic sensibilities is equally masochistic. Again, ‘patriotism’ here has the most restrictive interpretation, and akin to religion any progressive reinterpretation would be perceived as an attack.

Unlike religion, patriotism does not have scriptures. This makes its explosiveness more far-reaching than religion, which in turn makes its optimum usage harder to discern.

Watch out for the ethnicities that are usually slashed with ‘unpatriotic’ allegations. Which province dominates all powerful institutions? People of which area are mostly lifted and dumped?

Most critically, which institution is deemed synonymous with patriotism in Pakistan?

Learn from their public relations guidelines. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter. Paraphrase their press releases and you’ll save the time you might have wasted on facts.

Furthermore, a harmless article only targets an individual or an institution only if the author has the back of someone with more clout. Understanding the state’s power dynamics is mandatory to become a successful harmless writer.

While traditionally writing spaces in publications were the extent of any harmful intellectual activities, the rise of social media has multiplied the menace by manifold by precipitously accelerating the distribution rates.

This makes the aforementioned guidelines even more pertinent for social media opinion-makers, but the rules of the game remain the same. Only that the instructions need to be more fervently adhered to.

This, for instance, is an example of a harmless article. It keeps one out of harm’s way. It also intends to help others reduce their odds of disappearing into thin air or six feet under the ground.

Kunwar Khuldune Shahid is a former member of staffHe can be reached at Follow him on Twitter

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