Sunday, January 16, 2011

I Built My House on the Edge of Chaos

I really like Sami Shah as a comedian. Here he is writing about the Sisyphean nature of existence in Pakistan. I loved the lines, "Wake Up, Battle the Forces of Chaos".

From Sami's twitter feed, here is somebody who reconfirmed my opinion (at times) for Pakistani democracy, as a sort of Weimar-ish experiment. I've had this feeling, long before, of Pakistan's democracy being Weimar democracy, but people have to go on fighting and not succumb to the darkness.

In many ways this matches Nadeem Farooq Paracha`s "Paradox Republic", an essay where he says that a balance between those forces that can destroy Pakistan (ethnic fracture), are simultaneously the ones keeping it from going over the brink.

And speaking of all these residents of Karachi, the news that within 24 hours of a curfew plan being announced by the democratic government, a curfew was put down in Karachi, and then they will follow through with a search for the killers. This is the strength of having a democratic government.

If anybody complains that I'm going on about democracy a little too much, please consider the amount of violence I have seen in Karachi since the post-Zia era began. In 1988, the city (and country) had just come out of an 11 year long dictatorship, when even the idea of democracy was banned. When the post-Zia era began entire Muhajir neighborhoods hated entire Sindhi neighborhoods, and when ethnic violence flared up, ENTIRE neighborhoods went to WAR with each other. Now fast forward through 22 years, nineteen of which (1999-2002 being the exception) were filled by governments that had to either go through the pretense of democracy (2002-2008), or actually were democracies (1988-1999, 2008-now) and you will not find anybody who is willing to openly fan ethnic hatreds in Karachi neighborhoods, but you will find condemnation for the militancy, especially now that it is nearly indistinguishable from criminality. This time, its not neighborhoods going to war, its just a handful of militants from each neighborhood. That's an improvement from having entire Mohalla's (neighborhoods) hunting each other. A handful of militants hunting each other is a dilution of hatred. It is the effect of nineteen years of voting wearing down old hatreds, until only the bare bones of greed (now manifested as criminality) and hatred (now manifested as target killings by only a few men on bikes) is what we are left with. This is the nature of our long wars.


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