“Bhaiya, how long will it take for the two burgers that I ordered twenty minutes ago?”
“Year they are almost ready, just give me ten more minutes. My burger stall has never been so crowded before and I’m the only guy who has to make and serve the burgers and also to pack the burgers for those who want to have it as take away, so please wait for ten more minutes I’ll make you two special burgers just like old days.” The burger vendor replied apologetically.
What choice did I have at that moment other than to wait for ten more minutes for my order to get ready. Yes, that was very true what he said about his stall booming with customers, that it had never been that crowded. Moreover, it was a weekend night in the never sleeping city of over two crore population of Pakistan.
I’d been coming to that stall for five years. I was back in college when I first ate his burgers and they were as delicious as they were then. Now I was doing my research and that stall was still standing there as it is, like his father before him, who taught him all his business and passed it to his son, and went to the village to spend the rest of his days on the income of that stall. They were never able to turn it into a proper shop as the income was barely keeping the whole family alive. They were just happy with what they had, keeping faith in God who they thought knew better than both of them.
I’d met his father only once on the eve of my result day when I gave a party to my friends as I got the highest grades in my class. It was the same guy, the same spot, the same taste; in front of a bookstore and alongside the busiest road of the block, just on the edge of the road, as not to become a source of traffic jam.
The area has so developed since last two years. Before all the tall buildings and plaza malls, there were dozens of slums scattered all around the society. But thanks to the capitalists that all the marshy slums are now gone. On my house side of the road, there are tall buildings but the other side of the road is underprivileged. And all the slums have shifted to the other side of the road. Now, the slums all the time beg outside the malls parking slot but the guard are always on the foot to beat the slums as soon as they saw any near the commercial buildings. I hope they soon vacate our area too and then there will be cleanliness and no sight of poverty.
There was a milkshake shop behind the stall and its chairs and tables were spread out on the pavement leaving no way for the passengers to pass, so they had to walk on the edge of the road, crossing above the pavement and the burger stall at the same time.
The burger stall was a metal box on three sides, partially glass, and on the only open side this boy stood and made burgers. The metal box had a big metal plate under which a gas stove burnt. There were two cabins on each side on which salads, ketchup, kabab, mayonnaise, buns and dozens of eggs were placed. The whole place would hold as much space as the length of the wide spread hands of Jack and Rose.
It was a very fine night of April, a weather ought to be enjoyed alone in the darkness of the abyss. Slow breeze caressed my face, few drizzles blurred my vision, and the smell of the heat and water colliding with each other was addictive-enlightening a new world.
As I was relishing the scene, my friend called me asking me about the Sunday’s study circle arrangements in a local coffee shop near my university. I discussed plans with him for upcoming topic on the Asian Marxist Review that will be delivered by a special guest from the leading revolutionary party leader himself to mobilize youth and students from different universities.
As soon as I was off from the call, the burger guy packed my burgers for the go. As I pay him, suddenly a roar of thunderstorm sprang out from absolutely nowhere. It wasn’t the kind of thunderstorm that I saw on the sky rather I saw no light from anywhere, all I could hear was the grumbling of a couple of trucks and shouts of dozens of people. Before I had the time to look back, the three waiters of the milkshake shop quickly grabbed their chairs and tables and ran inside the shop. It all happened so fast that the guy from the truck jumped off from the vehicle and with the speed of lightening snatched the tables from the waiters and threw it in the long vehicle, breaking them.
On their trucks, that were blocking the road, was written: L.D.A (Lahore Development Authority), a governmental organization which seals illegal food stalls and fruit vendors. Illegal in the sense that their stalls come within ten inches of the road. Within a few minutes the road was completely jammed and the noise of horns and shouts of angry drivers reverberated throughout the busiest road of the block.
They dealt with those illegal small time businessmen by grabbing their stall utilities and throwing everything they could get into a huge truck. They quickly moved for the burger stall, threw the salad bowl, Kabab mixture, eggs, and burger buns on the road. They dispatched the gas cylinder from the stove and three bulky men wearing torn and stained Shalwaar Kameez, picked the metal box quite comfortably and threw it in the truck, breaking the glass of the burger stall, alongside the fruit vendors’ carts, their balancing tools, and their fruits that were crushed in the process under the jack-boot.
That boy didn’t know what hit him, he seemed quite as amazed as I was with all this drama, looked completely blown and in a shock, as I handed the boy money for my two burgers and walked away with delicious burgers and went on with my research paper on inequality and injustice in Pakistan.
On December 13th, 1965, a student filled with storm inside him was sitting in the Main Block-Basement number three of the Government College Lahore. The Gothic lady struck 12 o’clock. The lecture was being given on Pakistan Studies subject. Amongst fifty top students of this subject from all over Pakistan, the teacher asked the students to write an essay on the struggle of formation of Pakistan from 1867 to 1947. The students were allotted forty minutes to write a brief essay touching all the aspects of chains of events that followed after the war of independence, it’s after effects, and then the struggle of Muslim leaders and founding fathers of Pakistan and conspiracy and narrow mindedness of Congress and Hindus against Muslims of subcontinent.
Amidst those highly intellect students, there was but one student different from all the other students. He was different from every aspect. Even a mere glance was enough to see the difference. It wasn’t because of how he dressed, sits, talks, behaves but rather his eyes, his mind which didn’t belong to that room, his ears not directed towards the professors’ words of wisdom. He never took active part in the class debates, even after being told by the professor. Every question professor asked, he slowly looks up, wearing his hoodie and replied only three words, not a word less or more; I don’t know. He was physical present in the classroom but his soul was somewhere else, somewhere far, roaming, looking, always searching for something.
He just silently sat, head down, in the class and was always writing something on some crumpled pieces of paper. He used to sit on the last bench of the class, alone. He has that cold attitude in the class but whenever someone tries to talk with him, after class, he talks very naturally and normally, but he wasn’t a normal human being. Nobody knew what he wrote on those rusted papers, except for an essay he wrote, which will be read, heard, and praised for all the generations to come.
“Respected Sir, first of all I’m going apologize for whatever I’ll write in this assessment because I have no sense of respect for someone who doesn’t deserve it. Second, I have no idea what I’m going to write but let me assure you that, writing about all the aspects you asked us to write regarding the formation of Pakistan with a complete biased approach, as could be seen in your teaching, your body language, your words filled with hatred for the non-Muslims nation, it would be the last thing I’ll write. Holding an empty sheet of paper reminds me how difficult it is to be a God.
I may write irrelevant contexts but somehow, I’ll reach to some conclusion[s], whatever it would be, on whoever favor or side it would be, I believe that with all my heart, I have faith in my writing. Please try to bear it with me.
I’d like to start it with the books that are taught in Pakistan. They’re so biased and showed how innocent the Indian Muslims and how tyrant and cold-British and Hindus were in their behavior with Muslims of the subcontinent before the partition. They filled the hearts of students with hatred for those two nations who subsided in the subcontinent. I’ve browsed the whole of the sections of Pakistan Studies in the libraries but I could find nothing different, no truth. They are written by Muslim scholars. I’ve searched the Internet but I believe in the “factual” information as much as I believe in this course folder or library books.
Indians writers are lenient towards Hindus conditions and Muslims towards themselves. And about the British writers, they have no idea whats the truth. In the confusion of whats right and whats factual, the history or the reality is lost in between. We want to know the truth, in fact I want to know the truth, however sweet or bitter it is. It would be better than the back-stabbing knives of comforting lies. I guess nobody knows whats truth anymore. Everyone is content with these filthy hatred lies, it all lies, it all stank of lies. It’s all an illusion. It’s all a torture.
Every student, sitting in this classroom, would be writing whole heartedly of how we broke the shackles and worked hard, and after consistent struggle, and losing innumerable lives-martyrs, won this piece of land, that is as they called, Pakistan-Land of pure. The feelings and emotions of the Muslims could be found in different memoirs. Library is filled with them, believe me. I don’t believe that we won Pakistan, I believe it was being given to us as a blessing from the God-if only you believe in one. As every blessing ignored becomes a curse. That’s what really happened after the birth of Pakistan on 14th August, 1947. Pakistan: the only country in this entire world who was born on the basis of an Ideology-Islam.
The Muslims main reason to acquire a piece of land was, so that they could practice the rituals of Islam in their daily lives freely. That was the sole reason of the existence of Pakistan, to ensure Islamization. To build a country on the pillars of Islam.
We question our leaders and blame them for every mishap in this country. This reminds me of a famous proverb, “Rulers are infested based on the people nature.” I guess it’s true. We so need someone to blame and it’s so easy to do that. We celebrate with such passion-Independence Day, but we forget what was the purpose of creation of Pakistan. Do we follow the teachings of Islam, on which this nation’s ideology was based? Do we act on the advice given by the founding fathers of Pakistan? I mean how can one think to change the world without changing himself. How beautiful Pakistan was. Ah! I wish I could’ve seen it with my own eyes. I wish I could’ve seen how Pakistan started crawling after it was born. The sweet smile, the first word, the first step. I wish. I just wish all that. But there’s no use wishing something that is already dead. That is already buried so long ago.
The beautiful Pakistan died a heroic tragic death, a tragedy does not need to have blood and death; it’s enough that it all be filled with that majestic sadness, on 11 September 1948, just after turning one, due to tuberculosis and advanced lung cancer. Millions attended the funeral prayer. As for the question that where we live if Pakistan had long been deceased, I’ll say we neither live in Pakistan nor India, we live in a place called “Prison.” We were born free but everywhere we’re enchained. Time to time the caged bird may sing of freedom, but it will still live in prison.
As for me, I don’t belong to that cage. You ask, Who I am or where I am, well just leave me to myself. Think of me just as a boy who was so focused with the beauty of the rose that it forgot about its thorns. The boy who was so impressed by the rainbow that it forgot about the storm. The boy who was so afraid of the night that it forgot about the beauty of the darkness. My real self-wanders elsewhere, far away, wanders on and on invisibly. Just leave me to myself because I am the hero of my own story, and I don’t need to be saved.”
Pakistan, or maybe Asian country[ies], is one of those countries where even a teenager knows more about whats going around in its country regarding politics especially politics. So there is very little of anything of what he/she don’t know. Since the Independence Day, in fact long before the Independence Day, we all know what happened in India-subcontinent and how everything turned out to be what it is now.
Pakistan: A hard country is one of those current affair book which revolves around mainly since Pakistan came into being. Anatol Lieven covered entire history of Pakistan in a single book. It is remarkably, serendipitously, extraordinarily written. Everything was discussed with facts and opinions in detail. To talk about the Pakistan culture, Army, Democracy, Dictatorship, Taliban, 9/11 condition in Pakistan, Afghanistan influence on the politics and economy of Pakistan, Provinces, Education, Economy, Media in Pakistan, relation with different countries, Nuclear weapon, Political parties and politicians background, nothing was left in between. And they certainly provide a great mass to write in a college/university exam and it certainly won me a scholarship.
Apart from that, this book wouldn’t be a success in Pakistan because, I believe, there isn’t a single thing in the entire book of which a teenage whether a boy or a girl likewise don’t know. We, nation, consciously or unconsciously, somehow knows the insight of our country. It would’ve been a real success if he had written on some other non-Asian country.
Still though it’s a great effort by the author as he lived for nearly 25 years here to know about us. There were some aspects in the book of which the authors perception or conception weren’t legit especially about the role of MQM. The MQM chapter was laughing out loud part. The LMFAO moment, on 9/11 an American soldier said, “We were not scared of death while fighting out enemies”. I hope you could feel the irony behind it. To highlight the statistics since 9/11 there are more deaths in Pak-Afghan areas or it won’t be wrong to say, of Muslims, than it happened that single day. Once I read, “When a killer takes revenge from someone who has imposed great worries to the killer family, he shoots only one bullet but when he despises that person he shoots all the round in the body of the victim.”
Back to the MQM, I, certainly know what is it with MQM during Musharraf and Asif Ali Zardari regime, what were their motives or on whom orders they created a massacre in Karachi in 2007 against The Lawyer Movement under the chief justice of Pakistan vigilance. I think it’s not that difficult to figure out now.
Most of the book was discussed and revolved around the Taliban both Pakistani and Afghani, and there were a huge part missing of what Lieven, himself, thought about the Taliban’s. Hats off to Lieven who, somehow, deliberately tried every huthkanda (means) to defend the US activities in Afghanistan or Iraq or Pakistan or well, to be not specific, all over the fuckin world. And we all know who is supporting these Taliban’s both Afghani and Pakistani. The conspiracy is much bigger than we think it is. No matter what Lieven wrote, everything was true and a plain fact but according to his point of view and by those people who he interviewed but that didn’t mean that it was universally true. The last line of the book was,
Pakistan is stronger than it looks and will probably survive as a state; but if these patterns (falling economy) continue, it will not do so for ever.
Believe it or not, even if the Pakistani economy faces some kind of a black day where every sector either government or private obliterate and turned to ashes, Pakistan, my country, will still survive not because of its strong army or strength of its people to stand united under one flag but because we have one thing, the one on which this country is based on, which no other nation was ever built upon.
We may not be in the list of top developed countries, or ruled a whole subcontinent, have jobs or even have a mediocre literacy rate, our politicians are corrupt, our people are unfair and unjust, terrorism rules 365 days in one area or the other, poverty clouds are all over, sense and sensibility is impossible. Believe me we are stronger than we look because we are a hard and patriotic and naturally can sacrifice our life for this country with a smile across our lips and a middle finger pointing towards our enemies.
Once someone left me in trance and answerless when they asked me, “What does Pakistan mean to you?” I tried and tried hard to figure it out, to come up with a satisfying answer to myself but after thinking and over thinking, only one things come to mind, Home!